Note: Bumped to top from 6:54 am April 29.
ESPN’s John Clayton picks his Winners and Losers.
1. Cleveland Browns: All right, they gave away a potential top-five pick in next year’s draft to get Quinn at No. 22. We all realize the Browns may not be very good next season. The roster has age in the front seven of the 3-4 defense and numerous other holes. The reason the Browns are the big winners is because they potentially filled two of the five major building blocks of a team, getting Quinn and left tackle Joe Thomas. Teams win with quality players at left tackle, defensive end, cornerback, wide receiver and quarterback. If the Browns lose next season, general manager Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel might not be around to reap the rewards of this draft. Regardless, Savage did a great job despite the price.
2. Lane Kiffin and Al Davis: They had to take a quarterback. The franchise was set back by not taking Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler a year ago. The 31-year-old coach and the ageless Davis played catch-up Saturday. They had to take JaMarcus Russell instead of playing around with second- or third-round prospects. Getting TE Zach Miller in the second round was the right call, too. The Raiders topped the day off by acquiring quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Mike Williams from Detroit for a fourth-round choice. McCown, who comes to the team on a one-year contract, can carry the team into the season as the starter, buying Russell time to learn the offense and feel comfortable in the NFL. The Raiders’ quarterback problems will be solved for the start of the 2007 season with McCown, and hopefully in the future with Russell.
3. Cardinals assistant head coach Russ Grimm: Grimm is one of the best offensive line teachers in the NFL and he usually doesn’t go into the personnel office asking for high draft picks. But Grimm believed Levi Brown of Penn State was a better fit for his offensive line than Joe Thomas. With the fifth pick, Grimm got his tackle. Remember, the Cardinals are a left-handed team because they have a left-handed quarterback in Matt Leinart. Brown can protect his blindside at right tackle. Plus, he gives Edgerrin James a bigger, more powerful blocking style to get some power runs to the right. Thomas might be the better long-term pass-blocker and probably would have beaten out Brown for the No. 5 pick if he was available. But Grimm got the guy he wanted. The Cardinals also came out ahead in getting defensive tackle Alan Branch in the second round. The team is moving to a 3-4 alignment in 2007 or 2008, and he can be the nose tackle to eat up space and draw extra blocking attention.
4. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin: It was a bold move to chase away Joey Porter, whom the Steelers believe lost some of the speed that made him the No. 1 linebacker in their 3-4 scheme. The Steelers drafted linebacker Lawrence Timmons in the first round and defensive end LaMarr Woodley in the second round. Woodley could develop into a No. 1 pass-rusher. Tomlin also wanted to get some youth and quickness into the linebacker corps to give him the flexibility to use some 4-3 alignments at times. Timmons has that type of speed and quickness, but he also has experience in the 3-4 with some of the schemes used at Florida State.
5. The Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones wasn’t really looking for much as far as impact in the 2007 draft. The Cowboys have a young group of 3-4 defenders that didn’t need much attention. With age at wide receiver (Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens) and Flozell Adams and Tony Romo both in the last year of their contracts, major changes are ahead for the offense. But for 2007, the offense is in good shape. The Browns could be bad next year, so getting the Browns’ No. 1 pick could put the Cowboys in position for a left tackle, top receiver or a quarterback if Romo stumbles this season. To move back into the second round, the Cowboys gave up the chance to draft safety Brandon Meriweather. But they turned back around and traded back into the first round and got a great pass-rusher in Anthony Spencer. Touchdown, Cowboys.
1. Brady Quinn: Not since Aaron Rodgers has an NFL draft seen a quarterback lose as much as Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn. Financially, slipping from a top-three pick to No. 22 could cost him as much in $33 million in contract dollars and maybe $18 million in guarantees. The Browns considered him with the third pick but took Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas. He could partially understand the Vikings passing on him. Halfback Adrian Peterson was available and coach Brad Childress invested time and draft choices to get Tarvaris Jackson last year. The killer was the Dolphins at No. 9. Television cameras caught him flabbergasted by the Dolphins’ selection of Ted Ginn Jr. Vince Young, the third pick in last year’s draft, received a six-year, $48 million deal that included $24.9 million in guarantees. The 22nd pick, being a quarterback, might get a five-year deal that could max out at $15 million or maybe $20 million, although Quinn’s agent, Tom Condon, can be creative. Regardless, Quinn was the biggest loser on the first day.
2. NFC North: The NFC North is a big loser with Adrian Peterson going to Minnesota. Peterson is angry he was bypassed by six teams, and as Larry Johnson proved over the past two seasons, an angry runner is a dangerous runner. Also, Peterson will be going up against three Cover 2-type defenses. Other than Chris Henry of Arizona, Peterson is the fastest running back in this draft. On the artificial turf in the Metrodome, he will appear to be even faster. Peterson slipped to No. 7 because he’s 90 percent healed from a collarbone separation. He doesn’t plan to have surgery to insert a plate, but if he does, he’s going to be sidelined for only six weeks. Six games against him in the division could be very painful for opponents.
3. Brett Favre — for now: Favre came back from potential retirement for a playoff run, but he’s waiting for a big push from the Packers’ personnel department. The wait netted him backup cornerback Frank Walker in free agency. That’s it. Unless he was cutting the grass on his tractor, Favre might have been sitting around waiting for the Packers to acquire a big, fast receiver like Robert Meachem or find the running back to replace Ahman Green, who left for Houston to reunite with former Packers head coach Mike Sherman. The first round gave him defensive tackle Justin Harrell, a good lineman who fills a need. Brandon Jackson, a running back from Nebraska, went to the Packers in the second round but many thought he would go in the third, just like Green did years ago. Don’t get me wrong: Jackson is a good sleeper back, better than people think. He’s tough, he runs hard, and he should help. But sleepers may not wake up a quarterback waiting for greatness. Sounds to me like the Packers need to make that final push to get Randy Moss to satisfy Favre. That could happen Sunday. Favre might stop weeding the garden for that.
4. The Mile High Brownie defensive line: Remember how Mike Shanahan put together two years of playoff runs by accumulating the greatest collection of former Browns defensive linemen? You remember the group: Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown, Ebenezer Ekuban, Amon Gordon, Alvin McKinley, Kenard Lang and Michael Myers. Shanahan continues to serve notice that Cleveland may rock, but former Cleveland linemen could be out in the cold. The Broncos drafted two defensive ends: Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder. Brown and Myers are gone. Lang should stay, but Ekuban will have to fight for his job. McKinley was just signed, so he’s in, and Warren is under a long-term contract. However, if the Panthers trade Kris Jenkins, don’t be surprised if they move on Warren.
5. The 2008 draft: What is it about the 2008 draft some teams don’t like? The Browns and Colts gave up first-round picks next year in trades. The 49ers gave their No. 1 pick next year to the Patriots, but got the Colts’ No. 1. The Texans gave away a No. 2 next year in the Matt Schaub trade. Now, the Cowboys and Patriots have good teams in 2007 along with having two No. 1s next year. That’s dangerous. As precious as draft choices are these days, maybe some of the teams are tipping off the class of 2008 might not be overly great.
Mel Kiper looks at the Good Decisions and Bad Decisions:
Five Good Decisions
1. At the start of the day, the Cleveland Browns were going to use the third overall pick on either Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas or Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn. At the end of the day, the Browns came away with both players. Credit Cleveland senior vice president and general manager Phil Savage for continuing to work the phones to land Quinn.
2. The Cincinnati Bengals had cornerback Leon Hall fall to them with the 18th overall pick. I had Hall rated higher than Darrelle Revis, who went to the New York Jets at No. 14. Getting Hall without having to trade up to get him turned out to be a very good move for the Bengals.
3. The Jacksonville Jaguars traded down from 17th to 21st in the first round and still got the player they wanted, Florida safety Reggie Nelson. Not only did the Jaguars get Nelson, but they also received a third- and sixth-round pick from the Denver Broncos in the deal.
4. After taking a tackling machine in linebacker Patrick Willis with the 11th pick, I liked seeing the San Francisco 49ers move back into the first round (trading for New England’s second first-round pick) and getting Joe Staley, one of the best offensive tackles in the draft. QB Alex Smith needs someone who’s going to protect his blind side Staley could do that for years to come.
5. Purdue’s Anthony Spencer went a bit higher than I had projected (26th overall), but he gives the Dallas Cowboys a great pass rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware.
Five Bad Decisions
1. There was no activity in terms of trades in the top 13 picks. Teams now are very reluctant to give up picks to move up in the draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted wide receiver Calvin Johnson and they very well could have had him, but they weren’t willing to give up enough to get the best player in the draft. The first trade didn’t happen until the New York Jets traded up from 25th to 14th.
2. The Miami Dolphins taking Ted Ginn Jr. was ridiculous. Not only did they have QB Brady Quinn staring them in the face, but they weren’t going to have to trade up to get him. I understand Miami took QB John Beck in the second round, but Beck is not better than Quinn. Those two QBs will be measured against one another as time goes on.
3. The Tennessee Titans desperately needed help at wide receiver and could have used a defensive end. Instead, with the 19th pick in the first round they took Texas safety Michael Griffin. He’s not that versatile and can’t play cornerback despite being 5-11Â½, 205 pounds. They took Griffin when wide receivers Robert Meachem and Dwayne Bowe were still available. Tennessee then took RB Chris Henry in the second round, who I think is very iffy. He was a workout warrior, but he didn’t produce consistently at Arizona, and the Titans need a running back who can come in and play right away.
4. I was surprised the New York Giants took cornerback Aaron Ross instead of left tackle Joe Staley. The future of the Giants rides on QB Eli Manning staying upright, and Staley would have done a good job protecting Manning’s blind side.
5. The Philadelphia Eagles traded out of the first round with the Cowboys, who took defensive end Anthony Spencer. The Eagles used the 36th overall pick (their first pick in the draft) on Houston QB Kevin Kolb when QBs Drew Stanton, John Beck and Trent Edwards were all still on the board.
USA Today‘s Sean Leahy picks his Winners and Losers:
– Cleveland: The Browns exited day one with two (Brady Quinn, Joe Thomas) of the five players rated highest entering the draft. GM Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel are fighting like there’s no tomorrow … which might be true for them if they don’t produce some wins.
– Detroit: Yes, they had other needs. But they scored Calvin Johnson. With all the jokes about Detroit and wide receivers aside, he can make an immediate impact for the Lions as a rookie.
– N.Y. Jets: They aggressively sought out two players who can start immediately for them — CB Darrelle Revis and LB David Harris. The maneuvers left Mangini’s crew with just two second-day picks, but the Jets certain they’ll have impact rookies at critical positions in 2007.
– Oakland: They got their big cat, JaMarcus Russell, and swung a deal with Detroit for Josh McCown to have a veteran QB ready for September. Then they got two more players (Zach Miller at tight end and Quentin Moses at defensive end) who should be able to start this year.
– Denver: Did they really need to trade up four spots to pick Jarvis Moss? The Broncos yielded third- and sixth-round picks in the swap with the Jaguars. While Moss fits their need for a defensive end, they probably could have had him at No. 21.
– Houston: Amobi Okoye will help out a defense that is becoming stocked with good, young players. But what about the offensive line? Gary Kubiak must bring in help for the unit that couldn’t protect David Carr … or what shot does Matt Schaub have?
– Philadelphia: Not sure if anyone predicted Philadelphia would spend its first pick on a quarterback (Kevin Kolb of Houston). There were already two former starters on the roster behind the sometimes-embattled Donovan McNabb. Andy Reid has already said Kolb won’t compete for McNabb’s job, but does anyone expect Eagles fans not to take his selection as a sign that McNabb’s days are numbered?
– Miami: OK, the Dolphins passed on Brady Quinn because they thought John Beck at No. 40 gave them better value. But do they really think Ted Ginn Jr. is worth the No. 9 pick? Miami surely could have traded down and still selected the Ohio State product later in the first round. It’s a big investment on a return man whose receiving skills are no sure thing in the NFL.
The FootballOutsiders.com gang evaluates the Day 1 selections:
Round 1 of the 2007 draft is a wrap. If you found it long and tedious, at least you can take some small comfort in the fact that you aren’t Brady Quinn:
Brady Quinn, QB, Browns
Quinn had a rough afternoon. When the Dolphins dissed him with the ninth pick overall, Commissioner Goodell sent him to a special isolation room so that gawkers couldn’t watch him squirm on two television networks. And by the way, Aaron Rodgers wants to know where that isolation room was when he slipped to the Packers two years ago.
Quinn is a lifelong Browns fan who was coached at Notre Dame by Charlie Weis, a long-time colleague of Browns coach Romeo Crennel. He’s NFL-ready in terms of work habits, footwork and game knowledge. He needs to work on his timing, but that’s a correctable flaw. By 2009, Quinn will be a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback.
If you don’t believe the scouting, believe the numbers. The Football Outsiders Quarterback Projection System believes that Quinn will be successful. The system is rarely wrong.
Patrick Willis, LB, 49ers
Jeff Ulbrich and Derek Smith are dependable veterans, but neither is really a playmaker, and both are getting old. Willis can line up on the edge as a pass rusher or play off the line as a traditional linebacker, so he’s a great fit in the Niners’ hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense. Willis’ work habits and willingness to shake off injuries will make him a Mike Nolan favorite. With Willis joining Nate Clements and Michael Lewis, the Niners suddenly have a very scary defense.
Reggie Nelson, S, Jaguars
This draft stuff really isn’t that difficult: identify a need, identify a player who can fill that need, and select him. If you can slide down a few picks and still get the player you want, so much the better. The Jaguars have a glaring need at safety â€” right now, their depth chart lists David Richardson, Gerald Sensabaugh, and Jamaal Fudge at the position â€” Nelson is a top-tier prospect, and the Jaguars were able to slip four spots and still nab him. The Panthers earn honorable mention for doing the same thing with linebacker Jon Beason; he’s good, he fills a need, and the Panthers got him at their price.
Ted Ginn, Jr., WR, Dolphins
Ginn is a one-dimensional speed receiver. He’s about as comfortable working the middle of the field as he would be sleeping on a bed of broken glass. Ginn can’t beat a jam and doesn’t have great lateral quickness, so he’ll have a hard time getting open in the pros. In their hurry to draft him, the Dolphins passed up a much-needed quarterback of the future (Quinn) and ignored needs at linebacker and on the defensive line. The Colts drafted Ginn’s teammate Anthony Gonzalez with the final pick of the round. He’ll have a better career than Ginn, and not just because Peyton Manning will be throwing him the ball.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
Chris Rock used to do a routine about the tiger that attacked Siegfried and Roy. “That tiger didn’t go crazy,” Rock joked, “That tiger went tiger.” With the second overall pick, Matt Millen didn’t do something stupid. He did something Matt Millen. Johnson is a great prospect. With him and Roy Williams at wideout, the Lions will field the best possible Jon Kitna-helmed offense. Exactly how far do you think that will get them?
Brandon Meriweather, S, Patriots
Bill Belichick generally steers clear of high-risk players. Meriweather curb-stomped a kid during the Florida International fracas and was also involved in an on-campus shooting incident at Miami. Granted, Meriweather was defending his friend in the shooting, but the fact that he was casually packing heat on a July evening has got to be at least somewhat disturbing. On the field, Meriweather fits Belichick’s scheme as an all-purpose corner-safety in the Eugene Wilson mold. Off the field, it’s not clear exactly where he fits.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
Chester Taylor ran for 1,200 yards last season, so you might be wondering why Minnesota went this way. Wonder no more. Football Outsiders ranks Taylor as just the 33rd-best running back in the league based on DPAR, a stat that analyzes performance on a play-by-play basis. Long story short: Taylor is a nice complementary runner, but there is some fluff in his 2007 stat line. Peterson is a great runner with a long injury history and little experience as a receiver. Taylor is a good receiver who can be effective for eight carries per game in relief of Peterson. Sounds like a good platoon arrangement.
Jarvis Moss, DE, Broncos
The Broncos aren’t supposed to draft defensive lineman. They are supposed to get them from the Browns.
Ready to play
Adam Carriker, DE, Rams
Lots of first-round picks are ready to fill a role. Carriker is ready to do some dirty work. He’s a run-stopping defensive end, so he’ll be asked to do all the little things: fill cutback lanes, squeeze down the line and stack blockers at the point of attack. Gaines Adams and Jarvis Moss are going to get more sacks than Carriker as a rookie, but Carriker will have the biggest impact on a play-for-play basis. He’ll get a few sacks, too.
Michael David Smith does Round 2:
1. Buffalo general manager Marv Levy was reportedly interested in taking Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny with the Bills’ first-round pick. That he was still available in the second round (when Levy traded up to take him) makes him a tremendous value. Posluszny will be an immediate upgrade at linebacker for Buffalo.
2. The Miami Dolphins may regret passing on Brady Quinn in the first round, but they made a smart decision to draft BYU quarterback John Beck in the second round. Beck is a mature 26-year-old who is outstanding at reading defenses and using his feet to avoid the pass rush. It’s not clear yet whether Daunte Culpepper or Trent Green will be on the Dolphins’ roster next year, but Beck has a good chance of starting in Miami.
3. Cincinnati chose Auburn’s Kenny Irons, and he’ll be an excellent fit as their backup running back. Although he ran a mediocre 40-yard dash time at the scouting combine and has a history of injuries, he is an elusive runner who is a two-time first-team All-SEC player. He’ll have some big games for the Bengals.
1. The Chargers traded up to select Utah safety Eric Weddle, and they gave up way too much to get him. San Diego shipped a second-round pick, two thirds and a fifth to Chicago to get the pick it used for Weddle. If Weddle is anything other than a rookie of the year candidate in 2007, he wasn’t worth that high a price tag.
2. Jacksonville surprised a lot of people when it took Justin Durant of Hampton. Durant is one of the fastest linebackers in the draft, but he’s a project who will take a year or two to adjust to the NFL game. If the Jaguars want to catch up to the Colts in the AFC South, they need guys who can help them win now.
3. Brian Leonard of Rutgers is a good story because he was so integral to the turnaround of the Scarlet Knights’ football program, but he isn’t elusive enough as a runner to thrive in the NFL. He won’t do much for the Rams.
1. The Philly fans at Radio City Music Hall neither booed nor cheered when the Eagles picked Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb. They gasped. No one could possibly have seen that selection coming. Kolb was a four-year starter at Houston who put up phenomenal numbers, but the Eagles’ front office didn’t exude much confidence in Donovan McNabb’s ability to stay healthy in the long run.
2. Ryan Kalil, the excellent center from USC, lasted all the way until the 59th pick, when the Carolina Panthers chose him. Although he’s a bit on the small side, Kalil is a technically sound player and a good locker room presence, and he was expected to be taken much earlier.
3. Minnesota hasn’t been happy with the last South Carolina wide receiver it selected, Troy Williamson. So it’s surprising that the Vikings selected another South Carolina wide receiver, Sidney Rice.
READY TO PLAY
1. The first pick of the second round, Michigan defensive tackle Alan Branch, will make an instant impact as an Arizona Cardinal. He fell in the draft because he has struggled with his weight and with stress fractures in his legs, but he was dominant at Michigan and should be in the Cardinals’ starting lineup Week 1.
2. USC wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett represents good value with the 45th overall pick. Jarrett will be a solid addition to the Carolina Panthers’ offense because he runs good routes and has good hands, and he’ll work well with both quarterback Jake Delhomme and the current pair of receivers in Carolina, Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson.
3. Tennessee offensive lineman Arron Sears can play both guard and tackle, and there’s no doubt that he’ll improve Tampa Bay’s offensive line in 2007.
OH BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?
