This move became necessary after current Colt placekicker Adam Venitieri underwent knee surgery. From ESPN-
The Indianapolis Colts have signed ex-Ravens kicker Matt Stover to replace Adam Vinatieri, who is out for four to eight weeks following knee surgery.
The team said Vinatieri underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right [kicking] knee to remove a piece of cartilage.
Vinatieri, in his 14th season, has 35 points on six field goals and 17 point-after conversions this season.
Stover was a more than solid NFL placekicker for 19 years. Most of which were spent with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. I think the Colts chose the right person to fill in for Vinatieri.
He played 2009 NFL preaseason football with the Baltimore Ravens. RIP.
Tony Fein, an Iraq War veteran who was a member of the Ravens during the preseason, died Tuesday morning in Port Orchard, Wash., according to his agent.
There were no immediate details about his death, said the agent, Milton D. Hobbs.
“It’s a very sad situation,” Hobbs told The Baltimore Sun late Tuesday night. “I am still trying to figure out what happened.”
Fein, 27, was an undrafted rookie free-agent linebacker who was released by the Ravens in their final major cutdown Sept. 5.
Although old for a rookie, Fein, at 6 feet 2, 245 pounds, caught the eyes of scouts at the University of Mississippi’s Pro Day, where the school’s football players audition for scouts before the NFL draft.
He was found shot to death along with a woman. Tragic and RIP.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair has died.
McNair, 36, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head in downtown Nashville, police spokesperson Don Aaron confirmed. A female victim was also found dead, he said.
“I don’t have any answers for you now as to what’s happened, who’s responsible,” Aaron said.
Aaron said police have tentatively identified the woman but did not release her name.
“There are persons who were around the complex today, visitors, who have been taken to headquarters for questioning, just to see what they know, what they may have seen,” Aaron said. “No one is in custody right now.”
The condominium where the bodies were found is one that McNair was known to frequent, but police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford could not say whether he was the owner. The incident happened near 2nd South & Lea Ave in Nashville.
Detectives from the police department’s centralized homicide unit were on the scene.
Steve McNair: 1973-2009
The news of former NFL quarterback Steve McNair’s passing drew reaction from across the sports world. Reaction
McNair played 13 seasons in the NFL, 11 were with the Titans. He played his final two years with the Baltimore Ravens, retiring after the 2007 season.
“We don’t know the details, but it is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the families involved,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
“We are saddened and shocked to hear the news of Steve McNair’s passing today,” Titans owner K.S. “Bud” Adams Jr. said in a statement. “He was one of the finest players to play for our organization and one of the most beloved players by our fans. He played with unquestioned heart and leadership and led us to places that we had never reached, including our only Super Bowl. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they deal with his untimely passing.”
About 50 people crowded just beyond police tape outside the complex in the upscale Rutledge Hill neighborhood, some wearing Titans hats. The condominium is located within walking distance of an area filled with restaurants and nightspots, just a few blocks from the Cumberland River and within view of the Titans’ stadium.
McNair began his career in 1995 with the Houston Oilers, who eventually became the Titans, and finished with 31,304 yards passing and 174 touchdowns. McNair played with pain for several years, and the injuries ultimately forced him to retire.
The highlight of his playing time might have been a five-game stretch at the end of the 2002 season when he was so banged up he couldn’t practice. McNair started all five games and won them all, leading the Titans to an 11-5 finish and a berth in the AFC championship game for the second time in four seasons.
McNair played all 16 games in 2006, his first season in Baltimore, and guided the Ravens to a 13-3 record. But he injured his groin during the season opener last season and never regained the form that enabled him to earn a berth in four Pro Bowls.
The 2009 NFL Draft is in the books. While it’ll be three to four years before we really know how any of the teams did — it just takes that long for players, especially quarterbacks, to demonstrate their potential — we all want to know how our teams did. So, I’ll collect draft grades from the experts over the next couple of days in this space, updating as the report cards come out.
Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News:
Arizona A The Cardinals addressed the worst running game in the NFL with the addition of Wells. They addressed atrocious special teams by selecting the best gunner in the draft, Johnson, and a return specialist in Stephens-Howling.
Atlanta C The Falcons needed to improve on the NFL’s 24th-ranked defense and did so, using seven of their eight selections on defensive players. Jerry will help the pass rush, and Moore will be a force in run defense.
Baltimore B Pencil in Oher as a future Pro Bowler. Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Peter Boulware, Chris McAllister â€“ GM Ozzie Newsome doesn’t miss often in the first round. He added a pass rusher in the second and a kick returner in the third.
Buffalo B The Bills needed to retool their offensive line to give QB Trent Edwards and RB Marshawn Lynch a chance, and they did so with Wood and Levitre. Maybin also brings speed to a pass rush that sorely needs it.
Carolina C Irvin will bulk up the run defense, and Brown will dial up the pass rush for the Panthers. For a team that didn’t have a first-round draft pick, the Panthers acquitted themselves quite well. Robinson was a solid gamble in the fifth.
Chicago C The Bears had the best third round of this draft. Gilbert and Iglesias were second-round values who slid into the third. The Bears got a late start â€“ their first pick was 68th overall â€“ but they finished strong.
Cincinnati C If the Bengals can get Smith to control his weight, Maualuga to play in control at middle linebacker and Johnson to find the on switch at end, this could be one of Cincinnati’s better drafts. That’s too many ifs, though.
Cleveland B The Browns had the best sixth round of the draft. Carey and Francies will contribute this fall, and Davis is insurance against the aging Jamal Lewis. Robiskie and Massaquoi give the Browns the freedom to deal WR Braylon Edwards.
Dallas C After inexplicably opting out of the first day, the Cowboys finished strong with some solid second-day selections. Brewster gives the Cowboys insurance at guard and tackle. Hamlin, Mickens and Smith bolster the secondary.
Denver B After forcing half the starting lineup of an underachieving defense out the door, new coach Josh McDaniels needs Ayers, Smith and McBath to become instant starters. Moreno gives the Broncos and QB Kyle Orton a fighting chance on offense.
Detroit C The Lions had the best start to the draft, snaring the best quarterback, tight end and safety in the first 33 picks. Hill gives the middle of the defensive line some size, and Williams gives Stafford another weapon in 2010.
Green Bay C The Packers are implementing a 3-4 defensive scheme this season, and Raji gave them the best nose tackle in this draft. Matthews provides an outside presence in the pass rush. Johnson was the draft’s best blocking fullback.
Houston A+ Quality from top to bottom. Top: Cushing was an All-Pac 10 linebacker and leader of the Southern Cal defense. Bottom: Nolan started only two seasons but intercepted 10 passes. Barwin and Casey bring versatility, and Brice has 4.33 speed.
Indianapolis C RB Brown represents a huge upgrade over Dominic Rhodes. With coach Tony Dungy gone, GM Bill Polian wanted to build a bigger defense, and he has done so with tackles Moala (305 pounds) and Taylor (306).
Jacksonville C The Jaguars needed to address the OL and wound up with two of the five best tackles in the draft. Thomas, Dillard and Underwood on the flank and Jennings in the backfield have the talent to make David Garrard a better quarterback.
Kansas City D New GM Scott Pioli, wanting to craft a defensive line like the one he had in New England, grabbed some size in Jackson and Magee. But too many reaches in the second day slowed his rebuilding process.
Miami B With Tom Brady back in the AFC East this season, the Dolphins drafted cornerbacks to stand up to his aerial assault. Smith has the size to match up with Randy Moss, and Davis has the physical game to check Welker.
Minnesota C Pencil it in â€“ Harvin will be the rookie of the year. Adrian Peterson slid to the Vikings in 2007 and won the award; now it’s Harvin’s turn. Minnesota also got bigger on offense (Loadholt) and tougher on defense (Brinkley).
New England C The Patriots had the best second round of the draft. Brace can spell Vince Wilfork at the nose, and Butler and Chung will one day be starters on a Super Bowl contender. Tate could be the grand slam pick of this draft.
New Orleans C With only four choices, the Saints couldn’t muster much draft-day momentum. They needed to address the defense, though, and did so with their first three picks. Jenkins and Vaughn will make the Saints bigger at the back end.
N.Y. Giants B The best team in the NFC just got better. Barden gives the Giants the size on the flank to replace Plaxico Burress, and Nicks provides the playmaking ability. Brown will step into the running back rotation for Derrick Ward.
N.Y. Jets D The Jets boldly traded into the top five to land their quarterback of the future. But that was the one high point of the weekend. Greene slid deep into the second day because he’s a non-contributor in the passing game.
Oakland D Heyward-Bey was a reach that high in the first, and so was Mitchell anywhere in the second. But Al Davis is consistent â€“ he loves speed, and those two players were among the fastest at their positions. This draft was all about speed.
Philadelphia B Andy Reid has his offense of the future locked into place with QB Kevin Kolb, McCoy, WR DeSean Jackson, Maclin and Ingram. The Eagles had the best fifth round of this draft with Ingram, Harris and Tupou.
Pittsburgh D Urbik may be the most important selection because he addresses Pittsburgh’s most pressing need. Wallace can provide the deep speed that departed with Nate Washington. But there was too much reaching in the second day.
San Diego C The Chargers had the best fourth round of the draft. Moore is a dynamic cover corner and return specialist. He lasted into the fourth because he lacks size and speed.
San Francisco C Getting Crabtree at 10 was a gift. He’ll make the San Francisco quarterback better no matter who it is. The 49ers rolled the dice on Davis and Jean-Francois, hoping they can point both players’ sliding draft stock in the other direction.
St. Louis C The Rams passed up Matt Ryan in 2008 and missed out on Matthew Stafford in 2009. Marc Bulger had better return to his Pro Bowl form, or all of St. Louis will have regrets. Smith steps in for Orlando Pace, and Laurinaitis gives the defense a leader.
Seattle C The Seahawks had the best seventh round of the draft. With all the reaching that was going on late in the draft, GM Tim Ruskell was able to pluck three big-time producers at big-time schools. Reed could be the steal of the round.
Tampa Bay C A solid draft that’s unlikely to make the Bucs appreciably better in 2009. That’s OK. New coach Raheem Morris has time to develop his franchise quarterback in Josh Freeman. Think Ben Roethlisberger.
Tennessee C Albert Haynesworth left a huge hole in the defensive front seven when he left in free agency. The Titans drafted Marks and McRath to try to plug that hole. Britt and Cook give QB Kerry Collins some weapons to open up the offense.
Washington D Not enough picks and too many reaches doomed the Redskins in this draft. Washington will be more competitive on defense in 2009 with Orakpo and Barnes, but the Redskins needed to do more to keep pace with the Giants and Eagles.
Todd McShay, Scouts, Inc.
Dallas Cowboys 2009 draft class
Best pick: DE Brandon Williams, Texas Tech (Fourth round, No. 120 overall)
Worst pick: OLB Jason Williams, Western Illinois (Third round, No. 69)
Bottom line: When looking at Dallas’ 2009 draft you have to consider WR Roy Williams, who the Cowboys traded first-, third- and sixth-rounders to acquire during the 2008 season. His production is not great, but he is their primary receiver. In addition, the Cowboys traded out of the first day and failed to find any players who will make an impact in the future. Stephen McGee is a good developmental quarterback who could turn into a good No. 2. Victor Butler is a nice situational pass-rusher, DeAngelo Smith can be a No. 3 or No. 4 corner, Michael Hampton projects as an in-the-box safety, Jason Williams is a much better athlete than football player and Robert Brewster is big, but lacks toughness and we don’t envision him as anything more than a backup in the NFL.
New York Giants 2009 draft class
Best pick: WR Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina (First round, No. 29 overall)
Worst pick: OT William Beatty, Connecticut (Second round, No. 60 overall)
Bottom line: Considering that the Giants were, for the most part, drafting near the bottom of each round, they cleaned house a little bit. They got a potential No. 2 WR in Hakeem Nicks, upgraded their pass rush with OLB Clint Sintim, and TE Travis Beckum and RB Andre Brown could develop into midround steals in time. New York took Beatty about where we projected him, but he is a finesse player who has not played to his potential, and who just doesn’t seem to have the same crafty, hardworking attitude the Giants value up front.
Philadelphia Eagles 2009 draft class
Best pick: RB LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh (Second round, No. 53 overall)
Worst pick: OT Fenuki Tupou, Oregon (Fifth round, No. 159 overall)
Bottom line: On paper, the Eagles appear to have one of best classes of 2009. Granted, Jeremy Maclin has a lot of developing to do as a route-runner, but his RAC skills project perfectly in Philadelphia’s West Coast offense and should be able to at least help as a No. 3 wideout and return man this year. McCoy is the best pass-catching back in this draft and should pay dividends by initially taking the load off Brian Westbrook. Long term, he should develop into the full-time starter two or three years down the road. TE Cornelius Ingram was a steal in the fifth round as was WR Brandon Gibson in the sixth.
Washington Redskins 2009 draft class
Best pick: DE Brian Orakpo, Texas (First round, No. 13 overall)
Worst pick: OLB Cody Glenn, Nebraska (Fifth round, No. 158 overall)
Bottom line: It looked for awhile like the Redskins would land QB Mark Sanchez, but after failing to do so, they are now left doing damage control with returning starting QB Jason Campbell. The good news is Washington’s first two picks — its only two in the first four rounds — should both become good starters. Orakpo fits better as 4-3 defensive end and should help immediately upgrade the Redskins’ feeble pass rush. CB Kevin Barnes is an underrated corner who, when healthy, shows the potential to develop into a good starter.
Arizona Cardinals 2009 draft class
Best pick: RB Chris Wells, Ohio State (First round, No. 31 overall)
Worst pick: OLB Cody Brown, Connecticut (Second round, No. 63 overall)
Bottom line: There’s something to be said for the Cardinals drafting at the bottom of the round, which is uncharted territory for them, and they handled it like veterans. Arizona cashed in on Beanie Wells, who fell to them at No. 31, which minimizes his durability risk because he doesn’t cost as much to sign. Brown is a little bit of a reach, but he fits as a rush LB and could potentially help upgrade the Cardinals’ pass rush, or at least add some depth. The best value pick was S Rashad Johnson, who the Cards snagged in the third round. Johnson is an instinctive ball hawk and it won’t surprise me if he starts in a nickel role in Week 1.
San Francisco 49ers 2009 draft class
Best pick: WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech (First round, No. 10 overall)
Worst pick: ILB Scott McKillop, Pittsburgh (Fifth round, No. 146 overall)
Bottom line: While San Francisco would have liked to address needs on the offensive or defensive fronts with its first pick, it’s impossible to fault the 49ers for taking one of the top three players in this year’s draft in Crabtree, who fell to them at No. 10. Making it an even better decision is any concerns about Crabtree’s character or how he interviewed leading up to the draft should be erased with Mike Singletary at coach. While the QB situation in San Francisco is less than ideal still, Crabtree will allow the 49ers to help see if they have the right QB in-house as he should only bring out the best in the existing signal-callers. As for Day 2, RB Glen Coffee is a good change-of-pace runner, McKillop is limited, but solid versus the run and should contribute on special teams. Finally, there’s nothing wrong with taking a chance on developing QB Nate Davis in Round 5.
Seattle Seahawks 2009 draft class
Best pick: LB Aaron Curry, Wake Forest (First round, No. 4 overall)
Worst pick: QB Mike Teel, Rutgers (Sixth round, No. 178 overall)
Bottom line: I liked Seattle’s approach to its first three picks where it simply took the best available players. Curry should immediately become the face of the defense as his versatility, toughness and leadership skills should provide an overall upgrade for this unit. Unger is a starting NFL lineman, the only thing that remains to be seen is whether it’s at center, guard or tackle. While undersized, WR Deon Butler is a natural playmaker with great speed, quickness and hand-eye coordination. There are other QBs we would have taken in the sixth round other than Teel, but we’re nitpicking to call this the worst pick.
St. Louis Rams 2009 draft class
Best pick: OT Jason Smith, Baylor (First round, No. 2 overall)
Worst pick: CB Bradley Fletcher, Iowa (Third round, No. 66 overall)
Bottom line: The Rams made the right call drafting an OT in their situation as a replacement for Orlando Pace at LT. I also thought cashing in on James Laurinaitis at No. 35 was a good move. He should provide leadership and upgrade the range of the Rams’ LB corps. After that, though, things fell off for St. Louis. Fletcher was the biggest reach. While he’s a big, physical corner, he lacks ideal range and is not an overly instinctive playmaker, so I’m not sure he’ll ever be more than another sub-package DB on a roster filled with plenty of them already.
Chicago Bears 2009 draft class
Best pick: CB D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt (Fourth round, No. 119)
Worst pick: WR Juaquin Iglesias, Oklahoma (Third round, No. 99 overall)
Bottom line: The Bears’ biggest need was finding weapons for new QB Jay Cutler, and they failed to accomplish that goal. Iglesias is, at best, a possession No. 3 receiver and Johnny Knox will probably max out as a receiver in sub packages who would contribute on special teams. On the positive side, the Bears hit homers on DT Jarron Gilbert and Moore.
Detroit Lions 2009 draft class
Best pick: TE Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State (First round, No. 20 overall)
Worst pick: OLB DeAndre Levy, Wisconsin (Third round, No. 76 overall)
Bottom line: We’ve made it perfectly clear that we would have built up the supporting cast and taken the offensive linemen instead of putting the weight on Matthew Stafford, who is very talented but will need some time to get ready. On top of having great hands, Brandon Pettigrew is one of the top three blocking tight ends in this year’s class and was a good value pick. WR Derrick Williams was worth the third-round pick and will be a No. 3 receiver right away and is also going to produce at kick returner. However, the Lions weren’t able to find an offensive tackle and we’ll be surprised if Levy emerges as more than a situational cover guy and special teams player.
Green Bay Packers 2009 draft class
Best pick: DT B.J. Raji, Boston College (First round, No. 9 overall)
Worst pick: FB Quinn Johnson, LSU (Fifth round, No. 145 overall)
Bottom line: It’s hard to pinpoint a weakness in this draft. Raji is a perfect fit at NT as the Packers transition to a 3-4 defense, and OLB Clay Matthews gives them a player with experience in a hybrid 3-4/4-3 scheme. OT T.J. Lang is one of the most underrated offensive linemen in this year’s class and could emerge as yet another midround O-line starter for Green Bay. The Packers also took some chances in the later rounds on risk/reward players like G Jamon Meredith and CB Brandon Underwood.
Minnesota Vikings 2009 draft class
Best pick: WR Percy Harvin, Florida (First round, No. 22 overall)
Worst pick: OT Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma (Second round, No. 54 overall)
Bottom line: I really like the Vikings’ approach during the draft. It’s obvious Minnesota targeted Harvin with head coach Brad Childress having met with him leading up to the draft. Childress has the offensive mind to utilize Harvin properly and it helps that Childress gave Harvin his stamp of approval. While there are questions about Loadholt’s ability to protect the perimeter, he is a massive RT prospect who is capable of pushing for a starting job. I also think Minnesota got good values in CB Asher Allen in the third round and ILB Jasper Brinkley in the fourth.
Atlanta Falcons 2009 draft class
Best pick: DE Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond (Fourth round, No. 125 overall)
Worst pick: S William Moore, Missouri (Second round, No. 55 overall)
Bottom line: Peria Jerry is a solid pick in the first round. He plays just under 300 pounds, but is tough versus the run. He is clearly the second-best DT in this class behind B.J. Raji and fills a priority need. Atlanta then turned its focus toward the secondary with three of its next four going to DBs. CB Chris Owens (third) and CB William Middleton (fifth) are solid developmental projects, but Moore has too much bust potential for my liking. It’s easy to fall in love with the size/speed combo, but I really question his instincts as a player. But with Jerry and Sidbury, who is a pass-rush specialist, the Falcons improved their pass rush and that should take some pressure off their secondary moving forward.
Carolina Panthers 2009 draft class
Best pick: DE Everette Brown, FSU (Second round, No. 43 overall)
Worst pick: DT Corvey Irvin, Georgia (Third round, No. 93 overall)
Bottom line: Considering how little it had to work with, Carolina did a strong job. It got a first-round talent in Brown at 43, who should be effective but slipped because of less-than-ideal height and top-end speed. Still, he’s quick enough off the edge to make an impact as a situational rusher as a rookie. While it might have seemed like a reach to some, CB Sherrod Martin’s stock was soaring leading up to the draft and it won’t surprise me if by midseason he’s a starter. I thought there were better options available in the third round other than Irvin, but the Panthers made up for it with the additions of RB Mike Goodson in the fourth round and talented but inconsistent OG Duke Robinson in the fifth.
New Orleans Saints 2009 draft class
Best pick: DB Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State (First round, No. 14 overall)
Worst pick: ILB Stanley Arnoux, Wake Forest (Fourth round, No. 118 overall)
Bottom line: The Saints were wise to avoid the temptation to take a running back in the first round, and Jenkins is a ball hawk who will get a shot to play CB but is more likely to emerge as a difference-maker at FS. Chip Vaughn can be a hard-hitting safety but New Orleans has to hope he plays with the effort he showed in 2007 rather than last season. Arnoux is a reach in the fourth round because we felt there were other LBs on the board who could have improved the defense more.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2009 draft class
Best pick: DT Roy Miller, Texas (Third round, No. 81 overall)
Worst pick: QB Josh Freeman, Kansas State (First round, No. 17 overall)
Bottom line: This will be a good situation for Freeman, who has tremendous upside and will be given the opportunity to watch and learn from the sidelines behind Byron Leftwich and company. Still, the Bucs purged their roster in the offseason and have a multitude of needs, and instead of addressing one in the mid-first round, they traded up two spots to reach even more for a QB with high bust potential. Time will tell, but I’m not sure the risk is worth the potential reward for this rebuilding franchise. I really like Miller in the third, however, and defensive coordinator Jim Bates is trying to get bigger and stronger. It’s not the old Tampa 2 and both Miller and DE Kyle Moore project better for what Bates is looking for in his new defense.
Buffalo Bills 2009 draft class
Best pick: DE/OLB Aaron Maybin, Penn State (First round, No. 11 overall)
Worst pick: C Eric Wood, Louisville (First round, No.28 overall)
Bottom line: On paper this is one of the best drafts of 2009. I would have liked to see them take an OT with one of their two first-round picks and Wood was a bit of a reach late in the first, he and G Andrew Levitre will ultimately become starters and boost what was the weakest area of the team entering the draft. Buffalo’s second biggest priority was to upgrade its pass rush and that goal was accomplished by selecting Maybin, who is the best pure edge rusher in this class. Maybin will play in a rotation with Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel early on and will have time to get bigger and stronger. And watch out for TE Shawn Nelson, who could turn into a late-round steal.
Miami Dolphins 2009 draft class
Best pick: CB Sean Smith, Utah (Second round, No. 61 overall)
Worst pick: WR Patrick Turner, USC (Third round, No. 87 overall)
Bottom line: I was surprised because the draft seemed to veer from a typical Bill Parcells draft. The Dolphins loaded up on needs at WR and DB. CB Vontae Davis could be a stud or he could be a bust due to poor technique and a marginal work ethic. QB/WR Pat White is intriguing because of his athleticism and potential to contribute in the Wildcat, but there were better options if Miami was looking for someone to line up opposite Ted Ginn Jr. at that point (and no, Turner is not one of them). I think Davis and Smith can be coached well and will upgrade the secondary significantly over time, and both will be good players in that system.
New England Patriots 2009 draft class
Best pick: CB Darius Butler, Connecticut (Second round, No. 41 overall)
Worst pick: OG Richard Ohrnberger, Penn State (Fourth round, No. 123 overall)
Bottom line: Bill Belichick, as usual, was trading at a dizzying pace and ended up with a bunch of versatile players, a handful of whom should find a way to contribute immediately. S Patrick Chung is a hard hitter who can be protected in coverage in New England’s scheme, while Butler is a phenomenal athlete, but it will be interesting to see if his lack of toughness becomes an issue for Belichick. Other potential contributors include Ron Brace, a two-gap DT, Sebastian Vollmer, the draft’s most underrated OT, and WR Brandon Tate, who has the ability to return kicks and can contribute as a sub WR and on special teams.
New York Jets 2009 draft class
Best pick: QB Mark Sanchez, USC (First round, No. 5 overall)
Worst pick: OG Matthew Slauson, Nebraska (Sixth round, No. 193 overall)
Bottom line: I applaud the Jets’ aggressive mindset. Sanchez might not be ready right away, but he fits here, has the mentality to handle NY and the Jets have the right philosophy in place to protect him with a solid running game and a good defense no matter when he starts. Sanchez comes from similar system and understands his role in that philosophy. There’s not much else to this draft with just the three picks, but RB Shonn Greene provide insurance and protection for a group of running backs who might not be there long term.
Denver Broncos 2009 draft class
Best pick: DE Robert Ayers, Tennessee (First round, No. 18)
Worst pick: TE Richard Quinn, North Carolina (Third round, No. 64)
Bottom line: The biggest issue we have with Denver’s draft was the decision to trade next year?s first round pick for CB Alphonso Smith, even though Smith will develop in a quality starter. The Broncos drafted some good players who will fit their system. RB Knowshon Moreno and Ayers will start immediately and Smith could play as a No. 3 corner. Darcel McBath could also develop eventually into a quality No. 3 corner eventually.
Kansas City Chiefs 2009 draft class
Best pick: DT Alex Magee, Purdue (Third round, No. 67 overall)
Worst pick: CB Donald Washington, Ohio State (Fourth round, No. 102 overall)
Bottom line: Obviously, the best player will be Tyson Jackson, but it’s hard to stamp the third-overall pick as the best. Magee provided better value, but Jackson should fit perfectly as a 5-technique in the Chiefs’ 3-4 defense. Still, by no means do I think he’s the next Richard Seymour, as he has been touted as in the days leading up to the draft. Magee has typically been better on the move, but he has the size, quickness and power to develop into a contributor on the defensive front. He has a quick first step and will help as an interior pass rusher on certain downs. Washington, however, was nothing more than a height/weight/speed pick who blew up at the combine, but has never come close to reaching his potential in college. OT Colin Brown is another one-year starter with some upside, but I’m not sure he’ll ever develop into a good starter and there were better linemen on the board when KC drafted Brown. It was an uninspiring first draft for Scott Pioli and I’m sure Chiefs fans expected more.
Oakland Raiders 2009 draft class
Best pick: WR Louis Murphy, Florida (Fourth round, No. 124 overall)
Worst pick: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland (First round, No. 7 overall)
Bottom line: The Raiders obviously march to a different drummer. They found speed in Heyward-Bey and they think he can provide the vertical element that Al Davis always wants in his offense and can take advantage of QB JaMarcus Russell’s rare ability to drive the ball downfield. But the thing is, Oakland is going to have to pay big money to Heyward-Bey, who might not even be a No. 2 receiver.
San Diego Chargers 2009 draft class
Best pick: G Tyronne Green, Auburn (Fourth round, No. 133 overall)
Worst pick: DT Vaughn Martin, Western Ontario (Fourth round, No. 113 overall)
Bottom line: It’s hard to knock the pick of DE Larry English at No. 16 overall because I think he is a good all-around player who will help the Chargers in the long term. However, San Diego’s Super Bowl window is closing quickly and drafting English at arguably their deepest position — assuming Shawne Merriman returns to health — does nothing to upgrade the team in the short term. The Chargers needed an impact player at ILB or a physical presence at RT, and after passing on those needs in the first round they were left to wait until the third round for their next pick. Martin has upside thanks to his combination of size and athleticism but it won’t surprise me if he’s not on their 53-man roster this fall. The only really good news for San Diego is that Green and Louis Vasquez will beef up the interior of the offensive line now and in the future.
Baltimore Ravens 2009 draft class
Best pick: DE/OLB Paul Kruger (Second round, No. 57 overall)
Worst pick: TE Davon Drew, East Carolina (Fifth round, No. 149 overall)
Bottom line: I was a little surprised to see the Ravens move up to No. 23 overall to take OT Michael Oher, but whether you agree with the move or not there is no denying they got one of the most physically gifted tackles in this year’s class. If Baltimore can motivate Oher to play to his potential he should become the long-term answer opposite Jared Gaither. There is not much flash in the rest of the draft but Kruger is a good fit given his versatility and CB Aldarius Webb and his elite speed were good pickups in the third round. The only real concerns about this group are questions about Oher’s work ethic and Webb’s past off-the-field issues.
Cincinnati Bengals 2009 draft class
Best pick: ILB Rey Maualuga, USC (Second round, No. 38 overall)
Worst pick: RB Bernard Scott, Abilene Christian (Sixth round, No. 209 overall)
Bottom line: The only issue I have with this draft is that the Bengals continue to put themselves in jeopardy from a character standpoint. While the immaturity of OT Andre Smith and past off-the-field incidents for Maualuga can be overlooked, why on earth would Cincinnati draft Scott in the sixth round? He has bounced around to four different colleges and has reportedly been arrested at least five times since high school. Still, you could make an argument that this is the best top-to-bottom group in the draft. Smith could solidify the offensive line, while Maualuga and DE Michael Johnson could thrive under the tutelage of head coach Marvin Lewis. If Maualuga can become more consistent and Johnson can be motivated to reach his considerable potential they will become very good NFL players. Other great values include TE Chase Coffman in the third round and C Jonathan Luigs in the fourth, both of whom should become starters in the next few years.
Cleveland Browns 2009 draft class
Best pick: WR Mohamed Massaquoi, Georgia (Second round, No. 50 overall)
Worst pick: WR Brian Robiskie, Ohio State (Second round, No. 36 overall)
Bottom line: While teams don’t usually like to take centers so early in the first round it’s unlikely Alex Mack would have been off the board in the next few picks had the Browns not traded up to No. 21 overall to get him. You can’t fault them for bringing Mack into the fold, but they had other priority needs including wide receiver and a pass-rush upgrade that could have been addressed there. Cleveland got its receivers in the next round, though I think Robiskie was a reach because he likely won’t turn into anything more than a possession-type No. 3 receiver. I expect Massaquoi to emerge as the bigger playmaker of the two. I also liked the way the Browns hankered down on Day 2 and found versatile, instinctive playmakers like DE David Veikune, LB Kaluka Maiava and DBs Don Carey and Coye Francies.
Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 draft class
Best pick: G Kraig Urbik, Wisconsin (Third round, No. 79 overall)
Worst pick: DT Evander Hood, Missouri (First round, No. 32 overall)
Bottom line: The Steelers traded out of the second round and got value in the third round in what is a comparatively lean overall class. Urbik is a big, tough guard who fits the classic Steelers mold and will bolster the interior of the offensive line. Hood has some versatility and can fit as an end in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 front, but he tends to play high and I’m not sure he’s ideally suited to taking on blockers. WR Mike Wallace and CB Keenan Lewis could develop into solid role players, and CB Joe Burnett could be the diamond in the rough in this group.
Houston Texans 2009 draft class
Best pick: TE James Casey, Rice (Fifth round, No. 152 overall)
Worst pick: S Glover Quin, New Mexico (Fourth round, No. 112 overall)
Bottom line:The Texans targeted their needs early and were able to find two potential starters in LB Brian Cushing and DE Connor Barwin. Cushing should start right away at the Sam linebacker, while Barwin is a developmental prospect with great measurables and potential off the edge. I also like C Antoine Caldwell in the third round. He could start at center or guard. This draft is solid from top to bottom. There’s nothing spectacular about it, but the Texans accomplished what they set out to do. The one downside was Quin was a reach. Houston will not get the production at safety they would hope for from Quin and could have gone other direction at that point.
Indianapolis Colts 2009 draft class
Best pick: RB Donald Brown, Connecticut (First round, No. 27 overall)
Worst pick: DT Fili Moala, USC (Second round, No. 56 overall)
Bottom line: For the most part, the Colts got good values with each pick, including Moala who was projected to go where Indy took him. The issue with him is that he appears to be better 2-gap player and doesn’t have the explosive 1-gap upfield burst the Colts generally look for. Brown gives them another versatile back who should excel in that scheme. Jerraud Powers is an underrated cover corner who plays bigger than his size and has good instincts for Indy’s Cover 2 heavy system. Even though WR appeared to be a bigger need and would be addressed before the fourth round, Austin Collie has the potential to develop into a solid No. 3 wideout, which in theory the Colts would live with long term.
Jacksonville Jaguars 2009 draft class
Best pick: WR Mike Thomas, Arizona (Fourth round, No. 107 overall)
Worst pick: DT Terrance Knighton (Third round, No. 72 overall)
Bottom line: Lots of highs and lows here. The Jaguars nailed the first two picks they made. OT Eugene Monroe was the best tackle on the board at No. 8 overall, and I like the fact that instead of going with sexy pick of Michael Crabtree in first round the Jags got back to Jack Del Rio football by bolstering the line and building from the inside out. Monroe should be a solid starter and second-round OT Eben Britton can develop into a starter at RT. Neither Knighton or CB Derek Cox were worthy of third-round picks, but Jacksonville bounced back with a potential wide receiver steals in Thomas, who also possesses return skills, and Jarett Dillard, who should put his leaping ability and solid hand-eye coordination to use as a sub package WR.
Tennessee Titans 2009 draft class
Best pick: TE Jared Cook, South Carolina (Third round, No. 89 overall)
Worst pick: CB Ryan Mouton, Hawaii (Third round, No. 94 overall)
Bottom line: The Titans finally addressed a big hole at wide receiver by taking Kenny Britt at No. 30 overall, giving themselves a big, physical wideout with strong hands who is NFL-ready right now. He fell to the bottom of the first round because he does not have exceptional top-end speed and his attitude will need to be monitored, but Britt will combine with Cook to give Tennessee a more wide-open passing game. DT Sen’Derrick Marks might be most effective in a rotation but worth a second-round pick if he proves capable of disrupting things in the middle. Mouton is the only issue here because I felt there were more proven commodities available at that point, including Rashad Johnson and Keenan Lewis.
Mel Kiper, ESPN:
Green Bay Packers: GRADE: A
I love what this team did to solidify its shaky defense in the first two picks alone, with the selection of two excellent players in defensive tackle B.J. Raji and outside linebacker Clay Matthews. Tackle T.J. Lang was a good pickup for the offensive line, while Quinn Johnson could be a bruising lead fullback in the league. Sixth-round pick Brandon Underwood could make this team and give the Packers depth as a backup.
New York Jets: GRADE: A-
The motto of the Jets’ draft was quality over quantity. Mark Sanchez’s selection made this team’s draft because he’s a franchise-maker. New coach Rex Ryan likes his defense, so the organization felt it could focus on the offense in his first draft. The Jets picked up Iowa running back Shonn Greene, who will fit into the rotation with Leon Washington and Thomas Jones. Guard Matthew Slauson was an OK pick in the sixth round, but the key to this draft is up top with Greene and Sanchez.
Arizona Cardinals: GRADE: B+
Chris Wells was a major acquisition for the Cardinals in the first round of this draft. He was a bargain for a team that was in dire need of a running back to rotate in with second-year back Tim Hightower. Wells gives this team the home run threat that the running game was sorely lacking last season. In addition to Wells, I liked the Cody Brown pick in the second round because he should be a good 3-4 rushing end in the Cardinals’ system. Bringing in LSU offensive lineman Herman Johnson in the fifth round and Illinois defensive end Will Davis in the sixth were good pickups for this organization. While I thought Johnson was a bit overrated, he is huge and will give the line a big presence when he’s on the field.
Buffalo Bills: GRADE: B+
Aaron Maybin was the pass-rusher this team needed to anchor the defensive line. On the other side of the line, the selections of center Eric Wood and guard Andrew Levitre in the second round were excellent picks. Wood is a very good center and Levitre very well may be the best guard in this draft. Also, Jairus Byrd’s ball skills could help him become a very good nickelback in this league. They got the tight end they needed in Shawn Nelson to give this offense another weapon. The reason this team didn’t receive an A is because it didn’t get a right or a left tackle, which I thought was a need with the trade of offensive tackle Jason Peters.
Houston Texans: GRADE: B+
This was a very productive draft, as the Texans’ first five picks (Brian Cushing, Connor Barwin, Antoine Caldwell, Glover Quin and Anthony Hill) will all contribute quickly. These are solid football players and I really like the Barwin pick. Look for sixth-rounder Brice McCain and seventh-round selection Troy Nolan to also compete for playing time.
New England Patriots: GRADE: B+
You have to give the Patriots credit for acquiring even more picks for next year’s draft. Safety Patrick Chung, defensive tackle Ron Brace and cornerback Darius Butler were all good selections in the second round, although offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer was a reach. Wide receiver Brandon Tate was a decent third-round pick and I really like the sixth-round selection of Jacob Ingram, the best long snapper in the draft.
San Francisco 49ers: GRADE: B+
Obviously the 49ers hit the jackpot with wide receiver Michael Crabtree falling to them at No. 10. Running back Glen Coffee gives the 49ers a nice one-two punch with Frank Gore. Getting inside linebacker Scott McKillop in the fifth round was a steal. Bear Pascoe is one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft, and the two LSU kids (Curtis Taylor and Ricky Jean-Francois) were great pickups in the seventh round.
Atlanta Falcons: GRADE: B
The Falcons did a good job early with the Peria Jerry pick in the first round and the selection of safety William Moore in the second. I really like the Moore pick because if he is able to get healthy, he could be one of the top steals of this draft. He has a tremendous amount of talent and could be a superstar for this franchise. Overall, the Falcons did a nice job for the second year in a row.
Baltimore Ravens: GRADE: B
First-round selection Michael Oher gives this team great flexibility on the offensive line because he can play right or left tackle for the Ravens. Second-round pick Paul Kruger has the ability to play immediately in this league and may push for ample playing time. Also, Lardarius Webb is a little light at around 180 pounds, but with the help of an experienced safety to support him, he can definitely play cornerback in this league. I love the fifth-round selection of inside linebacker Jason Phillips. He’s going to fit in very well with this talented group of linebackers.
Chicago Bears: GRADE: B
I think Jarron Gilbert is one of the steals of the draft. Wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias was a good pick, as were cornerback D.J. Moore and wide receiver Johnny Knox. Seventh-round pick Derek Kinder could turn out to be quite a sleeper if he’s able to return to his strong level of play before his injury a couple of years ago.
Cincinnati Bengals: GRADE: B
The Bengals had a lot of picks and they did a good job getting good quality with their quantity. Andre Smith, Rey Maualuga and Michael Johnson are great ways to start a draft for any team. These guys could fill big holes for the Bengals. The fourth-round selection of offensive lineman Jonathan Luigs was a little high, but it wasn’t crazy. The late-round picks weren’t anything to write home about, but they did a good job of getting strength in numbers and getting some depth for their team.
New York Giants: GRADE: B
The selection of first-round wide receiver Hakeem Nicks could be a good one, but he really needs to keep his weight up to make an impact in the NFL. I like the selection of offensive tackle William Beatty in the second round and wide receiver Ramses Barden in the third round. They made some good selections late in the draft with running back Andre Brown in the fourth and the two defensive backs in the sixth and seventh rounds: DeAndre Wright and Stoney Woodson.
Pittsburgh Steelers: GRADE: B
First-round selection Evander Hood was a good pick because he should fit in well as a defensive tackle in the Steelers’ system. I love third-round wide receiver Mike Wallace’s speed. Cornerback Joe Burnett and running back Frank Summers were good selections in the fifth round. Defensive tackle Ra’Shon Harris could be a steal out of the sixth round.
Seattle Seahawks: GRADE: B
The Seahawks passed on Sanchez to get Aaron Curry, and while I don’t agree with the pick, it’s not a bad pick for the Hawks, especially since Curry was the No. 1 player on my board. Max Unger is an excellent fit for this offensive line and wide receiver Deon Butler reminds me of Bobby Engram. I don’t understand the Mike Teel pick in the sixth round because there were better quarterbacks out there, but the selection of safety Courtney Greene in the seventh round was a great selection.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: GRADE: B
The Bucs could’ve stayed where they were and still gotten Josh Freeman, so I don’t understand the decision to trade up for him. He has a lot of upside, but he’s a risk/reward type of player because he isn’t as polished as some of the other top quarterbacks in this draft. The Bucs made some very solid picks throughout the draft, including defensive end Kyle Moore in the fourth round and wide receiver Sammie Stroughter in the final round.
Cleveland Browns: GRADE: B-
Alex Mack was a good pick at No. 21 and Mohamed Massaquoi was a very good pickup in the second round. I think fellow second-rounder David Veikune was a bit of a reach in that round, but not enough of one to seriously dent the Browns’ grade. They didn’t get a great receiver in Brian Robiskie in the second round, but he’s polished enough as a rookie that he could be a solid possession guy for this franchise.
Detroit Lions: GRADE: B-
Matthew Stafford was what this team needed, but fellow first-rounder Brandon Pettigrew was a reach at No. 21. Third-round pick DeAndre Levy was a little bit of a reach, but a good pick. Selecting Derrick Williams in the third round was a good move. The best late-round pick for this team was seventh-rounder Zach Follett out of California. The Lions should’ve gotten a left tackle at some point since that is an obvious need right now, particularly with their current quarterback situation.
Philadelphia Eagles: GRADE: B-
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was a good pick, but he needs to work on his route running to be a consistent threat in the NFL. Running back LeSean McCoy was a good selection in the second round and so was tight end Cornelius Ingram in the fifth round. The fifth round was a good round for the Eagles, who also picked up cornerback Victor Harris and offensive tackle Fenuki Tupou.
Indianapolis Colts: GRADE: C+
Donald Brown is a good player but kind of a luxury pick, which isn’t a knock on it because running back Joseph Addai has had some injury issues as of late. Fili Moala and Jerraud Powers were taken a little high, though. Terrance Taylor is a good pick in the fourth round because he could jump into the Colts’ rotation.
Jacksonville Jaguars: GRADE: C+
I understand the Jaguars felt that offensive line was a need, but I felt picking Eben Britton that early in the second round was a reach, but not nearly as big of a reach as cornerback Derek Cox in the third round. The selections of Mike Thomas and Jarrett Dillard in the fourth and fifth rounds were good ones and I really like the seventh-round selections of Rashad Jennings and Tiquan Underwood. Honestly, the late-round selections are what saved the Jaguars’ grade.
Minnesota Vikings: GRADE: C+
If they can keep wide receiver Percy Harvin focused and maximize his potential, then taking him at No. 22 could end up being a good selection. The only problem is the fact that he has some character question marks surrounding him, but there’s no questioning his talent. Third-round selection Asher Allen is a good pick, inside linebacker Jasper Brinkley could be a good fit and seventh-rounder Jamarca Sanford is a good player.
Tennessee Titans: GRADE: C+
Wide receiver Kenny Britt was a good selection in the first round. Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks was a bit overhyped, but he wasn’t a bad reach at No. 62. I love the selection of tight end Jared Cook. Troy Kropog was a little bit of a reach in the fourth round, but he was a good player at Tulane.
Washington Redskins: GRADE: C+
Brian Orakpo fell into their laps and he gives them the pass-rushing presence they haven’t had since Dexter Manley. Kevin Barnes is a decent third-round pick. Robert Henson is a decent late-round pick at linebacker.
Carolina Panthers: GRADE: C
They gave up next year’s first-round pick to get Florida State defensive end Everette Brown, which I really don’t like. Brown is a fine player and could make an impact for this team, but I believe that a first-round pick is too steep a price to pay. None of the players they selected in this draft have great potential. Sherrod Martin and Corvey Irvin have the ability to be starters in this league and running back Mike Goodson could be a situational back, but none of the Panthers’ picks really stand out.
Denver Broncos: GRADE: C
Knowshon Moreno is a good running back and Robert Ayers has excellent ability. Alphonso Smith was one of my favorite defensive players to watch in college, but I don’t agree with trading a future No. 1 pick for the rights to pick him. Richard Quinn was selected a little too high for a one-dimensional blocking tight end. David Bruton is an OK player and so is Seth Olsen.
New Orleans Saints: GRADE: C
First-round selection Malcolm Jenkins is a good player. Fourth-round safety Chip Vaughn is a solid player and had some great workouts. He looks great on paper, as does fellow fourth-rounder Stanley Arnoux, the inside linebacker from Wake Forest. The only player out of the four the Saints selected who will be a difference-maker is Jenkins.
St. Louis Rams: GRADE: C
If I were the Rams, I would have taken Mark Sanchez at the No. 2 spot, but I do like offensive tackle Jason Smith. Inside linebacker James Laurinaitis was a good selection in the second round. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher would’ve gone higher if he had better speed. There were better quarterbacks available in the sixth round, when they took Keith Null.
San Diego Chargers: GRADE: C+
The selection of linebacker Larry English at No. 16 was a little high, but he fills a potential need for them and he’s a good player. Guards Louis Vasquez and Tyronne Green were good selections in the third and fourth rounds. Defensive tackle Vaughn Martin was a bit of a reach in the fourth round because he played in Canada against a lower level of competition. The late-round picks of running back Gartrell Johnson, cornerback Brandon Hughes, safety Kevin Ellison and wide receiver Demetrius Byrd were all good picks.
Kansas City Chiefs: GRADE: C-
Linebacker Tyson Jackson is a very good football player, but he was a reach at the No. 3 spot. This team focused on shoring up the defense early, and selecting defensive tackle Alex Magee in the third round will help. I do like the selection of offensive tackle Colin Brown in the fifth round, but the rest of the late-round picks didn’t really do anything for me. I saw a couple of reaches in those late rounds that definitely didn’t help the grade.
Miami Dolphins: GRADE: C-
Cornerback Vontae Davis is a risk/reward type of player. Pat White has to play receiver to have value where they picked him (No. 44 overall). Defensive back Sean Smith was a good second selection, but third-rounder Patrick Turner was a major reach. With the exception of safety Chris Clemons in the fifth round, the rest of the late-round picks weren’t very impressive.
Dallas Cowboys: GRADE: D
The Big D gets a D this year. They didn’t get a lot of top-end talent due in part to their not having a pick until the third round, but they then went out and reached on Jason Williams and Robert Brewster. Victor Butler is a decent pick, as is Brandon Williams, but I’m not enamored with any of their later picks. They got players that could help them in terms of depth, but no one who is going to really strengthen this football team.
Oakland Raiders: GRADE D
Oakland’s draft was a head-scratcher. The Raiders took wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey at No. 7 even though Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin were still on the board, but the biggest reach of their draft and of the entire draft was the second-round selection of safety Michael Mitchell. This kid was thought to be a seventh-round pick at best and possibly an undrafted free agent, and the Raiders pulled the ultimate reach by taking him in the second round.
I just want to say that my issues with those two picks have nothing to do with those players. Congrats to them for getting picked and obviously having the talent to make it to the NFL. My issue is that these weren’t good value picks for the organization. The Raiders could have gotten more value from the No. 7 pick and definitely more value from the No. 47 pick, and that’s why I believe they made a mistake. The only reason Oakland didn’t receive an F is because they did get some players.
Michael Lombardi, National Football Post/CBS Sportsline:
ARIZONA: I love Chris “Beanie” Wells, and for a team that really needs more juice in the backfield, this was a great pick. I suspect Edgerrin James and his $5-million salary might be moving on now. The Cards addressed some pressing needs in the secondary and along both lines. When picking where the Cards picked in each round, you have to have positional flexibility and stick with the board.
ATLANTA: Tony Gonzalez makes this draft look better, plus the Falcons get a good defensive tackle (Peria Jerry) in the first round. I’m not in love with safety William Moore as a coverage player, but in Mike Smith’s defense, he might have a role. If the Falcons can get Lawrence Sidbury’s talent to match his play, they’ll view this draft as exceptional.
BALTIMORE: One of my favorite drafts. The Ravens solved their need at right tackle, get a future left tackle in Michael Oher and add a very good corner in Lardarius Webb in the third. They added good players in each round. Watch out for Cedric Peerman from Virginia, their pick in the sixth.
BUFFALO: I know they needed a left tackle, but who could they have picked when they passed Oher in the first? The Bills have to configure their line the right way, but they need to add some inside pieces to help them work through the problem. They have work to do in the coming months.
CAROLINA: The future is always now in Carolina. Trading away next year’s one for a second was an interesting move, and if Everette Brown is the rusher they hope, then he was a steal. But I’m not sure on that one. Mike Goodson is a good back, and I think he might be a sleeper, but how does he get any carries in Carolina?
CHICAGO: As Tom Waddle, my NFL Network partner and radio host in Chi-town, tells me all the time, this draft is about Jay Cutler. And he is so right. But adding a talent like defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert to a very good defensive line coach in Rod Marinelli could be a great marriage.
CINCINNATI: The Bengals had a good day. As they always do, they stayed in each spot, and this year their picks seem very solid. DE Michael Johnson was killed by scouts for his perceived lack of toughness, but how many sons of a Marine do you know who aren’t tough? He might be a great pick for them.
CLEVELAND: When both Aaron Curry and Tyson Jackson went, the Browns had to move — and adding the Jets players does help their defense. Remember, they signed Abram Elam to an offer sheet this offseason, and he and Kenyon Coleman are both starters. Don’t count out Brett Ratliff as a real threat to be the starting quarterback.
DALLAS: Looks like a special teams and depth draft to me. If I were a pro guy in the NFL, I might want to watch the ‘Boys this summer and make sure I know all these picks before they play in the preseason. They can’t keep all of them.
DENVER: Never confuse hope for a plan, and the Broncos might be hoping their defense is going to be better. Hell, I hope they are, but I’m not in love with trading a one for a short corner unless his name is Darrell Green. I’m confused, to say the least, and will spend the next few weeks watching more tape to see if I can understand what they were doing. I love Robert Ayers and Knowshon Moreno, but after that, it was a hard one.
DETROIT: The goal was to get good before they get great, and this draft is a start. The Lions got bigger on the lines and were able to get some pieces as they rebuild their defense. This is going to take some time in Detroit.
GREEN BAY: Five of the Packers’ seven picks are offensive and defensive linemen (outside backers in the 3-4 are like lineman), so how can I not like this one? They addressed their needs in the most crucial areas, and it will be fun to watch these players develop.
HOUSTON: If I had to pick one draft that I was not excited about, this would be the one. But I might be too hard on my evaluation of Brian Cushing and Connor Barwin. I just don’t see how these two players can help a slow, non-pass-rushing defense get better. Time will tell, but this is the kind of draft that the Texans’ front office better have right or it might not improve their team in ’09 — and it might cost some people some jobs.
INDY: It made sense to me that the Colts picked a back, but I was thinking Beanie Wells, not Donald Brown. I like Brown, and he will help this team greatly. DT Terrance Taylor, their pick in the fourth, might surprise a few people with his power and balance. He gives them some much needed girth.
JACKSONVILLE: The Jags needed to fix their offensive line, and that’s what they did. Eugene Monroe gives them a left tackle who will be a star soon. This will be the first time the Jags have more athletes than brawlers in their line.
K.C.: The Chiefs have so many needs, but you have to factor in getting a starting quarterback. They’re like the Lions — they have to get good before they get great.
MIAMI: I think this draft is sneaky good. I Love Pat White and love the fact he will compete for a job. He’ll surprise people with his accuracy and talent. This draft was a classic size/speed draft, which is right up my alley.
MINNESOTA: It’s all about Percy Harvin. He’s the quick slot man the Vikings’ offense needs, and he can make plays with the ball in his hands. This is a great fit for them. Phil Loadholt is limited to right tackle only, but he’s better than Ryan Cook, and this might allow Cook to move to center, where he played some in college.
NEW ENGLAND: What can I say? The man is the best — and did you see his draft room? Six people; clearly he hates committees as much as I do. I e-mailed the president of another team during the draft and wrote, “Belichick is the best,” and he wrote back, “Without a doubt.” Ron Brace should be in Denver instead of a small corner. If you want to run a 3-4, you need a nose tackle, not a little corner. This draft for the Pats was all about the back end of the roster. Add in the fact they got two No. 2s in 2010, and it makes it even better.
NEW ORLEANS: I think Malcolm Jenkins is really good, and if Jon “Love You Bro” Gruden (he was great on the NFL Network all weekend; he knows the league inside and out and he can blend the players into the scheme) is right about Pierre Thomas as the main back, then they have all their needs fixed. But I’m not buying that one. If Jenkins can cover inside as well as I think he can, he’s going to really help them.
NEW YORK GIANTS: I’m not in love with Hakeem Nicks, but I always love the Giants’ draft. If there was one team that always had a direct hit on players I liked, it was the Giants. They’re a size-speed team and they just keep fixing the lines. The Giants and Pats had the best offseasons, and this draft will be a redshirt draft for them with the exception of Nicks.
NEW YORK JETS: Yahoo Dave, I loved it. They went quality over quantity and now have a quarterback who gives them a chance to win. RB Shonn Greene is a big-time player who will help right away. I have never met a more impressive person than Mark Sanchez; he’s going to be great. GM Mike Tannenbaum did a great job.
OAKLAND: What can I say? I’d love to say I told you so, but I’m not that kind of guy — and to everyone who thinks I bash the Raiders because I’m bitter, go get a clue. I am not bitter, I am like many former players and employees (I received over 150 texts and e-mails from players and former employees after the pick) who wanted to help the owner win — but he only wants to win his way. Someone once said, “It’s not just win baby, it’s win my way baby,” and this draft is his way. Enjoy it, Raiders fans.
PHILADELPHIA: I love Jason Peters, and my man Waddle has a man crush on Jeremy Maclin, but how many nickel backs can Andy Reid collect? Who’s going to convert third and one? Lorenzo Booker is available now, I bet. Getting Peters is the Eagles’ biggest move yet, and if he plays at a high level, he can make all the difference.
PITTSBURGH: Mike Tomlin is my favorite coach, for sure. We had him on the Network, and he had me pumped up to play. What was more impressive than his motivational talks were his understanding of player development and what his coaching staff must do to make these players help the Steelers. No matter who the Steelers picked, they had a great draft because Tomlin will demand it from the players.
SAN DIEGO: The Chargers wanted Larry English all the way and needed a rusher. So for all my thinking they might take a back, it was never the case. They wanted English, and he’s a good fit for them. The first four picks were offensive and defensive linemen, and that is a great start to any draft.
SAN FRANCISCO: It’s all about toughness here, and this draft reflects it. How lucky are they that they got the best receiver in the draft? If I were the 49ers, I’d bring in Jerry Rice and make sure Michael Crabtree spends some time with him and understands the meaning of being a 49er wideout.
SEATTLE: The Seahawks went with a very good player in Aaron Curry, and the hope here is that he can bring some heat as a blitzer. GM Tim Ruskell must have seen Derrick Brooks with this pick.