No one is even mentioning the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith of Ohio State. It’s no surprise that Smith is still waiting to hear his name (and likely will still be waiting at the end of the day today), but it is a reminder that the skills that make a quarterback successful in college often don’t translate to the NFL.
Tanier is back for Round 3:
Charles Johnson, defensive end, Panthers: Mike Rucker is coming off an injury and is on the downside. Julius Peppers’ contract will be up soon, and he’ll command ten cement mixers full of $100 bills on the open market. Johnson, a natural run defender with a good bull rush, is built to play on the strong side, where he can defeat tight ends and stuff ballcarriers. Until he settles into a starting job, he’ll play an important role as a rotation lineman. Rucker and Peppers can blow up any offensive line in the league when they are healthy and fresh. Johnson will keep them healthy and fresh.
Buster Davis, linebacker, Cardinals: The Cardinals trudged through yet another season with an over-the-hill middle linebacker last year. Orlando Huff is on his last legs, and the Cardinals need a young player with sideline-to-sideline range in the middle. If Davis were two inches taller, he would have been selected in the first round. Don’t let his height fool you: Davis is strong enough to play run defense, and he has great instincts and field vision. He’s a London Fletcher type with a chip on his shoulder and a great feel for the game.
Anthony Waters, linebacker, Chargers: Waters looked like a first round talent in his junior year, but he tore his ACL and missed all of the 2006 season. Waters still isn’t up to speed, so he won’t make much of a contribution this year. Who cares? The Chargers have plenty of talent on defense, so they can afford to redshirt a player who could be an impact performer by 2009. If some needy team took Waters, he would be a “worst pick.” The Chargers can afford to shop for luxury items.
Yamon Figurs, wide receiver, Ravens: Figurs is a skinny, undersized return specialist from Kansas State. Remember Darren Sproles? Sproles was more powerful and versatile than Figurs, but he had generally the same skill set. Sproles is still on the Chargers payroll, but he’s always hurt, and his tendency to fumble makes him a liability as a return man. Figurs has a reputation as a tough cookie and can help out as an all-around special teamer. The Ravens don’t have many holes, but that doesn’t mean they can afford to take a specialist with the 74th pick in the draft.
Tank Tyler, defensive tackle, Chiefs: The Chiefs have an awful track record with defensive tackles. They’ve spent high picks on recent years on Ryan Sims, Eddie Freeman, and Junior Savaii, none of whom really produced. Part of the problem is that Carl Peterson and his coaches are too enamored with Combine heroes. Savaii was a bench press hero, and so is Tyler, who benched 225 pounds 42 times at the Combine. Tyler dogged a bit at NC State, but Herm Edwards believes he can reach him, just as Dick Vermeil always believed he could motivate any even the biggest slug. Tyler isn’t a major reach in the third round, but he won’t solve any problems in Kansas City.
Tony Hunt, running back, Eagles: The Eagles have been taken over by the spores from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. First, they took a “quarterback of the future,” Kevin Kolb, after re-signing A.J. Feeley and picking up Kelly Holcomb to back up Donovan McNabb. Then, they selected a big, bruising change-up back for Brian Westbrook, something the team has needed since Duce Staley left town. We’re on to you, aliens: the real Andy Reid would never draft a short-yardage pile driver like Hunt. He’d draft a defensive tackle, then tell reporters how happy he is with Correll “the ACL” Buckhalter. The invasion force is coming, people. Head for the hills.
READY TO PLAY
Matt Spaeth, tght end, Steelers: The Steelers have an excellent young tight end named Heath Miller, so why did they select Spaeth? Two tight-end sets have become very popular in the NFL, and teams like the Patriots have demonstrated that you can do more than just run the ball with two big guys on the field. Spaeth is the best blocker in this year’s draft class, so he can stay at home to protect Ben Roethlisberger or seal off linebackers on running plays while Miller splits the seam. Spaeth is the second coming of Mark Breuener, a tough blocker who started for the Steelers for nearly a decade.
OH BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?
Michael Bush told reporters the week before the draft that he was 99 percent healthy. We can only guess that the unhealthy one percent includes his ACL, because Bush is still on the board as Saturday draws to a close. Bush looked like a monster at times for Louisville before breaking his leg, but teams may be scared away by the memory of Eric Shelton, a Louisville back drafted by the Panthers two years ago who quickly earned a reputation as a soft runner who would play through injuries.
Rick Gosselin gives out his Monday morning grades. He’s a tough scorer but seldom too far from the mark:
|C||Taking Brown at No. 5 was a reach right off the bat, and so was selecting the undersized Davis in the third. The Cardinals only had three other picks in the draft, and two were in the sixth and seventh rounds.|
|B||The Falcons had the best sixth round, landing an All-Big Ten blocker (Datish) and an All-SEC cover man (Irons). Atlanta had the best quantity draft, selecting 11 players and six potential starters.|
|B||Good players always slide to the Ravens at the end of the first round: Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Ed Reed and now Grubbs. He’ll be a Pro Bowler. Heisman Trophy winner Smith has the perfect QB mentor in Steve McNair.|
|B||The Bills considered taking Posluszny in the first and wound up with him in the second. Lynch is an automatic starter, replacing Willis McGahee. Edwards is excellent QB insurance for J.P. Losman.|
|A||The Panthers had the best second round, grabbing two cornerstones of Southern California’s three-year national championship push in Jarrett and Kalil. The arrival of Johnson begins the rebuilding process up front.|
|C||Third-round picks Wolfe and Okwo were reaches. Beekman and Graham are bargains. The Bears did land the best pass-catching tight end in the draft in Olsen. That will make Rex Grossman a better quarterback.|
|C||The Bengals set out to fix the NFL’s 31st-ranked pass defense with the selections of Hall, White and Ndukwe, all big-school starters. This was a depth draft with Irons and Rowe now lining up behind Rudi Johnson and Carson Palmer.|
|B||The Browns had the best first round, grabbing the draft’s best pass blocker (Thomas) plus a QB all of Cleveland believes is the next Bernie Kosar (Quinn). Wright has first-round talent, but character issues hurt him.|
|D||The Cowboys picked up an extra first-rounder in 2008, but that didn’t help them in this draft. Marten and Free are blue-collar blockers and those were two of the better picks. Stanback is coming off a foot injury.|
|D||The Broncos had only four picks, and two had character flags – former Florida teammates Moss and Thomas. Denver is in dire need of some speed at end and hope they’ve found it in Moss and Crowder.|
|A||For the second consecutive April, the best player in the draft fell to the team drafting second. This year, the Lions were the beneficiary, snagging Johnson. Detroit took speed players in just about every round.|
|C||The Packers had the best seventh round, selecting a 2,000-yard career rusher with 4.47 speed (Wynn) and a TE with 143 career catches (Harris). But they reached twice in the third round for Jones and Rouse.|
|C||End Mario Williams needs some help up front in the NFL’s 24th-ranked defense, and the Texans gave it to him with the selection of Okoye. Both will develop into Pro Bowlers. Jones is an elite punt returner.|
|C||Considering the Colts were picking at the end of each round, this was really a quality draft for a championship team that needed to fill a few holes. Gonzalez inherits the slot position. Hughes should start at CB.|
|C||The Jaguars had the best fifth round, selecting three big school producers in blocker Nwaneri, tackler Landri and ballhawk Gattis. Nelson and Podlesh should be impact players as rookies. Smith has pass-rush skills.|
|B||Solid from top to bottom. The first three picks should become starters. Smith gives the Chiefs running back insurance for Larry Johnson. Medlock was the best kicker in the draft, and Taylor could be a late bloomer.|
|B||Ginn may have been a reach in the top 10, but Booker and Soliai were all value picks where the Dolphins found them. Mormino, Smith and Wright were the backbone of a superb second day.|
|A+||Peterson is now the favorite for NFL Rookie of the Year honors, and McCauley walks in as a starter for salary-cap casualty Fred Smoot. Allison and Williams bring speed to the flank, and Rice is a great red zone receiver.|
|D||The Patriots picked up an extra first- and third-round pick in the 2008 draft and wide receiver Randy Moss for 2007. But no picks in the second or third round prevented the Patriots from building momentum.|
|B||The Saints drafted the two best non-combine players on the board, Young and Bushrod. Pittman was a steal in the fourth – some teams had him as the No. 3 back in the draft – and Meachem is a walk-in starter.|
|C||Ross upgrades the NFL’s 28th-ranked pass defense and a mediocre kick return unit on special teams. Smith takes the pressure off an aging Amani Toomer, and Koets could be a surprise candidate for the vacancy at left tackle.|
|C||It’s tough to produce a great draft when you have picks in just the first two rounds and the last two rounds. The Jets had to trade up to get Revis, the best cover man in the draft, and Harris is a good fit inside in a 3-4 defense.|
|C||Russell was a great start, but Henderson and Bowie were reaches based on the measurables. One’s big (Henderson) and the other has blinding speed (Bowie). Bush was a terrific gamble to take in the fourth.|
|C||The Eagles didn’t have a first-rounder but came away with four solid players the first day. Bradley might be the only starter in the bunch in 2007. Kolb provides insurance for the injury-prone Donovan McNabb.|
|B||Just because Bill Cowher is gone doesn’t mean the history of great linebackers in Steel Town left with him. Pittsburgh used its first two picks on linebackers with pass-rush skills, and Sepulveda steps into a great situation.|
|D||The first two picks were reaches to fill needs, and third-rounder Anthony Waters is coming off a serious knee injury. The best value pick may have been Siler in the seventh by a team that covets LBs.|
|C||The 49ers had the best third round, selecting an All-SEC defensive end (McDonald) and a deep threat (Hill) who averaged 18.3 yards per catch in his career. Brown has first-day ability but character concerns pushed him down.|
|C||The NFL’s 31st-ranked run defense gets beefed up with the 296-pound Carriker and the 310-pound Ryan. Wade has 4.36 speed, always handy when you play in a dome, and could push for a starting spot.|
|C||The Seahawks had the best fourth round, landing four-year, big-school starters Atkins and Wrotto to fortify the lines. Considering Seattle didn’t make a pick until 55, this was a superb effort.|
|C||Adams and Sears loom as immediate starters at the top of the draft but, like the Cowboys, the Buccaneers reached for too many players hoping for home runs. Some could become fly outs.|
|A||The Titans found good players in every round without having to reach. More teams should try that approach. Harris in the fourth, Filani in the sixth and Otto in the seventh all could be steals. The Titans draft big-school production.|
|D||Let’s face it, the Redskins don’t like drafting. They had a first-rounder and didn’t pick again until the fifth. Owner Daniel Snyder believes you build a team through free agency, not the draft, and that shows every April.|
The venerable Mel Kiper:
Arizona Cardinals: GRADE: B-
Once Joe Thomas was gone, the Cardinals had to make a decision whether to take Adrian Peterson or Levi Brown. Peterson would have been a luxury pick, which they couldn’t afford to do, and Brown fills a hole. Arizona must improve its offensive line. There were quite a few teams that didn’t think there was a lot that separated Brown from Thomas. Brown has a nasty streak and can play either tackle position. For the second straight year, Arizona took an underachieving defensive tackle from Michigan. Alan Branch has great physical skills but was an underachiever. He will either be a boom or a bust. Linebacker Buster Davis was a decent third-round pick, and Steve Breaston was a really nice choice in the fifth round because of his return skills and should pay dividends in the return game. Tight end Ben Patrick is a potential steal in the seventh round. He needs to work on his concentration and catching the ball, but Patrick could have gone in the third round and no one would have argued.
Atlanta Falcons: GRADE: B
Defensive end Jamaal Anderson was really the only option with Joe Thomas and Levi Brown gone. Plus, Anderson fills a need on defense. Justin Blalock is a big body up front and can play either guard or tackle. Cornerback Chris Houston would have been a risky pick in the in first round, but he presents good value in the second round. WR Laurent Robinson has a lot of talent, but is raw and needs to show he can make the tough catch in traffic. I thought taking him in the third round was a little high, but he does have ability. I really liked what Atlanta did Sunday. Stephen Nicholas has a very good shot to be a productive linebacker. I also liked the pick of TE Martrez Milner in the fourth round. He needs to work on his pass-catching skills, but he is a very good blocker. David Irons, at best, is a reserve defensive back; center Doug Datish could have gone in the third round, and he will provide some versatility, and Daren Stone is a developmental safety and special-teams player.
Baltimore Ravens: GRADE: B
Ben Grubbs is a great pick and pure guard. Yamon Figurs has speed to burn and will be the returner the Ravens need with B.J. Sams coming off an injury and being a free agent after 2007. Grubbs will start right away, and Marshal Yanda possibly also could start at guard or right tackle. Antwan Barnes is a typical hybrid combination between a defensive end and outside linebacker. Le’Ron McClain was the best pure fullback in the draft. Not only does he fill a need, but he could start since the Ravens lost Ovie Mughelli in free agency. This was a good organization for Troy Smith to go to as a developmental quarterback. He also could push Kyle Boller, who will be a free agent after 2007. Prescott Burgess had a nice career at Michigan, and getting him in the sixth round is a nice move because Burgess should have a solid NFL career.
Buffalo Bills: GRADE: B
The Bills had no choice but to go after Marshawn Lynch with the loss of Willis McGahee. Paul Posluszny could be a middle linebacker or OLB, making up for the loss of London Fletcher. Running back Dwayne Wright was a very good fourth-round pick if he can stay healthy. Down the road, Trent Edwards could give J.P. Losman some competition. And if Edwards develops in two or three years, the Bills could trade him, similar to what Atlanta did with Matt Schaub. John Wendling is a very athletic safety and was a good sixth-round pick. Derek Schouman is a pass-catching tight end with limited blocking skills.
Carolina Panthers: GRADE: B
I’m not enamored with linebacker Jon Beason, but he has the ability to be a team leader because he has a great attitude. I do like the fact that Carolina traded down to get Beason even though the Panthers were very high on him. The Panthers did a good job in the second round, getting WR Dwayne Jarrett and center Ryan Kalil. I thought Georgia defensive end Charles Johnson was a steal in the third round. Ryne Robinson was one of the better returners in the draft; Dante Rosario is a backup tight end; Tim Shaw, at worst, is a backup linebacker, and C.J. Wilson could be a decent backup cornerback.
Chicago Bears: GRADE: B
The Bears didn’t expect Greg Olsen to be available that late in the first round; he’ll give Rex Grossman a solid pass-catching tight end. Defensive end Dan Bazuin is perfect for the Bears’ scheme. Garrett Wolfe showed he could catch the ball during his workouts and has the potential to be a good returner even though he wasn’t asked to return kicks in college. Wolfe will be a good change-of-pace running back and potentially could be a very valuable part of this organization. Michael Okwo is undersized for a linebacker, but he runs well and is a smart player. In the fourth round, Chicago got really good value in Josh Beekman. He can play center but will be a guard on this offensive line. Kevin Payne is a versatile safety who makes plays and was a good fifth-round pick; Corey Graham will fight for a roster spot at cornerback and on special teams. Cornerback Trumaine McBride is a marginal prospect.
Cincinnati Bengals: GRADE: C+
Picking Michigan CB Leon Hall without having to trade up to get him turned out to be very good value for the Bengals. Running back Kenny Irons could have been a first-round pick but couldn’t stay healthy his senior season at Auburn. Safety Marvin White was not a bad fourth-round pick; Jeff Rowe was a system quarterback at Nevada, and I didn’t like this pick because there were better quarterbacks still on the board; Matt Toeaina is a good fit for Cincy’s defensive line because he can play defensive end or tackle. Hall was a very good pick, but the Bengals did not do much else to improve on defense.
Cleveland Browns: GRADE: B+
The Browns were going to use the third overall pick on Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas or Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn. At the end of the day, the Browns came away with both players. From a pure talent standpoint, getting CB Eric Wright in the second round is good value. Wright had first-round talent — you could argue he’s better than Leon Hall and Darrelle Revis — but slid because of character issues. Cornerback Brandon McDonald played under the radar at Memphis; and Melila Purcell has the skills to be a pass-rushing specialist. DT Chase Pittman will be a hardworking backup. The Browns did, however, give up a lot of picks in this draft.
Dallas Cowboys: GRADE: B
Purdue’s Anthony Spencer — who I think has a chance to be the rookie of the year — gives Dallas a great pass-rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware. James Marten provides good security behind tackle Flozell Adams, who will be a free agent after next season. Isaiah Stanback will move from QB to wide receiver, and I really liked the pick of tackle Doug Free in the fourth round because he has a lot of talent. Dallas took place-kicker Nick Folk when Mason Crosby was still on the board; Deon Anderson will be an excellent lead blocker at fullback, and Courtney Brown has the necessary skills to be a developmental cornerback.
Denver Broncos: GRADE: B-
The Broncos tried to strengthen the defensive line, starting with Jarvis Moss in the first round. In the Broncos’ system, he has a chance to get 10-12 sacks next season. Tim Crowder, if he can be more consistent, has a chance to be really good. Denver rolled the dice on former Florida DT Marcus Thomas. No question about his talent — he spent a lot of time this year on my Big Board — but character issues caused him to drop. If he stays focused, Denver got a steal in the fourth round. Offensive tackle Ryan Harris had a first-round grade in August, but his stock dropped and Denver grabbed him in the third round.
Detroit Lions: GRADE: C
It would have been tough to pass on Calvin Johnson, the best prospect in the draft. Drew Stanton will be measured against Brady Quinn because the Lions could have taken the Notre Dame QB. Stanton could be a decent starter, but he does not have a lot of upside. Ikaika Alma-Francis is a very good, but very raw, defensive end. Alma-Francis has a lot of talent and potential, and a lot of teams had a high opinion of him. Safety Gerald Alexander was a reach in the second round; A.J. Davis could be a good nickel or dime cornerback; Manuel Ramirez was a nice fourth-round pick who will be a starting guard in the NFL; and Johnny Baldwin was a good small-school linebacker at Alabama A&M who will be a good backup and special-teams player.
Green Bay Packers: GRADE: C+
Defensive tackle Justin Harrell didn’t fill need, but the Packers chose the best available player over need. Harrell was hurt most of his senior season, but that didn’t hurt his stock much. RB Brandon Jackson, if he can build on his strong finish to 2006, has a chance to be Green Bay’s starting running back. James Jones was a decent third-round pick, a good wide receiver with natural receiving skills; safety Aaron Rouse is just an OK third-round pick; offensive tackle Allen Barbre is a bit overrated because he doesn’t play as well as he tested during workouts. WR David Clowney has a lot of speed, and inside linebackers Korey Hall and Desmond Bishop should make it in the NFL as backups. Place-kicker Mason Crosby was a really good find in the sixth round. He has a great leg and has kicked in all kinds of weather playing at Colorado and in the Big 12. Crosby is not a product of the altitude in Colorado. I also liked the Packers’ seventh-round picks: RB Deshawn Wynn from Florida and Rutgers tight end Clark Harris.
Houston Texans: GRADE: C-
The Texans took defensive tackle Travis Johnson in 2005, and he hasn’t played up to his potential. They took DT Amobi Okoye when they should have been looking at a cornerback such as Leon Hall or Darrelle Revis. Also, they didn’t do much to help new QB Matt Schaub on offense. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones played at Lane College, and tackle Brandon Frye and guard Kasey Studdard look more like backups than starters. This turned out to be a typical Houston draft. The Texans didn’t help David Carr when he was their QB, and they didn’t do much to help Schaub. Cornerback Fred Bennett was a good pick in the fourth round, and I really like linebacker Zach Diles. He had two productive years at Kansas State and might have flown under some teams’ radar. Getting Diles in the seventh round was a good move.