ST. LOUIS: Another team that needs to get good before it can get great. I like Jason Smith, and they needed a left tackle. Alex Barron has to be the happiest guy in the NFL now.
TAMPA BAY: The Bucs wanted a new face for the franchise, and this is the third new coach getting a new quarterback, which is a nice way to begin your head coaching career. Besides QB Josh Freeman, they added some nice pieces, as they’re a team in a slight transition of schemes. Add Kellen Winslow to their draft and it looks great.
TENNESSEE: Another sneaky good one, and for me, Sen’Derrick Marks in the second is a huge pick for the Titans. He’ll be a star, and Jared Cook in the third allows them to keep using Bo Scaife as the move man. They know how to pick good players in Tennessee. This might not be a sexy draft, but for a good team, it’s a good draft.
WASHINGTON: I’m not a Brian Orakpo fan, and I’ll be watching all season to see if my evaluation is right. He better get five sacks playing next to Albert Haynesworth.
Ross Tucker, SI:
Baltimore Ravens: The Wizard of Oz, GM Ozzie Newsome, does it again by entering the draft with no glaring needs and getting tremendous value at every selection. Mississippi tackle Michael Oher has all the physical tools to be a good starter in the NFL and they got him relatively late in the first round while Utah’s Paul Kruger (an all-day sucker, which is football terminology for playing hard every snap) will quickly fit in on the Ravens’ intimidating defense. The rest of Newsome’s haul will provide depth and help on special teams.
Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis is tired of trying to play finesse football in the black and blue division. Instead of running from the bullies in the schoolyard in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, the Bengals are going to hit them in the mouth with Alabama tackle Andre Smith and USC linebacker Rey Maualuga. Smith is the best run-blocking offensive lineman by far and Maualuga is a vicious tackler, so they will both fit in well in the AFC North. Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson and Missouri tight end Chase Coffman could be steals. Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs may start as a rookie.
Philadelphia Eagles: They got arguably the best receiver in the draft, Jeremy Maclin, at No. 19 and the most elusive and pure runner, LeSean McCoy, at No. 53. The Eagles also got another receiving threat in sleeper tight end Cornelius Ingram from Florida. Oh, and did I mention they got the most talented left tackle in the league in Jason Peters via trade and a guy nicknamed “Macho” (Victor Harris)? You gotta love it.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers got the best defensive tackle in the draft in B.J. Raji, who is stout enough to play nose guard and athletic enough to line up over the offensive tackle in Dom Capers’ new defense. Speaking of positional versatility, the Packers also got the best combo pass rusher-pass defender available at the outside backer position in Clay Matthews. Eastern Michigan’s T.J. Lang and South Carolina’s Jamon Meredith will provide further competition to an offensive line that took a step back last year.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys traded down and drafted a bunch of players who won’t even make their roster. What is the point of that? Out of their 12 picks, maybe two of them will contribute in 2009. Not good.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs traded up two spots for Josh Freeman, but who else wanted him? I highly doubt Denver would have taken him at 18. The Bucs probably could have traded down and still landed him. Freeman will take at least a year or two to develop, so new head coach Raheem Morris had better have some job security for a team that is in full-blown rebuilding mode. The Bucs still need a defensive tackle, though I am sure they hope Roy Miller from Texas can fill that role.
Didn’t Love It Or Hate It
Miami Dolphins: Bill Parcells likes big people at every position and believes might makes right in the NFL. He got the biggest corner in the draft in Utah’s Sean Smith and just about the biggest wideout in USC’s Patrick Turner. Those picks came after the Dolphins got the most talented cornerback available in the draft in Illinois’ Vontae Davis, who needs to overcome maturity issues. The Dolphins also got the ideal Wildcat candidate in West Virginia’s Pat White and a solid but not spectacular receiver in Ohio State’s Brian Hartline.
Houston Texans: The Texans needed to get better and more versatile on the defensive side of the ball and USC’s Brian Cushing and Cincinnati’s Connor Barwin certainly fill the bill as almost mirror image players that can do a lot of things flanking DeMeco Ryans. Alabama interior lineman Antoine Caldwell was a value pick and provides depth which was needed up front. Local product James Casey drives down the street from Rice to start his pro career and can play a number of positions for the dynamic Texans offense.
Minnesota Vikings: Percy Harvin will make a ton of plays for the Vikings as long as he can stay on the field. Phil Loadholt is the big hammer the Vikes wanted to get at right tackle. Asher Allen from Georgia is the corner they sorely needed.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers give up next year’s first rounder for the second year in a row, but it doesn’t matter because they got the pass-rusher they desperately needed opposite Julius Peppers in Everette Brown, a guy who many people thought could have gone in the top 15. Georgia defensive tackle Corvey Irvin will contribute in the rotation as a rookie. Oklahoma offensive guard Duke Robinson is a big boy who needs to play with better technique and consistency. Sounds a lot like Jeff Otah last year, and that worked out pretty well for John Fox and company.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints got the best player at their biggest position of need over the past couple of years in Ohio State defensive back Malcolm Jenkins. They would have liked to have gotten an outside linebacker or a power running back, but they would rather have Jeremy Shockey and Jonathan Vilma, the players they traded for the picks.
You’re Gonna Do What?
Oakland Raiders: I would pay money to get a copy of the Raiders draft board. Seriously. First-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey is fast but has trouble catching the ball at times, which is kind of a problem when you are trying to make your living as an NFL receiver. Mike Mitchell had a good pro day, which, of course, makes him a second-round pick. Then the Raiders reached (what else is new) for Wisconsin defensive end Matt Shaughnessy. Sorry, Raiders fans, but it does not look like there is any light at the end of the black tunnel.
New York Jets: Everyone else loves what the Jets did. Not me. It is hard for me to imagine USC quarterback Mark Sanchez being better as a rookie than fourth-year vet Kellen Clemens. The move had as much to do with sparking excitement among the fanbase and making a big splash as it did with football. The pressure on Sanchez will be huge for a team whose roster is ready to win now. Drafting only three players means the team is looking to get into the postseason. Having one of them be a quarterback makes that unlikely, despite what Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan did last year. Moving up to get Iowa running back Shonn Greene gives the Jets some insurance in case Thomas Jones continues to hold out, but where is the receiver that they so desperately need opposite Jerricho Cotchery?
Need More Information
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks elected to pass on a quarterback and a left tackle in order to take the best defensive player and quite possibly the best overall player in the draft in Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. He will be a difference maker immediately. Versatile offensive lineman Max Unger from Oregon and former walk-on turned all-time leading receiver Deon Butler from Penn State should have roles to fill as well for new head coach Jim Mora.
Chicago Bears: If quarterback Jay Cutler lives up to expectations, the rest of this draft is meaningless for Chicago. Still, Jerry Angelo gathered up several solid players that will help the Bears in 2009. San Jose State defensive end Jarron Gilbert can jump out of a pool — even though I have no idea what that means in terms of football. Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman and Vanderbilt defensive back D.J. Moore are solid players from power conferences who could see the field early. The Bears still need a receiver who can help them this year.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills batted .500 in this draft, which is good in baseball but bad in football. They needed a pass rusher and a left tackle in this draft but got only one by taking the player with the best first step in this year’s class, Penn State’s Aaron Maybin. Maybin will be a situational pass rusher as a rookie and give Buffalo an option opposite Aaron Schobel. Louisville’s Eric Wood and Oregon State’s Andy Levitre were two of the top rated interior offensive linemen available and can help fortify the inside, but it remains to be seen whether veterans Kirk Chambers, Langston Walker and Demetrius Bell can protect Trent Edwards on the flanks in some combination. Southern Mississippi tight end Shawn Nelson gives them the speed threat at tight end they were sorely lacking.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jack Del Rio was tired of drafting guys who didn’t pan out. That, and he wanted to get back to his meat and potatoes philosophy. That meant getting more physical up front. The Jags got amazing value in picking offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton much lower than most people anticipated. Terrance Knighton is the big body that was needed next to John Henderson, and Jacksonville waited until later to get receivers like Mike Thomas and Jarrett Dillard after their negative experiences with Matt Jones and Reggie Williams early in previous drafts.
Denver Broncos: The Broncos defense was horrible last year, so, of course, their first pick would be a … running back? Fortunately for Josh McDaniels, they rallied with the next two picks of Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers and Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith, both of whom will play as rookies. Then the Broncos took Texas Tech defensive back Darcel McBath and North Carolina tight end Richard Quinn way earlier than most people would have anticipated, so it was back to the head-scratching for the new regime.
New York Giants: The G-men got a lot of value in players like Virginia’s Clint Sintim and UConn’s William Beatty, but if they lose in the playoffs again because Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden aren’t able to contribute as rookies this will be a draft that is forever known as the trade that didn’t happen. You can’t tell me Nicks and Barden will be better than Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards the next two years. By the time the rookies develop, the window on the Giants’ title hopes might be closed.
Detroit Lions: This draft will always hinge on whether Matthew Stafford earns the exorbitant money he is receiving. To his credit, he has handled the process fantastically up to this point. Now he just needs to play well. Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew and Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas are the most physical players at their position and fit what Jim Schwartz is trying to do in the Motor City.
Steady As She Goes
New England Patriots: I feel like I have seen this draft before because it seems eerily similar to what the Patriots did last year, and every other year that I can remember for that matter. They fortified the back end with Oregon’s Patrick Chung and UConn’s Darius Butler. They continued to draft for depth and competition on the offensive line by collecting a bunch of blue collar-types in Houston’s Sebastian Vollmer, Penn State’s Rich Ohrnberger and Louisville’s George Bussey. Boston College’s Ron Brace was the best pure nose guard available and North Carolina receiver Brandon Tate could end up being a steal if he can overcome injury and off-field issues.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The fans in the Steel City like ‘em strong and tough and that is exactly what they got with their first two picks in Missouri defensive tackle Ziggy Hood and Wisconsin guard Kraig Urbik. They needed some depth up front and they got that in Hood and Urbik. The Steelers also landed the fastest wide receiver in the draft, Mississippi’s Mike Wallace. Cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett will compete for the nickel spot and fill the void left by Bryant McFadden’s departure to Arizona.
Indianapolis Colts: Bill Polian really can’t help himself when it comes to getting talented skill players in round one, but he got a prototypical Colt in intelligent do-it-all running back Donald Brown from UConn. Polian then addressed their most glaring need by getting big space eaters in USC defensive tackle Fili Moala and Michigan nose guard Terrance Taylor. BYU wide receiver Austin Collie has Colt written all over him and could be running routes from the slot as a rookie if he can grasp the complicated scheme that Indy runs.
Tennessee Titans: Wide receiver Kenny Britt and tight end Jared Cook give the Titans more speed and options for Kerry Collins on the outside. The Titans got another young body on the defensive line in Sen’Derrick Marks, who they will need to get to play hard on every snap. Javon Ringer, Troy Kopog and the rest of the Titans picks will be counted on to provide depth on a team disappointed by its early playoff exit.
Atlanta Falcons: Thomas Dimitroff knows exactly what he is doing. He traded for Tony Gonzalez and filled the only real need on offense before sinking his teeth into the other side of the ball. Peria Jerry is a rolling bucket of butcher knives and plays his tail off every play, which fits what Mike Smith and the Falcons are trying to do. William Moore injects some youth and physicality into the secondary, and look out for sleeper defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, who dominated at the FCS level for the Richmond Spiders.
Arizona Cardinals: Ken Whisenhunt had a solid draft again, getting power running back Chris “Beanie” Wells from Ohio State in the first round. Cody Brown from Connecticut fits the mold of the Steelers outside linebackers that Whisenhunt remembers from his time in Pittsburgh. Rashad Johnson from Alabama and small-school prospect Gregory Toler will fight for playing time in the secondary as rookie.
Shrug Of The Shoulders
St. Louis Rams: The Rams let the draft come to them and it worked out well as they filled three needs in the first three rounds. Baylor tackle Jason Smith was number one at his position on most boards because he is a more physical finisher than Eugene Monroe. James Laurinaitis was a three-time All-American at Ohio State and noted student of the game. He’ll be a team leader in the NFL. Iowa cornerback Bradley Fletcher had the size-speed combo that Rams GM Billy Devaney was looking for at that position.
Cleveland Browns: Eric Mangini and George Kokinis did a ton of business in stockpiling players that fit what they are looking to do in Cleveland, starting by trading down and getting a trio of former Jets. Georgia’s Mohammed Massaquoi and Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie are the anti-divas at wide receiver who could both become solid pros. Cal center Alex Mack was the best interior lineman in the draft, and his passion for the game will wear off on his fellow linemates.
Washington Redskins: The Skins swung and missed on Mark Sanchez, but that may be a blessing in disguise. Brian Orakpo looks like Tarzan but too often plays like Jane, and Washington defensive coordinator Greg Blache will be all over him in order to get maximum effort. Maryland corner Kevin Barnes should help too, but I certainly hope they don’t picture former top-five pick Mike Williams being the answer at right tackle after signing him Friday night.
San Diego Chargers: It is hard to question A.J. Smith when it comes to outside linebackers, so I won’t with his decision to take the super-productive Larry English from Northern Illinois. Texas Tech’s Louis Vasquez is a mauler who benched 225 pounds 39 times at the combine and will compete for the starting right guard spot vacated when Mike Goff was not re-signed. Sleeper alert is in effect with defensive tackle Vaughn Martin from Canadian powerhouse Western Ontario.
Kansas City Chiefs: New Chiefs GM Scott Pioli cares only about good football players, thank you, and doesn’t care if they lack the flash that some fans might be seeking. Tyson Jackson is a big defensive end with great hands in the Richard Seymour mold and will be a force right away and will be joined on the defensive line by Purdue’s Alex Magee. Donald Washington probably should have stayed at Ohio State but his physical ability is unquestioned and he will compete in an already youthful Chiefs defensive backfield.
San Francisco 49ers: Mike Singletary had to be smiling from ear to ear when Michael Crabtree fell into his lap at No. 10, giving the Niners the elite playmaker they have been seeking for a long time. Alabama running back Glen Coffee will lessen the load for Frank Gore as they run behind the second-best blocking tight end in the draft in Fresno State’s Bear Pascoe. Pitt linebacker Scott McKillop is a throwback who makes tackles all over the field. Ball State quarterback Nate Davis gives San Francisco a physically gifted quarterback who has some obstacles to overcome to become an NFL caliber passer.
Pete Brisco, SI again:
|Pete Prisco’s team-by-team grades
|Arizona Cardinals analysis
Best pick: Third-round pick Rashard Johnson is a rangy safety who has good instincts. He won’t start, but should be a good special-teams player.
Questionable move: Not trading up to get Donald Brown. He fit their offense better than Beanie Wells.
Second-day gem: Greg Toler. Taken in the fourth round, this corner from St. Paul College has loads of physical skill.
||This is an organization that has turned the corner when it comes to drafting.
|Atlanta Falcons analysis
Best pick: I love the pick in the first round of defensive tackle Peria Jerry. He will be an impact player right away.
Questionable move: Safety William Moore, the team’s second-round pick, has to prove he can be a cover player before I think he was a good choice that high.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Lawrence Sidbury, a pass rusher from Richmond, will be the apprentice to John Abraham. He has great quickness.
||If they hit on Moore, this will be an A draft. I love Jerry. He might be better than B.J. Raji.
|Baltimore Ravens analysis
Best pick: Second-round pick Paul Kruger is a tough player who will push for time as a 3-4 rush player. He fits with the Ravens.
Questionable move: Passing on a receiver or a corner to take Michael Oher. I get that you take big people when you can, but they needed other help.
Second-day gem: They really don’t need a running back, but landing Virginia’s Cedric Peerman in the sixth round is a nice pick.
||They always seem to land good players. Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta are good at what they do.
|Buffalo Bills analysis
Best pick: First-round pick Aaron Maybin has great burst off the corner, and this is a team that badly needs it.
Questionable move: Taking center/guard Eric Wood in the first round. He’s a good player, but what about tackle?
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Shawn Nelson is a pass-catching tight end who will be involved early since the Bills lack a real threat at his position.
||I like what they did. Maybin will really help. But they still have to find somebody to replace Jason Peters.
|Carolina Panthers analysis
Best pick: Second-round pick Sherrod Martin is an athletic safety who can run. You need that in a division with Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.
Questionable move: Trading a 2010 first-round pick to get Everette Brown. I like Brown, but he is undersized at defensive end.
Second-day gem: Some expected Duke Robinson to be a second-round pick and the Panthers landed the Oklahoma guard in the fifth.
||They didn’t have a first-round pick because they traded it for the chance to draft tackle Jeff Otah last year, but they made some nice moves to get some impact players. Trading next year’s No. 1 is always risky.
|Chicago Bears analysis
Best pick: It’s not a draft pick, but trading their first-round pick to get quarterback Jay Cutler is the move of the year.
Questionable move: Trading out of the second round. They had no picks on the first day. Wow.
Second-day gem: I love third-round pick Juaquin Iglesias. He will be a factor as a slot receiver for Cutler.
||They get that if you count Cutler, which I do.
|Cincinnati Bengals analysis
Best pick: They didn’t get scared off of Andre Smith because of his post-playing issues. This is a Pro Bowl tackle.
Questionable move: Taking Rey Maualuga in the second round. He’s a thumper, but he lacks the coverage skills.
Second-day gem: Third-round pick Chase Coffman is a tight end who should be a factor as a rookie in the passing game.
||For a team that has been ripped for poor drafting the past decade or so, they did a really nice job. This draft might just make them a playoff team.
|Cleveland Browns analysis
Best pick: I love the pick of receiver Brian Robiskie in the second round. He will be a starter as a rookie.
Questionable move: Trading down as much as they did and not quite getting the value they deserved. The Jets got the better of them in that deal for the fifth pick.
Second-day gem: Sixth-round pick James Davis was a highly rated back a year ago, but he struggled as a senior. There is talent there.
||I like some of their picks, but they didn’t get enough in their trade downs.
|Dallas Cowboys analysis
Best pick: I like quarterback Stephen McGee in the fourth round. He’ll be a backup, but a good one.
Questionable move: Why use a pick on kicker in the fifth round when Nick Folk is so good? It makes no sense.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round defensive end Victor Butler is a speed rusher who has a lot of athletic ability. He fits in their 3-4 scheme.
||They had a lot of picks, but what did they get? And trading the first- and third-round picks for Roy Williams last year is questionable.
|Denver Broncos analysis
Best pick: Darcel McBath, their second-round pick, is a rangy safety they badly need in the back end of their defense.
Questionable move: Trading next year’s first-round pick to draft corner Alphonso Smith. He’s a good player, but that could be a high pick.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Kenny McKinley is a smart receiver who will fill the slot position role for the Broncos.
||If you count trading away Cutler and trading away next year’s No. 1, this wasn’t a good first draft for the new regime, even if Moreno will be a star.
|Detroit Lions analysis
Best pick: I like tight end Brandon Pettigrew with the No. 20 in the first round. He’s a good blocking tight end and he can catch.
Questionable move: Not taking an offensive tackle in the first five rounds. They need help there.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Sammie Lee Hill is a project from Stillman who has a lot of athletic ability. At 6-4, 329 pounds he has the size Jim Schwartz loves from his defensive tackles.
||They had two first-round picks and hit on both in Pettigrew and Matt Stafford with the first pick. Nice job, Martin Mayhew.
|Green Bay Packers analysis
Best pick: They had to get a power player inside and took B.J. Raji in the first round. He is a load.
Questionable move: Trading back into the first round to get USC linebacker Clay Matthews. I didn’t like that move at all. He’s good. Not that good.
Second-day gem: Landing tackle Jamon Meredith in the fifth round could prove to be a steal for a team in need of a tackle.
||Ted Thompson added some nice players, but I think the Matthews move is questionable.
|Houston Texans analysis
Best pick: I really like third-round pick Antoine Caldwell, a center from Alabama. He will be their starter in a year.
Questionable move: Not getting a secondary player early in the draft. That was a definite need.
Second-day gem: Tight end James Casey, taken in the fifth round, is a good pass-catching tight end who can complement Owen Daniels.
||I liked Brian Cushing in the first round and they added a lot of nice picks after that.
|Indianapolis Colts analysis
Best pick: Second-round pick Fili Moala will prove to be a steal. He could have easily been a first-round pick a year ago.
Questionable move: Taking Donald Brown with other needs. But Brown will be a good player. They have issues with Joseph Addai.
Second-day gem: Defensive tackle Terrance Taylor is short, strong player who will be a good player on the next level. He’s been a three-year starter.
Overall grade: B+.
||Bill Polian strikes again. When does he not?
|Jacksonville Jaguars analysis
Best pick: I love the choice of Arizona receiver Mike Thomas in the fourth round. He is small, but he has good speed. He will also help the return game.
Questionable move: Trading back into the third round — giving up a 2010 second-round pick — to land William & Mary corner Derek Knox. He has speed, but that was high.
Second-day gem: Receiver Jarrett Dillard from Rice could be a lot like Keenan McCardell, their former great receiver. He’s not a burner, but he knows how to get open.
||I like the pick of Eugene Monroe in the first round, but why two tackles in the first two? The third-round picks were iffy. All in all, though, it was a solid first draft for GM Gene Smith.
|Kansas City Chiefs analysis
Best pick: Third-round corner Donald Washington is raw, but he has a lot of athletic ability.
Questionable move: Taking Tyson Jackson with the third overall pick is a move that will be watched closely. Why not Aaron Curry?
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Colin Brown is a tackle from Missouri with good size who could be a starter down the road.
||I didn’t like the pick of Jackson with the third overall pick. But they did get a quarterback in Matt Cassel with their second-round pick.
|Miami Dolphins analysis
Best pick: I love the choice of corner Sean Smith in the second round. He is big at 6-3, 210 pounds, and he can run.
Questionable move: Taking Pat White in the second round. Yes, I know they run the Wildcat formation, but it’s still high for him.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round receiver Brian Hartline was a productive college player who will be better than Patrick Turner, who went to the Dolphins the round before.
||The pick of White drives it down, but I like taking corners Smith and Vontae Davis.
|Minnesota Vikings analysis
Best pick: Second-round pick Phil Loadholt will push for time as the starting right tackle as a rookie. He’s that powerful.
Questionable move: Taking Percy Harvin with the 22nd pick. He will be a feast-or-famine pick. The foot injury has to be a concern.
Second-day gem: Jasper Brinkley was a productive college linebacker in a big conference. He is a value pick in the fifth round.
||If Harvin is what they think he is, and he stays clear of problems, this grade will be higher in a few years.
|New England Patriots analysis
Best pick: There were many who thought Connecticut corner Darius Butler would be a first-round pick. The Pats did a great job getting him in Round 2.
Questionable move: Taking North Carolina receiver Brandon Tate in the third round. He has character issues and is coming off an ACL injury.
Second-day gem: Linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, their fifth-round pick, was a productive player at South Florida who will bring more athleticism to a position that needs it.
||They added some good players and even added a second-round pick in next year’s draft. Bill Belichick gets it.
|New Orleans Saints analysis
Best pick: Their first one was their best. They filled a major need in the secondary taking Ohio State safety/corner Malcolm Jenkins in the first round.
Questionable move: Having only four draft picks and using one on a punter, trading up to get him.
Second-day gem: Stanley Arnoux, a fourth-round pick out of Wake Forest, is a linebacker who could help on special teams.
||They just didn’t have enough picks for a better grade.
|New York Giants analysis
Best pick: I like Clint Sintim in the second round. He’s a good, solid player who will be an impact player early in his career.
Questionable move: Taking Hakeem Nicks in the first round. He has speed, but did they force it?
Second-day gem: Landing running back Andre Brown in the fourth round is a steal. He’s a nice replacement for Derrick Ward.
||Jerry Reese has another good draft for the Giants.
|New York Jets analysis
Best pick: Making the move up to get Mark Sanchez makes their draft. I love the aggression.
Questionable move: Trading up to get Shonn Green in the third round. Do they really need a back?
Second-day gem: They didn’t have any with few picks.
||It’s all because they made the move to get Sanchez. He will make their draft for years.
|Oakland Raiders analysis
Best pick: Darius Heyward-Bey. Yes, their first pick. Most think they should have taken Michael Crabtree, but they picked the right guy.
Questionable move: Taking safety Mike Mitchell in the second round. He was over-drafted, but maybe all the analysts and scouts missed.
Second-day gem: Wide receiver Louis Murphy has good speed and will prove to be a nice value pick in the fifth round.
||The second-round pick is what drives this down. What did Al Davis do?
|Philadelphia Eagles analysis
Best pick: They had no idea they’d get receiver Jeremy Maclin in the first round. They will love his speed in their offense.
Questionable move: Hard to find any. I mean it.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Cornelius Ingram is a wonderful athlete who will be the new L.J. Smith in their offense.
||If you count adding left tackle Jason Peters and corner Ellis Hobbs, they had an amazing week.
|Pittsburgh Steelers analysis
Best pick: Evander Hood was a nice pick in the first round because age is becoming an issue on their defensive line.
Questionable move: Waiting until the third round to address the offensive line and doing so only once.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Mike Wallace is a speedy receiver who could help fill the void left by Nate Washington.
||Kevin Colbert remains one of the league’s most underrated talent evaluators.
|St. Louis Rams analysis
Best pick: Getting linebacker James Laurinaitis in the second round is a nice move. He is a big hitter who has good instincts. Steve Spagnuolo will love him.
Questionable move: Passing on Eugene Monroe for Jason Smith. That’s a move we’ll watch closely for the next 10 years.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Dorell Scott has talent, but he under-achieved last season. But he has talent to get into the rotation at defensive tackle.
||They couldn’t miss with the second overall pick and they did some other nice things.
|San Diego Chargers analysis
Best pick: Guard Louis Vasquez, the team’s second-round pick, is a feisty lineman who fits in with what the Chargers want to do.
Questionable move: Taking Larry English with the 16th pick might have been a little high. And it really wasn’t a need. Some teams had second-round grades on English.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Vaughn Martin played his college ball in Canada, but he initially was set to go to Michigan State. He is 6-3, 331 pounds and has a lot of raw ability.
||I just didn’t think they did a lot of really good things. But English can change that if he becomes another Shawne Merriman.
|San Francisco 49ers analysis
Best pick: I really like sixth-round pick Bear Pascoe. He is a blocking tight end who is a former quarterback.
Questionable move: Taking Michael Crabtree. That foot makes it a risk. So does his diva act.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Scott McKillop is a feisty linebacker Mike Singletary will come to love. He will be a special-teams star.
||I’m just not enamored with what they did.
|Seattle Seahawks analysis
Best pick: Second-round pick Max Unger can play guard or center. Some had him rated as first-round talent.
Questionable move: Passing on Mark Sanchez for Aaron Curry. They better hope like heck Matt Hasselbeck holds up.
Second-day gem: Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel could prove to be a steal in the sixth round. He has a good arm and threw it a lot at Rutgers.
||They should have landed Sanchez. Curry will still be an impact player, but this is a quarterback-driven league.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers analysis
Best pick: In the third round they took Roy Miller, a defensive tackle out of Texas. They needed more size inside, and has it at 6-5, 305 pounds.
Questionable move: Taking Josh Freeman with the 16th pick. He’d better be special. I think he’s a project.
Second-day gem: I love the pick of Oregon State receiver Sammie Stroughter in the seventh round. He has a chance to make this team.
||They better hope like heck that Freeman turns out to be a star. They didn’t get much else.
|Tennessee Titans analysis
Best pick: Second-round pick Sen’Derrick Marks will remind Titans fans of Josh Evans, their former tackle. He played hurt late last season, but he was a dominant player before that.
Questionable move: Taking Kenny Britt with their first pick. I know he runs better than Brian Robiskie, but I would have taken Robiskie.
Second-day gem: South Carolina tight end Jared Cook will become a favorite friend of Kerry Collins. He is a good receiver.
||They always do a good job, and this year was no different.
|Washington Redskins analysis
Best pick: They needed a defensive end and landed one in Brian Orakpo, who fell to the them at 13. He will be a rookie starter.
Questionable move: Trading their second-round pick away last year to the Dolphins for Jason Taylor. How’d that work out?
Second-day gem: Third-round pick Kevin Barnes has a chance to be a factor as a nickel corner.
||I like Orakpo, but they landed little else that excites. And not having a second-round pick really hurt.
Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com/CBS SportsLine
Buffalo Bills: B
The Bills struck gold with the selection of former Penn State star Paul Posluszny two years ago and went to the well again with pass rusher Aaron Maybin in the first round. He, versatile offensive linemen Eric Wood and Andy Levitre and fourth-round tight end Shawn Nelson round should provide immediate help. The Bills cornered the market on tough defensive backs on the second day, selecting Nic Harris, Cary Harris and Ellis Lankster — each of whom could surprise in the NFL, despite less than preferred speed. Considering the loss of Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jason Peters, however, it was a surprise to see the Bills not take advantage of a strong offensive tackle class.
Miami Dolphins: B-
First-round pick Vontae Davis improves the physicality of the defensive backfield, and third-rounder Patrick Turner gives the team the size Bill Parcells loves at receiver. Perhaps the most immediate impact, however, will come from second-round pick Patrick White, whose running and passing ability will give the Dolphins infinitely more options out of their version of the Wildcat offense. The Dolphins had hoped to improve the depth behind pass rushers Joey Porter and Matt Roth, but with higher-ranked players at other positions on the board, the Dolphins went elsewhere, leaving them potentially vulnerable should injuries occur to their best pass rushers.
New England Patriots: B+
No one gets better value on draft day than the Patriots, as they masterfully slip down the board, pick up extra picks and then add players who should have been taken earlier. The most immediate impact players for the Patriots from this draft will be back-seven defenders Patrick Chung, Darius Butler and linebacker Tyrone McKenzie. Butler might be the best cover corner in this draft, and Chung and McKenzie are among the year’s surest open-field tacklers.
New York Jets: B
The Jets made the boldest move of the draft with their aggressive trade up for Mark Sanchez. Don’t be surprised if the 16-game collegiate starter is on the field opening day for the Jets; Sanchez certainly offers more talent than the Jets’ current options at the position. And coach Rex Ryan is likely particularly comfortable with the idea of a rookie quarterback considering the success Joe Flacco had with Baltimore last season. Former Iowa runner Shonn Greene also could provide an immediate impact, especially if the Jets and their incumbent starter, Thomas Jones, continue to bicker over his contract. While neither brings real tangible concerns, the Jets are banking on essentially two one-year-wonders in Sanchez and Greene. That, in itself, is a concern.
Baltimore Ravens: B
The Ravens’ 2009 draft class was far from flashy, but in selecting offensive tackle Michael Oher, a potential top 10 talent, with the 23rd pick, general manager Ozzie Newsome once again demonstrated his ability to capitalize on talented prospects slipping on draft day. Utah pass rusher Paul Kruger is a Jarrett Johnson clone. The Ravens got another falling talent in the fifth with the selection of Jason Phillips, who dropped to this point due only to a torn meniscus. While the Ravens might have become even more stout via the draft, they failed to address the need for speed and playmaking ability at receiver — a decision that could hinder quarterback Joe Flacco’s development.
Cincinnati Bengals: A
While the Bengals might ultimately question their decision to ignore receiver and running back early, in terms of value and specific needs filled, no team is a bigger winner in this draft. To compete in the ultra-physical AFC North, the Bengals had to get tougher and certainly did so in this draft, adding the most physical offensive lineman in Andre Smith in the first round, the most physical inside linebacker in Rey Maualuga in the second and starting caliber talents at tight end (Chase Coffman), center (Jon Luigs) and punter (Kevin Huber) on the second day. Considering they waited until the third round to gamble on Michael Johnson — who could end up being the best pass rusher from this draft — the Bengals deserve lofty praise for this draft class. Only the character concerns of their top two picks lowers their grade from an A+ to an A.
Cleveland Browns: B
The Browns created plenty of intrigue, as well as a collection of middle-round picks, by trading down three times in the first round before selecting Cal center Alex Mack with the 21st selection. Mack’s toughness and versatility will come in handy in the ultra-physical AFC North, and the team was wise to add depth — and perhaps open the door for the departure of Braylon Edwards — with the selection of Brian Robiskie and Mohammed Massaquoi in the second round. The Browns could get immediate impact out of underrated linebackers David Veikune and Kaluka Maiava, but watch out for a pair of sixth-rounders — San Jose State cornerback Coye Francies and Clemson running back James Davis — to surprise.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B
The Steelers won the Super Bowl despite allowing 49 sacks last season — a total topped only by Detroit, San Francisco and Cincinnati. The focus of the Steelers’ draft was understandably on the lines, with the selection of interior blockers Kraig Urbik and underrated center A.Q. Shipley late. The focus by most will be first-round pick Evander “Ziggy” Hood, who certainly gives the Steelers some much-needed youth along a veteran defensive line, but he could struggle for playing time as a rookie. Third-round picks Mike Wallace and Keenan Lewis could see playing time as rookies.
Houston Texas: B-
The Texans focused on pass rushers, safeties and tight ends in the 2009 draft, devoting multiple selections to each over the weekend. Versatility was also key, as the Texans selected two of the more adaptable athletes of the draft in Connor Barwin and James Casey. Outside linebacker Brian Cushing should make the most immediate impact, though the athletic Barwin could take advantage of the blocking devoted to Houston’s front four. New Mexico cornerback Glover Quinn could make the transition to free safety for the Texans. Considering the presence of Owen Daniels, it was a surprise to see the Texans take Casey, as well as Anthony Hill. With much of their pre-draft focus on adding a bigger running back to complement Steve Slaton, the lack of any help at this position could come back to haunt the Texans should the diminutive back struggle through a sophomore slump.
Indianapolis Colts: B
If Colts general manager Bill Polian was worried about the defense with the retirement of coach Tony Dungy, he certainly didn’t appear so during draft weekend, devoting most of his attention to the offensive side of the ball. First-round running back Donald Brown will push Joseph Addai, and fourth-round wideout Austin Collie is a Brandon Stokley clone. The Colts did address their need for cornerback and defensive line depth with middle-rounders Jerraud Powers and Terrance Taylor, but otherwise elected to put their success in the reliable hands of Peyton Manning.
Jacksonville Jaguars: B
Injuries ravaged the Jaguars offensive line in 2008, but the team did a great deal to fix the problem on the first day of the draft, adding tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton. Each has the size, strength and versatility to plug in at the four exterior positions and provides the club with a lot of flexibility. Pessimists will argue that Jacksonville waited too long to address its need for youth at receiver, but in middle-round prospects Mike Thomas and Jarrett Dillard, the team added talents capable of surprising.
Tennessee Titans: B
The Titans struck gold last year with the selection of the multi-dimensional Chris Johnson in the first round, and are hopeful that wide receiver Kenny Britt can have a similar immediate impact in 2009. Britt is one of the few Tennessee rookies likely to compete for a starting position next year, though the Titans did a nice job of adding depth along both lines, tight end, linebacker and cornerback throughout the rest of the draft. The athletic Sen’Derrick Marks could help fill the hole left by Albert Haynesworth inside. Fourth-round picks Gerald McRath and Troy Kropog might not help much as rookies but will prove valuable additions in time.
Denver Broncos: D
Without Mike Shanahan’s magic touch for finding late-round running backs or a certain franchise quarterback in which to build their offense around, the Broncos shifted their attention to a new star runner with Knowshon Moreno in the first round. Selecting pass rusher Robert Ayers a few picks later gave the team a rush linebacker to build their 3-4 defense around. From there, however, a series of solid defensive backs (Alphonso Smith, Darcel McBath, David Bruton) was lost a bit in a shuffle of trades with Seattle that essentially gave the Broncos third- and fourth-round picks in a weak 2009 draft for a first-round pick in next year’s draft. The decision is one of several in a mystifying offseason in Denver.
Kansas City Chiefs: C-
General manager Scott Pioli began the laborious process of turning around a franchise that finished 2-14 in 2008 and using a 4-3 defense with defensive end Tyson Jackson with the third overall pick. The pick wasn’t flashy, but Jackson, along with Alex Magee, should help the Chiefs in their transition to the new scheme. With questions surrounding the ability of their current linebackers to function well in the new scheme, it was surprising Pioli didn’t use a single draft selection on the position. Many of the Chiefs’ picks were, instead, developmental prospects. In fact, Mr. Irrelevant, kicker Ryan Succop, could be one of the few new Chiefs to have a significant immediate impact as a rookie.
Oakland Raiders: D
The 2009 draft provided ample ammunition for those who argue the game has passed Al Davis by. The Raiders consistently reached on draft day, spending the seventh overall pick on a size/speed project in Darrius Heyward-Bey and the 47th overall pick on relative unknown safety Michael Mitchell, who was not among the 300-plus players invited to the combine. Oakland’s best value pick might be former Florida wideout Louis Murphy, who himself is more of a track star than football player. The Raiders’ struggles defending the run is unlikely to improve in 2009 with the addition of a trio of defensive ends in Matt Shaughnessy, Slade Norton and Stryker Sulak who average less than 250 pounds.
San Diego Chargers: C+
With their vaunted pass rush all but disappearing with the injury to Shawne Merriman last year, the Chargers were wise to add one of the more productive sack-artists in the draft in Larry English early, even if they did reach for him a bit with the 16th overall pick. The Chargers also filled needs along the interior of the offensive line with Louis Vasquez and Tyronne Green and took one of the more intriguing developmental prospects of the draft in Western Ontario’s Vaughn Martin, a Canadian prospect who at 330 pounds ran a 4.96 40-yard dash and lifted 225 pounds 44 times. Late-rounders Brandon Hughes, Kevin Ellison and Demetrius Byrd are legit NFL talents who could surprise.
Dallas Cowboys: C
With their first-round pick already invested in wide receiver Roy Williams, the Cowboys weren’t scheduled to be part of the action until late in the second round — and then elected to trade out of that spot. With their first pick the 69th overall, the Cowboys focused on the defensive side of the ball, adding pass-rushing specialists Victor Butler and Brandon Williams and one of the top non-Combine prospects in the draft, Western Illinois linebacker Jason Williams, in the middle rounds. The Cowboys kept the most intriguing developmental quarterback in the draft in-state with the selection of Texas A&M’s Stephen McGee, and got exceptional value in the seventh round with cornerback Mike Mickens.
New York Giants: A+
The Giants’ 2009 class ranks right there with the Cincinnati Bengals’ for the year’s top draft. Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden give the club size and physicality at wide receiver to replace Plaxico Buress, and the Giants also successfully addressed concerns at offensive tackle with William Beatty and linebacker with Clint Sintim. With raw talent to work with in skill position players Rhett Bomar, Travis Beckum and Andre Brown in the middle rounds, it is hard to find a fault in the Giants’ work this past weekend.
Philadelphia Eagles: A-
Despite the presence of dynamic playmakers Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson, the Eagles clearly made adding weapons a focus on draft day. It could pay off beautifully with Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Cornelius Ingram and Brandon Gibson all capable of being NFL standouts. The trade for left tackle Jason Peters earlier in the week makes Philadelphia’s draft as impressive as any — though the Eagles had an early advantage having entered the process with two first-round picks because due to a trade with Carolina last year.
Washington Redskins: C
With only two picks within the first 157 overall, the Redskins didn’t have much ammunition, so they were diligent in not squandering their opportunities. Brian Orakpo was more decorated than a wedding cake while with the Texas Longhorns and will provide an outside rush to go along with big free-agent addition Albert Haynesworth. Cornerback Kevin Barnes has the physical tools to be a starter early in his career. Seventh-round pick Marko Mitchell could surprise.
Chicago Bears: B
With the trade for franchise quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears could have taken a pass on this entire draft and still earned a passing grade. As it stands, the Bears did a fine job, adding versatile defenders Jarron Gilbert, D.J. Moore and Marcus Freeman, among others. The Bears also added plenty of receivers to take advantage of Cutler’s great arm. The decision not to fortify their offensive line and instead rely on Orlando Pace remaining healthy could be a gamble Chicago ultimately loses.
Detroit Lions: B
With his monster arm, sparkling 3-0 record in bowl games and experience in a pro-style offense, Matt Stafford was the right pick for the Lions to begin the 2009 draft. The addition of Brandon Pettigrew adds a degree of physicality to the offense and provides the young passer with a security blanket in the middle. Safety Louis Delmas also filled a huge area of need for the Lions, providing the club with an instinctive, physical playmaker in the defensive backfield. Unfortunately, the Lions seemed to put all of their emphasis on the first day, ending the weekend with a bit of whimper with a series of ho-hum selections.
Green Bay Packers: B+
To make the transition to a 3-4 defense the Packers needed significant help, and they got in the form of nose guard B.J. Raji and outside linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. Each should be immediate starters for the Packers. Green Bay also improved the overall athleticism and versatility of its offensive line with the selections of T.J. Lang and Jamon Meredith in the middle rounds. Outside linebacker Brad Jones could surprise as a seventh-round pick if given time.
Minnesota Vikings: A-
The Vikings had only five picks, but no team did better with less. The selection of wideout Percy Harvin is not without obvious risk, but his speed and agility give the Vikings a versatile and dynamic weapon. Phil Loadholt makes the team stouter immediately at right tackle and was viewed as a first-round talent by many clubs. A trio of SEC defenders in Asher Allen, Jasper Brinkley and Jamarca Sanford could all make the final roster and contribute — at least on special teams — as rookies.
Atlanta Falcons: B
The Falcons informed the media their philosophy was to draft for need rather than best player available, and in selecting defenders with seven of their eight picks, it was clear they felt their defense needed the emphasis. Few clubs can boast a more productive trio of defensive linemen drafted than Peria Jerry, Lawrence Sidbury Jr. and Vance Walker. Watch for defensive backs William Moore and Christopher Owens to provide a much-needed degree of physicality to the Falcons secondary early in their careers.
Carolina Panthers: B
The Panthers proved that a good draft can be had despite not having a first-round pick — you just have to trade next year’s again — with a focus on the lines throughout the early, middle and late portions of the 2009 draft. Carolina needed to protect itself against a possible holdout from Julius Peppers and did so, adding the explosive Everette Brown in the second round — an athlete many teams had projected as a first-round prospect. Versatile defensive back Sherrod Martin can line up anywhere in the secondary, and the club continued its penchant for adding young, athletic defensive backs late in the draft with Captain Munnerlyn in the seventh. Watch out for fifth-rounder Duke Robinson to make an impact as a dominating drive blocker after a stunning fall on draft weekend.
New Orleans Saints: C+
With only four picks to work with, the Saints got the safest defensive back in the draft in the first round with Malcolm Jenkins. Capable of playing cornerback or safety, Jenkins instantly improves New Orleans’ secondary. The Saints added two Wake Forest standouts in Chip Vaughn and Stanley Arnoux in the middle rounds, though each could struggle to find roles with questions about their ability in coverage.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C
New coach Raheem Morris is familiar with quarterback Josh Freeman from their time together at Kansas State, and made like his predecessor Jon Gruden in adding yet another quarterback to the roster. Freeman’s rare combination of size and arm strength has led some to compare him to Daunte Culpepper. The Bucs will likely get more immediate impact out of defensive linemen Roy Miller and Kyle Moore, but this draft will ultimately be graded on how well Freeman is able to acclimate to the speed of the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals: C
Beanie Wells has the combination of size, power and speed to be the best back of this draft, but he could struggle in an offense based more on passing the ball than lining up in the I-formation and pounding it down the defense’s throat. The Cardinals might be shifting to more of that style of offense, however, considering the physical offensive linemen they added in Herman Johnson and Trevor Canfield. Pass rushers Cody Brown and Will Davis give the club much needed youth on the outside. Safety Rashad Johnson might be the most cerebral defender in the draft, but is limited athletically.
St. Louis Rams: B-
Like the Detroit Lions, the Rams started off strong, gaining talent at the critical left tackle, middle linebacker and safety positions early with Jason Smith, James Laurinaitis and Bradley Fletcher. As the draft went on, however, the Rams’ choices were increasingly odd. Dorell Scott could be a versatile swingman on the defensive line, but there were better options at the skill positions late than the Rams received with Brooks Foster, Keith Null and Chris Ogbonnaya.
San Francisco 49ers: A+
While everyone will rightfully focus on the selection of wideout Michael Crabtree with their first selection, the 49ers’ ability to add a first-round pick in next year’s draft (from Carolina), as well as fill holes at essentially every position, was the key to their draft. For a young team like this, depth is often the critical missing element toward turning a struggling team into a division winner. The 49ers added many of the pieces in 2009 to accomplish that goal with underrated talents at running back (Glen Coffee), linebacker (Scott McKillop), safety (Curtis Taylor) and defensive line (Ricky Jean-Francois). A young quarterback with legitimate talent in Nate Davis and a blocking specialist to pair with Vernon Davis in Bear Pascoe only made this draft that much more impressive.
Seattle Seahawks: A
Like their divisional neighbors to the south, the Seahawks were able to wrestle away a future first-round pick (from Denver) and still fulfill their greatest areas of concern. The headlining pick is outside linebacker Aaron Curry, who fills a huge area of need following the trade of Julian Peterson and the draft-weekend decision to take the franchise tag off linebacker Leroy Hill. The addition of the versatile Max Unger and speedy receiver/returner Deon Butler filled Seattle’s three biggest needs seamlessly. Don’t be surprised if at least one of the club’s seventh-round picks (safety Courtney Greene, defensive end/linebacker Nick Reed and tight end Cameron Morrah) makes this club.
Maybe the best human interest story of the draft.
ESPN writes- Oher has yet to realize his potential and he likely will line up at right tackle to start his career, but if the light ever comes on for him he will emerge as an excellent left tackle. He has very good foot speed for his size and is fluid changing directions. He also has the size power to develop into an effective drive-blocker. The one concern with him is his ability to pick up the offense, so it may take him a little longer to crack the starting lineup than a lot of other prospects with his talent.
What a ride the 2008 season was for Dolphin fans after the despair of last season. First I must mention my pre-season prediction for the Fins.
I safely think they can win 4 or 5 games. More is possible because the schedule is weak, but Miami on the other hand has too many gaping holes still.
Miami’s win today makes the team 11-5 for the year and headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Some notes about today’s, the playoff picture, and next week’s game.
*- Bret Favre threw two costly interceptions and three INTs overall. One was run back for a touchdown by Philip Merling, the other ended a Jet drive with less than five minutes to go in the game.
Both were terrible throws. The first Favre was trying to complete a screen pass to a running back that was covered. Merling was all over Leon Washington and the pass should have never been thrown. The late interception came when the Jets were running the hurryup offense and trying to catch the Dolphins unprepared. Instead the Jets wide out wasn’t ready and Favre threw it straight at a Miami defensive back. Dumb, dumb, dumb! The Jets had plenty of time and there was no need to run the hurryup.
*- Chad Pennington made it through an entire 16-game season for only the second time. Favre is on the AFC Pro Bowl team with the same amount of INTs as touchdown throws and Pennington isn’t going. What is wrong with this picture?
*- Miami ties the biggest single season by a NFL team. Ten wins, which was also done by the Indianapolis Colts.
*- Dolphin special teams were a mixed bag, which I guess is a improvement over the disasters early in the year. Two bad snaps on punts, one that Fields couldn’t come down leading to excellent field position by the Jets were in a negative column, on the plus side was a blocked punt by Miami. When was the last time the Dolphins did that?
*- Ted ‘Draft bust‘ Ginn had two catches for 71 yards. They were big plays. A bomb from Pennington, and a touchdown catch. 56 catches for the year, 790 yards and two touchdowns. Brady Quinn on the other hand threw 2 touchdowns, two interceptions and had a passer rating of 66.6 this year. If I got to eat crow for my wrong pre-season prediction, Dan Arkush should too.
*- Will Bill Parcells be back next year to help run Miami’s front office. ESPN reports the ‘Big Tuna’ has a out clause in his contract.
*- The AFC playoff picture for next week.
Baltimore at Miami
Indianapolis at San Diego/Denver winner
The first game’s winner will then play at Pittsburgh. Whoever wins the second game will play at Tennessee.
*- Head to head versus other playoff teams in the AFC, Miami is 1-1. They beat San Diego and Denver each, only one of who will be playing next week, and lost to Baltimore. Miami also lost to the only NFC bound playoff team it faced.(Arizona)
*- Miami achieved 11 wins, but the schedule at the end of the year was weak. Games against KC, Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, all teams that struggled mightily this year. Denver, NY Jets, and Buffalo all came in at .500 or better this year, but weren’t exactly impressive when their spot on the Miami schedule came up.
*- Can Miami sell out the playoff game to prevent a local blackout? The last two times the Dolphins played a home playoff game a sellout didn’t take place.
*- Why was the broadcast breaking up early in the first quarter? I’ve seen this happen in other Dolphin games this year. The problem wasn’t with Directv(which I have) because the local television put up a station page during a outage that took place. Whatever the problem is, CBS is at fault.
The Dallas Cowboys played one of the most embarrassing games in franchise history tonight, in a game that was supposed to honor the legacy of a franchise that has won five Super Bowls and been to two more since Texas Stadium opened its doors in 1971. Â Never has a team with so much talent achieved so little. Thankfully, the game was on the NFL Network, which most fans don’t get.
To be sure, the Baltimore Ravens are a good team.Â And the blowout loss against the hapless St. Louis Rams earlier this season was more pathetic on paper.Â But the season wasn’t on the line and we had the excuse of Tony Romo being out with an injury.Â There was no excusing the complete collapse of the offense, defense, and special teams tonight at home in a must-win game.
Romo was awful, giving up two picks, taking unnecessary sacks, and overthrowing receivers all night long.Â The play calling was worse.Â Even though Rashard Choice was running surprisingly well and Romo was off — yet again — Jason Garrett continued to call for long bombs and passes into traffic that his QB clearly didn’t have in his bag tonight.Â So much for the Head Coach in Waiting.Â Â It appears that the real genius behind last year’s offense was Tony Sparano, who’s helped engineer an amazing turnaround of the Miami Dolphins.
The vaunted Wade Phillips Defense was a joke.Â Sure, they held the Ravens to field goals most of the night and got a bunch of sacks on rookie Joe Flacco. But they gave the game away with not one but two long touchdown runs in the closing minutes.Â They should be ashamed.
The special teams have been a joke all season, with the exception of Nick Folk’s field goals.Â (And Folk has been less than mediocre on kickoffs.)Â The coverage is embarrassingly bad and the return teams are awful.Â Why Bruce Read still has a job, I’ll never know.
Phillips should never have been hired. He’s a solid defensive coordinator but the Staypuff Marshmallow Man simply doesn’t have what it takes to be a head coach.Â And everybody but Jerry Jones has known that for years.Â He’d won precisely zero playoff games in four previousÂ stops as a head coach.Â The fifth time wasn’t the charm.
One hopes he’s embarrassed the star for the last time.
The gang at ESPN has ranked all 32 NFL teams. Here’s the top 10 (final 2007 rankings in parenthesis):
1 (1) Patriots 16-0-0 A healthy Tom Brady and a happy Randy Moss make the Patriots championship contenders this season and for years to come. (MS)
2 (2) Colts 13-3-0 They haven’t had a lot of offseason turnover and they already were very good. Continuity means a lot. (PY)
3 (6) Chargers 11-5-0 If the Chargers can get over their injury issues, they could be in the Super Bowl mix all the way to Tampa. (BW)
4 (3) Cowboys 13-3-0 Felix Jones should help the running game immediately. But who will emerge as the No. 2 receiver? Patrick Crayton wasn’t up to the task in late ’07. (MM)
5 (4) Jaguars 11-5-0 They sometimes get overshadowed by division rival Indianapolis, but the Jaguars have an elite roster and an elite coach in Jack Del Rio. (PY)
6 (9) Giants 10-6-0 Teams other than the Patriots aren’t supposed to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Will Michael Strahan retire? Can they compensate for free-agent losses at LB? (MM)
7 (8) Steelers 10-6-0 A very strong draft catapults the Steelers into Super Bowl contenders. RBs Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall should be one of the best 1-2 punches. (JW)
8 (7) Seahawks 10-6-0 New O-line coach Mike Solari stands out as the Seahawks’ top offseason acquisition, perhaps allowing them to keep their edge in the NFC West. (MS)
9 (13) Browns 10-6-0 The 2007 darlings face high expectations. The offense will score. Can the D, anchored by additions Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams, hold up its end? (JW)
10 (5) Packers 13-3-0 This is an unpredictable team in the wake of the retirement of Brett Favre. Who will step up and make the big plays this year? (JW)
Click here for 11-32.
Dropping the Packers, were 13-3 and lost in the NFC Championship game to #10 seems about right. After all, they lost one of the best quarterbacks in League history to retirement. But how do you justify dropping the team that beat them, along with the #4 ranked Cowboys and the #1 ranked Patriots on their way to winning the Super Bowl down to 6th place? Even if Strahan retires, they still have the most dominant defensive front in the League and Eli Manning should only get better.
I like the Cowboys’ chances at #4, though, especially since that puts them as the favorite team to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. They’re a deeper team than the Giants, I think, and have really shored up their defensive backfield with the Pacman Jones trade and the drafting of Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. But the Giants deserve to be considered the team to beat.
With the 2008 NFL Draft in the books, draft grades already turned in, and long months ahead before the first meaningful — or even meaningless — games, what’s an NFL fan to do? Start thinking about the 2009 draft, of course.
Scouts, Inc.’s Todd McShay looks ahead:
1. Atlanta Falcons — Fili Moala, DT, USC
Atlanta finally gets its playmaking interior defensive lineman. Moala has flown under the radar to this point but he should emerge from the shadow of 2008 No. 7 overall pick Sedrick Ellis and become one of the elite defenders in college football this fall.
2. Detroit Lions — Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
Coach Rod Marinelli’s defense is predicated on speed up front, and Johnson is blessed with plenty of that. Johnson was overlooked while playing in a rotation last season, but it won’t take long for the rangy edge-rusher to make his mark in 2008.
3. Kansas City Chiefs — Matt Stafford*, QB, Georgia
Another injury-plagued and disappointing season out of fragile QB Brodie Croyle will force the Chiefs to address the position with this high draft pick in 2009. If the supremely talented Stafford continues to progress as he did last fall, he could easily emerge as a top-five pick next April.
4. Miami Dolphins — Al Woods, DT, LSU
At 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds, Woods is a physically imposing defensive tackle with enough size and strength to anchor the middle of a 3-4 defense.
5. Cincinnati Bengals — Sen’Derrick Marks*, DT, Auburn
The Bengals got shut out in their pursuit of an elite defensive tackle in this year’s draft, but 2009 will be more kind. Marks is an undersized playmaker with the first-step quickness to disrupt as a 3-technique tackle, which is exactly what Marvin Lewis’ defense needs along its front.