Indianapolis Colts: GRADE: B-
The Texans should take a page from the Colts. They win the Super Bowl and what do they do in the first round? Give Peyton Manning another weapon on offense by taking WR Anthony Gonzalez. This was a great pick, replacing Brandon Stokley in the Colts’ arsenal. Tony Ugoh could be the heir apparent to Tarik Glenn at left tackle, and I really like wide receiver Roy Hall, Gonzalez’s teammate at Ohio State. On defense, Daymeion Hughes doesn’t have great speed, but in the Colts’ scheme, he could excel. Defensive end Quinn Pitcock is a tough, hard-nosed player who gets the job done; safety Brannon Condren was a bit of a reach in the fourth round, and fifth-round pick Michael Coe has the chance to be a good developmental cornerback.
Jacksonville Jaguars: GRADE: C
The Jaguars needed a playmaking safety. They not only got Florida’s Reggie Nelson but traded down and still got the player they wanted in addition to draft picks. Linebacker Justin Durant (second round) went a little early, but I know Jacksonville really liked him. Wide receiver Mike Walker (third) also went earlier than I expected, but he does have a nice combination of size and speed. Not only do I like punter Adam Podlesh’s strong leg, but he runs a 4.45 40 time, which will force defenses to always be thinking about a fake punt. Linebacker Brian Smith has some pass-rush abilities, but I also thought he would go later than the fourth round. Uche Nwaneri as a guard or center made sense in the fifth round. Josh Gattis is an intriguing safety because he had a good 2006 at Wake Forest only to lose that momentum in the months leading up to the draft. Still, Gattis has a chance to be a decent player.
Kansas City Chiefs: GRADE: C
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is a good player, and he filled a need for the Chiefs. Kansas City used its next two picks on defensive tackles: Turk McBride is versatile, and Tank Tyler needs to build on his strong senior season. Kolby Smith is a serviceable running back; Justin Medlock is a good place-kicker, but I would have taken Mason Crosby.
Miami Dolphins: GRADE: C
Passing on Brady Quinn was ridiculous. Ted Ginn is a good player, will help Miami in the return game and fills a need. Still, they had Quinn staring them in the face, and they weren’t going to have to trade up to get him. The Dolphins were fortunate that QB John Beck was still available in the second round and they were able to salvage their quarterback situation. Samson Satele is a good center, but he might have to play guard because Miami already has Rex Hadnot. Lorenzo Booker could be a really good third-down back. Paul Soliai was a very good pick in the fourth round and could see a lot of playing time in 2007. Drew Mormino made sense as a backup center; Kelvin Smith has a chance to be a starting linebacker someday; and Brandon Fields has a strong leg but is inconsistent.
Minnesota Vikings: GRADE: B+
Vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman had an outstanding weekend. Somebody had to fall to the Vikings in the first round, and with Adrian Peterson, they got a potential franchise running back to go along with Chester Taylor. Sidney Rice — who could have been a top-15 pick if he had returned for his senior season — is a great value pick in the second round. If cornerback Marcus McCauley plays the way he did as a junior, the Vikings got a great player in the third round. If McCauley plays like he did in 2006, he’ll struggle to make the team. Brian Robison is a pass-rushing defensive end and a very good Day 2 selection. Robison also will contribute on special teams. Wide receiver Aundrae Allison spent time on the Big Board in 2006 and was a good pick in the fifth round; Rufus Alexander was a solid sixth-round pick; and Tyler Thigpen is more of a developmental, third-string quarterback.
New England Patriots: GRADE: C-
Brandon Meriweather was the Patriots’ only pick on the first day. He will fill a need at safety, fits their scheme and can cover, but Meriweather has to play like he did as an underclassman because he did not have a good senior season. Kareem Brown was an average defensive tackle at Miami who never took his game to the next level. Of the six picks the Pats had in the sixth and seventh rounds, they’ll be fortunate if two of them pan out.
New Orleans Saints: GRADE: B-
New Orleans went with Robert Meachem, the best available player on the board. The Saints weren’t desperate for a wide receiver, but this was still a good pick. Cornerback Usama Young has a lot of physical talent, but his play at Kent was up and down. Taking Young in the third round could qualify as a reach. Young might have been a reach, but guard Andy Alleman was a quality pick in the third round. Antonio Pittman will give New Orleans more depth at running back; Jermon Bushrod is a quality prospect at left tackle; and David Jones from Wingate was a good sleeper pick. He had 15 career interceptions and was a really good small-college defensive back. Marvin Mitchell will be a backup linebacker.
New York Giants: GRADE: C-
I would have gone differently with the Giants’ draft. Cornerback Aaron Ross has very good ball skills but not great catchup speed. I was surprised they didn’t take left tackle Joe Staley because they need someone who can protect Eli Manning’s blind side. The Giants took offensive tackle Adam Koets in the sixth round and even passed on left tackle Jermon Bushrod. If they had taken Staley, they could have drafted Eric Wright from UNLV instead of WR Steve Smith. I would rather have had Staley and Wright, but Smith is a good receiver and will be someone who holds onto the ball. Zak DeOssie was a really good long snapper in college and, at worst, will be a backup linebacker in the NFL. Kevin Boss (fifth round) is a natural pass-catching tight end with speed and has a chance to make an impact in the passing game. Safety Michael Johnson was a good pick in the seventh round but needs to be more physical.
New York Jets: GRADE: B
it was quality over quantity for the Jets, who drafted only four players. They traded up to get their first two picks, CB Darrelle Revis and linebacker David Harris. I had Harris going in the first half of the first round, so this is a great pickup for the Jets. Jacob Bender has a chance to be a nice developmental prospect at tackle.
Oakland Raiders: GRADE C+
JaMarcus Russell was a no-brainer because he has the chance to be a franchise quarterback. The Raiders have been trying for years to draft a tight end, and they took Zach Miller in the second round. Defensive end Quentin Moses had a first-round grade entering 2006, but he had an average senior season. Personally, I would have taken Moses’ teammate Charles Johnson, but Moses does have talent. Left tackle Mario Henderson has tremendous physical ability but needs to put it all together on the field. I really like the picks of Johnnie Lee Higgins and running back Michael Bush. Higgins has very good hands as a wide receiver and also will help out in the return game. As for Bush, if he’s healthy, the Raiders got a first-round pick in the fourth round. Jay Richardson was an average defensive end at Ohio State; safety Eric Frampton was a solid fifth-round pick out of Washington State; and Orenthal O’Neal is a good lead blocker for a fullback.
Philadelphia Eagles: GRADE: C-
First, they made a trade with the Cowboys, who used the pick on defensive end Anthony Spencer. Then, the Eagles used the 36th overall pick (their first pick in the draft) on Houston QB Kevin Kolb when QBs Drew Stanton, John Beck and Trent Edwards were all still on the board. I thought Kolb was a reach because he reminds me of Kyle Boller. Defensive end Victor Abiamiri was a good pick in the second round, and linebacker Stewart Bradley was a decent choice in the third round. Running back Tony Hunt was a good third-round pick; C.J. Gaddis, I thought, would have been a priority free agent instead of a fifth-rounder; Brent Celek is an average tight end prospect; and cornerback Rashad Barksdale will battle for roster spot.
Pittsburgh Steelers: GRADE: B
For the 3-4 defense, Lawrence Timmons was a good pick in the first round and using their second-round choice on LaMarr Woodley will give the Steelers some versatility in that Woodley could play as a defensive end in four-man fronts. I’m not sure how effective he can be as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but Woodley is a true playmaker on the field. Tight end Matt Spaeth is an excellent blocker and will complement Heath Miller and Jerame Tuman. I liked the fourth-round pick on Daniel Sepulveda, a left-footed punter with a big leg; defensive tackle Ryan McBean has a ton of talent but has to get more consistent; William Gay has a chance to be a good cornerback who can help in nickel or dime packages; and Dallas Baker was a good seventh-round pick because he has good height (6-3) and very long arms.
St. Louis Rams: GRADE: C+
A very good player and a solid first-round pick, Adam Carriker will be used more as a defensive tackle by the Rams. I really like the pick of Brian Leonard in the second round because he gives St. Louis options on offense. He can spell Steven Jackson at running back, play fullback when necessary, and also be used as a move tight end or H-back. Former wide receiver Jonathan Wade is still raw as a cornerback but was a decent third-round pick; center Dustin Fry is an overachiever; and Cliff Ryan should be able to contribute along the defensive line.
San Diego Chargers: GRADE: C
Wide receiver Craig Davis was a slight reach in the first round, but he does fill a major need. The Chargers also gave up a lot to get safety Eric Weddle in the second round; however, like Davis, Weddle fills a major need and was one of smarter and more versatile players in the draft. Anthony Waters is coming off a torn ACL, so if he can play like he did in 2005, he would be a good value pick. Tight end Scott Chandler is a good pass catcher but a marginal blocker, and WR Legedu Naanee has long-range potential.
San Francisco 49ers: GRADE: B+
After the 49ers took a tackling machine in linebacker Patrick Willis with the 11th pick, I liked seeing them move back into the first round (trading for New England’s second first-round pick) and get Joe Staley, one of the best offensive tackles in the draft. QB Alex Smith needs someone who’s going to protect his blind side, and Staley could do that for years to come. Jason Hill has a lot of speed and was a decent third-round pick. Defensive end Ray McDonald fits Mike Nolan’s 3-4 defense; Jay Moore is an intense, hardworking outside linebacker; Dashon Goldson is more of a backup cornerback; Joe Cohen is a backup defensive tackle; cornerback Tarell Brown is a nice cornerback if he stays focused; and running back Thomas Clayton will be a very good backup to Ryan Gore.
Seattle Seahawks: GRADE: C
The Seahawks didn’t have a pick in the first round, but they were able to get cornerback Josh Wilson in the second round and he could be a factor in Seattle’s secondary in 2007 and also help in the return game. Brandon Mebane will be good rotation defensive tackle. The same goes for Baraka Atkins at defensive end. Mansfield Wrotto (4th round) went a little high for a player I think will be a backup; Will Herring will be a backup linebacker and solid performer on special teams; WR Courtney Taylor does not have a lot of speed but is more of a possession receiver and should make the team as a fourth or fifth wide receiver; and wide receiver Jordan Kent, son of Oregon basketball coach Ernie Kent, also has some ability.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: GRADE: C
The Bucs wanted wide receiver Calvin Johnson, but they weren’t willing to give up enough to get the best player in the draft. Gaines Adams is similar to Simeon Rice, but he needs to do a better job against the run. Arron Sears is a versatile guard and was a solid second-round choice. Safety Sabby Piscitelli doesn’t play as fast he does in workouts, but in Tampa Bay’s defensive structure, there’s a chance he could end up starting in 2007. You could argue Quincy Black was the fastest and most athletic linebacker in the draft, but he’s not really instinctive. Tanard Jackson is an aggressive cornerback who could move inside to safety; defensive lineman Greg Peterson is a good developmental lineman; linebacker Adam Hayward is a marginal prospect; and offensive tackle Chris Denman is underrated and an overachiever and I like his chances of making the team.
Tennessee Titans: GRADE: C
Vince Young needed help at wide receiver, and the Titans had Robert Meachem staring right at them. Michael Griffin is a nice safety, but he was a luxury pick and the Titans couldn’t afford to take a safety when they needed help at other positions. The Titans also needed a running back, but Chris Henry wasn’t productive in the Pac-10, so I’m not sold on taking him in the second round. Wide receivers Paul Williams, Chris Davis and Joel Filani are good but not great. Tennessee could have done a better job of helping the offense around Young. Griffin is a tough, hard-hitting safety and will be a great special-teams player.
Washington Redskins: GRADE: C-
Washington had only one pick in the first four rounds and made the most of it, getting LaRon Landry. (You could argue Landry was the best defensive player in the draft). Drafting Landry will allow Sean Taylor to play center field and roam the middle of the field. Landry will be in the box, and that will negate his weakness, which is judging the deep ball. In the fifth round, the Redskins took an average linebacker in Dallas Sartz; linebacker HB Blades was a decent sixth-round pick although a bit undersized; and QB Jordan Palmer never really emerged as a potential starter.
Tom Weir of USA TODAY uses a star system:
â€” FOUR STARS ****
OT Levi Brown plugs a gaping hole for the team that ranked 30th in rushing. DT Alan Branch, widely projected as a first-rounder, may have been a steal with the 33rd pick. LB Buster Davis should also bolster the Cardinals’ middle-of-the-road run defense.
Getting QB Brady Quinn with the 22nd pick could be the heist of this draft. OT Joe Thomas is a rock-solid No. 3 pick, and CB Eric Wright is a great third-round grab, if his character issues don’t resurface.
Having passed over Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler, the Raiders finally recognized the importance of a QB, and took mighty-armed JaMarcus Russell. TE Zach Miller was s-l-o-w at the combine but has excellent hands. RB Michael Bush gives them another option in the backfield. Oakland is hoping the acquisition of WR Mike Williams from Detroit eases the loss of Randy Moss.
Tampa Bay ****
The defense got the talent infusion it needs, with DE Gaines Adams, second-round DB Sabby Piscitelli and third-round LB Quincy Black. An additional second-round pick added G Arron Sears to a developing O-line.
â€” THREE STARS ***
Atlanta Falcons ***
Defensive end was a major need, and the Falcons got an excellent one in Southeastern Conference sack leader Jamaal Anderson. At 6-3, 320 pounds, G Justin Blalock brings size to one of the NFL’s smallest offensive lines. DB Chris Houston helps a weak pass defense.
Baltimore Ravens ***
Ben Grubbs was the highest-rated guard in the draft, though taking him with the 29th pick may have been a little high for that position. WR/KR Yamon Figurs had the fastest 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. Heisman winner Troy Smith could play a role with QB Kyle Boller having just a year left on his contract.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: National Football League | QB | Universal Resource Locator | RB | WR | LB | CB | DT | Brady | DB | By Chris Greenberg, AP
Buffalo Bills ***
RB Marshawn Lynch makes Willis McGahee’s departure tolerable. LB Paul Posluszny is a mini-steal with the 34th pick. QB Trent Edwards is a questionable third-round pick, considering Buffalo has multiple defensive needs.
Chicago Bears ***
Fourth-round G Josh Beekman begins to address the aging on their offensive line, plus they got the premier tight end in Greg Olsen, filling a need. Third-round RB Garrett Wolfe from Northern Illinois is an interesting gamble, and Michael Okwo adds needed depth at linebacker, where disgruntled Lance Briggs finds himself still in Chicago â€” for the moment.
Cincinnati Bengals ***
The arrest-plagued Bengals needed an Eagle Scout, and they got a figurative one in CB Leon Hall, a widely projected top-10 pick who was available at No. 18. Hall also is a perfect fit for the NFL’s worst pass defense. The Bengals had bigger needs than getting running back depth with Kenny Irons in the second round.
Dallas Cowboys ***
The bottom line is swap-savvy Jerry Jones manipulated a first-round pick in 2008 by giving up third and fifth-round picks this year. LB Anthony Spencer is a solid pass rusher. But if QB Tony Romo doesn’t rebound from a late-season slide, the Cowboys could regret passing on Brady Quinn.
Detroit Lions ***
For the fourth time in five years, the Lions used a first-rounder on a wide receiver. But this one, Calvin Johnson, is considered a can’t-miss. QB Drew Stanton doesn’t figure to challenge Jon Kitna immediately. DE Ikaika Alama-Francis and DB Gerald Alexander should address two of the numerous defensive gaps.
Jacksonville Jaguars ***
The Jags moved back from 17 to 21 in the first round and still got needed secondary help from FS Reggie Nelson. Second pick LB Justin Durant, from Hampton, may have been a reach but runs a 4.51 40. WR Mike Walker is a needed burner for a weak receiving corps.
Minnesota Vikings ***
Despite durability questions, explosive RB Adrian Peterson is a good fit with Minnesota, where he has a top offensive line on the left side and can split carries with Chester Taylor. WR Sidney Rice adds zip to an offense that lacks big-play punch. CB Marcus McCauley gives some secondary depth.
New England Patriots ***
Safety Brandon Meriweather fills the Pats’ biggest need but brings character-issue baggage, something New England has traditionally avoided. Outside the draft, they acquired star WR Randy Moss as well as a first- and third-rounder next year.
New York Jets ***
Trading up, the Jets plugged their biggest hole with CB Darrelle Revis, who also returns punts. They traded up to get second-round LB David Harris, a prolific tackler who should step right into their 3-4 scheme.
Pittsburgh Steelers ***
It was a little surprising the Steelers didn’t grab Jon Beason, but they still solved a linebacker need with Lawrence Timmons and have an excellent track record of drafting correctly there. Second-rounder LaMarr Woodley is a good fit no matter what defensive scheme new coach Mike Tomlin plays.
San Diego Chargers ***
The Chargers addressed all three of their biggest needs with WR Craig Davis, DB Eric Weddle and LB Anthony Waters. Davis also can return punts and gives the Chargers the deep threat they’ve been missing.
San Francisco 49ers ***
The 49ers needed defensive line help but instead took highly regarded LB Patrick Willis first. Trading up added a second first-rounder, OT Joe Staley. WR Jason Hill and DE Ray McDonald both filled needs.
â€” TWO STARS **
Biggest offensive need was TE, and the Panthers passed up Greg Olsen. But LB Jon Beason was surprisingly available for the 25th pick. Second-round pick for WR Dwayne Jarrett might have been better spent on a safety.
Ranked 21st against the pass, the Broncos will bring more pressure up front with DEs Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder. Third-round pick for OT Ryan Harris neglected the needs at LB, S and RB. DT Marcus Thomas is a good fourth-round gamble, despite his marijuana issues.
Green Bay **
DT Justin Harrell didn’t fill a need with the Packers’ first-round pick, and at No. 16 was taken ahead of projections. RB Brandon Jackson (second round) will be hard-pressed to replace the departed Ahman Green. DB Aaron Rouse (third round) fills a need in the secondary.
DT Amobi Okoye answers a big need and might free up last year’s disappointing No. 1 overall pick, Mario Williams. But with no second-round pick and WR Jacoby Jones taken in the third, the Texans ignored fixing an OL that yielded 43 sacks.
WR Anthony Gonzalez has more speed and skills similar to Brandon Stokley. But adding another target for Peyton Manning meant passing on the impact player the Colts Defense sorely needs. Indy didn’t take a defender until Round 3, with DB Daymeion Hughes.
Kansas City **
Despite being a run-dependent team with looming OL problems the Chiefs’ first three picks were WR Dwayne Bowe, DT Turk McBride and DT DeMarcus Tyler. Bowe is a big, adept target, but won’t get many catches if his QB is getting flattened.
New Orleans **
The Saints were expected to emphasize defense, but couldn’t pass up getting another wideout for Drew Brees when Robert Meachem was unexpectedly available at No. 27. Second-round DB Usama Young fills a need.
St. Louis **
Rams needed help on the DL and in Adam Carriker got a guy who can play anywhere there. Second-rounder RB Brian Leonard might not see much time.
Safety Michael Griffin helps solve the secondary problems that the NFL’s 32nd-ranked defense has compiled by the full-season suspension of CB Pacman Jones. But RB Chris Henry hasn’t been a consistent starter, and WR Paul Williams won’t fill the holes left by departures of Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade.
â€” ONE STAR *
Dolphins fans booed coach Cam Cameron heavily for taking versatile WR-KR Ted Ginn Jr. instead of QB Brady Quinn. John Beck can be groomed at QB, but the trade for Trent Green hasn’t materialized. Miami got needed OL help from C-G Samson Satele in Round 2.
New York Giants *
Although Eli Manning lacks protection, the Giants ignored their OL needs. DB Aaron Ross and DT Jay Alford fill holes on a spotty defense, but a blocker was needed with the second-round pick used on WR Steve Smith.