6. Oakland Raiders — Andre Smith*, OT, Alabama
Smith stepped in immediately as the Tide’s starting left tackle and continues to improve with more coaching and game experience. The Raiders could enlist a player with his kind of skills to take care of their most recent first-round investments in QB JaMarcus Russell and RB Darren McFadden.
7. Chicago Bears — Tim Tebow*, QB, Florida
It’s almost certain that the Bears will need a quarterback come next offseason. Unfortunately, next year’s crop of signal-callers does not look promising at this point. Bears fans won’t be thrilled if the team uses a high pick on another Gators quarterback following the failed Rex Grossman experiment, but Tebow’s unique blend of skills and rare intangibles might be too good to pass up. Should Tebow elect to leave school early, however, his uncommon skill set could make him the most difficult prospect at any position to grade.
8. San Francisco 49ers — Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
Oher, who possesses the size and athletic ability to develop into an upper-echelon starting tackle in the NFL, would make an ideal bookend opposite 2007 first-rounder Joe Staley.
9. St. Louis Rams — Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
Maualuga is the top senior prospect on my 2009 draft board at this insanely early point in the process, although he wouldn’t be the first senior off the board. I’ve never seen a defensive player take over a game the way Maualuga did versus Illinois in the Rose Bowl, and his recognition skills are clearly catching up with his rare physical tools.
10. New York Jets — Knowshon Moreno*, RB, Georgia
Moreno burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2007 and he should build on that momentum as a first-year starter behind a more mature offensive line during the upcoming season. The Jets were not able to land McFadden in this year’s draft but Moreno would be worth the wait if he’s available in 2009.
11. Tennessee Titans — Michael Crabtree*, WR, Texas Tech
Do not pigeonhole Crabtree; he’s not just a product of coach Mike Leach’s pass-crazy offense. The tall, long-armed receiver could be the go-to-target QB Vince Young so desperately needs.
12. Houston Texans — Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Jenkins made a wise decision to return as a senior. He needs to improve his footwork and overall man-to-man cover skills to prove to scouts he’s capable of playing corner in any scheme at the next level. Regardless, the Texans could use his ball-hawking skills in their secondary, no matter whether it’s at cornerback or safety.
13. Denver Broncos — James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
Laurinaitis surprised many NFL scouts when he elected to return to Columbus for his senior season. Assuming he continues to make progress in 2008, there’s no reason to believe he will fall out of the top 20 picks in next year’s draft. The instinctive, high-motor inside linebacker would be a nice addition to a Denver defense in search of more stout defenders up the middle.
14. Baltimore Ravens — Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
The Ravens need an upgrade at corner and a young playmaker like Davis, who possesses rare athleticism for his size, would be an ideal fit.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from CAR) — Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
The Eagles failed to land a go-to-receiver in the 2008 draft (no, DeSean Jackson does not qualify). Instead of going the free-agent route to land a weapon for veteran QB Donovan McNabb, they might as well use one of two first-round picks in ’09 on a future primary target for future QB Kevin Kolb.
16. Arizona Cardinals — LeSean McCoy*, RB, Pittsburgh
After Arizona failed to find a complement for Edgerrin James in this year’s draft, the Cardinals’ need at running back will be far more pressing in the spring of ’09. McCoy is a supremely talented sophomore who is draft eligible after spending a year in prep school, and he is reportedly already eyeing the 2009 draft.
17. Buffalo Bills — Travis Beckum, TE, Wisconsin
Beckum could emerge as a top-20 pick if he can add 10-15 pounds to his frame while maintaining his big-play ability as a receiver during his senior season.
18. Philadelphia Eagles — Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
After failing to land one of the record-setting seven offensive tackles selected in the first round of this year’s draft, coach Andy Reid will be craving a big fella like Loadholt in 2009.
19. Washington Redskins — Greg Hardy*, DE, Mississippi
Hardy is flying under the radar right now despite notching 10 solo sacks the past two seasons, and the Redskins will be looking for a young pass-rushing threat after failing to land one during the latest draft.
20. Minnesota Vikings — Percy Harvin*, WR/RS, Florida
Staying healthy for a full season would all but guarantee Harvin a spot in the first round of the NFL draft, either next year or in 2010.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Ciron Black, OT, LSU
The Bucs will be looking to enlist the services of a talented left tackle prospect such as Black, who displays quick feet for a 6-5, 315-pounder.
22. Green Bay Packers — Max Unger, OT, Oregon
Unger, who projects as a first-day pick in next year’s draft, is the type of versatile lineman the Packers typically covet.
23. Cleveland Browns — Ricky Sapp, DE/OLB, Clemson
Sapp is an up-and-coming talent with outstanding speed and pass-rushing potential. He should fit perfectly as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 scheme like the one employed in Cleveland.
24. Seattle Seahawks — Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma
The Seahawks are still looking for a long-term solution at left guard, so why not use this pick on the player who is at this point the top prospect at that position.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers — Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Jackson is among the elite senior defensive prospects right now but that might not hold up for 12 full months, as he’s simply not a great fit for every team’s defensive scheme. At 6-5 and 290, Jackson is best suited to play defensive end in a three-man front like the one employed in Pittsburgh.
26. New Orleans Saints — Gerald McRath, OLB, Southern Miss
The Saints will be looking for an injection of youth and athleticism at linebacker and the speedy, undersized McRath falls in line with that objective.
27. New York Giants — Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida
The Giants could use a quick and powerful tackling machine like Spikes after failing to address that need early in the 2008 draft.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars — William Moore, S, Missouri
Moore emerged as a playmaking machine in 2007, when he notched 114 tackles and eight interceptions. At 6-1 and 215 pounds he could be the versatile strong safety Jacksonville needs opposite FS Reggie Nelson.
29. Indianapolis Colts — Vance Walker, DT/DE, Georgia Tech
Walker has the right blend of tools to provide depth along the interior of Indianapolis’ quick-but-undersized defensive line.
30. San Diego Chargers — Auston English, DE/OLB, Oklahoma
English is an instinctive, high-motor player with very good speed and fluid hips for a young defensive end. He already has experience dropping into coverage on zone-blitz looks within Oklahoma’s complex defensive scheme.
31. Dallas Cowboys — Demetrius Byrd, WR, LSU
Wide receiver is the one area Dallas did not address during an otherwise promising 2008 draft. Byrd has a lot to prove as a senior but he certainly has the blend of size and deep speed it takes to emerge as a first-round draft pick.
32. New England Patriots — Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
The Patriots continue a recent trend of drafting linebackers by using this selection on the versatile Cushing. The 6-5, 248-pounder has experience on the strong side and as a rush linebacker, which will be attractive to a New England coaching staff that likes versatility in its linebackers.
This, of course, is a silly exercise, in that we don’t know how the 2008 NFL season is going to turn out, which means we don’t know what order teams will pick, and that college players rise and fall dramatically over the course of a year. Brian Brohm, for example, went from a probably first overall selection to a mid-2nd rounder. But, hey, it’s entertaining if nothing else.
The day after the NFL draft, everyone wants to know how their teams did. The real answer is that nobody really knows and won’t know for three or four years. Players get injured (remember Kijana Carter). Sure-fire studs become busts (about every other high 1st round quarterback, for example). Undrafted free agents (Tony Romo) and 6th round picks (Tom Brady) become superstars.
But waiting four years isn’t any fun. And, since I’m not a pro scout, I can’t really help you much with my analysis. What I can do, though, is collect the experts’ opinions in one place for you. I’ll be adding to this post for the next few days, doing just that.
The best place to begin, though, is DMN Hall of Famer Rick “Goose” Gosselin. He’s a tough grader, making no concessions for lack of picks or picking late in the draft, but widely considered the best because he bases it on months of discussions with scouts and general managers plus his own decades of experience covering the League. Here’s how he breaks down the 2008 draft:
Arizona: B – The Cardinals needed to address their pass defense, which ranked 28th in the NFL last season. CB Rogers-Cromartie was a steal at 16 and defensive ends Campbell, Iwebema and Harrington can help dial up the heat up front.
Atlanta: B – The Falcons gave their fans hope â€“ and also slammed the book shut on the Michael Vick era â€“ by drafting Ryan at 3. Atlanta had the best third round of this draft with two DBs for the 23rd-ranked pass defense and WR Douglas.
Baltimore: C – The Ravens needed a quarterback and probably overextended for Flacco. New head coach John Harbaugh didn’t forget his special teams roots when he drafted safeties Zbikowski and Nakamura and WR Smith.
Buffalo: C - The Bills came away with the best cornerback and best kick returner in the draft, and it’s the same player â€“ CB McKelvin. WR Hardy gives the Bills a huge target in the red zone. He’s a great complement for speedy WR Lee Evans.
Carolina: B – The Panthers had the best seventh round, landing a pass rusher in Taylor and two blockers in Bernadeau and Schwartz. Getting OT Otah and RB Stewart in the first round will help the Panthers re-establish the running game.
Chicago: A - The Bears subscribe to the big-school drafting philosophy and found quality throughout the draft. WR Bennett in the third, S Steltz in the fourth, CB Bowman in the fifth and WR Monk in the seventh were all value picks.
Cincinnati: C – The Bengals were the one team that did not shy away from character players (once again). LB Rivers and S Lynch have impeccable character and will be the face of this draft class. DTs Sims and Shirley can be boom or bust.
Cleveland: C – The Browns did remarkably well for not having a pick in the first four rounds. MLB Bell could have an impact as a rookie in the NFL’s 27th-ranked run defense, and Hubbard and Rucker can help diversify the passing attack.
Dallas: B – The Cowboys were cruising along with a great draft until reaching for LB Walden in the sixth. RB Choice in the fourth and CB Scandrick in the fifth were superb second-day selections. RB Jones will be a boon to the special teams.
Denver: C – Denver needed help for its defense, which ranked 19th in the league last season. But coach Mike Shanahan is an offensive genius, so the Broncos used their first three picks to bolster the league’s 11th-ranked offense.
Detroit: A – The Lions wanted to make this a defensive draft and selected three potential starters in the first three rounds. But their offense, the NFL’s worst last season, may benefit even more from the arrival of OT Cherilus and RB Smith.
Green Bay: B – The Packers traded out of the first round and then turned in the best second round of the draft. Brohm gives them insurance for Aaron Rodgers, Lee gives them another big corner, and Nelson is a big-body, big-play receiver.
Houston: C – Desperate for an offensive tackle, the Texans reached deep into the first round to claim Virginia Tech’s Duane Brown with the 26th overall selection. Molden could be the home run of this draft if the Texans show patience for two years.
Indianapolis: C – There were six quality centers in this draft, and the Colts claimed three of them: Pollak, Justice and Richard. Those three will also work as guards. Indy had the best sixth round, adding Justice, RB Hart and TE Santi.
Jacksonville: C – There were four elite pass rushers in this draft, and the Jaguars came away with two of them, DEs Harvey and Groves. Southern California alum Jack Del Rio stayed true to his school by drafting LB Williams and RB Washington late.
Kansas City: A+ – The good fortune began when Outland Trophy-winning DT Glenn Dorsey slid to them at five. The Chiefs drafted seven players who had third-round grades or better. A quantity draft (12 picks) quickly evolved into a quality draft.
Miami: C – Chad Henne and Jake Long helped take Michigan to four consecutive bowls. The Dolphins are hoping they can continue working their bowl magic in South Florida. DE Philip Merling has the size up front that Bill Parcells likes.
Minnesota: C – The Vikings sent their first- and third-round picks to Kansas City in the deal for NFL sack leader Jared Allen, which slowed this draft down. But getting S Johnson at No. 43 was a bargain, and Booty provides insurance at quarterback.
New England: C – The Patriots have a different draft board than most, targeting specific skills rather than positions. Mayo can play all four linebacker spots, Crable is an edge rusher, and Slater is the best special teams player in the draft.
New Orleans: B – The Saints wanted to come away with a defensive tackle and tried to trade up for Dorsey and for Ellis, succeeding in landing Ellis. Risky Nicks is the best run blocker in the draft, and Arrington is one of the best possession WRs.
N.Y. Giants : C – Like the Bears, the Super Bowl champion Giants love big school players, and they have an affinity for Michigan players in particular. Manningham was the beneficiary in 2008. Phillips steps in for free-agenct defection Gibril Wilson.
N.Y. Jets: C – The Jets landed the best pass rusher and the best pass-catching tight end in the draft. San Jose State’s Lowery also was one of the best ballhawks available. Ainge could stoke an already-heated quarterback competition.
Oakland: C – Pencil in RB McFadden as the favorite for NFL rookie of the year honors. Al Davis likes size and speed, and McFadden has plenty of both. Safety Branch, WR Shields and DE Scott are also prototype Raiders who play speed games.
Philadelphia: C – After coming up short in the offensive tackle market, the Eagles bailed out of the first round. DT Laws will provide the Eagles an inside rotation on defense, and WR Jackson and S Demps should have immediate impacts on special teams.
Pittsburgh: C – Mendenhall was the steal of the draft at No. 23. Teaming with Willie Parker, the Steelers will have two offensive speeds â€“ fast and faster. The play-action game will never be better. QB Dixon has Slash-like potential.
San Diego: C – Cason replaces free-agenc defector Drayton Florence in San Diego’s cornerback rotation, and FB Hester was arguably the highest character player in this draft. He was an investment in the future success of LaDainian Tomlinson.
San Francisco: C – The 49ers didn’t have many picks but smartly took the value as it arrived up on the draft board. Balmer, Rachal and Wallace will make the 49ers more formidable up front and Morgan could be a real find in the sixth with his speed.
St. Louis: A – Long will be a great complement up front to last year’s top pick by the Rams, Adam Carriker. They will be two of the highest motor defensive linemen in the league. Avery and Burton inject fast legs into an aging receiving corps.
Seattle: C – The Seahawks took a kicker and a deep snapper to bolster the NFL’s 14th-ranked special teams unit. Jackson adds size on defense, and Carlson will give QB Matt Hasselbeck a dependable underneath receiver.
Tampa Bay: C – The Buccaneers made one of the biggest reaches of the draft, taking WR Dexter Jackson in the second round. He projected as a fifth-rounder. But GM Bruce Allen recovered nicely in the second day with Moore, Johnson, Hayes and Boyd.
Tennessee: B – The Titans needed offensive speed and landed the fastest player in this draft in RB Johnson. Tennessee had the best fourth round of the draft, taking big school producers Hawkins and Kegler and small-school riser Hayes.
Washington: C – New coach Jim Zorn can build the offense to his liking with the first-day selections of two wide receivers and a tight end. Thomas, Davis and Kelly all had first-round grades, and the Redskins found them all in the second.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper has been at it for 30 years, making him the most recognizable name (to fans, anyway) in NFL draft coverage. He breaks it down by division rather than alphabetically:
Two days, seven rounds and 252 picks are in the books for the 2008 NFL draft. Michigan’s Jake Long started things off — days before the draft — and Idaho linebacker David Vobora ended the draft as this year’s Mr. Irrelevant.
But football is the ultimate team sport, and it starts every year with the draft. While some teams have a lot to be excited about based on what they accomplished in this year’s draft, other teams still have a lot of work to do before the 2008 season starts.
Buffalo Bills: GRADE: C+
Cornerback Leodis McKelvin is going to be a very good player and I liked the pick. James Hardy is the big wide receiver the Bills need, someone who can be a threat in the red zone. Virginia Tech DE Chris Ellis is a decent pass-rusher, and I thought CB Reggie Corner and TE Derek Fine were reaches in the fourth round. I did like their late-round picks, RB Xavier Omon, OT Demetrius Bell and WR Steve Johnson.
Miami Dolphins: GRADE: B-
Jake Long fills a need at left tackle, and I liked Bill Parcells’ selection of Clemson DE Phillip Merling with the 32nd overall pick because he’s solid against the run. The pick of Chad Henne in the second round tells you Miami is not sold on John Beck; however, I’m not sold on Henne. He has accuracy issues and a long delivery and he isn’t mobile. I do like his toughness and he does have some of those intangibles you look for in a quarterback. Defensive end Kendall Langford is a big body, but I thought he was somewhat of a reach after an average senior season. Shawn Murphy really came on as a guard and he could battle for a starting spot. Jalen Parmele was a workhorse at Toledo, a big running back who also has some speed. And Lionel Dotson was a good seventh-round pick who should be able to help at nose tackle.
New England Patriots: GRADE: C+
I’m a big fan of linebacker Jerod Mayo, a lights-out hitter who reminds me of a young Junior Seau. Cornerback was a position of need with the loss of Asante Samuel in free agency. But taking Colorado CB Terrence Wheatley — when CB Charles Godfrey was on the board — was a reach. (I projected Wheatley to go somewhere in the fourth round.) Michigan’s Shawn Crable fits their 3-4 scheme as an OLB. Quarterback Kevin O’Connell is intriguing, but he was taken a bit high in the third round. Matt Slater’s future is going to be as a kick returner/special teams player. Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite leveled off during his career at Auburn, and Bo Ruud will be a backup linebacker.
New York Jets: GRADE: B-
Lining up opposite Calvin Pace, OLB Vernon Gholston has a chance to get a lot of sacks in his rookie season. Tight end Dustin Keller can be used in a lot of different ways and will give the passing game some much-needed juice. Dwight Lowery had a great junior season at corner for San Jose state, but his grade tailed off as a senior. Erik Ainge does not have that wow factor you like to see in a quarterback, but he has great pocket awareness. And he has the ability to make throws when he’s outside the pocket. Ainge has a little bit of that “it” factor. Kansas wide receiver Marcus Henry does not have a lot of speed and doesn’t separate well, but he caught the ball very effectively. I liked the Jets’ picks, but I thought they would have taken wide receiver a bit earlier in the draft.
Baltimore Ravens: GRADE: B
The Ravens wanted Matt Ryan, but Joe Flacco was the next-best quarterback in this draft. The Ravens made a great deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars that got them three additional picks. They also traded down and still were able to get running back Ray Rice in the second round. The Ravens need to start bringing in young linebackers and Miami’s Tavares Gooden had a very good 2007 season. Tom Zbikowski is a good third-round choice, but only if his play resembles what he did in 2006 as opposed to 2007. Oniel Cousins is a versatile offensive lineman and WR Marcus Smith will help on special teams in kick coverage and as a returner. Safety Haruki Nakamura and RB Allen Patrick might have to make this roster by performing on special teams.
Cincinnati Bengals: GRADE: C+
Keith Rivers is solid player with great character. Jerome Simpson is a hard-working receiver and WR Andre Caldwell could be a second or third option right away. While junior DT Pat Sims was a very underrated player out of Auburn, OT Anthony Collins should have stayed at Kansas for another year. Still, he was decent fourth-round pick. Safety Corey Lynch is a playmaker (he blocked the field-goal attempt in the closing seconds of Appalachian State’s upset win at Michigan last season). Some scouts I spoke with thought Lynch — who went in Round 6 — could go as high as the fourth round. Villanova TE Matt Sherry is not a very good blocker, but he has very good hands and could push for a roster spot. Wide receiver Mario Urrutia didn’t have a great 2007 season and I’m not sure why he came out. Urrutia has talent, but should have gone back to Louisville for his senior season. Angelo Craig flashed pass-rushing abilities at times; at other times he disappeared.
Cleveland Browns: GRADE: B+
The Browns didn’t have a pick until the fourth round and grabbed UNLV linebacker Beau Bell and Missouri tight end Martin Rucker, who could be a factor in the passing game. Ahtyba Rubin is more of a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Wide receiver Paul Hubbard is big and athletic, but he’s inconsistent catching. Alex Hall will be an OLB in the Browns’ scheme. Cleveland only had five picks; however, they traded this year’s first-round pick to take QB Brady Quinn last year and traded second- and third-round picks for Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers. When you factor those transactions, the Browns are using the draft process the right way.
Pittsburgh Steelers: GRADE: B
Running back wasn’t a need area in the first round, but when Rashard Mendenhall was still on the board at No. 23, he became a luxury pick. Mendenhall was a very good pick, so too was Limas Sweed, who fell to the 53rd overall pick. Dennis Dixon was a one-year wonder at Oregon before he suffered a season-ending knee injury. He showed skills in 2007; still, Dixon is a good fifth-round pick as someone you can develop. Bruce Davis fits the Steelers’ scheme as an OLB (he had 24.5 sacks the past two seasons). Tony Hills is a solid backup at OT who has the ability to push for a starting role if he can work on his aggressiveness. Mike Humpal could be a good backup LB and help out on special teams; and safety Ryan Mundy will be a decent special teams player.
Houston Texans: GRADE: C
Some thought Duane Brown was a reach in the first round, but I thought he was one of the five or six best offensive tackles in the draft because of his athleticism. Brown is a very good offensive lineman, and that’s what the Texans need. Antwaun Molden is a good developmental cornerback; RB Steve Slaton will be a good change-of-pace back; OLB Xavier Adibi is fast and athletic, but is not instinctive, and a bit overrated; and Frank Okam is a big body who wasn’t consistent enough to be a high pick. Safety Dominique Barber is a decent sixth-round pick and could help out in the secondary.
Indianapolis Colts: GRADE: B
The Colts drafted three of my top six centers. Mike Pollak has outstanding mobility and will likely be moved to guard, while Steven Justice and Jamey Richard are quality linemen. Philip Wheeler will help out at ILB. For this offense, fourth-round pick Jacob Tamme at tight end should be a nice fit. The Colts drafted Mike Hart in the sixth round, and he’ll have a great opportunity to be the backup to Joseph Addai. Hart lasted till the sixth round because of a 4.7 time in the 40. Mount Union WR Pierre Garcon is a nice player who some scouts thought could make a team.
Jacksonville Jaguars: GRADE: C-
Not only was defensive end Derrick Harvey a big reach at No. 8 (after trading up with Baltimore), but the Jags gave up three picks in order to draft the Florida defensive end. Quentin Groves will be a good defensive end if he plays like he did as a junior. I do like CB Trae Williams, who could be a factor right away. I thought the Jaguars should have traded for Jason Taylor, a proven pass-rusher who would have been the missing link along the defensive line.
Tennessee Titans: GRADE: C
Running back Chris Johnson is a good player, but I wasn’t expecting him to go to Tennessee, especially because the Titans need a wide receiver. (They should have looked at WR Devin Thomas in the first round.) They did get WR Lavelle Hawkins in the fourth round and Vince Young will like the former California wide receiver. Jason Jones can play DE or DT. I don’t have a problem with the player they drafted on Day 1, but the philosophy is skewed. It was the third straight year Tennessee drafted a running back in the first two rounds. Craig Stevens is a good blocking tight end. William Hayes has good closing speed for a defensive end, but was a reach in the fourth round. Stanford Keglar was a good fourth-round pick with some ability, and seventh-rounder Cary Williams could make this team as a developmental cornerback.
Denver Broncos: GRADE: C+
Ryan Clady is the left tackle the Broncos needed to help Jay Cutler, and Clady should start right away. Eddie Royal is a decent slot receiver who has some return skills, Kory Lichtensteiger was one of the top centers in the draft and Arizona State’s Ryan Torain is an interesting pick at running back because he has the potential to prosper in Denver. Torain’s ASU teammate, safety Joshua Barrett, has great physical abilities, but does not always play up to his potential. I want to see how they use FB Peyton Hillis because he has great hands out of the backfield, and would be an ideal H-back if he were a couple of inches taller.
Kansas City Chiefs: GRADE: A
The rebuilding process is on. The Chiefs started the draft with 13 picks, and they made them count. After getting defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey — the No. 1 player on my Big Board — with the fifth overall pick, the Chiefs grabbed tackle Branden Albert, although he will be a work in progress. Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers would have been a mid-first-round pick if he had run better 40 times at the NFL combine. On Day 2, RB Jamaal Charles and Tennessee TE Brad Cottam — who has untapped ability — will be nice complements on offense. Cottam could be a diamond in the rough. DaJuan Morgan is a solid safety, Brandon Carr is another corner who might be a sleeper and Kevin Robinson can make his mark in the return game. Barry Richardson never materialized into a great offensive lineman at Clemson, but he could start right away with the holes Kansas City has on its offensive line. Defensive end Brian Johnston has long-range potential.
Oakland Raiders: GRADE B-
We all know what Darren McFadden can do. I really liked Oakland’s second-round pick, Connecticut CB Tyvon Branch. He can help out in the return game, and also has great catch-up speed. Wide receiver Arman Shields hurt his knee early in the season and fell off the radar, but he’s a developmental receiver.
San Diego Chargers: GRADE: C+
Antoine Cason played a lot of football at Arizona, which at times works against a player in terms of being overevaluated. Cason doesn’t have great recovery speed, but he has good technique in coverage and good ball skills. Jacob Hester could make up for the loss of Michael Turner. Hester was a fullback at LSU, but isn’t a prototypical lead-blocking fullback. UTEP RB Marcus Thomas has some ability and was a good fifth-round pick; CB DeJuan Tribble did not have great workouts, but he flashed second-round potential early in the season. One thing I didn’t like about the Chargers’ draft is they didn’t really address their need at right tackle.
Dallas Cowboys: GRADE: B+
Felix Jones will join Marion Barber in the Cowboys’ backfield and will also return kicks. Cornerback Mike Jenkins has really good ball skills and should be a major contributor this season in the secondary. Tight end Martellus Bennett has talent and should be able to help out in the passing game. Running back Tashard Choice had a knee injury in 2007; otherwise he would have gone a little higher in the draft. He can run between tackles, but isn’t going to run away from anyone in space. I projected Boise State cornerback Orlando Scandrick to go late in the second round, and I was surprised to see him last until the fifth round. However, the Cowboys didn’t draft a wide receiver, which I thought was one of their top three need areas.
New York Giants: GRADE: C+
I understand taking safety Kenny Phillips with the last pick in the first round. He had a great sophomore season in 2006. Terrell Thomas could be a No. 2 cornerback, but I thought that pick was just OK. Wide receiver Mario Manningham is worth a role of the dice in the third round because he has talent, but his stock dropped in the months leading up to the draft, with some teams viewing him as a late-round pick. Jonathan Goff was a good find in the fifth round, and the same can be said about Andre’ Woodson in Round 6. Defensive end Robert Henderson is just a marginal prospect.
Philadelphia Eagles: GRADE: C+
Trevor Laws had a very good 2007, and was arguably Notre Dame’s best player. I like where the Eagles got DeSean Jackson because he’s an exciting player (when healthy) who will help out in the return game. Bryan Smith is a combination DE/OLB, and Michael McGlynn had a nice season at right tackle opposite Jeff Otah. Cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu is a pick for the future; after declaring for the draft, he suffered a knee injury in January and isn’t expected to play in 2008. Andrew Studebaker out of Wheaton has the potential to be a situational pass-rusher.
Washington Redskins: GRADE: B+
They traded out of the first round and still were able to get three offensive weapons in the second round: wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly and tight end Fred Davis. Chad Rinehart is a versatile offensive lineman who can play guard or tackle. In the sixth round, Georgia Tech’s Durant Brooks was the first — and only — punter drafted. He has a strong leg and should compete for the starting job (30 of his 65 punts were 50 yards or longer). Hawaii QB Colt Brennan went in the sixth round. He isn’t very big, but he has some ability. What hurt Brennan was his performance in the Sugar Bowl and the Senior Bowl practices, and the system he played in, which allowed him to put up big numbers. Safety Christopher Horton will be a good backup and special teams player. The only thing the Redskins didn’t get was a pass-rushing defensive end.
Chicago Bears: GRADE: B
Chris Williams is the left tackle the Bears need from a pass-protection standpoint, and he’ll start as a rookie. Matt Forte is a hard-nosed running back. He’s not flashy, but he’s elusive. I like what the Bears did on Day 2, starting with Vanderbilt WR Earl Bennett, who reminds me of Hines Ward. Arkansas DT Marcus Harrison lasted until the third round because of some off-field concerns, and Nebraska’s Zack Bowman is a big corner who was once projected as a first-round pick, before he suffered injuries to both knees. LSU safety Craig Steltz — who reminds me of former Bear Doug Plank — will be a solid special teams player and could push for a starting job. With his height, Arkansas WR Marcus Monk could be a red zone threat and he qualifies as a very good seventh-round pick. He looked like a second-rounder after his junior year, and ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash, which is excellent for a 6-foot-4, 220-pound receiver. Tight end Kellen Davis has tremendous athletic ability but he needs to be more consistent.
Detroit Lions: GRADE: C+
Gosder Cherilus is a right tackle who is an effective run-blocker, which is why the Lions drafted him in the first round. But third-round pick Kevin Smith is the key player in the Lions’ draft class. Smith proved at Central Florida he could carry the load, and in my opinion, he’ll be the Lions’ starting running back in Week 1. Jordon Dizon is undersized for a middle linebacker, but he has a chance to be productive in Detroit’s scheme, because he has the ability to cover the deep middle. Fullback Jerome Felton is more effective as a runner than a blocker, but he’s a good value pick in the fifth round. Army safety Caleb Campbell went in the seventh round and is big at 229 pounds. Campbell could be an OLB if he puts on 10 to 15 pounds. Cliff Avril could be a decent pass-rusher, although he had only six sacks in 2007. DT Andre Fluellen flashed big-time ability early in his career at Florida State but never lived up to it.
Green Bay Packers: GRADE: B-
The Packers took a QB on both days of the draft: Brian Brohm in the second round and Matt Flynn in the seventh. Brohm is cerebral and accurate, but can he stay healthy? Flynn is big, has good arm strength and can run for a first down if he has to. Flynn has intangibles, something you must have to lead a team to a national title. Second-round pick Jordy Nelson is a great athlete, and will be a faster version of former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark. Patrick Lee is a very good cover corner and a solid second-round pick. Tight end Jermichael Finley has a ton of talent, he just has to make strides in terms of catching the ball and blocking. Defensive end Jeremy Thompson has a similar attitude and motor to current Packer Aaron Kampman.
Minnesota Vikings: GRADE: B
They had only one pick in the first four rounds. I had safety Tyrell Johnson going in the first round, so to get him in Round 2 (43rd overall) is a great pick because Johnson has big-time skills. In the fifth round the Vikings took John David Booty, an accurate quarterback who is great at throwing on the move and sees the field extremely well. Letroy Guion is more of a developmental defensive tackle, and center John Sullivan was average in 2007, but at times looked very good in his career. Factor in the addition of DE Jared Allen, and this was a good draft for the Vikings.
Atlanta Falcons: GRADE: B
I thought they would take DT Glenn Dorsey, but the Falcons needed a face for the franchise, and had to take QB Matt Ryan. He should be a great starting point; a new era of Falcons football begins. USC OT Sam Baker wasn’t healthy in 2007, he struggled in Senior Bowl practices and he has short arms for a left tackle. I like Baker, but I thought it was a bit of a reach moving up to get him. Linebacker Curtis Lofton is a decent second-round pick, but I really like what Atlanta did in the third round, taking WR Harry Douglas, CB Chevis Jackson and safety Thomas DeCoud. Kroy Biermann is a good pass-rusher. Wilrey Fontenot played opposite Antoine Cason at Arizona, although he’ll be more of a dime back. RB Thomas Brown is not real big, and he’s going to be battling Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood for playing time in the backfield.
Carolina Panthers: GRADE: B
The future is now in Carolina, which gave up its first-round pick in 2009 to trade back into this year’s first round and draft offensive tackle Jeff Otah. Jonathan Stewart is a workhorse running back and Dan Connor is a real nice pick in the third round. I like the Panthers’ picks on Day 2, highlighted by Iowa CB Charles Godfrey, who I thought was the best player on the board heading into Day 2. Tight end Gary Barnidge, who they picked in the fifth round, catches everything thrown his way, although he is not much of a blocker. Hilee Taylor has a very good motor at OLB, Geoff Schwartz is an overachieving OL and G Mackenzy Bernadeau out of Bentley has a good chance to make the team. I didn’t like seeing them give up a future first-round pick, and Stewart does have some durability concerns, but this was a good draft for the Panthers.
New Orleans Saints: GRADE: C+
I’m high on DT Sedrick Ellis — there wasn’t much of a difference between him and Dorsey. Cornerback Tracy Porter has to show toughness in run support and also be able to match up against physical wide receivers. Porter should also be able to help out as a punt returner. DeMario Pressley is a classic underachiever. He looked good at the start of his college career but never became a dominant player. OT Carl Nicks has some ability and talent, but he just needs to maximize it. I didn’t like taking PK Taylor Mehlhaff over Brandon Coutu, but I did like getting WR Adrian Arrington in the seventh round. I thought he could go as high as the fourth round.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: GRADE: B
Aqib Talib fits this system and is the perfect Cover 2 cornerback. He has great ball skills, but not the recovery speed. Wide receiver Dexter Jackson has great speed, but are his hands going to be good enough? Jackson was the only WR the Buccaneers drafted, and that was a need area for them heading into the draft. Third-round pick Jeremy Zuttah from Rutgers gives this offensive line some versatility. What I want to see is DT Dre Moore put it all together every week. He showed glimpses of that at Maryland, but if the Bucs can motivate Moore, then they could have found a gem in the fourth round. QB Josh Johnson is a great athlete and Jon Gruden likes him, but Johnson will be a project quarterback for the future. Linebacker Geno Hayes probably isn’t the next Derrick Brooks at linebacker, but he’s very instinctive and is a good form tackler. He could be a nice fit at weakside linebacker in Tampa Bay’s scheme.
Arizona Cardinals: GRADE: B-
I like CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but I thought Arizona would take a running back (Ray Rice?) in the second round. Instead, Arizona drafted DE Calais Campbell. If Campbell reverts back to his 2006 form, this will turn out to be a good pick. LSU WR Early Doucet will be a slot receiver and was a good third-round pick. I like RB Timothy Hightower, although he doesn’t have a lot of speed. I like their sixth- and seventh-round picks (Christopher Harrington and Brandon Keith), but the Cardinals didn’t get a quality running back to complement Edgerrin James, unless Hightower is able to play the part.
St. Louis Rams: GRADE: C+
Taking DE Chris Long allows Adam Carriker to stay inside at defensive tackle. Some didn’t think Donnie Avery should have been the first WR to come off the board. It might have been a bit of a reach, but he caught 91 balls and has the ability to make people miss. John Greco is a versatile offensive lineman. CB Justin King has a lot of potential, but he gets beat in coverage far too much. Wide receiver Keenan Burton would have gone higher than the fourth round if he hadn’t been slowed by knee and ankle injuries in his senior season. Roy Schuening has a chance to start this year at guard. Chris Chamberlain had a very nice season at Tulsa. And don’t forget about OLB David Vobora, aka Mr. Irrelevant, who I thought was a midround pick. Vobora has some ability and I would be surprised if he didn’t make this team as a special teams player.
San Francisco 49ers: GRADE: C+
They didn’t address their need at wide receiver until the sixth round and didn’t take an OLB until the seventh round. Kentwan Balmer is a solid DT prospect for their scheme, and I like Chilo Rachal’s aggressiveness at guard (he can also play right tackle). Reggie Smith is kind of a tweener at safety or corner. He has ability, but needs to settle on a position. Cody Wallace was the No. 1 center on my board. Josh Morgan is a decent receiver. OLB Larry Grant can make this team as backup.
Seattle Seahawks: GRADE: B
Lawrence Jackson stepped up his performance and deserved being a first-round pick. I would have looked at Dustin Keller, although John Carlson is a more complete tight end. Texas A&M’s Red Bryant is a stay-at-home defensive tackle. He was productive in 2007, but he never took his game to the next level coming out of high school. Owen Schmitt is a throwback old-school fullback. Tyler Schmitt is a good long snapper. Justin Forsett has the chance to make this team at running back. Georgia’s Brandon Coutu — whom I thought was the best kicker in this draft — could be this year’s Mason Crosby.
Larry Weisman, USA TODAY. Frankly, I have no idea what his credentials are for evaluating NFL drafts. But somebody’s paying him to do it, so he must be an expert. Right?
â€” GRADE: A
â€¢ Miami Dolphins: Safely tucked away OT Jake Long as first overall choice last Tuesday. Should start on the left side for many years. DE Phillip Merling slipped into second round after a weak workout and sports hernia surgery but he should fit this 3-4 scheme on the left side, more because he can play the run than for his pass-rushing. Great value here, especially if Dolphins trade Jason Taylor. QB Chad Henne will be an immediate factor. Solid, solid board.
â€¢ Kansas City Chiefs: Like the mounties, they got their man. Make that men. DT Glenn Dorsey dropped in their laps and gives them the player they hoped Ryan Sims would be. With second No. 1, they moved up two spots and grabbed OL Branden Albert, who could be their answer at LT and at the least will play G. Two big holes filled, though there are still questions about pass-rushers. CB Brandon Flowers might lack raw speed but plays a physical style and could have been a No. 1 pick.
â€¢ Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrific bit of luck getting RB Rashard Mendenhall 23rd, especially when the o-linemen they liked best were gone. This gives them some between-the-tackles punch to complement Willie Parker, who comes off a broken leg. WR Limas Sweed is a great value late in round 2 and Bruce Davis is a typical Steelers’ outside LB with rush skills. OT Tony Hill is a mauler who fits this type of running game.
â€¢ New York Giants: Linked with FS Kenny Phillips early on and didn’t stray, despite reports of unimpressive workouts and an OK junior season. Good fit for a team shy of speed and depth in the deep middle after loss of Gibril Wilson. Stuck with filling defensive holes in second round with Terrell Thomas, a physical, bump-and-run CB who helps at a position riddled with age. WR Mario Manningham’s workouts and conduct knocked him down but Giants need refreshing at this position.
â€¢ Indianapolis Colts: Dealt away their No. 1 a year ago and picked OT Tony Ugoh, who stepped in as a starter. That influences this grade. Needed some LB depth and got it in third round with Philip Wheeler, who can run and rush the passer from the edge. Also got some insurance in C Mike Pollak, heir apparent to Jeff Saturday in a scheme that prizes movement over drive.
â€¢ Carolina Panthers: Love these maneuvers, despite giving up ’09 No. 1. Hole at RB is filled by Jonathan Stewart, whose toe injury should not limit him past July. This gives some life to the downhill running game. Panthers picked up a second No. 1 pick from Philadelphia to grab OT Jeff Otah, a masher. Solidifies another weak area. Then LB Dan Connor drops in their lap in third round. Bingo!
â€¢ Arizona Cardinals: This team helped itself. RB Tim Hightower, picked in fifth round, is a good short-yardage back. Filled need at CB in first round with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and got a huge DE (6-8 Calais Campbell) in second round, which represents good value. Cardinals suffered from injury at DE last few years. Early Doucet will find a crowd at WR but the Cards may eventually move disgruntled Anquan Boldin.
â€¢ Jacksonville Jaguars: They never hid their desire for DE Derrick Harvey and moved aggressively from 26th spot in first round to eighth to get him. Harvey looks like the most complete of the DEs, so this pick, even at the cost, ought to be success. Same idea in moving up to get Quentin Groves. Want to knock off the Colts? Then find a way to rush Peyton Manning, no matter the price.
â€¢ Minnesota Vikings: Count DE Jaren Allen as their No. 1 pick (and two No. 3s). He had 15Â½ sacks last year to lead the NFL and he brings a missing element to this defense, which ranked first in the NFL against the run. So even minus an influx of young talent, they used choices well. QB John David Booty in the fifth round is a great value play for a team with issues at the position. Also like S Tyrell Johnson.
â€¢ San Diego Chargers: Antoine Cason fills the bill neatly after Chargers lost CBs Sammy Davis and Drayton Florence. He can push for starting job or be the third CB and then fight his way into the lineup. Bolts traded up in third round to get FB Jacob Hester, who will fill the role left vacant by Lorenzo Neal. Not many holes, only five picks.
â€¢ Washington Redskins: Wanted to trade their No. 1 pick for established WR but instead bailed out of the round to give themselves more choices than the nine with which they went into the draft. Then got WR Devin Thomas at the top of the second round. Thomas, a junior college transfer, only had the one solid season at Michigan State. WR Malcolm Kelly fell quite a bit but may be better than Thomas. TE Fred Davis was tops at his position on many boards. QB Colt Brennan could be fun to watch.
â€¢ Chicago Bears: Helped their offense with first three picks but no QB, alas. OT Chris Williams solidifies a weak position and should start immediately. Bit of a stretch in second round for RB Matt Forte but the Bears cannot go solo with Cedric Benson. WR Earl Bennett has decent size. Love SS Craig Steltz for what he’ll bring to Chicago’s standout special teams.
â€¢ San Francisco 49ers: Kentwan Balmer came on strong and the 49ers needed an inside presence at NT. So Balmer is a fit. Outside rusher or a WR looked like more of a priority. Not quite a steal but good value here in building the strength of a team already oriented toward defense. Chilo Rachal could start at G immediately. DB Reggie Smith could play CB or S.
â€¢ Dallas Cowboys: Excellent job in filling needs but bypassing Rashard Mendenhall? Had to get RB and did, in explosive Felix Jones. He’ll dovetail nicely with Marion Barber III. Then moved up three spots in deal with Seattle and grabbed CB Mike Jenkins, which gives them some insurance regarding Pacman Jones and his uncertain status (currently suspended). TE Martellus Bennett steps in for traded Anthony Fasano.
â€¢ Cleveland Browns: Didn’t get to play until the fourth round. Dealt away picks last year and this spring for other bodies. Until they squeeze something out of QB Brady Quinn and find out exactly what DT Shaun Rogers weighs, who can make a judgment here? If Rogers and recently acquired Corey Williams make the d-line solid, this draft was essentially for veterans at a porous position. LB Beau Bell could help shore up against the run.
â€¢ Buffalo Bills: Continuing to work on bolstering a subpar defense, Bills started the run on CBs with Leodis McKelvin. They’d never drafted a CB this high before. Talented returner as well for a club that highly values special teams. Also got the aptly named Reggie Corner, who plays that position. Got the big-body WR in second round (6-5 James Hardy, tallest WR they’ve drafted) to team with Lee Evans.
â€¢ New England Patriots: Repairing an aging defense was first priority and biggest need was a young inside LB with the ability to play multiple positions. Jerod Mayo’s that guy. A riser on most draft boards last few weeks, he went a bit higher than most teams might have had him. Mayo can also play OLB but that’s where Shawn Crable fits in. Terrence Wheatley can be a shutdown CB and also returns kicks, was a bit of a sleeper with great athletic skills. Reached quite a bit on QB Kevin O’Connell in third round.
â€¢ Green Bay Packers: Skipped out of the first round in deal with New York Jets. Grabbed WR Jordy Nelson in second round and this could be a steal though a bit mystifying since the Packers aren’t short of talent at this position. The kid can fly, runs 4.5 40-yard dash. Filled needs later with CB Patrick Lee and TE Jemichael Finley. Stole DE Jeremy Thompson in fourth round. QB Brian Brohm could have gone higher.
â€¢ New Orleans Saints: Clearly looked to beef up defense and did so with first three choices. Premium is now on the front four and Sedrick Ellis gives them a terrific interior presence to go with some decent rush guys. DT DeMario Pressley, a fifth-rounder, could also surprise. Got secondary help in CB Tracy Porter. Deal to get TE Jeremy Shockey from New York Giants never happened.
â€¢ Atlanta Falcons: Everything rides on QB Matt Ryan. His stock climbed as the draft approached. The Falcons desired stability and a new face for the franchise. Not sure the second reason is enough to take Ryan (19 INTs last year) third overall. Traded back into first round for OT Sam Baker, who could well wind up at G, making this a reach. Liking the defensive picks more than the offensive ones, but Ryan ultimately makes or breaks this draft.
â€¢ St. Louis Rams: Much internal debate but they went with Chris Long, seeking some pressure from the edge, over DT Glenn Dorsey. Only got 5Â½ sacks from DEs last year and Leonard Little will soon be 34. Looks like not only a safe pick but a good one. WR Donnie Avery went too high but the Rams love the speed and have the positional need. CB Justin King should be the nickel back right away. They failed to address their o-line issues.
â€¢ Cincinnati Bengals: Figured to go defensive line but took OLB Keith Rivers instead. He’s probably a better fit at on the weak side but the Bengals are so short at this position that he could be the starter at MLB. Drafted a couple of WRs as insurance against Chad Johnson’s absence in what looks to be an unpleasant holdout. DT Pat Sims gets off the ball well and has some girth. But who’s going to rush the passer?
â€¢ Philadelphia Eagles: Bailed out of first round rather than take a WR too high and then got the guy they liked, DeSean Jackson, in the second. Need that sort of playmaker. Picked up Carolina’s No. 1 next year. Got o-line help in Mike McGlynn but reached a bit for him, added secondary help later and those were at least slight reaches too â€” though FS Quintin Demps shows some real ability. CB Jack Ikegwuono has knee problems and may be facing burglary charges.
â€¢ Baltimore Ravens: Wanted a QB. They suspected Matt Ryan would not fall to them in the eighth spot and could not trade up. So they dropped down and grabbed a recent riser in Joe Flacco. Big arm, but how his skills translate from a smaller college program (Delaware) to the NFL is anyone’s guess. Filling this position has been an intractable problem for years. Did not get an OT to replace Jonathan Ogden. Grade is higher if you like trade for CB Fabian Washington, a former No. 1 of Oakland’s acquired for a fourth-round pick.
â€¢ New York Jets: Maybe they wanted RB Darren McFadden but they made their move later, not early, and patience will pay off. If DE/LB Vernon Gholston adapts to multiple-front scheme, they’ve got a pass-rusher. Deal with Green Bay at the bottom of the first round brings TE Dustin Keller, which should help the QB (whomever that may be), though they’re stocked at that position. No RB or WR help for a team torn down to its foundations.
â€¢ Houston Texans: Needed RB but couldn’t let the OT situation go unaddressed. But they traded down and then took Virginia Tech left tackle Duane Brown. Bit of a head-scratcher here. He has played both sides so that gives them flexibility. Went RB with Steve Slaton, who has outside burst but might not be big enough to bull through the middle. Fits their one-cut scheme but size will play into his durability. Xavier Adibi plays better than he runs but did the Texans really need a LB?
â€¢ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mild surprise in CB Aqib Talib. Bucs were looking at this position but Talib’s off-the-field issues had him going in the second round on many boards. It will be interesting to see how he fits the Tampa-2 scheme. He’s big and physical. Bucs had to have help with Brian Kelly gone and Ronde Barber aging. DT Dre Moore a good find in Round 4, but otherwise unimpressive unless Dexter Jackson becomes an impact WR and not just a return specialist.
â€¢ Seattle Seahawks: Dropped down in first round in trade with Dallas and went a little bit off the mainstream trail with Southern California DE Lawrence Jackson. He’ll work in as a situational pass-rusher. Space-eating run-stopper came later in Red Bryant. Thinking was they’d go TE, which they did later with John Carlson, though Fred Davis was still on the board. Carlson isn’t quite as good a receiver. Love face-busting FB Owen Schmitt as replacement for Mack Strong. Sixth round pick Tyler Schmitt is only the second long snapper taken in draft history.
â€¢ Oakland Raiders: Feeling the need for some speed, the Raiders could not bypass RB Darren McFadden. He should team neatly with Justin Fargas, who is coming off a season-ending knee injury. Was this the biggest of the Raider needs? No. DT was. Big reach on CB Tyvon Branch and already had added DeAngelo Hall in trade, though they traded Fabian Washington for almost nothing (fourth-round pick). Reached on WR Arman Shields as well.
â€¢ Detroit Lions: Need position at RT seems to have dictated choice of Gosder Cherilus, who should have gone lower. Bit of a reach but he plays with the sort of ferocity this team can use, especially after allowing 117 sacks over last two seasons and losing Damien Woody as free agent. LB Jordon Dizon is undersized but fits the Tampa-2 scheme and will play hard for them. RB Kevin Smith probably not the answer in a troublesome spot.
â€¢ Tennessee Titans: If they plan on running the wishbone, boost the grade. RB Chris Johnson ran the fastest times in the 40-yard dash at the combine and then ran right into the first round with a team that keeps drafting at this position (LenDale White, Chris Henry) and pays too little attention to its WRs and the holes along the d-line. No team had fewer TD catches last year than the Titans’ nine and the Titans did not do enough here to help QB Vince Young.
â€¢ Denver Broncos: Happy times when need and the right player coincide. Ryan Clady can eventually step in at LT, where the Broncos lost 11-year veteran Matt Lepsis to retirement. WR Eddie Royal helps on punt returns and gives Denver wiggle room with Brandon Marshall, a question mark because of an arm injury. But why draft Royal after signing veterans Darrell Jackson and Keary Colbert and Brandon Stokley before that? Lot of money is being tied up in this position.
Clifton Brown, Sporting News.
Chiefs. Christmas came early. Glenn Dorsey, Branden Albert, Brandon Flowers and Jamaal Charles all were potential first-round picks. This was more than a home run. It was a grand slam.
Dolphins. They took full advantage of picking first. Chad Henne could be their new starting quarterback. Jake Long will anchor the offensive line. Phillip Merling was a Round 2 steal.
Falcons. The focus will be on Matt Ryan, but Sam Baker and Curtis Lofton are excellent players. At least eight picks could make the roster, which has been significantly upgraded.
Packers. Brian Brohm gives the Packers insurance at quarterback if Aaron Rodgers falters. Jordy Nelson is a deep-threat receiver who also returns kicks. They got great value for a team picking near the bottom.
Panthers. A power runner (Jonathan Stewart) and a tackle (Jeff Otah) will complement each other nicely. Dan Connor is John Fox’s kind of linebackerâ€¢smart and aggressive. Nice job.
Bills. Major needs were addressed. Leodis McKelvin could make people forget Nate Clements. James Hardy should complement speedy Lee Evans as a possession receiver.
Cowboys. What they got was better than trading for Darren McFadden. Felix Jones may be just as good a running back. Taking Mike Jenkins makes them less dependent on Pacman Jones.
Vikings. Trading their first-round pick for Jared Allen was the best part of their draft. But it also was shrewd to move up five spots for Tyrell Johnson, a safety most scouts love.
Jets. Quarterbacks were too comfortable playing against the Jets. Vernon Gholston will change that, and trading up to get Dustin Keller gives their quarterbacks a tight end target.
Rams. Chris Long is easy to love. Donnie Avery in Round 2 was a reach, but getting Justin King in Round 4 should help the secondary, and John Greco is an offensive lineman with potential.
Saints. The trade up to get Sedrick Ellis was excellent. He’s a run-stopper. Horrible play in the secondary hurt them last season, and Tracy Porter is a cornerback with serious potential.
Bears. No, they didn’t get a quarterback, but they got three players — Chris Williams, Matt Forte and Earl Bennett — who can help an anemic offense, plus a defensive tackle (Marcus Harrison) who has first-round skills.
Giants. General manager Jerry Reese is a draft master. They needed a safety and got one in Kenny Phillips. Mario Manningham fell to them because of attitude, not lack of talent.
Steelers. Rashard Mendenhall continues their tradition of physical backs. Ben Roethlisberger wanted a receiver with size, and now he has one in Limas Sweed.
Eagles. It paid off to trade down. DeSean Jackson gives them a much-needed deep target for Donovan McNabb, and a draft-day deal gives them the Panthers’ first-rounder in ’09.
Raiders. Lack of draft picks prevented them from filling more holes. This is all about Darren McFadden. If he becomes a star, then this was a good draft. If not, they didn’t get much help.
Ravens. Getting Joe Flacco was important, but they took a major risk trading out of the No. 8 spot. Ray Rice is a small back, but he should form a nice combo with Willis McGahee.
Bengals. Keith Rivers could quickly become their best linebacker. They took two receivers with their first four picks. This looks like a team getting ready for life without Chad Johnson.
Jaguars. The trade up to get Derrick Harvey and drafting Quentin Groves were all about improving the pass rush. But you have to worry about Harvey’s and Groves’ lack of consistency in college.
Redskins. Jim Zorn is going to open up the offense more than Joe Gibbs. Getting two receivers, Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, fits into Zorn’s plan. Jason Campbell is smiling.
Broncos. Ryan Clady will help the offensive line, but after him their draft tailed off. They needed help on the defensive line but added only a fifth-rounder. They may have overrated Eddie Royal as a receiver.
Buccaneers. Aqib Talib may be a nice eventual replacement for Ronde Barber. But the Bucs may have overrated Dexter Jackson, who may be more of a return man in the NFL than a receiver.
Cardinals. They waited too long to get a running back to spell Edgerrin James. Arizona should have taken Mendenhall or Jones instead of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a cornerback who is still raw.
49ers. Kentwan Balmer may be a quality defensive lineman, but the Niners should have taken one of the 10 second-round wideouts instead of Chilo Rachal, who came out a year too soon.
Seahawks. This draft won’t get Mike Holmgren back to the Super Bowl in his final year. Lawrence Jackson could be a solid defensive end, but the Seahawks also needed wideout help.
Lions. Gosder Cherilus will improve the offensive line, but the need for secondary help was not addressed, and Dan Connor would have been a safer pick at linebacker than Jordon Dizon.
Patriots. Will Jerod Mayo really be a better player than two guys the Patriots could have taken — Sedrick Ellis or Keith Rivers? They also failed to get line help to better protect Tom Brady.
Chargers. Having only two of the first 165 picks limited what they could do. Antoine Cason may turn into a good corner, and Jacob Hester will love blocking for LaDainian Tomlinson.
Titans. No excuse for failing to get Vince Young a top-rated receiver. Chris Johnson is a speedy back, but this team had the league’s fewest TD catches last year. That may happen again.
Browns. What did you expect from a team that did not have a pick until the fourth round? They scored big in last year’s draft and spent heavily in free agency. Anything from this draft is a bonus.
Colts. Their first pick was No. 59. Fortunately for them, they don’t need much help. Keep an eye on linebacker Philip Wheeler. The Colts have often struck gold late in the draft.
Texans. They should have gotten more help for a team talking playoffs. Duane Brown needs polish as an offensive lineman. Steve Slaton is unlikely to solve their need for a consistent runner.
Pete Brisco, CBS Sportsline:
Best pick: They wanted Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and landed him with the 16th pick in the first round. He has the skills to start as a rookie.
Questionable move: Taking Miami defensive end Calais Campbell in the second round. What is he, an end or a tackle? If he’s an end, he has to lose weight to become quicker. If he’s a tackle, he needs to gain weight.
Second-day gem: Iowa defensive end Kenny Iwebema has injury issues that hurt his production, but when he is on the field he can be a solid defensive end. He could end up being better than Campbell.
Overall grade: B. They addressed the defensive side with three of their first four picks and then got receiver Early Doucet in the third round. Solid.