Lacking a first-round pick for the first time since 1992, the Eagles added an unneeded backup QB in Kevin Kolb with the 36th pick. They got DE Victor Abiamiri with an additional second-rounder, but defense should have been the early priority.
With their first pick coming at No. 55, the Seahawks didn’t have much opportunity. DB Josh Wilson and DT Brandon Mebane could help. There still issues at TE, despite the signing of Marcus Pollard.
The Redskins had only one first-day pick and used it on top S LaRon Landry. But they might have been wiser to add a pass rusher to a D-line that managed only 19 sacks.
The Sporting News NFL Expert War Room scouts are guilty of some serious grade inflation, giving every team a “C” or better!
Oakland Raiders. They got their franchise QB in JaMarcus Russell, acquired the draft’s best TE in Zach Miller and picked up RB Michael Bush, who could start in 2008 after a season of being a backup and getting healthy.
Miami Dolphins. The first three picks–WR Ted Ginn Jr., QB John Beck and C Samson Satele–should all become starters quickly. The smart, mature Beck could be ready by opening day. RB Lorenzo Booker will help immediately as a third-down back.
Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons did a very good job of addressing needs while adding top-level players. DE Jamaal Anderson fills Patrick Kerney’s shoes, and G Justin Blalock and CB Chris Houston should start early in their careers.
Cleveland Browns. The Browns got an immediate starter in LT Joe Thomas and a franchise QB in Brady Quinn. Off-field issues make CB Eric Wright a gamble, but he has the talent to start as a rookie.
Minnesota Vikings. RB Adrian Peterson is an elite player, and WR Sidney Rice, WR Aundrae Allison and OLB Rufus Alexander should become very good starters eventually. The sleeper of the group is CB Marcus McCauley.
Philadelphia Eagles. After S Brandon Meriweather got snatched away by New England, the Eagles traded out of Round 1 and took QB Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb’s heir apparent. They nailed their next two picks, DE Victor Abiamiri and OLB Stewart Bradley, who should start as rookies.
Carolina Panthers. The Panthers had a strong draft by emphasizing college productivity over workout numbers. OLB Jon Beason should start as a rookie, and WR Dwayne Jarrett will get playing time and make big plays in the red zone.
New York Giants. The Giants didn’t make trades, stuck with their board and did well. CB Aaron Ross should challenge for a starting job in 2007 and WR Steve Smith will make an impact as the slot receiver.
New York Jets. Darrelle Revis immediately becomes the Jets’ best cornerback and David Harris gives them the big, physical inside linebacker they need for their 3-4 defense. OT Jacob Bender was a good late pick.
Denver Broncos. DE Jarvis Moss and OT Ryan Harris should challenge for starting jobs as rookies. Marcus Thomas was the most talented DT in the draft and will be a fourth-round steal if he can control his off-field issues.
Chicago Bears. TE Greg Olsen will make an impact as a receiver this season. Then the Bears added a number of solid prospects who will contribute as rookies and become starters in a season or two.
Arizona Cardinals. OT Levi Brown and DT Alan Branch should start as rookies. ILB Buster Davis and TE Ben Patrick should start eventually. The Cardinals made good use of their five picks.
San Francisco 49ers. Patrick Willis, who can play any linebacker spot in the 3-4, was a great No. 1 pick but OT Joe Staley, a workout warrior, was a big-time reach later in Round 1. The 49ers picked up several potential starters after that.
Indianapolis Colts. The Colts reached a little for WR Anthony Gonzalez, but he fills the hole left by Brandon Stokley. OT Tony Ugoh and CB Daymeion Hughes should become starters within a season.
Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags scored huge at the top of the draft with S Reggie Nelson and ILB Justin Durant, who should start as rookies and bring a playmaking flair to the team. Their other picks need work, but have talent.
Detroit Lions. The Lions hit a home run with WR Calvin Johnson, but they also added quality players around him–DE Ikaika Alama-Francis, S Gerald Alexander, G Manuel Ramirez and a toy for Mike Martz, QB Drew Stanton.
St. Louis Rams. Adam Carriker wasn’t the flashiest of this year’s defensive ends but probably is the safest bet to become a solid starter–perhaps at tackle. FB Brian Leonard was a great pick because of his versatility as a blocker, runner and receiver.
Buffalo Bills. Marshawn Lynch and Dwayne Wright make a nice rushing tandem. After missing out on Patrick Willis by one pick, the Bills got the best overall linebacker in Paul Posluszny at the top of Round 2.
Baltimore Ravens. G Ben Grubbs and OT Marshal Yanda will help improve the offensive line. QB Troy Smith was a steal in Round 5; with time to improve his mechanics, he could be the eventual replacement for Steve McNair.
Cincinnati Bengals. Leon Hall was the best CB in the draft. RB Kenny Irons will be a great complement to Rudi Johnson. Day 2 produced many players who will have a chance to start in time.
Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers did a good job of getting two versatile defenders in the first two rounds. Lawrence Timmons can play either outside linebacker position and LaMarr Woodley can play linebacker in the team’s traditional 3-4 or end when it switches to a 4-3.
San Diego Chargers. The Chargers took some players higher than most people expected, but WR Craig Davis gives them an explosive deep threat and S Eric Weddle will bring the consistency and playmaking ability they have been desperate for in the secondary.
Green Bay Packers. DT Justin Harrell was a bit of a reach, but the Packers hit big with RB Brandon Jackson, who should become Ahman Green’s long-term replacement. They also grabbed some athletic, competitive players who could start eventually.
Dallas Cowboys. After two solid picks at the top of the draft in DE Anthony Spencer and OT James Marten, the Cowboys took a number of players who are better athletes than football players at this point.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The top two picks, DE Gaines Adams and G Arron Sears, should start as rookies. Adams is an explosive edge rusher who should be disruptive. The Bucs reached for S Sabby Piscitelli and OLB Quincy Black.
New Orleans Saints. The Saints gambled on talented athletes who are not polished players, including WR Robert Meachem, CB Usama Young and G Andy Alleman. The best value pick, RB Antonio Pittman, will be stuck behind Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush.
Kansas City Chiefs. WR Dwayne Bowe and DT Tank Tyler will make an impact as rookies, but DT Turk McBride was a reach. The Chiefs did get a good RB in Kolby Smith, but this group has many wait-and-see types.
Washington Redskins. The Redskins scored big in Round 1 by grabbing LaRon Landry, their only Day 1 pick. He and Sean Taylor should give them the best safety tandem in the league by 2008. They picked up some solid prospects late in the draft.
Houston Texans. The Texans nailed their first pick (DT Amobi Okoye) and got a raw threat with their second (WR Jacoby Jones). Most of their other picks will need to improve a lot to become NFL starters.
New England Patriots. S Brandon Meriweather will start as a rookie, and the ability to acquire WR Randy Moss must be taken into account as well. But many of the other picks have real question marks.
Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks didn’t get any immediate impact players, but some of their picks–including CB Josh Wilson, DT Brandon Mebane and DE Baraka Atkins–still should contribute as rookies and may start down the road.
Tennessee Titans. This Titans draft will go down as one that saved the team or blew it up, because nearly every one of its selections is a better athlete than football player right now.
NFL.com’s national editor Vic Carucci gives us the draft’s four biggest winners:
Carolina Panthers: After a mostly quiet offseason, the Panthers made a fairly noticeable splash in the draft. They worked out a deal with the New York Jets to trade down from the 14th to 25th overall spot and got former University of Miami linebacker Jon Beason, who at the very least is a nice insurance policy given Dan Morgan’s repeated concussions but who should prove to be much more. Former USC receiver Dwayne Jarrett, the second-round pick, is an exceptional talent for the Panthers to acquire with the 45th overall choice. Jarrett isn’t particularly fast, but he knows how to get in the end zone with the ball in his hands. He had 41 receiving touchdowns in only three seasons with the Trojans. The Panthers picked up an extra second-rounder that they used on another former Trojan, Ryan Kalil, arguably the best center in the draft and someone who also should help bring much-needed help to their offense. In the third round, they found the eventual replacement for defensive end Mike Rucker in Georgia’s Charles Johnson.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons made perhaps the steal of the draft by getting former Texas guard Justin Blalock seven picks into the second round, 39th overall, with the choice they acquired as part of the trade that sent backup quarterback Matt Schaub to the Houston Texans. Blalock is polished enough to be an instant starter and should prove to be an outstanding player for many years to come. The Falcons also picked up tremendous value with their selection of former Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston, one of the top players at his position and someone capable of making an immediate contribution, two picks later (using a choice they acquired from the Minnesota Vikings). In addition, they did wonders for their depth by picking up former Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson with the eighth overall selection, which they acquired from the Texans.
Indianapolis Colts: This is a case of the rich getting richer. The Colts found an ideal slot receiver for their spread-formation offense at the bottom of the first round in former Ohio State standout Anthony Gonzalez, a savvy route-runner who should find plenty of room to operate between Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. They used the second-round pick they acquired from San Francisco to land one of the top offensive tackles in this year’s college crop, Tony Ugoh, formerly of Arkansas. Third-rounder Daymeion Hughes, a former California cornerback who excels in zone coverage, should compete for one of the starting vacancies created by the departures of Nick Harper and Jason David.
Cleveland Browns: Sure, the Browns gave up plenty for the right to acquire former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn in the 22nd spot of the first round after using their original third-overall pick to grab former Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas. The price included their first-round pick in 2008. But so what? The Browns’ hierarchy can’t afford to be concerned about next year. The focus is on immediate improvement, or at the very least, establishing a legitimate foundation for the hope of the team getting significantly better in the coming years. That process begins with a franchise quarterback, and the Browns are convinced they have one in Quinn. It also requires a tackle that can keep him protected and can help the team to run the ball more effectively, and Thomas is that man.
Former Texas GM Charley Casserly judges without grades.
In my opinion, Joe Thomas was a better OT than Levi Brown. In fact, I am not sold on Levi Brown as a LT. Arizona ended up having two problems: 1. It did not get a chance to pick Joe Thomas and 2. Nobody wanted their pick, so they were stuck at No. 5.
There were better players there, but Russ Grimm was sold on Levi Brown’s physicality and the toughness he brings to the Cards offensive line. If he can’t play LT he could play RT, which is a blessing for the Cards because this would protect Matt Leinart’s blind side. Look for them to go slow with Levi Brown and find out where he is the most comfortable and play him there, and Oliver Ross or Mike Gandy will play the other side.
In Alan Branch they got good value for the pick in the second round. They had him rated much higher than where they picked him and that is why they traded up to get him. What they see in him is a guy similar to the big Jacksonville DTs (Henderson and Stroud). They’re guys who can disrupt blocking schemes. I love the pick of Buster Davis in the third round. In the tapes I watched he was always around the football. At 5-feet-9, he defies logic, but he is a “football player.” Guys like him end up making it. In fact, in the tapes I watched he outplayed his teammate and first-round pick Lawrence Timmons. A late-rounder with good value was seventh-round pick Ben Patrick.
They worked on addressing their needs. When they let Patrick Kerney leave, they knew there would be options in the draft. Jamaal Anderson should step in and start at the left DE position. I do not believe he is a top 10 pick because he does not have the outside pass-rush speed you want. He does show a quick inside move that was successful in college, but might not be in the pros. I think he should have stayed in school.
That being said, I believe he will be a good starting player in the NFL and should be productive versus the run and in time, with better technique, improve his pass-rushing ability. Justin Blalock was a good pick in the second round and an important one because he gives the Falcons a better physical presence in the OL, which fits in with their new running game.
Chris Houston is an interesting pick. He has speed and athletic ability to play CB. The question is whether he can convert to an off-corner when necessary as opposed to just a press-corner. The Falcons believe he can, but there is some risk in projecting that transition. He also needs to make more plays on the ball. Their next two picks are viewed by scouts I talked with around the NFL as good picks at that point in the draft: WR Laurent Robinson (3rd round) — good hands and combine workout; LB Stephen Nicholas (fourth round) — pass-rush ability.
Some things never change. Baltimore always has a solid draft and I think they did it again. They got the highest-rated OG in the draft with the 29th pick in the first round. Last fall, I asked 16 teams to name their top-rated OG and all 16 said Ben Grubbs. He is a big, physical power-blocker who will help the run game. This will also let them move Chris Chester back to center which I believe is his best position.
As an aside to this pick, when I asked Ozzie Newsome why they traded for Willis McGahee, he said there were two ways to upgrade the running attack — get a better back or improve the offensive line. Since he did not like the prices of O-linemen in free agency, he went for the back (McGahee). Now, by being disciplined in free-agency he improves the OL with best guard in the draft. I liked many of their other picks for the value they paid for them. Troy Smith with a late fifth-round pick. I did not like him in the third or higher, which is where many people were talking about him in December after the Michigan game, but he does have enough talent to make it and sometimes being passed can be a good motivating factor for a player.
By trading back into the third round, they got better value when they took WR/RS Yamon Figures. When they lost B.J. Sams last year, it really hurt their return game. Sams has some off-the-field issues which could affect his status with NFL’s conduct policies. Figures reminds some people of former Pro Bowl return man Jermaine Lewis. I also liked OT Marshal Yanda in the late third round. He is a better player than Tony Pashos, who they lost to Jacksonville in free agency.
Finally, I liked both of their fourth-round picks. Le’Ron McClain was probably the best blocking fullback in the draft and that fills a need for them. Their other fourth-round pick Antwan Barnes has a chance to help them as a situational pass rusher. Remember, Baltimore has had a lot of success developing guys who are not finished products coming out of college and finding a place for them in their defense to succeed. Some examples are Bart Scott, Adalius Thomas and Marques Douglas. This is what could happen with Barnes.
Owner Ralph Wilson hopes top pick Marshawn Lynch is the feature back the Bills need. (AP)
Owner Ralph Wilson hopes top pick Marshawn Lynch is the feature back the Bills need. (AP)
They filled immediate needs with their first two picks. Marshawn Lynch gives them an immediate starter at RB. I do not believe he is as good as any RB taken in the first round last year (Bush, Maroney, Williams and Addai). The problem is those players weren’t in this draft. Darrelle Revis would have been a good fit here, too. Paul Posluszny was one of my favorite players I looked at this spring. I looked at 2005 tape because he was recovering from an injury. He had great instincts on tape and from my experience, this characteristic above all others, is the most important for linebackers.
Owner Ralph Wilson hopes top pick Marshawn Lynch is the feature back the Bills need. (AP)
Owner Ralph Wilson hopes top pick Marshawn Lynch is the feature back the Bills need. (AP)
Trent Edwards gives them a young QB to go along with J.P. Losman. Scouts I talked to last fall thought he had a chance to go late in the first round, but he did not have good workouts this spring and has some injury concerns. But he’s still a good value in the third round. Dwayne Wright will help them at RB. He does not have great speed but he has good instincts and quickness. I like what the Bills did in this draft.
The Panthers made what turned out to be a good move in trading back in the first round and taking linebacker Jon Beason. They were able to move back to get a good player and pick up an additional draft choice. I liked Beason and thought he was the second-best linebacker, next to Patrick Willis. I like center Ryan Kalil where they got him the second round. I know one team almost took him in the first. He is a good technician who fits best in a zone-blocking scheme, which is what Carolina runs.
I am not as high on Dwayne Jarrett as others, because he has limited speed. He does give you size and will replace Keyshawn Johnson as a size receiver in the lineup, but I do not know if that is a positive because he still lacks speed. But if he can block and make plays in the red zone, that would complement Steve Smith. I liked their next two picks for the value they paid: DE Charles Johnson (third round) for his pass-rushing ability and Ryne Robinson (4th round) for punt returns.
The Bears picked up a good player in first-round pick Greg Olsen, as he was the best TE in this draft and can help right away in the passing game. Good move by the Bears to take the best player on their board.
Their next four picks are players who won’t have much of an impact this year, but they will add good depth and are prospects for the future, which is what a Super Bowl team usually gets when they are picking in the draft. RB Garrett Wolfe will be a change-of-pace back. LB Michael Okwo fits their scheme because he can run. DE Dan Bazuin gives them potentially another pass rusher. John Beekman is a good value in the fourth round as a developmental OL.
The Bengals sat there in the first round and got a starting corner. Many teams had Leon Hall as their top-rated corner. Some people had trouble with his speed, but the Bengals feel his problem was more in his transition technique coming out of his back pedal to turn and run with receivers. This will be something to watch in training camp. He can be a very effective Cover 2 corner right away. I like this pick in this spot. RB Kenny Irons in the second round is a good pick also. It gives them a good change-of-pace back to go along with Rudi Johnson. They really missed Chris Perry last year. The drafting of Irons may tell us they are not certain of Perry’s future.
Do not forget — they used this year’s third-round pick to take LB Ahmad Brooks in the 2006 Supplemental Draft. Brooks, who had numerous character issues coming out of Virginia, has first-round ability. He will have a chance to start this year. The pick looks good so far.
The Cowboys wheeled and dealed themselves into a first-round pick for next year, which gives them two in ’08.
In the first round they took OLB Anthony Spencer. This might have been a reach value-wise, but if you are a 3-4 defense, you have to have these types of players and they are hard to find. I do not believe Bobby Carpenter is a good enough pass rusher to fit the bill. Greg Ellis was a big loss last year when he got injured and that was the biggest reason the Cowboys defense suffered the second half of last season. Spencer gives them an alternate if Ellis is not ready. Spencer reminds me of Shaun Phillips of the Chargers who has played very well for them. Their next two picks have value too. OT James Marten is someone to develop and Isaiah Stanback, who played QB in college, is a very good athlete who should be tried at DB or WR.
I believe the Broncos helped themselves more this offseason than any team in the NFL — even New England. But the one area they did not improve in free-agency was their defensive line. So it was no surprise they were aggressive in trading up in the draft to improve it. DE Jarvis Moss is a good pass rusher who is not ready to play the run right now, but should be a factor in pass-rushing situations. DE Tim Crowder, taken in the second, is more of a third-round value because he is a tweener, meaning he lacks the speed to be a threat as a pass rusher, though he can make a quick move at the line-of-scrimmage. He also lacks the bulk to be a DT, but he can help in a rotation and possibly develop into a starter at left DE.
DT Marcus Thomas was kicked off the team at Florida for off-field issues. In fact, Moss was suspended from the team for a time, too. Thomas has high-round ability, according to the scouts I talked to, but he was also off many draft boards because of character questions. Denver has clearly gambled on two very talented players. One of the things the NFL office has stressed to teams this offseason is upgrading support programs for players coming into the league with issues like these two young men have had in college. Look for the NFL to ask Denver what programs it has in place to aid these players.
If Moss and Thomas come through, Denver will have completed the best offseason in the NFL.
They took the best player in the draft despite their past failures drafting wide receivers and having bigger needs at other positions. They did the right thing! They now give themselves a set of wide receivers that can rival any in the league and I believe this will turn the team around. They now cause matchup problems for every team they play. Great move by the Lions! The rest of there picks are more wait-and-see types, but the pick of Calvin Johnson takes the pressure off the rest of the draft for now.
QB Drew Stanton played better as a junior than a senior. But Mike Martz can develop QBs if they are willing to work and listen, so this one’s up to you, Drew. S Gerald Alexander has played corner and safety, but he’s more of a safety with athletic ability and range. DE Ikaika Alma-Francis has some pass-rush ability but will need development.
Green Bay Packers
Justin Harrell is a player who did not get a lot of pre-draft publicity, but when I talked to teams about defensive linemen, his name always came up as a first-round talent, despite the fact he was injured most of his senior year. So from an ability point-of-view, he is a first-rounder. Obviously the Packers believed this was a bigger need than their age at CB (Leon Hall) and WR (Robert Meachem).