Best pick: Some questioned their decision to trade back into the first round and get USC tackle Sam Baker, but it was the right move. He was a four-year starter for the Trojans and will be a 10-year starter for the Falcons, beginning as a rookie.
Questionable move: Taking Matt Ryan third overall. If Dorsey goes on to be a star and Ryan isn’t the franchise passer they expect, look out.
Second-day gem: LSU corner Chevis Jackson, taken in the third round, doesn’t run as well as scouts like, but he has everything else needed to be a successful corner on the next level.
Overall grade: B. I wouldn’t have selected Ryan third overall, but they needed a passer. I get it. The rest of the draft was very good. Trading up to get Baker will pay off in a big way. Second-round pick Curtis Lofton is a run-stuffing linebacker and Jackson capped it off.
Best pick: Third-round pick Tavares Gooden was the best defender on a Miami defense that included two players picked higher than him. Ray Lewis has a fellow from The U. he can take under his wing.
Questionable move: Trading up to get quarterback Joe Flacco. They probably could have stayed at 26 and still landed him. Plus, Brian Brohm and Chad Henne were better options.
Second-day gem: Safety Tom Zbikowski, a third-round pick, is one of those players who will find his way onto the field. He will be a special-teams star — bare minimum.
Overall grade: C. They reached for Flacco and I didn’t really like the pick of Ray Rice in the second round.
Best pick: They considered receiver, but opted for corner Leodis McKelvin in the first round. The value of a corner is much greater than a receiver, and they snagged the best cover player in the draft.
Questionable move: They took receiver James Hardy in the second round when Malcolm Kelly was still on the board. Kelly should have been the choice.
Second-day gem: Tight end Derek Fine, taken in the fourth round, can block, which is rare for a tight end these days.
Overall grade: B-.
Best pick: Third-round pick Charles Godfrey played corner and safety at Iowa, but he might be better suited to play safety in the NFL. He has a lot of range for that position.
Questionable move: A lot of people will question trading their 2009 first-round pick and other choices to move back into the first round to take tackle Jeff Otah. I like it, but it will be questioned.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Gary Barnidge, a tight end from Louisville, is a nice receiving tight end who will help the Panthers passing game.
Overall grade: B-. As much as I like top pick Jonathan Stewart, don’t the Panthers have far greater needs than a running back?
Best pick: Third-round pick Marcus Harrison will become a force in the middle of their defense. Some off-field issues prevented him from being a higher selection.
Questionable move: Taking tackle Chris Williams with the 14th pick in the first round came after several teams took him off their boards for medical reasons (back). Chicago better hope that doesn’t become a problem.
Second-day gem: I love tight end Kellen Davis, whom the Bears selected in the fifth round. He’s a strong, athletic player.
Overall grade: B+. Aside from the questions about Williams, they did a nice job. Harrison will make this draft.
Best pick: First-round pick Keith Rivers will add much-needed speed to a linebacker group that was decimated by injuries last season.
Questionable move: They took three players with character issues in third-round pick Pat Sims, fourth-round pick Anthony Collins and fifth-round pick Jason Shirley. After all they’ve dealt with in terms of character problems, how could they do that?
Second-day gem: Shirley, a defensive tackle from Fresno State, was dismissed from the Bulldogs last year for disciplinary reasons. When he’s on the field, he’s a 330-pound power player.
Overall grade: C. After Rivers, their draft has a lot of questions. Taking Coastal Carolina receiver Jerome Simpson in the second round is a risky pick.
Best pick: Fourth-round pick Beau Bell has some character questions, but he’s a physical linebacker who has been compared to Jeremiah Trotter.
Questionable move: Trading away their top three picks before the draft started. I like the moves, but some will question them. If Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams don’t work out at defensive tackle, they will be ripped for trading the picks.
Second-day gem: Sixth-round defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin was a dominant nose tackle for Iowa State. He can learn behind Rogers.
Overall grade: B+. That counts trading for Brady Quinn, Rogers, Williams and adding the late-day gems.
Best pick: I’m a big fan of Arkansas running back Felix Jones, who went 22nd in the first round. He is a home-run threat every time he touches it.
Questionable move: Hard to find one. They had a good two days, but taking tight end Martellus Bennett in the second round might be it. With Jason Witten on the roster, that was a luxury pick.
Second-day gem: Corner Orlando Scandrick has nice cover skills. Were it not for some attitude questions, he might have been taken higher than the fifth round.
Overall grade: A. With two first-round picks, it was hard to mess things up. Getting corner Mike Jenkins after Jones fills a need.
Best pick: Running back Ryan Torain, taken in the fifth round, has second-round ability but a foot injury dropped his stock. The Broncos will love this kid.
Questionable move: Second-round pick Eddie Royal will give the passing game a speedy receiver who can help Jay Cutler, but did he go too high at No. 42 overall?
Second-day gem: Sixth-round pick Spencer Larsen was a tackling machine at Arizona.
Overall grade: B. They needed a left tackle and got one in the first round in Ryan Clady. The rest of the draft included some nice choices.
Best pick: They have issues at running back, so trading up in the third round to take Central Florida’s Kevin Smith was a nice move.
Questionable move: They took Boston College tackle Gosder Cherlius in the first round instead of Jeff Otah, who was still on the board.
Second-day gem: Third-round pick Cliff Avril, a pass rusher from Purdue, is the kind of edge player Rod Marinelli likes.
Overall grade: B+. Give credit to Matt Millen. He added a lot of good football players in this draft. He had a lot of picks and did a nice job with them.
Green Bay Packers
Best pick: Taking quarterback Brian Brohm in the second round will turn out to be a great pick. He will be the starter in a few years.
Questionable move: They drafted Kansas State receiver Jordy Nelson in the second round, higher than most expected. There were also some bigger-name receivers still on the board.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Jeremy Thompson, a defensive end out of Wake Forest, can help liven up the pass rush.
Overall grade: B-. The pick of Brohm brings their grade up. They did add some depth and competition at positions (OL, TE, CB) that needed it.
Best pick: They needed corner help and Antwaun Molden is a small-school player who has man-coverage skills.
Questionable move: Trading down in the first round to take tackle Duane Brown was a shocker, but it does fill a need. He is raw, but he has plenty of athletic ability.
Second-day gem: At one time, fifth-round pick Frank Okam was considered a possible first-day choice. If he can turn up the intensity, he could be a factor at defensive tackle.
Overall grade: C-. Why didn’t they just stay put and take tackle Jeff Otah in the first round? They did do better in the middle rounds.
Best pick: Taking Georgia linebacker/defensive end Marcus Howard in the fifth round is a steal. He’s perfect for the Colts, who like undersized ends with speed.
Questionable move: Nothing really. They added interior line depth, which they had to have, and selected two tight ends, which they needed.
Second-day gem: Tight end Jacob Tamme, a fourth-round pick, is a converted receiver. The Colts lost Ben Utecht, so they try and replace him with Tamme.
Overall grade: B-. Third-round pick Phillip Wheeler is a typical Colts pick, a linebacker who can run.
Best pick: Trading up to get defensive end Derrick Harvey in the first round was a good move. Based on the value chart, they got the better of the deal with the Ravens. Harvey will be a 10-sack-a-year player soon.
Questionable move: Trading up to get defensive end Quentin Groves in the second round. Groves has some character issues and a lot of scouts think he’s more flash than substance.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Thomas Williams didn’t start at USC, but he played behind three first-round picks.
Overall grade: B-. Getting Harvey, one of the elite pass rushers, was a bold, aggressive move that fills a huge hole. There wasn’t much else.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best pick: They saw Dorsey fall to them with the fifth pick. He was the top player on half the boards in the league.
Questionable move: I like Texas running back Jamaal Charles, but do the Chiefs really need to be using a third-round pick on a back with Larry Johnson on the roster?
Second-day gem: Sixth-round pick Barry Richardson, a tackle out of Clemson, is massive (6-7, 338) and was once considered a first-day possibility.
Overall grade: A+. They had a lot of picks and used them well. Good thing, too. They need a lot of help.
Best pick: Second-round pick Chad Henne had first-round talent, so he’s a bargain. He could push for the starting job as a rookie.
Questionable move: Not a lot to pick apart. They had a good weekend.
Second-day gem: Sixth-round guard Donald Thomas, a converted defensive tackle, could be a project who can be developed.
Overall grade: A. Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells did a really nice job. Jake Long was the right choice at the top spot. Getting Henne in the second round was the cherry on the sundae.
Best pick: I love the selection of Arkansas State safety Tyrell Johnson in the second round. He is that speedy safety all teams want.
Questionable move: Trading their first-round pick to get Jared Allen, who has off-the-field issues. What happens if there is a misstep?
Second-day gem: If defensive tackle Letroy Guion can get his weight in check, he could be a steal in the fifth round.
Overall grade: B. Johnson helps the defense and fifth-round pick John David Booty might end up pushing Tarvaris Jackson for the starting quarterback job.
New England Patriots
Best pick: Third-round pick Shawn Crable will be a perfect fit in their 3-4 defense at outside linebacker. He was one of my favorite players entering the draft.
Questionable move: Using a third-round pick on quarterback Kevin O’Connell was a bit strange. Does this mean they don’t like Matt Cassel?
Second-day gem: Bo Ruud, a seventh-round linebacker taken out of Nebraska, has a good football pedigree. His father played in the NFL and brother, Barrett, starts for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at middle linebacker.
Overall grade: B+. I love the move to take Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo in the first round. He brings speed to a linebacker group that needed it.
New Orleans Saints
Best pick: Their aggression to go up and draft USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis should be lauded. He will be an immediate starter.
Questionable move: I thought they took Indiana corner Tracy Porter too high in the second round. There were better options.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Carl Nicks has some character concerns, but if he stays out of trouble he could develop into a starting-quality player.
Overall grade: B-. Landing Ellis is big, but there are questions about the other picks.
New York Giants
Best pick: Getting Michigan receiver Mario Manningham in the third round will pay off. He has some character issues, but that shouldn’t be a problem playing for Tom Coughlin.
Questionable move: Taking Miami safety Kenny Phillips in the first round over Arkansas State safety Tyrell Johnson. OK, that’s nitpicking; both are good players.
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Bryan Kehl, a linebacker from BYU, was rated higher on some boards. The Giants need help at linebacker and Kehl should provide it.
Overall grade: A. This team gets it. Jerry Reese knows how to find quality football players. First-round pick Phillips will start as a rookie.
New York Jets
Best pick: Fifth-round pick Erik Ainge just might push for time in his second year with the team. The Jets aren’t exactly loaded at quarterback.
Questionable move: Trading back into the first round to take tight end Dustin Keller will be scrutinized. They need help there, but couldn’t they have waited to get one later?
Second-day gem: Fourth-round pick Dwight Lowery will probably move to safety on the next level and could be a good one.
Overall grade: C+. I think Vernon Gholston, their top pick, is overrated. Keller will be a nice player, but he was taken too high.
Best pick: Fourth-round pick Tyvon Branch played corner in college at Connecticut but is projected as a safety on the next level.
Questionable move: Taking Darren McFadden with the fourth pick when Dorsey was staring them in the face. They need a lot of help for th
SI’s Paul Zimmerman probably doesn’t belong here, since he doesn’t actually issue grades, but he’s an institution.
My Numero Uno
Miami Dolphins: I like this because the character of the drafter was reflected in the picks. It was a Man’s draft, make that He-Man. Big guys. Serious. Top guy on the board, Jake Long, stands 6-7 and weighs 315. The defensive end, Phillip Merling, is not what you’d call a nimble-footed pass rusher. He likes to stack ‘em up at the point. A two-gapper. Oh yes, he’s 6-4Â½, 275. The QB, drafted with Miami’s second pick in the second round, Chad Henne, is 226. He’s got a gun. I mean for an arm. I assume he’ll challenge for the job, or something more sinister. The average of the nine chaps selected is 6-3, 274. My kind of draft, boy.
MORE DRAFTS I LIKE:
Detroit Lions: I saw their top pick, tackle Gosder Cherilus, in the Senior Bowl. He was blowing people off the line. Run blocking catches my eye. Pass blocking is like watching Dancing With the Stars with my wife. I know, I know, it’s more important, the way the game is played today, but I’m old and my prejudices are meaningful to me.
Jordon Dizon, the LB picked in the second round, was an active run plugger with a lot of range. Kevin Smith, the third rounder, is a punishing 215 pounder. I guess I should say something about Matt Millen drafting Army’s OLB-SS Caleb Campbell in the seventh round, mainly because his son was Campbell’s teammate at West Point.
According to something said at one of the 5,000 appearances Campbell made on ESPN and NFL Network, the deal is that if he catches on in an NFL camp, he doesn’t have to report for active service, which most likely includes Iraq. Tell me, please, the coach who would be evil enough to cut him?
Oakland Raiders: Mainly because I called this one right in my mock draft, and I needed wins real bad. Al Davis has a mob of runners, but none of them like McFadden. He runs a 4.33, and in the old days, the typical Raider running back, Mark Van Eeghen, Marv Hubbard, that bunch, couldn’t cover 20 yards in that time. So everyone’s keeping fingers crossed that the bright lights of Oakland don’t ensnare the young man. Ghosts of Teddy Hendricks and John Matuszak are everywhere. I also like Oakland’s third-round choice, fourth rounder Bryan Shields, the tall wideout who broke the bank at the combine workouts.
Tennessee Titans: If only on freak-show appeal alone. I don’t know what a 4.24 running back looks like, but that’s what Chris Johnson clocked at the combine. He’s not a shrimpy little guy, either. He’s 197 pounds. I mean, are there stretches when he leaves the ground entirely? I like Craig Stevens, the Cal TE (third round) as well.
Pittsburgh Steelers: I want to see Big Ben playing skyball with the second-round pick, 6-4, 217-pound Limas Sweed, the wideout. I’m interested to see what they do with Dennis Dixon, the very classy and athletic Oregon QB who was headed for first-round glory before he tore the ACL in his knee and ended up a fifth rounder. I bet they have some Kordell Stewart numbers cooked up for him. Rashard Mendenhall, to take some pressure off Fast Willie in the running game, was a good choice, too.
Philadelphia Eagles: I’ve kind of been following the career of Trevor Laws, their second-round DT from Notre Dame, right up through the Senior Bowl, when he put on a clinic on how to shed blockers trained on pass blocking, to stop the run. He’ll be just fine in Philly’s system. It’ll also be interesting to see the expression on Donovan McNabb’s face the first time second-round choice DeSean Jackson, who has 4.37 speed, goes out for a deep one.
Cincinnati Bengals: Once again they give us a draft without many holes in it. At No.1, Keith Rivers is a dedicated and technically correct LB. At No. 2, Jerome Simpson is a highly dedicated receiver, whose 4.42 clocking put his school, Coastal Carolina, on the map. What map? The map of the coast, of course. Patrick Sims (third round) brings 310 pounds of run stopping to address a glaring weakness.
Atlanta Falcons: Well, yeah, I guess I had to love this draft because I had Matt Ryan on my board, and the guys that had Glenn Dorsey went down in flames. When they traded up for another first-round pick to get tackle Sam Baker to block for him, I thought that was a reach, but far be it for me to criticize the team that gave me a W.
Minnesota Vikings: Are you counting DE Jared Allen, the big-league pass rusher who came from the Chiefs for draft choices? You are? Then I love their draft. But only if they help him beat the drinking problem. One DUI and it’s a bad mistake. Two and it’s a problem. QB John David Booty (fifth round) from USC is an interesting choice since the position is far from locked up.
Buffalo Bills: QB Trent Edwards wondered whether or not there was a big wideout with fine hands available, and mentioned how nice it would be to have one, and the conversation produced 6-5Â½, 216-pound James Hardy. He’s not the only guy in the organization they made happy. Bobby April, the terrific special teams coach, cracked a bottle of champagne when they drafted Leodis McKelvin in the first round. Possibly the best corner available, but also a fine return man.
Dallas Cowboys: McFadden’s running mate, Felix Jones, can fly; he averaged 8.7 yards a crack last season. Perfect counterpart for Marion Barber, but farther down the Cowboys got lucky when Tashard Choice, a slashing type of runner, fell to them. Mike Jenkins is a fine corner to team with Terence Newman.
SINGLE OR DOUBLE SHOTS
Carolina Panthers: Traded up for the tackle (Jeff Otah) to block for the runner (Jonathan Stewart), which provides John Fox with the kind of attack he’s most comfortable with.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Traded way up, 18 spots, to get Derrick Harvey, an edge rusher, and then devoted their second-round choice to another one, Quentin Groves. I know the whole idea is to pressure the most dangerous man in the division, Peyton Manning, but getting these guys with the eighth and 52nd picks of the entire draft is a bit of a reach.
San Francisco 49ers: Two big guys to provide a grain of toughness on both sides of the ball, For the interior defense, to keep people off their inside linebacking phenom, Patrick Willis, they got 307-pound Kentwan Balmer in the first round. Next pick was a bruising guard, Chilo Rachal, who perfected his game at USC.
New York Giants: Free safety Gibril Wilson free agents himself out of town, in comes Kenny Phillips from the U., which is Miami, where they know all about safetymen. And here are two more good picks for needs, a pair of 242-pound linebackers, Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff.
Business as usual
Indianapolis Colts: No first-round pick this time, which produced the oddity of three picks listed as centers. One will hold the position, one will move to guard, probably the highest one picked, Mike Pollak, and one will have to deposit his chips at the teller’s window. Philip Wheeler is a speedy linebacker whose weight is now 243. Wish mine was.
Arizona Cardinals: They said they loved Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the 4.29 corner, and by golly they were one of the few teams not lying. I wish Ken Whisenhunt and his speedy corner the best of luck, and that goes for DE Calais Campbell, who has been mentioned as an underachiever, but not to him, I’ll wager.
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WAR
New York Jets: So what do you do when you’ve picked two of the finest athletes on the board, DE Vernon Gholston and TE Dustin Keller, and people are sneering at them? Great workout warriors, they say. Gholston is on and off and Keller can’t block. Well, if I were Eric Mangini, I’d make sure the clippings all find a place in their lockers. Strange things following consistent nagging –such as consistency, and blocking, and consistently blocking, you understand.
Tampa Bay Bucs: The top pick, CB Aqib Talib, is so gifted as a cover man that he actually sneers at receivers, I hear. Which doesn’t bother his coach, who, I’ve heard, sneers at writers on occasion. It’s an interesting draft that landed little Dexter Jackson, who can do a 4.33, and G/T Jeremy Zuttah, a technically gifted lineman with great potential.
New England Patriots: They always take a lineman, whether offensive or defensive. Some of them, even first rounders, are only dimly known. I mean, when they took Logan Mankins I thought it was a department store. But a few years later I was putting him on my all-pro team. This year? No linemen. The pressing needs of young linebackers to spruce up an aging unit, and corners to take over for two Ã©migrÃ©s, was too great. Enter No.1 choice, Jerod Mayo, an OLB with numbers that say 242 pounds and 4.52, and corner Terrence Wheatley, who turned in a 4.37 at the combine.
The sliding scale
Baltimore Ravens: They wanted Ryan. Falcons got him. So we’ll take our ball and go home, said Ozzie Newsome, and he packed up and pulled out of the pick. And there he was heading for the second round, when hello there, Joe Flacco, the big guy with the laser arm, was still aboard. So at 18 he became a Raven. I don’t think Kyle Boller’s in trouble — yet. The kid is still too raw, and wild. And at the draft room in New York a great cheer went up when the Ravens, with their second-round pick, selected Rutgers star halfback Ray Rice, the greatest player to wear the scarlet since the great Paul Robeson.
New Orleans Saints: Same type of story. Glenn Dorsey, the terrific DT from LSU, was their man. They even traded three places up, to seven, for a shot at him. Sorry, the Chiefs got there first. So New Orleans did a volte face and picked equally devastating — well, almost — Sedrick Ellis of USC. One of the best DT’s to come along in years. Suspecting that their corners were perhaps slowing down a bit, the Saints grabbed CB Tracy Porter (4.37) with the next selection.
WHY AREN’T I CHEERING?
Kansas City Chiefs: Stars of the war room, stars of the TV studios and the draft, that’s K.C., with its cast of thousands. And yes, the names are impressive, but how about the two that are missing? Jared Allen, their right DE who led the league in sacks last year, and … well, the name escapes me, but it was the guy I was sure the Chiefs would bring in to give Brodie Croyle a run for the QB job. Sorry, no one to push Croyle, no Allen to line up at his usual spot. It’s what I call a “yes, but…” draft.
I’M NOT WILD ABOUT THESE
Seattle Seahawks: I can find only three interesting names, DE Lawrence Jackson and Notre Dame TE John Carlson at the top, and then a drop to the fifth round for a peek at 250-pound fullback Owen Schmitt.
San Diego Chargers: Not their fault. Only five total picks. I’ll say this — opportunistic corner Antoine Cason. Then I’ll say goodbye.
Cleveland Browns: The first of five choices starts at round four with LB Bo Bell. They say he’s mean. I know why. He’s lonely. Earlier deals for DT Shawn Rogers (Lions) and DE Corey Williams (Packers) took their toll, which wouldn’t be so bad, except that Cleveland had to throw in a gifted corner, Leigh Bodden, and I don’t think that was such a good idea.
Charean Williams, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. As a Cowboys fan, I’ve read her stuff for a while and liked it but I’ve never considered her a national draft expert before. She’s a chick, for one thing, and she writes for a smallish paper. But there she was on ESPN’s second day draft coverage panel, so she must be an expert. Either that, or nobody else would work eight hours on a Sunday.
Dallas: The Cowboys had a good draft, but it could have been even better with the selection of Rashard Mendenhall. Grade B+
NY Giants: The Giants, who lost starting safety Gibril Wilson in free agency, addressed their biggest need, with Kenny Phillips getting a chance to compete for the job with Sammy Knight. Grade C+
Philadelphia: The biggest thing the Eagles got out of this draft was an extra first-round pick next year. Trevor Laws was the third defensive tackle in the past four years the Eagles have taken with their first choice. Grade: C
Washington: The Redskins tried to trade for Cincinnati wideout Chad Johnson; they ended up with Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly as well as tight end Fred Davis. Grade: B+
Chicago: The Bears averaged only 3.1 yards per rush last year, the lowest for any NFL team since the 2000 San Diego Chargers. Chris Williams and Matt Forte should improve that stat. Grade: C
Detroit: The Lions have not had a player rush for even 700 yards in any of the past three seasons; Smith had 2,567 last year at Central Florida. Grade: C
Green Bay: In his drafts with the Packers, general manager Ted Thompson has made 10 trades getting him an additional 12 picks. He was thrilled to get Jordy Nelson and Brian Brohm in the second round. Grade: B
Minnesota: The Vikings made their best move when they traded for Jared Allen. The only question is: Did they give up too much? Grade: C-
Atlanta: The Falcons talked about building inside-out, but they ended up not drafting an offensive lineman or defensive end. (Kroy Biermann is expected to play OLB.) Grade: C-
Carolina: The Panthers mortgaged their future by trading next yearâ€™s first-round pick to get Jeff Otah. Itâ€™s obvious itâ€™s win now for general manager Marty Hurney and coach John Fox. Grade: C
New Orleans: The Saints took a huge step in improving a defense that allowed 348.1 yards per game last season. Grade: C+
Tampa Bay: The Bucs got Brian Kellyâ€™s replacement, but they passed on South Floridaâ€™s Mike Jenkins to get Aqib Talib. Grade: C
Arizona: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie replaces Antrel Rolle, who is moving to free safety; Calais Campbell, Kenny Iwebema and Chris Harrington will get chances to play. Grade: B-
St. Louis: Chris Long reportedly was only fourth on their draft board early last week, but they needed a defensive end more than a defensive tackle. Grade C-
San Francisco: The 49ers didnâ€™t get much to help an offense that ranked last in the NFL with an average of 13.7 points per game. Grade: C-
Seattle: The Seahawks are trying to win the Giantsâ€™ way — by pressuring the quarterback. Lawrence Jackson is added to an arsenal that produced 45 sacks last season. Grade: C
Buffalo: The Bills have lost 14 of the past 15 games against the Patriots, so McKelvin and Hardy were drafted with that in mind. Grade: B
Miami: The Dolphins wonâ€™t be 1-15 this season after solving several needs in this draft as well as potentially getting their quarterback of the future in Chad Henne. Grade: A
New England: The Patriots needed to get younger at linebacker. Their starters had an average age of 32.4 years old last season, the oldest in the league. Grade: C
New York Jets: The Jets wanted running back Darren McFadden; they have to hope Vernon Gholston isnâ€™t a workout warrior. Grade: C-
Baltimore: Joe Flacco could be the best quarterback in this draft, but the Ravens overvalued him, trading up to get him. Grade: C-
Cincinnati: The Bengals were 27th in total defense and 24th in points allowed, and they had only 22 sacks. They used five picks on defensive players. Grade: C
Cleveland: The Browns got Brady Quinn, Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams by trading their first-day picks. Grade: Incomplete
Pittsburgh: The Steelers had the oldest starting defense in the NFL last season but didnâ€™t get it much younger in this draft. Grade: C
Houston: The Texans traded down and ended up reaching for Duane Brown. He does fill a huge need at left tackle, which has been an Achillesâ€™ heel since Houston used the first pick of the expansion draft on Tony Boselli. Grade: C-
Indianapolis: The Coltsâ€™ 22 starters in the playoffs last season were all homegrown. This team knows how to draft, even when it doesnâ€™t have a first-round pick. Grade: C
Jacksonville: The Jags might have overvalued Derrick Harvey, but defensive end Bobby McCray left in free agency and Reggie Hayward had only 3.5 sacks last season after coming back from a torn Achillesâ€™. Grade: C
Tennessee: The Titans have used second-round picks on running backs (Chris Henry and LenDale White) in the past two seasons. Yet, they reached on Chris Johnson. And they waited until the 126th pick to get Vince Young help at wide receiver. Grade: C-
Denver: The Broncos played it safe by selecting Ryan Clady, who will become the first rookie offensive lineman starter in Mike Shanahanâ€™s tenure in Denver. Grade: C
Kansas City: Whatâ€™s not to love? On paper, the Chiefs had one of the best drafts in recent history, but with 12 picks, including two first-rounders (Glenn Dorsey and Branden Albert), and tons of holes, they should have. Grade: A+
Oakland: Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly re-signed, but defensive tackle Warren Sapp retired, and defensive tackle Gerard Warren remains a huge disappointment. They could have used Glenn Dorsey. But itâ€™s hard to argue with Darren McFadden. Grade: C
San Diego: The Chargers had targeted an offensive tackle, but none were there when they drafted in the first round. They tried to trade down but found no takers. Antoine Cason will compete for the nickel job. Grade: C-
Yahoo! Sports decided that 32 teams was too much for one man, so divided it up. Charles Robinson handled the NFC:
Picks: RB Felix Jones, DB Mike Jenkins, TE Martellus Bennett, RB Tashard Choice, DB Orlando Scandrick, DL Erik Walden
Positives: Jones, Jenkins, Choice
Negative: No young wide receiver to develop.
Bottom line: B+. Only six picks, but Jones and Jenkins are solid picks. However, taking Jones over Rashard Mendenhall because he was used to playing a backup role makes no sense. That doesnâ€™t make Felix a bad pick, it just links him forever to Mendenhall. Jenkins can return kicks and gives great insurance at cornerback for Pacman Jones. The addition of Pacman also counts, and Dallas doesnâ€™t have a lot invested for the talent level. Bennett is intriguing and Choice could be a steal in the fourth round.