The Packers already have Ryan Pickett at DT appear to want to extend Cullen Jenkins’ contract, who was their other starting DT. Harrell does give them better bulk then have right now, so this makes you think this draft choice may affect how they view Jenkins going forward.
RB Brandon Jackson appears to be a need pick. There were other backs on the board who seemed to be more popular with teams around the NFL (Antonio Pittman and Tony Hunt). WR James Jones has size and hands, but not top-end speed. One thing to remember with receivers is teams have different characteristics they want, so what might fit for one team does not fit another team.
For the second straight year they will have the youngest starting player in the NFL. Last year it was Mario Williams. They chose Okoye over the cornerbacks because he was the higher-rated player on their board. Okoye at 19 should still have some growth potential. Okoye came into his own this year as a player and had a good week at the Senior Bowl, which seemed to move him up draft boards from his fall grades. I liked Okoye and he should help the Texans. He will play best in an upfield style of play and that is how they will use him.
They used their second-round pick as part of a package of draft choices to get QB Matt Schaub, so that must figure into their draft evaluation in years to come. In the third round they took an interesting wide receiver prospect in Jacoby Jones. He excelled at Lane College, but wasn’t intimidated by the better competition when he played in the postseason all-star-games. He might take some time, but he has some talent.
Once again the Colts get a player at the end of the first round who can help them right away. WR Anthony Gonzalez will help them immediately in their three-wide receiver package. I thought he would be an excellent slot receiver in the pros and that is what the Colts will use him as. Their next pick came via a trade, where they traded away next year’s first-round pick to get a player in this year’s second round.
This is a good technique because the Colts get a player a year earlier for second-round money and they will probably pick late in the first round next year anyway. Tony Ugoh will play guard this year with the idea he could move to OT as the eventual replacement for Tarik Glenn. I like both of these moves. In the third round, they took CB Daymeion Hughes who lacks some speed, but is a good, instinctive zone-cover corner and this is what fits the Colts. DT Quinn Pitcock seems to be a need pick. He is a tough, high-motor inside guy.
The Jags traded back in the first round and filled their first need with the player many believed was the second-best safety in Reggie Nelson. He’s a guy with a lot of range and playmaking ability. There was some concern by some scouts about his ability to handle the mental side of the game, but I talked to some defensive coaches who worked him out and they felt Nelson would be fine. I like this pick.
The next couple of picks are all interesting. LB Justin Durant ran 4.54 and should help on special teams as he learns to play LB. WR Mike Walker has size, speed (4.38) and played his senior year while recovering from a knee injury. A lot of teams liked him in this spot. DE-LB Brian Smith ran in the 4.70′s and has some pass rush and special teams potential.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs addressed needs at the top of the draft.
WR Dwayne Bowe is a big and physical player. What the Chiefs wanted the type of receiver who can also block. In their offense, which revolves around the run, this type player will help them more than a player like Robert Meachem. Bowe is not a deep threat and can show some inconsistency in catching the ball. That being said, he was the consensus top-rated senior receiver when I polled NFL teams and was the second- or third-rated receiver on most draft boards of the teams I spoke with, because of his size and playmaking ability.
They got help on the defensive line with their next two picks. DT Turk McBride and DT Tank Tyler. I did not see McBride, but people I asked believe he was in the second tier of DTs and this is the spot where guys like him were going to get drafted. Tyler is a run stuffer and a good value in the third round. Some people questioned his desire at times. Dropping in the draft can be a good motivating tool for a player.
We all had it wrong here. Just when I got through writing Brady Quinn’s name next to Miami, they took Ted Ginn Jr.! They kept this one quiet, maybe too quiet. Sometimes it is a good idea to let the fans know there are some other options when you pick, but the danger in doing that at the ninth pick, is you might tip other teams on who you are interested in. Now to Ginn. He’s the second-fastest player I have ever scouted — the fastest being Darrell Green, who was the fastest player in my 30 years in the NFL.
I remember going to Ohio State to scout Santonio Holmes — who can run pretty fast — and just watch Ginn run right by him. Some people feel Ginn will have trouble getting off the press and running routes. I don’t believe that. He has foot quickness and the change-of-direction ability to do that. In fact, if you want to press him, good luck — because if you miss him at the line of scrimmage, you might as well send the PAT defense on because you will not catch him. There are a couple of things that bother me about him — his pure hands and size. As for size, there are guys like Ginn who have been great pros: Marvin Harrison and Steve Smith. Neither of these guys made a living in college going over the middle. This is a pick that is getting criticized by many, but you won’t hear defensive coordinators who have to defense Ginn criticize him. He is also can impact the game as a return man.
John Beck is an accurate QB who is smart and has great intangibles. Who does that sound like? Drew Brees, except Beck has better work habits coming out of college. This is a guy a lot of teams liked and wanted. The next couple of picks should add some much-needed characteristics to the team: RB Lorenzo Booker for his speed; G Samson Stele for toughness and Paul Solicit for size at the NT position. This team needed to add speed to their offense and they did with Ginn and Booker. They also needed a QB to develop and they got him in John Beck. I will bet Randy Mueller is a lot smarter at this football thing than the people booing him.
They took the player I called the most fascinating in the top 10 — Adrian Peterson (RB). If he did not have the durability questions, he would have been the first pick in this and many other drafts. I still think Minnesota has a need at QB, but I would have taken Peterson over Quinn here, too. WR Sidney Rice is a good player, but not necessarily a big speed receiver, according to the scouts I talked to; I did not see him myself. CB Marcus McCauley did not play well this year. He does have athletic skill but seems to lack instincts to play the position. DE Brian Robison has size and speed.
New England Patriots
You have to factor New England’s trades into their draft evaluation. They used three draft picks to add WR/RS Wes Welker and WR Randy Moss. Both players can help the Patriots, assuming Moss brings the right attitude — which I believe he will. Also, adding a No. 1 draft choice for next year was smart. I suppose the Pats looked at this draft board and decided there were not many players who could make their team, so that is why they traded to get Moss for a fourth-round pick and secured a first rounder. I believe they were smart moves. So if this ends up being only a one-player draft, you can’t forget these other moves. The one they drafted, S Brandon Meriweather should help them this year. He is a safety who gives them flexibility in coverage as he played corner, safety and nickel back in college. I like his cover ability from the safety position. He had some off-the-field problems as well as being suspended one game last year. This obviously did not bother New England.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints sat where they were and got Robert Meachem — the second best receiver in the draft, in the opinion of most scouts and coaches I talked with this spring. He has good size and timed speed and has some playmaking ability. They also picked up Antonio Pittman, who is a big-play back. I do not know how he gets the ball with McAllister and Bush there, but he is good value in the fourth round. In between these two picks they took two small-school players. The Saints had success in last year’s draft with small-school guys like Jahri Evans and Marques Colston. In this year’s third round they took CB Usama Young, who is a good athlete with speed but is raw. At the end of the round they took G Andy Alloman, who a number of teams liked. He’s a tough guy and good technician but lacks some bulk. When a team has success like New Orleans did last year with small-school players, you tend to give them the benefit of the doubt on your evaluations of these players. Another good move was picking up corner Jason David from the Colts. This helped them not force a pick for a corner in the first round.
New York Giants
The Giants’ two primary needs in the draft were CB and OT. Hopefully, they addressed one of those needs with Aaron Ross. I say hopefully, because there are some things Ross can do well and others he does not. What I mean by that is this: He can press and play zone. He does have the unique ability to make a play on the ball. His weakness is in off-man coverage because of poor technique, which should be correctable, but sometimes is not. It appears Ross’ strengths will fit the new Giants scheme, so he should help them. WR Steve Smith is more of a slot receiver than an outside receiver. DT Jay Alford is a high-effort guy. LB Zak DeOssie is a size-and-speed prospect who should play on special teams.
New York Jets
They did a great job of being aggressive by trading up to get the players they wanted. They made a smart trade with Carolina to get the cornerback Darrelle Revis, who they viewed as the best CB in the draft (so did I) and an obvious need for the team. They also traded up to get ILB David Harris, who is a perfect fit in the 3-4 defense. Both players should start for the Jets. Do not forget the addition of running back Thomas Jones to their draft evaluation. They got him by swapping second-round draft choices in the offseason. I like what the Jets did.
In JaMarcus Russell, they took a terrific QB talent who — with the addition of Josh McCown — will be able to sit for a while. Russell has all the talent you want, so it will be fun to watch him develop. Trading Randy Moss was addition by subtraction. He may go on and help New England, but there comes a time when you need to move on and that time had come in Oakland. Zach Miller has good hands but limited speed, but was the next best TE in the draft. In a bad year for TEs the Raiders made a need pick with him. He does have some blocking ability. I thought the next couple of picks were pretty interesting. OT Mario Henderson played well against first-round picks Gaines Adams and Jarvis Moss in college. I liked this pick in the third round. DE Quentin Moses played better as a junior and has some pass rush skills, another good value in the third round. WR/PR Johnnie Lee Higgins can help them as a punt returner. RB Michael Bush gives them a big back, though it might be a while before he is well. I don’t believe he would have been a first-round pick even if he had not got hurt. Based on his ’05 tape he would have been a second- to-third-round player in my opinion I like what the Raiders did in the draft.
They surprised everyone by taking a QB in the second round. Not necessarily Kevin Kolb, who was ranked second behind Brady Quinn by at least one team and a number of teams I talked with, liked him. Kolb has been a very productive QB who has operated out of a spread offense from the shotgun formation. He has the physical skills and the smarts to play in the NFL.
The big issue is whether he can convert to a normal timing offense in the NFL. Philadelphia thinks he can, others I talked with said they were concerned about this. The Eagles did a great job getting QBs to play well during Andy Reid’s regime, so do not bet against him.
The next few picks were less controversial and they were all solid picks. I especially like RB Tony Hunt in the late-third round. He is a big, physical back who has good instincts but lacks some speed. The Eagles needed a bigger back to go along with Westbrook and Hunt is that back. Victor Abiamiri gives them a good DE to develop, as both Kearse and Howard are older and have injury problems. Interestingly, in ’05 he outplayed Winston Justice — their ’06 second-round pick when Justice was at USC. OLB Stewart Bradley, who they got in the third round is a physical linebacker who has a chance to develop into a SAM LB.
The Steelers filled a critical need with their first two picks by taking linebacker Lawrence Timmons and DE LaMarr Woodley. In the 3-4 defense it is hard to fill the OLB position because very few teams play the 3-4 in college. So, teams are always projecting defensive ends to OLB in the pros and there are more misses than hits at these projections. In regards to these two players, I liked Timmons as a LB but had some concerns about his size for the 3-4. The Steelers reminded me that Greg Lloyd was the same size as Timmons, so that convinced me he will fit their scheme. In college, Timmons had a knack to get to the QB. Woodley is a bigger man who has not played LB and I did not think he was as good a pass rusher as you might like, so this is more a wait-and-see pick to me. These two picks will make or break this draft. Also, these two should put to rest any question what defense they are going to play. It is the 3-4!
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers did not have many picks, but still helped their team.
In the late first round they drafted WR Craig Davis. I like him primarily as a slot receiver and especially where they got him. Many people I talked to last fall had him rated as the No. 1 senior receiver. He has good speed and run-after-catch ability.
Their controversial pick was S Eric Weddle, but most people I talked to said he was the next-best safety and he would not have been around when the Chargers picked at the end of the second round. I never saw tape on him so my thoughts are those of scouts in the league. He is a versatile guy who played corner and safety as well as offense in college. He ran 4.52. The thought is to move him to safety where he can cover well enough. If has to cover a slot in a three-wide formation, he can do that without substituting a cornerback.
Their most interesting pick is in the third round where they picked LB Anthony Waters. He was rated as a late first-round pick coming into last fall before he got hurt. He is still recovering from a knee injury, but if he comes back, which he should, San Diego got a real bargain.
San Francisco 49ers
I liked what San Francisco did in the draft with its trade for Seattle WR Darrell Jackson.
Patrick Willis was the top-rated LB and the Niners got him. They made a trade to get OT Joe Staley, a guy a lot of people liked and many thought was the second-best LT in this draft. They also got him for his value — which was late first round. Ray McDonald is a very good football player who may need knee surgery, but is worth the value of a late third-round pick in this draft. Jay Moore is a projection to OLB, who has some pass rush ability. WR Jason Hill was productive in college, had a good Senior Bowl showing and times fast, even though he may not play in the 4.30′s.
Give San Francisco credit for being able to get a first-round pick back after they traded their first rounder to get Joe Staley. I believe that is the first time I ever saw that done in the same draft
Don’t forget the Seahawks traded their No. 1 draft pick for Deion Branch. Would you rather have Branch or Craig Davis? I would take Branch. Some might argue Davis is a better deal because he would cost less money. I would argue that you know what you’re getting in Branch, while Davis is a mystery. The salary cap is not that big of an issue when you are just making one of these types of trades. CB Josh Wilson is a backup-type player and DT Brandon McBane is a two-down nose tackle.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams addressed an immediate need with the top-rated DT in Adam Carriker. This was a good pick — Carriker is a high-motor guy who will play the run well and possibly give you some inside pass rush.
FB Brian Leonard is a versatile player that can run and catch well along with some blocking ability. CB Jon Wade has 4.47 speed at corner and has a chance to help them at a position of need. Don’t forget the addition of Dante’ Hall as a returner. This is a solid group of four players for the value they paid
In the first round the Titans made an interesting selection. They selected DB Michael Griffin. What makes him intriguing is they are going to move him to corner. Since I only saw him play safety, I talked to some people I trust in the NFL and they thought he had a chance athletically to be a corner. Playing corner is not about straight-line speed, it’s about hip transition and change of direction. By the way, Griffin had the third-best short shuttle among DBs at the combine. I had some concerns at safety in the areas of instincts and open-field tackling.
In the second round they took RB Chris Henry, who has great speed but limited production in college. One reason was because he got in the coach’s doghouse. If they hit on him, they might really have something. I haven’t seen this player, but two Pro Bowlers who had similar college careers were Terrell Davis and Willie Parker and both of them blossomed in the NFL. Of course, neither was taken this high in the draft. In talking to scouts about him they say he has talent, but is immature and inconsistent as a player with some of that caused by a lack of instincts or experience. In the third round they selected WR Paul Williams. He didn’t have the production in his senior season that he had in the past. He played hurt all year.
He showed some good things in the Senior Bowl. He has size and speed. At times he was not very creative in his play and had some instinctive issues, but is a good value in the third round.
The Redskins knew going in, it was going to be a one-player draft and they picked a good one in S LaRon Landry, who has Pro Bowl ability and many people felt he was the safest defensive player at the top of the draft. He is more athletic than Sean Taylor, but Taylor made more impact plays in college. I like this pick. My only question, which I cannot answer by watching tape, is who will be the defensive signal caller between Landry and Taylor?
CBS SportsLne’s Pete Prisco:
Best pick: DT Alan Branch, second round. Branch is a player the Cardinals were going to consider at the top of the first round in March. He will play nose in their 3-4.
Questionable move: Third-round pick Buster Davis was a good college player, but he’s a small linebacker who has to cover for some limitations.
Second-day gem: Getting tight end Ben Patrick in the seventh round was a good move. He was the third tight end on some lists.
Overall grade: B+. Their first two picks make the draft. I probably would have selected Adrian Peterson over Levi Brown in the first round, but it works for their team.
Best pick: They got the best defensive player in the first round when they took defensive end Jamaal Anderson. He will be a star.
Questionable move: They took receiver Laurent Robinson in the third round when there were better receivers on the board.
Second-day gem: Sixth-round pick David Irons, a corner from Auburn, is one of those feisty players who will find his way onto the roster.
Overall grade: A. They got three quality players in the first three rounds in Anderson, Justin Blalock and Chris Houston. They had a nice first day.
Best pick: It was their first one. Guard Ben Grubbs will be an opening-day starter.
Questionable move: Third-round pick Yamon Figurs can fly, but he’s raw as a receiver. If this is for his return skill, taking him that high is a risk.
Second-day gem: Fullback Le’Ron McClain, the team’s fourth-round pick, is a road grader as a blocker and should be a starter.
Overall grade: C
Best pick: Taking Marshawn Lynch with their first pick will prove to be a great move. He will be their franchise back for a long time.
Questionable move: I know a lot of people like Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny, but I think he’s a little stiff. Using a high second-round pick could backfire.
Second-day gem: Running back Dwayne Wright will be the perfect backup to Lynch. He’s a real tough inside runner.
Overall grade: C. Lynch makes the grade decent, but the rest of the draft doesn’t do a lot for me.
Best pick: Getting receiver Dwayne Jarrett in the second round will prove to be a steal. He plays much faster than his 40 time.
Questionable move: Using a fourth-round pick on 5-8 receiver Ryan Robinson, who is really just a return man.
Second-day gem: Sixth-round pick Tim Shaw was a quality linebacker at Penn State. He’s a little stiff, but in the sixth round he makes sense.
Overall grade: B+. Their first three picks — Jon Beason, Jarrett and Ryan Kalil — were outstanding. If fourth-round pick Charles Johnson can help the pass rush, this will really be a special draft.
Best pick: They need a weapon in the middle of the field, so taking tight end Greg Olsen with the first pick was a good move.
Questionable move: Using a third-round pick on Garrett Wolfe, a small running back, is risky. They don’t need him as a return man.
Second-day gem: Guard Josh Beekman, the team’s fourth-round pick, will work in as a starter in two years.
Overall grade: C
Best pick: It might seem like the Bengals don’t need a back, but taking Kenny Irons in the second round was a good move. Rudi Johnson has no big-play ability and Chris Perry is always hurt.
Questionable move: They didn’t get any help at linebacker, which is a problem on defense.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Marvin White was a big-hitting safety in college who could find his way as a special-teams player.
Overall grade: B-. I like the picks of Leon Hall and Irons, but they didn’t get a lot of help in their front seven.
Best pick: Going back into the first round to get Brady Quinn was a bold move, but one that will pay off in a big way.
Questionable move: Second-round pick Eric Wright has first-round ability, but there are character concerns. This team can’t afford to have this pick blow up on them.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Brandon McDonald is a raw corner who made the move from receiver. With some seasoning, he can be a nice cover player.
Overall grade: A+. They get a franchise left tackle and a franchise quarterback. And if Wright can stay out of trouble they got a franchise corner. That’s three key pieces.
Best pick: I love Anthony Spencer. Wade Phillips will turn him into another Shawne Merriman, especially teaming with DeMarcus Ware.
Questionable move: Using a third-round pick on converted quarterback Isaiah Stanback is something that will be watched closely. Is he another Antwaan Randle El?
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Doug Free is a quality tackle who will push Flozell Adams to play better.
Overall grade: B. I like Spencer and Free, but third-round pick James Marten probably went a round too high.
Best pick: Getting defensive tackle Marcus Thomas in the fourth round is a steal for this team. He will be a force — if he stays out of trouble.
Questionable move: They gave up a third-round pick to move up four spots to take Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss. I like him, but they should have stayed put and taken Anthony Spencer.
Second-day gem: Thomas. Think Warren Sapp.
Overall grade: B. They need help on their defensive line and they added three good players, counting end Tim Crowder.
Best pick: I like the choice of Ikaika Alama-Francis, a defensive end from Hawaii. He’s a former basketball player, which says a lot about his athletic ability.
Questionable move: For some it’s taking another receiver. But if you don’t admit your mistakes, you’re doomed by them. Taking Calvin Johnson was a good move.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round corner A.J. Davis is a smallish corner who has nice cover skills. He will be a perfect nickel corner.
Overall grade: B-. I like Johnson and second-round picks Alama-Francis and Drew Stanton. The Lions actually did some good things.
Green Bay Packers
Best pick: Justin Harrell. Yes, their first pick. He will be a force in the middle of their line.
Questionable move: Nebraska running back Brandon Jackson is a need pick, but he runs a little upright.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick David Clowney has blazing speed. If he can improve his route running, he could be a nice addition.
Overall grade: B
Best pick: They had to get a defensive tackle who could start, so using a first-round pick on Amobi Okoye was the right thing to do.
Questionable move: Using a third-round pick on receiver Jacoby Jones might have been a little high. He’s a raw player with talent, but he’s making a big step up from Lane College.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Fred Bennett comes from South Carolina, the same school that produced Texans corner Dunta Robinson. He has good size and could push for a nickel job as a rookie.
Overall grade: C+. I like Okoye, but after that there are a lot of questions.
Best pick: Third-round pick Daymeion Hughes was once considered a first-round talent. Slow times dropped him down, but in the Colts defense they can cover that up.
Questionable move: Trading up in the second round to take Arkansas tackle Tony Ugoh is a reach. He has tools, but he won’t be playing for at least two years.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Michael Coe is a raw corner from Alabama State who showed well when he went to the Senior Bowl.
Overall grade: B+. I love the pick of receiver Anthony Gonzalez in the first round and they added a lot of quality players in the other rounds. They had a nice draft.
Best pick: They wanted safety Reggie Nelson and they got him — plus added picks by trading down. Nelson can be a lot like Ed Reed.
Questionable move: Taking punter Adam Podlesh with the second pick of the fourth round. Chris Hanson struggled last year, but this is high for a punter.
Second-day gem: Safety Josh Gattis, who went in the fifth round, will be a special-teams star. He can hit and he can tackle.
Overall grade: B-. I like the pick of Nelson, and they added picks in doing so, but after that there are some question marks. Second-round pick Justin Durant went higher than expected.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best pick: Second-round pick Turk McBride will be a surprise player on the next level, maybe even a Pro Bowl player.
Questionable move: They didn’t get a corner. Ty Law and Patrick Surtain are getting up in the years.
Second-day gem: Running back Kolby Smith, a fifth-round pick, should be able to make the team as a backup and special-teams player.
Overall grade: B-. I like Dwayne Bowe in the first round, and getting McBride will pay off, but not taking a corner hurts.
Best pick: Second-round center Samson Satele is a power player who will help upgrade an offensive line that needs it.
Questionable move: Passing on Brady Quinn in the first round to take Ted Ginn. Itâ€™s not that Ginn isn’t a good player, but Quinn is the best quarterback in the draft. They made amends getting John Beck in the second round.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Paul Soliai is a wide-body nose tackle who will help stuff the run.
Overall grade: B. Beck will be a good player, so passing on Quinn might turn out OK. Is Ginn really worth the ninth pick?
Best pick: Third-round pick Marcus McCauley was once considered a first-round talent. He will push for the nickel job.
Questionable move: Passing on Brady Quinn in the first round. I love Adrian Peterson, but who will throw the football?
Second-day gem: Sixth-round pick Rufus Alexander was a tackling machine at Oklahoma. Getting him that late is a nice pick.
Overall grade: B. They drafted good players, but they didn’t get a quarterback, which is why the grade isn’t an A. Tarvaris Jackson better be a star.
New England Patriots
Best pick: Trading a fourth-round pick for Randy Moss. Can you believe it?
Questionable move: First-round pick Brandon Meriweather is a good player, but there are some character issues.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Kareem Brown is a power tackle who will help back up Vince Wilfork on the nose.
Overall grade: A. Why? They get Moss, get a good player in Meriweather and they traded their second first-round pick for San Francisco’s No. 1 next year, which should be higher. They get it.
New Orleans Saints
Best pick: Third-round pick Andy Alleman, a guard from Akron, is a tough guy who will find a spot in the lineup in a year or two.
Questionable move: Not drafting a defensive tackle. They need help in the middle.
Second-day gem: Running back Antonio Pittman. He wasn’t a need pick, but the value was too great in the fifth round.
Overall grade: B. I like Robert Meachem in the first round, but third-round pick Usama Young might have been a reach in the third round.
New York Giants
Best pick: Taking Steve Smith in the second round was a great move. Smith is an underrated receiver who will eventually be a 60-catch player.
Questionable move: Third-round pick Jay Alford was a bit of a reach. He’s never been a dominant player.
Second-day gem: Tight end Kevin Boss, a fifth-round pick, has some nice size and speed. He doesn’t need to be a starter, but as a backup he could help.
Overall grade: B-. I like the first two picks in Aaron Ross and Smith. The rest wasn’t real exciting.
New York Jets
Best pick: Getting linebacker David Harris in the second round will prove to be a great move. They did give up picks to get him, though.
Questionable move: Giving up all their picks to get two players is a risky move for a young team. Are they close to a Super Bowl? I don’t think so.
Second-day gem: Sixth-round pick Jacob Bender had a good day against Rams first-round pick Adam Carriker when he faced him. He’s a project, but he’s worth a look.
Overall grade: C. They got two good football players in first-round pick Darrelle Revis and David Harris, but are they a team that is just two players away? They gave up a lot to move up to get them.
Best pick: I like fourth-round pick Mario Henderson out of Florida State. He is a tackle with good feet who will get better as he gets stronger.
Questionable move: They needed a quarterback, but they picked the wrong one. They fell in love with the big arm of JaMarcus Russell.
Second-day gem: Running back Michael Bush, the first player taken on the second day, will be a star. He will be a steal here.
Overall grade: B+. They drafted a lot of good football players. If Russell is who they think he is, this will be an outstanding draft.
Best pick: I love the pick of running back Tony Hunt in the third round. He is a pound-it runner who will help spell Brian Westbrook.
Questionable move: Taking Kevin Kolb in the second round. They have a slew of backups behind Donovan McNabb, and this was a bit early.
Second-day gem: Tight end Brent Celek, the fifth-round pick, has some skills. Just take a peek at his 83-yard catch for a score against Rutgers last year.
Overall grade: C. They traded out of the first round, so their first pick was a quarterback who will be fourth on the depth chart when camp opens. I did like Victor Abiamiri later in the second round.
Best pick: Second-round pick LaMarr Woodley is a guy who will help pressure the quarterback.
Questionable move: Trading up in the fourth round to take punter Daniel Sepulveda. He’s a punter, guys.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Ryan McBean, a defensive tackle from Oklahoma State, is a perfect combo player for the Steelers since they will use a 3-4 and a 4-3.
Overall grade: B-. The key to their draft will be how Lawrence Timmons fills in for Joey Porter. He can be an explosive player.
St. Louis Rams
Best pick: Their first pick was the best pick. Defensive tackle Adam Carriker will be an immediate impact player.
Questionable move: I liked Brian Leonard as a player, but do the Rams really need a running back? They should have taken USC center Ryan Kalil with this pick.
Second-day gem: Defensive tackle Clifton Ryan, a fifth-round pick, is a tough guy who will help the line rotation.
Overall grade: B-. They got help at key spots — defensive line, corner and center — but taking Leonard, who I like, is a luxury for a team with Steven Jackson.
San Diego Chargers
Best pick: Third-round pick Anthony Waters, a linebacker from Clemson, could be a huge steal. He missed almost all of 2006 with a torn ACL, but he’s expected to be healthy when camp opens. He’s a thumper.
Questionable move: Trading away so many picks to move up to take safety Eric Weddle in the second round. He’s a good player, but they gave up a lot.
Second-day gem: Tight end Scott Chandler will be a good second tight end to Antonio Gates. There was nice value for the fourth round.
Overall grade: C. I didn’t like the pick of Craig Davis in the first round and they gave up too much for Weddle. But they needed help at those spots.
San Francisco 49ers
Best pick: I love the pick of Jason Hill in the third round. He will be a starting receiver by mid-season.
Questionable move: Moving back up into the first round to get tackle Joe Staley. He’s a good player, but was he worth the picks?
Second-day gem: Corner Tarell Brown from Texas is a good player who should have gone higher than the fifth round, but character issues drove him down.
Overall grade: A. They drafted a lot of really good football players. The scouting staff deserves big props.
Best pick: Third-round pick Brandon Mebane is a 305-pound defensive tackle who will help the run defense.
Questionable move: Trading this year’s first-round pick to New England for receiver Deion Branch. He has to show more than he did last year for this to be worth it.
Second-day gem: Defensive end Baraka Atkins has a chance to develop into a quality player.
Overall grade: D. I don’t think the trade for Branch was a good thing, and the draft didn’t bring a lot of immediate help.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best pick: Getting safety Sabby Piscitelli in the second round is a great pick. He will be an impact safety for a long time.
Questionable move: Fourth-round pick Tanard Jackson from Syracuse has some character issues. If he can stay out of trouble, he’s a good pick.
Second-day gem: The scouts that know say sixth-round pick Adam Hayward can be a starter.
Overall grade: A. They needed a lot of good players, and they got them. Nice job by Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden.
Best pick: Third-round pick Paul Williams has big-time speed. He could become Vince Young’s go-to guy.
Questionable move: Chris Henry has the tools, but he was never that productive a runner in college. Using a second-round pick on him is speculative.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Antonio Johnson will be a force in the middle of their defense in a couple of years. They got a real steal there.
Overall grade: C. I didn’t really like the first-round pick of Michael Griffin or the second-round pick of Henry, but they got some players in the rounds after that.
Best pick: Sixth-round pick H.B. Blades may be short, but he knows how to get to the football.
Questionable move: I think they over-drafted LaRon Landry. They needed defensive line help and would have been better off with Jamaal Anderson.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Dallas Sartz will be a good special-teams player and could eventually develop into a starting linebacker. I like the way he plays.
Overall grade: D. Landry will start, but that’s about all they’ll get in 2007 from this draft. They didn’t have enough picks.
Sports’ Illustrated‘s Paul Zimmerman, aka “Dr. Z,” admits to “the generally low level of the grades for the 2007 draft.” He attributes it to the lack of talent in the pool rather than poor drafting.
PATRIOTS — Incomplete
I’ll believe it when I see it. Belichick’s magic wand is now about to transform one of the NFL’s biggest dogs into America’s sweetheart. Oh, I know the argument. The Raiders stunk, therefore Randy wasn’t happy, therefore why should he give it much effort? I wonder how coach Belichick and personnel director Scott Pioli would have reacted to that argument before they heard the angel music.
Since all NFL people believe in reincarnation, Moss is now being portrayed as an incarnation of Corey Dillon, who had a bit of a reputation before he joined New England and performed heroically. Sorry, the argument doesn’t wash. Dillon never quit in games, walked off the field before a contest was over and admitted that he played hard only when he felt like it. If I’m wrong and New England cakewalks into the Super Bowl on Brady to Moss fireworks, OK, I’ll be the first to tell you. But not yet.
The rest of the Patriots’ draft? Oh, one first-day choice, safetyman, Brandon Meriweather, whom they like to say has “character issues,” a common NFL euphemism that’s kind of like Adult Entertainment.
BROWNS — A
Ah, the never-ending mysteries of draft day. They get both Brady Quinn and the draft’s most highly regarded blocker, tackle Joe Thomas. After that it gets a bit murky. Second-round CB Eric Wright … great talent but here we go again, character issues. Hey, I thought Roger Goodell outlawed that stuff. Only one thing can dull the euphoria that Browns fans are feeling at this moment, and that is if Quinn turns out to be, as some have predicted, not a franchise player but a meticulously schooled system QB with a tendency toward occasional wildness.
RAIDERS — B+
If you believe JaMarcus Russell is that good, then your grade must reflect it. Or let’s put it this way. This is a good conduct medal for Oakland for not getting exotic and going away from the QB pick, just to show everyone that they don’t have to do what’s expected. The rest of their board is saturation bombing, with 11 picks. Seven of the picks, including Russell, are for offense, which makes sense, and the most interesting is second round TE Zach Miller.
JETS — B+
They only had four picks, and two of them don’t really move me, but look what dedicated individuals can accomplish when they set their minds to it. They landed Darrelle Revis, the closest thing to a shutdown corner the draft had to offer … a guy whose star was shooting up so fast that they had to trade up to get him. They drafted one of the toughest LBs, David Harris, from Michigan, one of the country’s toughest defenses. And don’t forget that the extra second-round pick they used for the Revis trade-up came from swapping choices with the Bears for Thomas Jones, who is now New York’s premier runner.
49ers — B+
Another trade-up, this one involving their No. 1 next year, but it brought them Joe Staley, an LT type. I assume this means that Jonas Jennings or somebody will move to the right side, currently manned by Kwame Harris, who is a WGSK (Will Get Somebody Killed) tackle. On the first pick they got Patrick Willis, a LB who can laser in on the ball carrier with 4.51 speed. The third round brought them their fastest player (Jason Hill — 4.32) since Skeets Nehemiah, remember him? And I like their other third rounder, Ray McDonald, a defensive end-tackle tweener, relegated to this level in the draft because of two ACL operations, but a real battler. Don’t forget that former Seahawks WR Darrell Jackson is part of the draft. Cost ‘em a No. 4 he did.
CARDINALS — B+
It all hinges on second round choice Alan Branch, a DT with rare talent that sometimes comes out of the kitchen medium rare. If he can play up to … you know how the rest goes. No such rejoinder about No. 1 pick, T Levi Brown, who might finally be the tough, mauling type of O-lineman the Cards have searched for all these years. Undersized, explosive Buster Davis will be a fine NFL middle backer, and fifth rounder, WR Steve Breaston, could be a steal as a returner. And way down in the mines, where the sun never shines, we find TE Ben Patrick standing next to the marker that says Round No. 7. Hey, what’s he doing down here? He was rated top three at the position.
FALCONS — B+
DEs who go 6-5 1/2. 288 and can rush the passer, as top draft Jamaal Anderson can, are a rare breed. No. 2 pick, G Justin Blalock (40 reps on the bench press) is the kind of guy you want around if your car goes in a ditch. Pure, blazing speed mark their next two picks, CB Chris Houston, a first rounder who somehow dropped to round No. 2, and WR Laurent Robinson, one of the stars of the combine.
COLTS — B/B+
It seems that they always draft for defense, and it’s the offense that keeps getting better. So now they’re doing it the other way around, and I have to say that they’ve added about 50 yards to an offense that has plenty to begin with. I’m talking about Anthony Gonzalez, the superb wideout whose intelligence and quick cutting ability will fit him very neatly into the Brandon Stokley third-wideout role. Here’s a sleeper, 230-pound, fifth-round wideout Roy Hall, who could work his way into the H-Back rotation.
PANTHERS — B
Somehow the Panthers found the line in the supermarket that says Value. They were thinking of LB Jon Beason, who might be their man for the Dan Morgan role, at their 14th spot, but then they traded down and got him anyway. WR Dwayne Jarrett, their second rounder, was projected to be a low first. Lots of catches, limited speed, but that’s OK, he’ll get his share of grabs in the Carolina system. And Ryan Kalil is a polished and battle-tested center, much better than low in the second, which was where Carolina found him.
BUCCANEERS — B
The Bucs can’t function without a pass rush, which made Gaines Adams, the highest regarded rush-end, a sensible pick for them. Their O-line needed help, which gave logic to the round two choice of Arron Sears, rated the second or third best guard in the draft. Except for him, six of the first seven choices went to defense, and I kind of like the idea of a return to their roots in Tampa Bay. I don’t know why, but I’m getting really strong vibes about a couple of defenders with great agility and athleticism, safety Sabby Piscitelli, and LB Quincy Black, who covered the 40 in 4.4.
VIKINGS — B
If Adrian Peterson’s collarbone really is fine, then the seventh spot was a good place for the Vikes to land him. If it isn’t, then I’ll publish a retraction and a new grade when the time comes. I’m not betting this one either way, but what gives Minnesota its mark is the dedicated upgrade in speed from this draft. WRs Sidney Rice and Aundrae Allison, CB Marcus McCauley, even DE Brian Robison are all athletically gifted speedsters, and that includes Peterson. I’ll put this bunch up against anyone in an NFL sprint relay.
STEELERS — B-
The deal used to be that whomever the Steelers drafted, Billy Cowher’s staff would coach ‘em up to a championship level. With this staff? Well, we’ll see. Mike Tomlin’s draft just about told us that his team will be defense-oriented, which translates to LBs, which translates to the first two picks, Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, who will be like a jolt of electricity in that defense. Just to show how serious they are about ball control, the Steelers actually traded up to get punter Daniel Sepulveda, a two-year Ray Guy Award winner and a left-footer who they say puts weird spin on the ball. What the heck, let’s call it a B- for two LBs and a weird spin, why not?
RAVENS — B-
What I like about the way Ozzie Newsome drafts is that he doesn’t try to snow you with this “best available athlete” Olympic Games jazz. They need fortification on the offensive line, so they go high for a pair of guys as earthy as their names — Grubbs and Yanda. Ben Grubbs is the best guard, Marshal Yanda is a towering figure well schooled in the Iowa system. But man cannot live on grubs alone, so for the exotic section of the menu the Ravens can offer the fastest man at the combine workouts, WR Yamon Figurs (4.30) and one of the more intriguing figures on the board for almost two full days, Troy Smith, the Heisman QB.
DOLPHINS — B-
They lose their premier return man, Wes Welker, to the Patriots, so they need a returner, and Ted Ginn, Jr.’s application has been accepted. My point is that if they’d have held onto Welker in the first place, they wouldn’t have needed a return man, but I’m sure that kind of simplistic logic can be shot full of holes. Yep, Ginn is a wideout of note, too, and second rounder Samson Satele is a nice, agile center. But if what I think could happen actually happens, then this will be a terrific draft, much more serious than its listed grade. I’m looking at a two-word possibility. John Beck. Quarterback. Gym rat, competitor, Jeff Garcia type with a better arm. So if he’s so great, why’d he last until a quarter of the way down the second round? Beats me. I predict nothing. I’m just mentioning that you never know, as they say on blind dates.
BILLS — B-
They’re in the recycling business. They had a perfectly fine little running back, Travis Henry, and they recycled him for Willis McGahee. McGahee was doing well, and then they recycled him for the current top draft, Marshawn Lynch. Who knows? Maybe somewhere in some high school in West Virginia there’s this big kid just waiting to … you know. You can keep drafting this way. It’s called marking time, and if this were all there was to the Bills’ roster, their grade would be down somewhere in half moon land. But the trade-up for LB Paul Posluszny makes some kind of sense, and the third-round choice, strong-armed QB Trent Edwards, is intriguing, although I can’t understand what kind of competition they’re trying to set up between he and J.P. Losman. And here’s the pick that really gets me excited. Seventh round — TE Derek Schouman, whose workout numbers absolutely blew away the competition at the combine. I just have a feeling about this guy.
GIANTS — B-
I like teams that address needs, as you might have gathered. Desperate in the secondary, first pick goes to CB Aaron Ross. OK, not a shut-down type, but how many of us really are, I ask you? Good enough. Better than what they had. Ditto for No. 2 draft, WR Steve Smith, who has been highly productive in big time college competition. Jay Alford is a scrappy DT, Kevin Boss will be a better back-up TE for Jeremy Shockey than what they had, and with Shockey’s injury history, it’s a necessity. And highly publicized fourth rounder Zak DeOssie is about eight seconds faster in the 40 than his dad, Steve, a loyal old Giant, was, and about eight flips better in the agility drills.
LIONS — B-
No, I don’t laugh at the fourth wideout drafted at No. 1 out of the last five Lion choices, not when we’re talking about the best player on the board. But Matt Millen, I say this as a friend who cares about you. I don’t want to see Calvin Johnson limping through training camp on a bad ankle or hamstring or turf toe. Please have some highly paid agency do a survey to find out why so many Lions have gotten hurt over the last dozen years or so. I’m not kidding. It’s freaky. All right, the team had NFL executives hopping up and down like Easter bunnies to keep track of all its draft trades. The Detroit board is like a blur to me now, all except for QB Drew Stanton (second round) — tough, hard-nosed, absorbs a lot of lumps without complaint. Sound exactly like someone we know. Jon Kitna perhaps?
RAMS — B-
Top draft Adam Carriker is a 298-pound brute of a DE. Maybe he’ll stay around for a while, after the Rams have filled half the rosters in the league with their ex-defensive linemen. Brian Leonard is an interesting second-round choice, half fullback, half running back, well schooled in the fundamentals. How this translates into an NFL lineup, I don’t know, but I like the idea of the club taking him this high. Third rounder Jonathan Wade is a cornerback who deserved to have been placed above his station.
CHARGERS — C+
All the draft analysts kept assuring us that this is a team that doesn’t need a single blessed thing, so I guess we should regard these picks as pure gravy. Craig Davis was the second receiver at LSU (big Dwayne Bowe was the first), the clever guy who does all those nifty little things, such as crossing patterns and all that stuff under the zone. I can think of plenty of receivers like that in the league. Safetyman Eric Weddle is a guy who cost them four draft choices on a trade up. Smart, dedicated, gets everyone lined up correctly, they say … gives them intriguing puzzles to occupy their minds, grades their exam papers. Anthony Waters (third round) is a big ILB who’s coming off a knee injury.
PACKERS — C+
Honest, I heard this byplay on the NFL Network (I was at the draft, but I had a head set), when the Pack took a DT, Justin Harrell, in the first round. “How is this gonna help Brett Favre?” “Well, if it helps the defense, it’ll carry over to the offense.” Maybe that wasn’t the exact wording, but it was very close. So does the shadow of No. 4 hang over the entire operation? Well, the second and third picks should make the TV guys happy because they went directly into the Favre pipeline, RB Brandon Jackson and WR James Jones. The guy who intrigues me, though is David Clowney, a fifth-round flier, and one thing Brett still can do is gun it deep.
SAINTS — C
We are so sophisticated now that size and speed numbers, such as WR Robert Meachem’s 6-2, 215 and 4.39, which would have, at one time, left us positively flabbergasted, are merely taken for granted. “Must be able to shake the coverage,” we murmur, and that’s what I hear about Meachem, their No. 1 pick. Of further interest is the choice of Ohio State’s premier runner, Antonio Pittman, in the fourth round. Productive, but hardly dazzling. And how will he work into the McAllister-Bush rotation?
JAGUARS — C
I understand that they were locked into the first pick, FS Reggie Nelson, a deep centerfield type, to make up for the loss of Deon Grant, but the rest of their swollen 11-man draft seems to reflect more finesse and less muscle. That’s OK, I guess, and I kind of have a soft spot for DT Derek Landri, a hard-driving type who they say dropped so low because his arms are too short. Didn’t I see it on eBay just the other day, an ad for arm-enhancement? Or maybe it was something similar.
CHIEFS — C
I see a real good crack-blocker on the edge here, someone to give Larry Johnson a soft corner, and his name is Dwayne Bowe, the 6-2 1/2, 220-pound WR taken in the first round. “Will hunt up linebackers,” is one report I saw on him. Hey, just give me a call. I know where they hang out.
BENGALS — C
Nice peaceful people, that’s what we want here. Nothing on the police blotters, no true fleshmen. Top draft Leon Hall was rated as the best corner on the board until the Revis meteor took off. Kenny Irons is a fast, productive back. The draftees, we hear, will get together for community sings; they’ll form a barbershop quartette. Seat belts will be worn at all times.
COWBOYS — C
Now you tell me what kind of sense it made for Philly to trade with the Cowboys, so they could move up and take a wicked pass-rushing wingman named Anthony Spencer who already has Donovan McNabb’s picture posted with a bullseye on it. The audacity of the move gives Dallas its partial grade. Second rounder James Marten, a mean-spirited tackle from the hard-bitten turf wars of Boston College, rounds it off.
SEAHAWKS — C-
I guess, to be fair, you have to count Deion Branch as part of this draft, since the No. 1 draft choice went for him, but I’d be more kindly disposed if his career showed a bit more life with the Hawks than 56th best among NFL receivers. And don’t forget that last year’s No. 1 Seattle receiver, Darrell Jackson, went to San Francisco for a fourth-round draft, Mansfield Wrotto, a guard from Georgia Tech.
TEXANS — D+
When will they learn? They’ve already ridden David Carr out of town in a sackmobile, and I guess now it’s time to start working on Matt Schaub. They simply will not address their offensive line, unless you call a couple of guards at five and six addressing it. OK, top draft Amobi Okoye is an intriguing defensive tackle, and Jacoby Jones is a wideout who’ll contribute something to the passing game. But without the big wall up front there ain’t no passing game, and without the right drafts there ain’t no big wall. Wait a minute. I forgot that they signed Jordan Black, a tackle from K.C. They managed to find the only guy worse than the ones they already had.
EAGLES — D
The first-round pick went to Dallas so the Boys could bring Spencer in to hunt down McNabb. Now they’re at F and have to work their way up. Second-round draft, QB Kevin Kolb, schooled in a passing system, is not supposed to take McNabb’s job away, but maybe they figure this is injury protection. OK, now they’re up to D-. Seven more picks, none of whom thrill me, lifts it the other half a point.
REDSKINS — D
Last year they had six interceptions and six fumble recoveries. That’s for the season. Sacks numbered 19. Fine, bring in the pass rushers. Trade up for more of them. Ship ‘em in in boxcars. So the Skins devoted their top draft to a safetyman, LaRon Landry. Granted, the best in the draft, but geez, where’s the rush gonna come from? Well, not from the rest of the board, because it doesn’t have any guys who line up with their hands on the ground.
BEARS — D
Their top draft, TE Greg Olsen, doesn’t exactly address a need, but that’s OK, he could be a high-powered weapon. Unfortunately, I don’t find anything in a rather humdrum draft that intrigues me until the fifth round; Kevin Payne, a sleeper, a versatile strong or free safety, and this addresses a real need since Mike Brown seems to be hurt so often now.
TITANS — D-
Safety Michael Griffin was an interesting pick at the top of the board, but this is a team that lost its leading runner and its top two receivers. Chris Henry, who struggled through an injury-plagued season, is the runner in round two. Lower down there are three receivers with moderate credentials.
BRONCOS — D-
They traded up and even gave away a No. 3 next year to get DT Marcus Thomas, and this is a guy who … let’s see, I’ve used “has character issues” already. How about, “carries heavy baggage?” Kicked off his Florida team not once, but twice — a problem child to be sure. Mike Shanahan says that he has checked him out thoroughly and he feels that in the right environment he’ll be just fine. Seems that I heard exactly the same thing when he drafted Maurice Clarett in the third round. Yeah, Thomas can play all right, and so can speed rusher Jarvis Moss, the No. 1 draft. He was only suspended once. Hardly even worth mentioning.
John Czarnecki of FOXSports.com.
Czar’s breakdown: This draft was basically about grabbing Purdue pass rusher Anthony Spencer in the first round and acquiring Cleveland’s first-round pick next year while helping them land quarterback Brady Quinn. New head coach Wade Phillips compares Spencer favorably to San Diego’s Shaun Phillips. Spencer did give Wisconsin’s Joe Thomas trouble. Boston College’s James Marten has a chance to make the team as an offensive tackle as does fourth-round pick Isaiah Stanback, who figures to be a receiver in the NFL. Stanback played quarterback at the U. of Washington. The rest of the draft appeared pretty shaky.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Czar’s breakdown: Considering their position in the draft, GM Jerry Reese had a very solid draft in his first at bat. I love Brown linebacker Zak DeOssie in the fourth round. DeOssie should be a great special teams player and he can also long snap, a very underrated talent. Texas cornerback Aaron Ross was the third-rated cornerback in this draft and he was the third corner taken. Ross, who just became a starter in his senior year, can also return punts. USC receiver Steve Smith was a quality pick in the middle of the second round and could end up starting some day. Some teams preferred Smith to Dwayne Jarrett. Penn State DT Jay Alford was a bit of reach in the third round. Arizona safety Michael Johnson was a bargain in the seventh round. Western Oregon TE Kevin Boss has a chance to make the roster with the loss of Visanthe Shiancoe.
Czar’s breakdown: I heard Eagles coach Andy Reid say all the right things on both television cable networks, but it made no sense to take Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb with their first pick (36th in the second round) unless there are real concerns about Donovan McNabb. Kolb is a fine player and was rated somewhere between the fourth and sixth best quarterback in this draft, but the best he will be this season is a third stringer. The Eagles have more needs than a quarterback that will hold a clipboard all year long. Teams also criticized their next picks, Notre Dame DE Victor Abiamiri and Nebraska outside linebacker Stewart Bradley. Both kids might be productive players, but neither figures to press the starting lineup this season. Two picks that rate some positive consideration were Penn State running back Tony Hunt, a tough inside runner, and Clemson safety C.J. Gaddis. Both of them were highly productive college players and they should be quality reserves.
Czar’s breakdown: The Redskins never materialized on the trading stage like everyone thought they might. They didn’t make a deal to get Chicago LB Lance Briggs or to trade up in the draft for Tech receiver Calvin Johnson. Stuck with the sixth overall pick, LSU safety LaRon Landry was a rock solid pick, although some questioned his intelligence and whether or not he can make the defensive signal calls. He can tackle and make plays and has tremendous football instincts. Washington only had five picks. USC linebacker Dallas Sartz was taken in the fifth round and he will be a special teams’ player this season. Pitt LB H.B. Blades has great bloodlines, the son of former Lions safety Bennie Blades. The Redskins closed their draft by selecting Carson Palmer’s brother, Jordan Palmer, with their last pick. Palmer broke most of the passing records at UTEP, performing well in coach Mike Price’s complicated system.
Czar’s breakdown: You can’t knock the selection of Miami tight end Greg Olsen at the bottom of the first round, but they jumped too early on Central Michigan DE Dan Bazuin who projects as a linebacker and on third-down running back prospect Garrett Wolfe of Northern Illinois. Wolfe is too light to be an every-down runner. Stanford LB Michael Ikwo definitely fits coach Lovie Smith’s cover-two scheme. Kevin Payne of Louisiana-Monroe started as a running back in college but is now a hard-hitting safety and a good tackler. GM Jerry Angelo has opted to play chicken with LB Lance Briggs, who has threatened a 10-game holdout in 2007 if he doesn’t receive a huge new contract. Angelo received no strong trade offers for Briggs. The only knock on Olsen is that he doesn’t block like Mike Ditka.
Czar’s breakdown: GM Matt Millen did a lot of trading on both days, and once again his draft is going to receive solid grades because he landed the best player â€” Tech receiver Calvin Johnson â€” and decided to keep him. Johnson is Millen’s fourth receiver in the first round in the last five drafts. Drew Stanton of Michigan State has a chance to develop into a starting quarterback. Stanton has been compared favorably to Rich Gannon and offensive coordinator Mike Martz figures to school him perfectly. Stanton was a one-man show in college and put way too much pressure on himself. Millen didn’t care about Brady Quinn because he always had his eye on Stanton. Hawaii DE Ikaika Alama-Francis is a raw talent with an excellent motor and awfully strong. He was moving up draft boards the last two weeks. Boise State safety Gerald Alexander has the ability to be a zone-coverage cornerback. Ditto for A.J. Davis of North Carolina State, who should compete as a nickel cornerback. The Lions also had Mr. Irrelevant, the last pick, and chose three-year starter Ramzee Robinson of Alabama, a cornerback.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Czar’s breakdown: A lot of teams questioned the selection of Tennessee DT Justin Harrell with the 16th overall pick because he’s entering the NFL off of surgery for a torn bicep, never a good injury for a linemen who has to use his arms so much to be successful. Because the Packers missed out on Marshawn Lynch, they selected Nebraska RB Brandon Jackson in the second round. Jackson rushed for 835 yards in his final nine games for the Cornhuskers, but a lot of scouts thought he should have stayed in school for his senior season. Instead of trading for Randy Moss, the Packers took San Jose State receiver James Jones in the third round and he has 4.6 speed. The 78th pick might have been a tad high for him. Virginia Tech safety Aaron Rouse is an intriguing defensive player because he could be used at outside linebacker. Colorado PK Mason Crosby had the strongest leg among draft-eligible kickers, but he performed pathetically at the combine. RB DeShawn Wynn has had weight problems at Florida, but he does have upside. Wynn never materialized into the running back that the college coaches expected, but maybe it will be different in the big leagues.
Czar’s breakdown: Well, the Vikings passed on Brady Quinn and that means they totally love second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Instead, they grabbed Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson with the first pick and don’t seem to have any concerns about his broken collar bone. Peterson was considered a top three pick with Russell and Johnson despite the injury factor, so Minnesota got value. The only odd statement about selecting Peterson is that RB Chester Taylor was their best player last season, totaling 1,867 yards from scrimmage while scoring one-third of their touchdowns. South Carolina WR Sidney Rice is a physical receiver who is coming a 1,000-yard season. Fresno State CB Marcus McCauley was considered a first-round talent in September, but a disappointing season dropped to the third round. East Carolina receiver Aundrae Allison could develop into an unbelievable playmaker, but he has major character issues but worth a fifth-round pick. Texas DE Brian Robinson is a little undersized for a fourth-round pick. Oklahoma LB Rufus Alexander, a classic tweener, was a tackling machine and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He was good value in the sixth round.
Czar’s breakdown: Most of their NFC South opponents thought the Falcons really helped themselves. After losing defensive end Patrick Kerney, Arkansas’ Jamaal Anderson made perfect sense in the first round. He was considered the second-best pass rusher after Gaines Adams. Second-round selections Texas guard Justin Blalock and Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston both have a chance to become starters. Blalock is powerful and quick while Houston is excellent in single coverage; he dominated USC’s Dwayne Jarrett in their game this season. Houston is fearless. Receiver Laurent Robinson was hampered by an ankle injury in senior season at Illinois State, but did manage 3,007 receiving yards and 29 TDs in 37 career starts. South Florida OLB Stephen Nicholas could end up being a surprise because he played multiple positions in college. The Falcons also got some quality in the sixth round with Auburn CB David Irons and Ohio State center Doug Datish, who started 35 games for the Buckeyes, including 21 games at left tackle and guard.
Czar’s breakdown: Like Buffalo, Carolina’s first three picks were rock solid and all three of them figure to be big contributors as rookies. Miami linebacker Jon Beason didn’t test very well, but he’s a tremendous football player. Beason could start. In the second round, they grabbed two USC players in receiver Dwayne Jarrett, who is no Mike Williams, and center Ryan Kalil, who some experts pegged as a first-round prospect. Jarrett should learn a lot from Keyshawn Johnson, a former Trojan, in Charlotte. Kalil was the draft’s best center and fills a huge need. Penn State inside linebacker Tim Shaw started his college career as a running back and finished it as a 237-pound defensive end. Shaw is a total football player who should fit in somewhere on that Carolina defense.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Czar’s breakdown: I know the Saints lost Joe Horn, but they ignored several defensive needs to take speedy Tennessee receiver Robert Meachem in the first round. A dozen teams ranked Meachem only behind Calvin Johnson in this draft, so that should make Drew Brees very happy. The other pick that stood out was Ohio State RB Antonio Pittman in the fourth round. Pittman started two consecutive seasons for the Buckeyes and only lost the football twice on 557 rushing attempts. Pittman averaged 5.3 yards a carry and is a physical inside runner. But how does he get on the field with Deuce McAlister and Reggie Bush on your roster? After having tremendous success with two small school players last season, the Saints continued the trend by taking players from Kent State, Akron, Towson and Wingate.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Czar’s breakdown: Despite all the talk about Jon Gruden’s love affair with Calvin Johnson, the Bucs actually got most of the players that they wanted. They had tabbed Clemson pass rusher Gaines Adams a month ago as the player they wanted and we’re only worried that Matt Millen would take him with the second overall choice. Adams fits defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s scheme perfectly. Tennessee guard Arron Sears was ranked the second-best guard by most teams while Oregon State Sabby Piscitelli is a hard-hitting safety and the Bucs felt very fortunate to get him. They had to beat out five other teams to nab him. Quincy Black has a chance to be an impact guy at outside linebacker. Black may be a project this year, but he wouldn’t have been available to them in the fourth round. Syracuse CB Tanard Jackson should help on special teams.
Czar’s breakdown: The Cardinals really wanted Joe Thomas and settled for Penn State’s Levi Brown who will start at right tackle and protect Matt Leinart’s blindside. Offensive line coach Russ Grimm loves that Brown has a mean streak and is known to play nasty on the field. The Cards made a trade to get Michigan’s Alan Branch at the top of second round and he should start at nose tackle in the 4-3 scheme. The only knock on Branch is that he took too many plays off at the college level, but many mock drafts had him among the top 15 selections. James “Buster” Davis is only 5-foot-9, but a stout 239-pounds. He’s built to be a middle linebacker. Fifth-rounder Steve Breaston was a very productive kick returner at Michigan, scoring five touchdowns on returns in his career. Breaston, who can play receiver, had a 221-yard return game in the Rose Bowl. We all know how much Devin Hester meant to the Bears as a return man last season.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Czar’s breakdown: This draft might end up comparing favorably with some of ex-coach Bill Walsh’s top drafts. Ole Miss middle linebacker Patrick Willis was the worst-kept secret in the draft. San Francisco head coach Mike Nolan fell in love with him at the Senior Bowl and he tagged Willis early as his kind of player. They made a smart trade to acquire Central Michigan OT Joe Staley and Washington State WR Jason Hill was one of the Pac-10′s most productive receivers, converting 158 receptions into 111 first downs and 32 touchdowns. Hill could be the playmaker that Alex Smith covets. They also traded a fourth-rounder to Seattle for WR Darrell Jackson, the third-leading wide receiver in Seahawks’ history. Jackson, who had knee tendonitis, wore out his welcome in Seattle despite leading the club receptions last season. Deion Branch made him expendable. Nebraska DE Jay Moore has a chance to be a solid pro and a standup outside linebacker. Moore is another player, like Willis, that Nolan fell in love with at the Senior Bowl. Now, the 49ers did take a character risk in Texas CB Tarell Brown, but waited until the fifth round to do it. But Brown, who has a difficult off-the-field background, was a three-year starter at Texas and that’s something very positive.
Czar’s breakdown: The Seahawks didn’t have a first round pick and they traded their leading receiver, Darrell Jackson, to NFC West rival San Francisco on Sunday. Some teams believed the Seahawks reached on their first two choices, Maryland CB Josh Wilson and Cal defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. Seattle’s best choice might end up being Miami defensive end Baraka Atkins, who had 18 sacks and 52 quarterback pressures in 45 career starts. To replace Jackson, they took two receivers in the late rounds: Auburn’s Courtney Taylor and Oregon’s Jordan Kent.
ST. LOUIS RAMS
Czar’s breakdown: Nebraska defensive lineman Adam Carriker was a very safe pick and he should help improve the Rams’ dreadful run defense (145.4 yards allowed per game) last season. There is no question that head coach Scott Linehan has been disappointed in former No. 1 pick, DT Jimmy Kennedy. They took the best fullback in the draft, Rutgers’ tough-guy Brian Leonard, in the second round. Believe it or not, Leonard can develop into a Tom Rathman-type of a receiver in Linehan’s offense. Tennessee CB Jonathan Wade is a track guy who was considered a decent risk by some teams in the third round. The Rams went for two more defensive tackles in the later rounds, Clifton Ryan of Michigan State and Keith Jackson of Arkansas. Jackson is the son of former Pro Bowl tight end Keith Jackson, who played with the Eagles and Packers. If one of those two players develops into a nose tackle, it could allow Carriker to shift to defensive end.
Czar’s breakdown: The Bills had very strong needs in the draft and most of their competitors thought they had a very solid draft. With the loss of RB Willis McGahee, they needed to find a runner and they grabbed Cal’s Marshawn Lynch in the first round and Dwayne Wright of Fresno State in the fourth round. Wright finished with 2,683 yards in 22 starts and also had a 295-yard game against Louisiana Tech. Lynch was considered the draft’s second-best runner after running a 4.46 at the combine. In the second round, the Bills grabbed Penn State LB Paul Posluszny, a two-time winner of the Bednarik Award as college football’s best defensive player. He also won the Butkus Award and overcame partial tears to his right knee and was forced to wear a brace. Very productive and very instinctive and should be an instant starter. Stanford QB Trent Edwards was considered a solid choice in the third round and could end up being the backup this season. Boise State’s Derek Schouman is a classic H-back candidate and a great blocker despite many injuries during his college career.
Czar’s breakdown: Outside of new head coach Cam Cameron, few personnel men I spoke with liked his first draft. Most thought the Dolphins really reached on Ohio State receiver/returner Ted Ginn, Jr. who still isn’t healthy. Ginn could develop into a game-breaking receiver, but most teams rated him lower in the round. BYU quarterback John Beck is 26 and very accurate and Cameron loves his intelligence, and obviously they weren’t interested in Brady Quinn. Beck was judged by most teams as the fourth to fifth best quarterback in this draft. Utah defense tackle Paul Solia in the fourth round was decent value. Florida State RB Lorenzo Booker might end up being the draft’s best all-purpose runner. But why do they need him if Ricky Williams is returning? The best thing the Dolphins did was not cave into Kansas City’s demands for QB Trent Green, who probably will be released later in June.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Czar’s breakdown: Well, the Patriots stole U. of Miami safety Brandon Meriweather away from the Eagles. Meriweather is an excellent anticipator and someone that head coach Bill Belichick will try in the slot in training camp. But the story of this draft is that the Patriots acquired Randy Moss for a fourth-round pick and Moss reduced his $9.7 million salary in half to make the trade with New England a reality. Belichick has always wanted Moss and the timing was perfect for the Patriots, who also traded one of their first-round picks, giving them two first-round picks in next year’s draft. “This team is so far ahead of the rest of the league, it isn’t funny,” a rival general manager said of the workings of Belichick and personnel man Scott Pioli. Yes, New England looks like the team to beat in the AFC, considering their vastly improved receiving corps. Only two of their late round picks seem to have a chance to make the roster: Miami DT Kareem Brown and USC linebacker Oscar Lua.
NEW YORK JETS
Czar’s breakdown: A lot of Bill Belichick has rubbed off on head coach Eric Mangini because they made some quality picks, even though it cost them a valuable second-round choice in order to move from the 25th spot in the first round to the 14th spot to select Pitt cornerback Darrelle Revis, the best player at his position. Michigan ILB David Harris fits Mangini’s 3-4 defense and don’t forget they earlier swapped a second-round pick for the Bears’ most productive running back last season in Thomas Jones. They filled some definite needs without a lot of firepower. With their final two picks, took Jacob Bender an offensive tackle and then Clemson WR Chansi Stuckey.
Czar’s breakdown: The Ravens tried to make a deal to trade into the first round to get Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn, but didn’t have the ammunition that Cleveland had. But with their last pick, the Ravens took Heisman winner Troy Smith, who has a strong arm, but is considered too short at 6-feet tall. First-round pick Auburn guard Ben Grubbs will start right away for the Ravens, who lost veteran guard Edwin Mulitalo. WR Yamon Figurs of Kansas State was considered the second-best kick returner in the draft behind Ted Ginn, Jr. OT Marshall Yando of Iowa and OLB Antwan Barnes fill more needs. With Steve McNair getting older and Kyle Boller entering his final season, Smith is a fascinating pick.
Czar’s breakdown: The Bengals apparently took nothing but good guys in this draft. First pick Leon Hall of Michigan was a solid choice, although some teams are worried about his single coverage skills. RB Kenny Irons averaged 4.9 yards a carry over his last two seasons at Auburn and will be a solid backup to Rudi Johnson. Irons a is very physical between the tackles kind of runner. FS Marvin White of TCU has a chance and Nevada QB Jeff Rowe has the physical tools, but was inconsistent as a player. Rowe was ranked by most teams as the seventh-best quarterback in this draft. The Bengals closed the seventh round by taking two players from Notre Dame. Offensive lineman Dan Santucci, who had 25 consecutive starts for the Irish and is considered a tough over-achiever. Santucci has a chance to play all three interior positions. Safety Nedu Ndukwe had 98 tackles this season.
Czar’s breakdown: The Browns’ first three selections were very special and could alter the face of this struggling franchise. Wisconsin’s Joe Thomas was the draft’s best left offensive tackle and a very solid choice. They traded next year’s first-round pick to Dallas in order to draft Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, a player they had rated fourth overall on their draft board. Consequently, GM Phil Savage believes he got value by trading for Quinn, who was rated a lot lower by other NFL teams. Cleveland needs a quarterback and even though Quinn may have lost $15 million in bonus money by sliding to the 22nd overall spot, he wanted to be a Brown. Cornerback Eric Wright had character red flags, but most teams rated him right behind Darrelle Revis in this draft. Wright has started only 10 college games, but he has excellent closing speed and quickness. Savage spent big money on guard Eric Steinbach, so Quinn will have some protection.
Czar’s breakdown: With the loss of Joey Porter, Florida State linebacker Lawrence Timmons will be given every opportunity to be a spot pass rusher. However, some teams wonder about his pass coverage skills. The Steelers, though, always had their eye of Timmons and wanted him from the very beginning. Michigan OLB LaMarr Woodley is another pass rusher. Woodley finished his career as Michigan’s second all-time sacker with 25. He also caused 10 fumbles. Minnesota TE Matt Spaeth is a very good blocker and a very good receiver on underneath routes; he simply can’t stretch the field. I thought Chris Gardocki was a solid punter, but apparently not. Baylor punter Daniel Sepulveda was taken with the 112th overall pick. Sepulveda is a two-time winner of the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s top punter. He averaged 45.24 yards per kick.
Czar’s breakdown: It’s fair to include new quarterback Matt Schaub in this draft because they had to deal picks this year and next to Atlanta for him. I will say it again; they took the most impressive young man in this draft in Louisville’s Amobi Okoye. Okoye, a potential Warren Sapp-like defensive tackle, won’t turn 20 until June. He is the youngest player ever drafted, plus he has his college degree. However, the Texans appeared to reach on receiver Jacoby Jones of Lane College. Jones really went to college on a track scholarship (10.28 in 100 meters) and also played basketball. He averaged 13.8 yards a catch. Stanford safety Brandon Harrison has been favorably compared to Seattle’s Michael Boulware. OT Brandon Frye only started 11 games at Virginia Tech and looks like a risky fifth-round pick.
Czar’s breakdown: You can say that the Colts needed to replace the defensive starters they lost in free agency, but it’s all about Peyton Manning in Indy and he was very happy with the selection of Ohio State receiver Anthony Gonzalez, who was considered a low second-round pick by some teams. Gonzalez figures to step into the slot receiver role of Brandon Stokley, who is now in Denver. In the second round, Tony Ugoh of Arkansas figures to be a starting offensive tackle. Cal’s Daymeion Hughes is a perfect Cover Two cornerback; he’s a playmaker and a tackler. Ohio State DT Quinn Pitcock was a solid player in college.
Czar’s breakdown: The Jaguars were able to trade down in the first round and still get the player they wanted in Florida safety Reggie Nelson. A lot of people think GM James “Shack” Harris is out-of-touch, but this was very good move. Hampton’s Justin Durant should be a great weak-side linebacker with 4.5 speed. Maryland punter Adam Podlesh figures to stick after being taken in the fourth round while Josh Gattis was a sure tackler at safety for Wake Forest. Gattis also had five interceptions. At worse, he will help on special teams if he doesn’t start. Notre Dame DT Derek Landri should be able to crack the rotation on the defensive line. Landri is a coach’s dream. Uche Nwaneri is a former defensive lineman who started 13 games at guard for Purdue last season.
Czar’s breakdown: The Titans surprised everyone by taking Texas safety Michael Griffin in the first round. Griffin, a converted high school running back, led Texas in tackles last season from the free safety position and figures to be a productive pro. However, Arizona RB Chris Henry was a reach, considering he started only six games in college and is leaving after his junior season. Henry did run a 4.4 40-yard dash at 233-pounds and that’s what got scouts buzzing. But his lack of production at the college level must be a concern; either that or Jeff Fisher is really bummed about spending a second-round pick on LenDale White last year. Fresno State receiver Paul Williams was excellent value in the third round. He only started five games this past season due to injuries, but averaged 17 yards a catch as a junior. He is the brother from former No. 1 pick J.D. Williams of the Buffalo Bills. WR Joel Filani caught 23 TD passes at Texas Tech, but ran only a 4.7 40-yard dash and that’s why he dropped to the sixth round.
Czar’s breakdown: This draft reeks of desperation. They needed defensive linemen based on managing only 35 sacks last season. But the Broncos overlooked huge character issues of two Florida players, defensive end Jarvis Moss and defensive tackle Marcus Thomas, who they spent their last two picks on this year and their third-round pick next year to grab. Thomas was suspended twice by Gators head coach Urban Meyer and in the end wasn’t allowed on campus for Florida’s Pro Day; he was that unwelcome by his teammates. Yes, Denver’s Mike Shanahan has great Florida connections, so he must have special insights into these players. But there was no reason to trade up from the 21st pick to the 17th spot and surrender two extra draft picks to land Moss, who is a dynamite pass rusher. Moss was off some team’s draft boards because he was suspended last season for allegedly smoking marijuana. Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t have a closer friend than Denver owner Pat Bowlen, so you have to wonder if Goodell, given his strong stance on character issues, won’t be asking why, why, why? Four total selections and two potential bad guys.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Czar’s breakdown: The Chiefs went for a physical receiver in LSU’s Dwayne Bowe over the much faster Robert Meachem. Bowe disappeared during the Senior Bowl although he was JaMarcus Russell’s favorite receiver. Tennessee DT Turk McBride only started 17 games in his four-year and seemed to be a reach with the 54th overall pick. McBride, though, can be used anywhere along the defensive line. They took UCLA PK Justin Medlock in the fifth round and he converted six field goals of 50 yards or more. Louisville RB Kolby Smith gained 5.7 yards a carry, starting for the injured Michael Bush. Smith appears to be a solid third-down back because he has great hands. The Chiefs took the best defensive tackle left on their board with the 82nd overall pick in North Carolina State’s DeMarcus “Tank” Tyler. They didn’t trade QB Trent Green and probably will be forced to release him prior to training camp.
Czar’s breakdown: They had a very productive weekend. The Raiders got their quarterback and parted ways with Randy Moss, a Pro Bowl talent that desperately wanted out. Al Davis settled on fourth-round compensation for Moss with New England, the exact same price it cost him to acquire Lions backup quarterback Josh McCown and head-case receiver Mike Williams, another former first-round pick. Rookie head coach Lane Kiffin knows Williams from his days at USC; if Williams is going to salvage his career, Oakland figures to be his last stop. There is no doubt that Davis wanted LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell because he asked the Browns for a one, a two and a three, plus a starting linebacker, for the right to draft Russell. Cleveland choked. There is no question that most teams believe Russell has all the physical tools to become a franchise quarterback. Arizona State TE Zach Miller could end being a starter while DE Quentin Moses leaves Georgia with 25 quarterback sacks in 26 starts, plus 95 quarterback pressures and 44 tackles for losses. Louisville RB Michael Bush broke his leg in the first game of his senior season after being considered a Heisman hopeful. Bush could be the steal of the draft.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Czar’s breakdown: Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith has been criticized for reaching on LSU receiver Craig Davis in the first round and on Utah safety Eric Weddle in the second round. But I find it difficult to knock Smith right now because he’s been making all the right moves the past two seasons. Davis does have 4.4 speed and possesses a solid stutter-step at the line of scrimmage to break free of press coverage. One knock on him, though, is that teammate JaMarcus Russell wasn’t keen on him. Weddle is a tremendous player who was moving up most teams’ draft boards. Iowa TE Scott Chandler is a solid blocker while Clemson LB Anthony Waters was ranked as the draft’s sixth-best inside backer. Florida’s Brandon Siler is very good straight-line linebacker and should make San Diego’s special teams. Siler was projected as fourth-rounder and lasted until the seventh.
Mike O’Hara of Detroit News:
Atlanta Falcons: B-
They went for need in the first round. DE Jamaal Anderson was the No. 2 pass-rusher. With extra picks, they got solid prospects — G Justin Blalock, CB Chris Houston, TE Martrez Milner and C Doug Datish.
Baltimore Ravens: C
OT Joe Staley was snatched away a pick earlier. They settled for G Ben Grubbs in the first round. Having no second-round pick hurt. Ohio State QB Troy Smith in the fifth round might provide versatility.
Buffalo Bills: C+
They drafted for need in the first two rounds — RB Marshawn Lynch and LB Paul Posluszny. Both filled spots created by the departure of free agents. QB Trent Edwards (third round) and RB John Wendling (sixth) were value picks.
Carolina Panthers: B
They filled a need at linebacker with Jon Beason. Offensive coordinator Norm Chow got two of his former Southern Cal players from in the second round — WR Dwayne Jarrett and C Ryan Kalil. LB Tim Shaw of Penn State was a fifth-round steal.
Chicago Bears: C+ They targeted TE Greg Olsen in the first round and got him. He’ll upgrade the position. DE Dan Bazuin of Central Michigan is in the perfect defense. G Josh Beekman was a good second-day pick.
Cincinnati Bengals: C-
CB Leon Hall of Michigan slid a few spots on the first round and was a good pick. RB Kenny Irons has backup ability. It was an unspectacular draft all the way.
Cleveland Browns: C+
There were immediate contributors with two of the first three picks — OT Joe Thomas of Wisconsin and CB Eric Wright of UNLV. They traded to add Brady Quinn. If he’s good, it’s a great move.
Dallas Cowboys: C-
Owner/GM Jerry Jones has trades involving eight draft slots. LB/DE Anthony Spencer fits the 3-4 defense, and OT Doug Free of Northern Illinois is a good fourth-round prospect. There was more smoke than fire.
Denver Broncos: C
They needed pass-rush help and got DE Jarvis Moss of Florida by trading up. He’s a pure rusher. DE Tim Crowder of Texas was decent value on the second round.
Detroit Lions: B-
WR Calvin Johnson upgrades the offense and the team. After that, the Lions started dealing. QB Drew Stanton has a future as a starter, and Ikaika Alama-Francis can develop as a pass-rusher. Holding firm to get Johnson was Matt Millen’s best move.
Green Bay Packers: C+
Marshawn Lynch would have been a good fit here. With him gone, they took DT Justin Harrell of Tennessee to provide bulk inside. CB Aaron Rouse and OT Allen Barbre were good value picks.
Houston Texans: C
DT Amobi Okoye will bring intensity and playmaking to the interior of the defense. WR Jacoby Jones from Lane College is making a big jump to the pros. Later, the Texans got depth for the secondary.
Indianapolis Colts: B+
They had four first-day picks and didn’t miss on any — WR Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio State, OT Tony Ugoh of Arkansas, DB Daymeion Hughes of Cal and DT Quinn Pitcock of Notre Dame.
Jacksonville Jaguars: C+
S Reggie Nelson of Florida fell to them. MLB Justin Durant of Hampton was a producer in college. Adam Podlesh of Maryland was the best punter in the draft.
Kansas City Chiefs: D+
They needed help on the offensive line but didn’t draft for that area until the sixth round. They took WR Dwayne Bowe of LSU in the first round when OT Joe Staley was on the board.
Miami Dolphins: B-
Coach Cam Cameron was heckled for passing on QB Brady Quinn to take WR Ted Ginn Jr. with the ninth pick. Ginn is a tremendous threat, and the Dolphins got QB John Beck in the second round. Drew Mormino of Central Michigan was underrated as a center.
Minnesota Vikings: C+
They’ll hold their breath every time RB Adrian Peterson, their top pick, gets hurt. If he stays healthy, he’ll be a good one. WR Sidney Rice and DB Marcus McCauley were good picks in deep positions.
New England Patriots: B
Trades gave them one pick in the first three rounds, and they took one of the best safeties in the draft, Brandon Meriweather of Miami (Fla.). They also added WR Randy Moss in a trade. That’s better than a draft pick.
New Orleans Saints: C
WR Robert Meachem of Tennessee was rated higher than 27th overall by some analysts. He fills a need. The Saints didn’t need another running back but took Antonio Pittman in the fourth round.
New York Giants: C
This is another team that might regret not taking OT Joe Staley. They went for CB Aaron Ross of Texas, instead. LB Zak DeOssie of Brown and TE Kevin Boss of Western Oregon are small school projects.
New York Jets: B-
Trades left them with two picks in the first five rounds, but both are starters — CB Darrelle Revis of Pitt and MLB David Harris of Michigan. The defense is better with quality, not quantity.
Oakland Raiders: B-
JaMarcus Russell is their franchise QB, and they traded with the Lions for two players who might help them — QB Josh McCown and WR Mike Williams, if he wants to play. RB Michael Bush of Louisville was a good second-day pick.
Philadelphia Eagles: C-
After trading down from the first round, they drafted QB Kevin Kolb of Houston in the second round. DE Victor Abiamiri of Notre Dame looked like a reach in the second round.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B-
They needed replacements on defense and connected with LB Lawrence Timmons of Florida State and LB LaMarr Woodley of Michigan. TE Matt Spaeth of Minnesota is huge, but not known as a blocker.
San Diego Chargers: C+
They don’t need much help. GM A.J. Smith is a sharp evaluator and added depth with WR Craig Davis of LSU and CB Eric Weddle of Utah in the first two rounds.
San Francisco 49ers: B+
They got help at three crucial spots with their first three picks — MLB Patrick Willis of Mississippi, OT Joe Staley — finally someone took this rising prospect — of Central Michigan and WR Jason Hill of Washington State.
Seattle Seahawks: D+
They gave up their first-round pick last year to get WR Deion Branch from New England. They added to the secondary in the second round with Josh Wilson of Maryland. Nothing exciting about this crop.
St. Louis Rams: B-
DE Adam Carriker of Nebraska is the most versatile lineman in the draft. He’ll fit anywhere. Brian Leonard of Rutgers has the talent to play fullback and tailback. That makes him another good fit. DT Clifton Ryan of Michigan State was solid on the second day.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B-
They went big for defense — DE Gaines Adams of Clemson, S Sabby Piscitelli of Oregon State, LB Quincy Black of New Mexico, CB Tanard Jackson of Syracuse.
Tennessee Titans: C
Michael Griffin of Texas will upgrade the secondary. They needed depth at running back and took Chris Henry of Arizona. It was a thin position. WR Chris Davis of Florida State was good value in the fourth round.
Washington Redskins: C
S LaRon Landry is a starter. Teamed with Sean Taylor, he gives the Redskins the best safety tandem in the league. In the sixth round came two well-known names — LB H.B. Blades, son of former Lion Bennie Blades, and Jordan Palmer, Carson’s brother.
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