New York Giants
Picks: DB Kenny Phillips, DB Terrell Thomas, WR Mario Manningham, LB Bryan Kehl, LB Jonathan Goff, QB AndrÃ© Woodson, DE Robert Henderson
Positives: Phillips, Manningham, Woodson
Negative: No picks for tackle depth.
Bottom line:B. A solid class from top to bottom. Phillips, Kehl and Woodson have a boatload of upside. Manningham could be a tremendous value pick in the third round. Whatever you want to say about his lack of speed or smarts (reportedly scored very low on the Wonderlic test administered at the NFL scouting combine), he consistently produced on the biggest of stages at the college level. But keeping him from becoming a character issue might be tough in New York. Woodsonâ€™s mechanics and decision-making translate into a major project over the next several years, but heâ€™s got a lot of tools to keep the Giants invested.
Picks: DL Trevor Laws, WR DeSean Jackson, DL Bryan Smith, OL Mike McGlynn, DB Quintin Demps, DB Jack Ikegwuonu, OL Mike Gibson, LB Joe Mays, DL Andrew Studebaker, OL King Dunlap
Positives: Jackson, Ikegwuonu
Negative: No tackle until the seventh round.
Bottom line: C+. The 10 picks touched on all the major needs, but the class doesnâ€™t have the â€œwowâ€ factor. Itâ€™s a little reminiscent of the 2004 draft that went 10 deep but didnâ€™t produce much. However, Philadelphiaâ€™s fleecing of Carolina for the 19th pick will produce future dividends. Jackson is explosive and a potential steal in the second round. Ikegwuonu has a lot of talent and could move over to safety when he recovers from his knee injury. McGlynn could move to tackle and Dunlap could make the team because of his size.
Picks: WR Devin Thomas, TE Fred Davis, WR Malcolm Kelly, OL Chad Rinehart, DB Justin Tryon, P Durant Brooks, DB Kareem Moore, QB Colt Brennan, DL Rob Jackson, DB Chris Horton
Positives: Thomas, Davis, Kelly, Brooks
Negative: Defensive end not addressed until the seventh round.
Bottom line:A. Ten overall picks with lots of potential from top to bottom. The two wideouts slipped a little and could all end up providing great value. Thomas and Kelly could develop into quality big targets, and an AFC scout told Yahoo! Sports in February that Davis was the best overall talent at tight end in this draft. The punter need was addressed with the best one the college game had to offer in Brooks. Brennan is an intriguing pick late in the sixth round. A lot of potential starters in this draft.
Picks: OL Chris Williams, RB Matt Forte, WR Earl Bennett, DL Marcus Harrison, DB Craig Steltz, DB Zack Bowman, TE Kellen Davis, DL Ervin Baldwin, OL Chester Adams, LB Joey LaRocque, OL Kirk Barton, WR Marcus Monk
Positives: Williams, Forte
Negative: No quarterback to groom.
Bottom line: C. There are lots of bodies to look at with 12 total picks, but five of them were seventh-rounders. Williams is a decent offensive line prospect, but Jeff Otah or Branden Albert might have been better choices. Forte could be a solid second-round pick, but he has something to prove. The Bears passed on two marquee quarterbacks (Brian Brohm and Chad Henne) to pick Forte, which could come back to haunt them. Davis and Baldwin have a lot of raw potential and could be late-round steals.
Picks: OL Gosder Cherilus, LB Jordon Dizon, RB Kevin Smith, DL Andre Fluellen, DL Cliff Avril, WR Kenneth Moore, FB Jerome Felton, DL Landon Cohen, DB Caleb Campbell
Positives: Dizon, Smith
Negatives: Missing on first-round targets and reaching for Cherilus.
Bottom line: D. Detroit addressed most needs but missed out on its three targeted players in the first round â€“ Derrick Harvey, Jonathan Stewart and Jerod Mayo â€“ then traded back to No. 17 and still reached for Cherilus. Dizon is smallish but consistent. Moving up for Smith in the third round was intriguing. He could be a good value there, but itâ€™s a concern that he rarely had a dominating yards-per-carry average against quality competition. Other than Cherilus, itâ€™s hard to see a lot of room to grow in this class.
Green Bay Packers
Picks: WR Jordy Nelson, QB Brian Brohm, DB Pat Lee, TE Jermichael Finley, DL Jeremy Thompson, OL Josh Sitton, OL Breno Giacomini, QB Matt Flynn, WR Brett Swain
Positives: Nelson, Brohm, Lee, Flynn
Negatives: No tackles drafted until the fourth and fifth round.
Bottom line: B. GM Ted Thompson was active as usual and produced a robust class size of nine picks. He once again used his first pick on a position that didnâ€™t seem to be a huge need (wideout), but itâ€™s hard to rip him for a methodology that has worked in the bigger picture. Getting Brohm so late in the second round is a coup. Heâ€™ll create competition with Aaron Rodgers, and if they both develop well, the Packers have some capital at the position for future trades. Flynn likely wonâ€™t make the team but is good value late. Overall, it was a good class for depth.
Picks: DB Tyrell Johnson, QB John David Booty, DL Letroy Guion, OL John Sullivan, WR Jaymar Johnson
Negatives: Only five picks and no immediate impact players.
Bottom line: B. Jared Allen factors into this draft, but his talent is balanced against his risk of further suspension. Johnson gives some good depth at safety. Guion and Sullivan are solid picks to groom for the future at defensive tackle and center. Johnson will get pushed around by cornerbacks at the next level. Booty is the really intriguing pick. Heâ€™s got the arm to fit Minnesotaâ€™s scheme and is likely to get time to play because of Tarvaris Jacksonâ€™s injury issues.
Picks: QB Matt Ryan, OL Sam Baker, LB Curtis Lofton, DB Chevis Jackson, WR Harry Douglas, DB Thomas DeCoud, LB Robert James, LB Kroy Biermann, RB Thomas Brown, DB Wilrey Fontenot, TE Keith Zinger
Positives: Ryan, Baker, DeCoud
Negative: No defensive line help.
Bottom line: B. The class size is great with 11 picks, and itâ€™s a strong defensive group with six picks on that side of the ball. The first four picks come from big-time programs. Ryan could reshape the franchise if he lives up to his billing. Baker was a necessary reach, and if heâ€™s healthy, he could someday prove worthy of the 21st overall pick. Still, trading two second-rounders is an awful lot to pay for a guy whose performance last year dictated him worthy of one second-round pick. DeCoud has the speed to cover and the mentality to play the run tough. Hard to believe that out of 11 selections, Baker was the only pick invested between the offensive and defensive lines. Thatâ€™s troubling.
Picks: RB Jonathan Stewart, OL Jeff Otah, DB Charles Godfrey, LB Dan Connor, TE Gary Barnidge, DL Nick Hayden, LB Hilee Taylor, OL Geoff Schwartz, OL Mackenzy Bernadeau
Positives: Stewart, Otah, Godfrey, Connor
Negative: No young quarterback to groom.
Bottom line: A. Nine picks with several potential starters on offense and defense. The Panthers gave up too much for Otah, but he could start immediately. Godfrey is a playmaker and Connor is a solid, consistent linebacker. Stewart has got loads of talent and should be OK after toe surgery. Hayden can be a solid platoon player at defensive tackle.
New Orleans Saints
Picks: DL Sedrick Ellis, DB Tracy Porter, DL DeMario Pressley, OL Carl Nicks, K Taylor Mehlhaff, WR Adrian Arrington
Positives: Ellis, Porter, Arrington
Negative: No tight end help.
Bottom line: B-. Only two picks in the first 143 selections. The Saints tried to get Jeremy Shockey, but the Giants were asking too much. Ellis and Porter should be solid additions to the defense, and Pressley could be a steal in the fifth round if he stays healthy and improves his lower body strength. Nicks is a project at tackle. Arrington was great value in the seventh round, even if he is unlikely to make the roster at a deep wideout spot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Picks: DB Aqib Talib, WR Dexter Jackson, OL Jeremy Zuttah, DL Dre Moore, QB Josh Johnson, LB Geno Hayes, RB Cory Boyd
Negative: Character risk with Talib.
Bottom line: C. All the major needs were hit with seven picks, including wideout and cornerback with the first two picks. Talib has some red flags for character and he takes chances on the field. But heâ€™s also got size and can be a playmaker. Jackson hasnâ€™t played in a pro-style offense, but heâ€™s got a ton of quickness and athleticism. Despite his lack of elite size, it wouldnâ€™t be a shocker to see him develop into the best wideout from this draft. Zuttah is a good guard/tackle combo project. Johnson has an enticing skill set but a lot to learn.
Picks: DB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DL Calais Campbell, WR Early Doucet, DL Kenny Iwebema, RB Tim Hightower, DL Chris Harrington, OL Brandon Keith
Positives: Rodgers-Cromartie, Campbell, Doucet
Negative: No picks for depth at safety.
Bottom line: B. Rodgers-Cromartie had an amazing offseason and has loads of upside. Campbell had a down year in 2007 but could be a steal in Round 2. Heâ€™ll likely shed some weight to pick up some explosion that he lacked last year. Doucet was a nice value pick in the third round, even if heâ€™s likely to be a possession guy rather than a game breaker. Hightower has good size but doesnâ€™t have great open-field speed. Itâ€™s hard to believe heâ€™ll be the guy to replace Edgerrin James.
St. Louis Rams
Picks: DL Chris Long, WR Donnie Avery, OL John Greco, DB Justin King, WR Keenan Burton, OL Roy Schuening, LB Chris Chamberlain, LB David Vobora
Negative: Only one immediate starter in the class.
Bottom line: C+. Long should be an impact player right away and boosts the grade, but the rest of the class leaves a lot to be desired. Taking smallish Avery over Devin Thomas or James Hardy was a head-scratcher. Avery put up big yardage numbers as a senior but scored â€œonlyâ€ seven touchdowns, and rarely played against the kind of competition Thomas and Hardy faced. Greco could eventually develop into a starter. King has all the skills but canâ€™t seem to put it together.
San Francisco 49ers
Picks: DL Kentwan Balmer, OL Chilo Rachal, DB Reggie Smith, OL Cody Wallace, WR Josh Morgan, LB Larry Grant
Positives: Balmer, Smith
Negatives: C. Wideout and linebacker not addressed until sixth and seventh rounds.
Bottom line: Having only six picks isnâ€™t great, particularly when need areas like receiver and linebacker didnâ€™t get prominent attention. Balmer is raw and athletic, but he basically has a one-year rÃ©sumÃ©. Rachal isnâ€™t very athletic. Smith is an underrated pick in the third round. Morgan and Grant look like special teams players. Itâ€™s a class that doesnâ€™t have a lot of spark in it.
Picks: DL Lawrence Jackson, TE John Carlson, DL Red Bryant, FB Owen Schmitt, LS Tyler Schmitt, RB Justin Forsett, K Brandon CoutuPositives: Jackson
Negative: No wide receiver help.
Bottom line: C. Jackson is a solid talent at defensive end, but there have been a lot of underachievers coming off the USC line the past several years. Still, Jackson has good quickness. The pick could have been used on one of the many wideouts still on the board, but that position was entirely ignored. Bryant should be a solid run-plugger for a fourth-rounder. With three of the seven picks devoted to long-snapper, kicker and fullback, itâ€™s not the sexiest class ever.
Jason Cole did the AFC:
Picks: CB Leodis McKelvin, WR James Hardy, DE Chris Ellis, CB Reggie Corner, TE Derek Fine, LB Alvin Bowen, RB Xavier Omon, OT Demetrius Bell, WR Steve Johnson, DB Kennard Cox
Positives: McKelvin and Hardy
Bottom line: B+. Patience paid off for the Bills as the early run on defensive linemen allowed McKelvin to slip to No. 11 overall. The Bills got the best cornerback in the draft and didnâ€™t have to move up to get him. Hardy is an interesting prospect. His 6-foot-6 height should give the Bills a nice red zone receiver. Ellis isnâ€™t a bad pick for the third round, but heâ€™s not the most disciplined kid. The Bills continued to look for help at CB with Corner. Not the sexiest draft, but it should be effective.
Picks: OT Jake Long, DE Phillip Merling, QB Chad Henne, DE Kendall Langford, G Shawn Murphy, RB Jalen Parmele, G Donald Thomas, RB Lex Hilliard, NT Lionel Dotson
Positives: Long, Henne and Langford
Negatives: Merling and Thomas
Bottom line: B+. Anybody who wants to understand the Bill Parcells blueprint should study this draft. Rebuild the lines first and get a drop-back quarterback. Long immediately steps into the left tackle spot while Merling and Langford give the team a much-needed infusion of talent on the defensive line. However, Merling is a bit of a reach because he doesnâ€™t fit a 3-4 defense perfectly. The best move for the Dolphins was not overreacting to the hype regarding Henne after Baltimore made an early move to nab Joe Flacco. Instead of creating a run on quarterbacks, the Dolphins patiently waited for him at the end of the second round.
New England Patriots
Picks: LB Jerod Mayo, CB Terrence Wheatley, LB Shawn Crable, QB Kevin Oâ€™Connell, CB Jonathan Wilhite, WR Matt Slater and LB Bo Ruud
Positives: Mayo, Wheatley and Crable
Bottom line: A-. Indyâ€™s Bill Polian is the best drafter, but no team in the NFL works the draft better than the Patriots and they again showed it this year. They moved out of the No. 7 spot and got yet another pick after not getting a shot at one of the premier defenders in the draft. The Pats now can begin the transition from the paleo-linebacking corps theyâ€™ve had the past two years to a more modern group. Likewise, they hope the likes of Wheatley and Wilhite will fill the shoes of departed CBs Asante Samuel and Randall Gay.
New York Jets
Picks: LB/DE Vernon Gholston, TE Dustin Keller, CB Dwight Lowery, QB Erik Ainge, WR Marcus Henry, OT Nate Garner
Positives: Keller and Lowery
Negatives: Gholston and Ainge
Bottom line: C. Jets fans at the draft were thrilled when their team grabbed Gholston to give them another outside pass rusher, another piece in an aggressive offseason. But there are plenty of people around the NFL who contend that Gholston is the biggest potential bust of the first round. There are concerns about whether he really likes the game. Thatâ€™s not good. Keller gives the team a more dynamic receiver for the middle of the field and a stopgap if starting TE Chris Baker doesnâ€™t play for the Jets this season. Lowery gives them depth at a weak spot. Ainge is a waste of a pick.
Picks: QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, LB Tavares Gooden, S Tom Zbikowski, G Oniel Cousins, WR Marcus Smith, OT David Hale, S Haruki Nakamura, WR Justin Harper, RB Allen Patrick
Positives: Rice, Gooden and Zbikowski
Bottom line: C. Thereâ€™s a lot of excitement about Flacco, who has a cannon arm. But look at the history of the league: QBs who are taller than 6-5 generally arenâ€™t very good. They canâ€™t move fast enough to avoid hits. Flacco lumbers when he moves and heâ€™s making a big jump from Delaware. Good luck. Rice is a very good backup to Willis McGahee, and Gooden is a much better player than he showed at Miami.
Picks: LB Keith Rivers, WR Jerome Simpson, DT Pat Sims, WR Andre Caldwell, OT Anthony Collins, DT Jason Shirley, S Corey Lynch, TE Matt Sherry, DE Angelo Craig and WR Mario Urritia
Positives: Rivers, Sims and Caldwell
Negatives: Simpson and Shirley
Bottom line: D-. Rivers and Sims are immediate starters, but thatâ€™s almost by default. The Bengals wanted to get USC DT Sedrick Ellis in the first round, but got jumped by the Saints, who telegraphed their move for four days. The Bengals should have done something to counter New Orleans, but as is typical with Cincy, the Bengals let someone else determine their fate. Calling Simpson a â€œnegativeâ€ is a little strong, but heâ€™s just a reminder of how bad the situation is there between the dismissal of Chris Henry and the mouthing off by Chad Johnson. Where the grade really takes a hit is with Shirley, a guy who was in and out of trouble last season. The Bengals never learn.
Picks: LB Beau Bell, TE Martin Rucker, DT Ahtyba Rubin, WR Paul Hubbard and DE Alex Hall
Bottom line: C. Rucker is a good backup to have for TE Kellen Winslow. This is a really difficult draft to analyze because the Browns traded away their first day of the draft. The first-round pick was dealt last year for Brady Quinn. Then they dealt the other picks for the likes of DTs Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams. The Quinn deal has yet to pan out but it could be great. Rogers and Williams were both huge needs, a sign that the Browns are playing for today. This is the type of draft where they could have problems down the road if the roster gets old in a hurry. Bell is a decent interior LB prospect, but he has been hurt.
Picks: RB Rashard Mendenhall, WR Limas Sweed, DE Bruce Davis, OT Tony Hills, QB Dennis Dixon, LB Mike Humpal, S Ryan Mundy
Positives: Mendenhall, Sweed, Davis and Dixon
Bottom line: A. This is a truly great draft, although itâ€™s unlikely Dixon will get a chance to develop as a passer with Ben Roethlisberger entrenched. A month ago, there was a debate about who the second-best back in the draft was after Darren McFadden and many people thought it was Mendenhall. Then he fell behind Jonathan Stewart and Felix Jones. The Steelers nabbed a falling value, a great move in drafting. Sweed has awesome talent and Davis will convert to an OLB and has the quickness to be another great pass rusher in the Steelersâ€™ 3-4 system. The injured Dixon was a great value in the fifth round.
Picks: OT Duane Brown, CB Antwaun Molden, RB Steve Slaton, LB Xavier Adibi, DT Frank Okam, S Dominique Barber, QB Alex Brink
Positives: Brown, Slaton and Okam
Bottom line: B. Give Houston a lot of credit for maneuvering around the draft, particularly after a mid-first round run on offensive linemen left the Texans without great choices at the No. 18 spot. They slid back to get Brown at No. 26, nabbing a need player at a better value spot. You also have to love the speed of Slaton, who can change a game in a hurry. However, Molden is too raw and the downside of Slaton is that he doesnâ€™t like contact, making him a predictable runner. Okam, a former defensive tackle, is likely to shift to guard, a clever move by teams that realize that non-athletic DTs can make for cheap, athletic Gâ€™s.
Picks: OT Mike Pollak, LB Philip Wheeler, TE Jacob Tamme, LB Marcus Howard, TE Tom Santi, C Steve Justice, RB Mike Hart, WR Pierre Garcon, G Jamey Richard
Positives: Pollak, Tamme and Howard
Bottom line: B. OK, any criticism of this draft is a matter of being pretty picky. Colts president Bill Polian is always a step or two ahead of the pack. Last year, he traded away his first pick to get Tony Ugoh, a starting left tackle. This year, heâ€™s looking ahead to keeping the line solid with Pollak, a guy who fits the Coltsâ€™ system perfectly. Likewise, Tamme gives the Colts another receiving tight end to work the middle of the field. Wheeler is a little stiff for what the Colts do on defense, but heâ€™s still a solid player. Howard is a great experiment at either LB or DE.
Picks: DE Derrick Harvey, DE Quentin Groves, LB Thomas Williams, CB Trae Williams, RB Chauncey Washington
Positives: Harvey and Groves
Negatives: Gave away took many draft picks.
Bottom line: C+. This is not a criticism of the players the Jaguars took. Harvey is one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the draft, capable of playing both outside and inside. Heâ€™s going to be a force. Groves is only a step or two behind. However, how quickly will these guys make it? The Jags are in position to compete for a title and thereâ€™s a good argument that they could have nabbed Dolphins DE Jason Taylor with some of those picks. Itâ€™s a pretty good bet that Taylor will have more sacks over the next two years than either Harvey or Groves. Maybe more than them combined.
Picks: RB Chris Johnson, DE Jason Jones, TE Craig Stevens, DL William Hayes, WR Lavelle Hawkins, LB Stanford Keglar, DB Cary Williams
Positives: Jones and Hawkins
Negatives: Johnson, Stevens and Hayes
Bottom line: D. This not a shot at Johnson, who is one of the fastest players in the draft, but this is the third consecutive year the Titans have spent a first- or second-round pick on a running back. They desperately need receiving help. Jones fills in for the loss of Antwan Odom. Hayes will get a shot at that job as well, but he was more of reach. Hawkins is a really nice pickup in the fourth round, but the Titans needed to get another one earlier.
Picks: OT Ryan Clady, WR Eddie Royal, G Kory Lichtensteiger, CB Jack Williams, RB Ryan Torain, DT Carlton Powell, LB Spencer Larsen, DB Josh Barrett and RB Peyton Hillis
Positives: Clady, Royal and Williams
Negatives: Lichtensteiger and Torain
Bottom line: B. The Broncos nabbed the second-best left tackle in the draft after Jake Long and an immediate replacement to Matt Lepsis, who retired. The Broncos addressed their constant need for a return man with Royal, who could be really interesting in the offense as well. Lichtensteiger is a solid player, but guys with short arms have problems in this league. So much of line play, both offensively and defensively, is dependent upon leverage. Like Royal, Williams is a speed guy the Broncos needed.
Kansas City Chiefs
Picks: DT Glenn Dorsey, G Branden Albert, CB Brandon Flowers, RB Jamaal Charles, TE Brad Cottam, S DaJuan Morgan, WR Will Franklin, CB Brandon Carr, OT Barry Richardson, WR Kevin Robinson, DE Brian Johnston and TE Michael Merritt
Positives: Dorsey, Albert, Flowers and Charles
Negatives: Cottam and Franklin
Bottom line: A. Losing DE Jared Allen to get a bunch of picks still hurts, but that relationship was broken beyond repair. The Chiefs resisted all temptations to move either up or down, stood pat and got perhaps the most dynamic defensive player in the draft in Dorsey and a terrific talent on the offensive line in Albert. Both are great building blocks for the future. Flowers gives the Chiefs a much-needed infusion of youth since veteran Patrick Surtain might be close to the end. Charles provides some speed at running back and he could be a possible successor to Larry Johnson.
Picks: RB Darren McFadden, CB Tyvon Branch, WR Arman Shields, DE Trevor Scott and WR Chaz Schilens
Positives: McFadden, McFadden and McFadden
Negatives: Branch and Shields
Bottom line: A-. The McFadden pick is a great gamble, although thereâ€™s a legit concern about whether the Raiders will give him the personal help he needs to succeed. Like the Jets (Gholston) and Atlanta (Matt Ryan), the Raiders took a player with huge boom and bust potential. However, McFadden has the biggest upside of all three. In fact, he has the biggest upside of any player in the draft and he could be a huge help to second-year QB JaMarcus Russell. Branch and Shields are desperate attempts to fill needs, but should make the team.
San Diego Chargers
Picks: CB Antoine Cason, FB Jacob Hester, RB Marcus Thomas, CB DeJuan Tribble and OT Corey Clark
Bottom line: C. This is a much more clever draft than this grade indicates. Instead of grabbing a lot of players who wonâ€™t make the roster, the Chargers wisely took only five players. This is a dynamic that many teams donâ€™t understand when theyâ€™re building a roster. Sometimes, having a lot of picks is a waste of time. Cason fills the job of departed CB Drayton Florence. Hester is a bit of a reach, but he is a quality player and a better running back than most people think. He fits well as a replacement for Michael Turner and will be great on special teams.
Vic Carucci, NFL.com:
First-round cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, from Tennessee State, fills a key need. Defensive end Calais Campbell, from Miami, looks like an excellent value in the second round and should help bring stability to a position hampered by injuries in recent seasons. With Anquan Boldin making noises about wanting to be traded, the Cardinals got some insurance at wide receiver with third-rounder Early Doucet, from LSU. Fifth-round running back Tim Hightower, from Richmond, can move the pile.
It usually doesn’t work out this well, but the Bills addressed crying needs with their first two picks. In the first round, they landed the top-rated cornerback in the draft, Troy’s Leodis McKelvin, who also should help in the return game. In the second, they landed their towering, athletic receiver in 6-foot-5 James Hardy, from Indiana. They additionally enhanced the depth of a defense ravaged by injuries last season with third-round end Chris Ellis, from Virginia Tech, and fourth-round cornerback Reggie Corner, from Akron.
Bill Polian, the Colts’ president, has every right to be thrilled with his first-round pick, which he actually acquired a year ago in the deal that landed offensive tackle Tony Ugoh, who came through big after the retirement of Tarik Glenn. Mike Pollak, a second-rounder from Arizona State, provides insurance and should be the eventual replacement for starting center Jeff Saturday. Third-rounder Philip Wheeler, a linebacker from Georgia Tech, should make his presence felt as an edge pass rusher.
Kansas City Chiefs
It couldn’t have started any better when LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, arguably the most dominant player in the draft, fell to them at No. 5. Dorsey can immediately be a difference-making force. The Chiefs traded up two spots from the first-round choice they received from Minnesota in the Jarred Allen deal to land Branden Albert, a standout offensive guard from Virginia who is nimble enough to play tackle. Physical cornerback Brandon Flowers (Virginia Tech), considered by some to be a first-round talent, was a good value on the second round. Third-rounders Jamaal Charles (running back, Texas), Brad Cottam (tight end, Tennessee), and defensive back DaJuan Morgan (defensive back, North Carolina State) should contribute.
The Dolphins wisely went with the safest No. 1 overall choice, Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long, and enhanced their chances of getting maximum immediate production by signing him well before the draft. Maybe they found their franchise quarterback in Chad Henne, a second-rounder from Michigan. Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling, their other second-round choice, looks like he’ll be a solid run-stopper as long as he has no lingering problems recovering from sports-hernia surgery.
Somehow, the Steelers ended up with one of the best running backs in the draft, Illinois’ Rashard Mendenhall, with the 23rd overall pick. His powerful style fits well in their offensive scheme and provides an instant one-two punch with speedy Willie Parker. Ben Roethlisberger has the big receiver he wanted in second-rounder Limas Sweed, from Texas. Mike Tomlin has another good pass-rushing outside linebacker in third-rounder Bruce Davis, from UCLA. Tony Hill, a fourth-round offensive tackle from Texas, addresses a key need.
The Falcons were desperate to do something to get the franchise moving in the right direction after the Michael Vick fiasco. So they took a chance by passing on Dorsey at No. 3 in favor of Matt Ryan. If the former Boston College star proves to be a success as their new franchise quarterback, no one will care. The Falcons traded back into the first round for USC offensive lineman Sam Baker, but this only was worthwhile if he plays tackle rather than guard. Second-round linebacker Curtis Lofton, from Oklahoma, and third-round cornerback Chevis Jackson, from LSU, are helpful additions.
If the Ravens finally found their franchise quarterback in first-rounder Joe Flacco, then this draft was a huge success. The strong-armed Flacco was a star at tiny Delaware, raising questions about whether he is up to the transition to the NFL. But the Ravens had enough of a conviction in him to deal down from No. 8, when it was clear they would not be able to get Ryan, and then back up to to land Flacco with the No. 18 pick. Although the Ravens already have a franchise running back in Willis McGahee, they made a key move to help their depth at the position by grabbing Rutgers’ Ray Rice in the third round. The Ravens got some solid help at safety, by selecting Notre Dame’s Tom Zbikowski in the third round, and at cornerback by sending a fourth-round choice to Oakland for Fabian Washington.
The Cowboys did exactly what they set out to do with their two first-round picks. They wanted to get a running back, and opted for explosive and versatile Felix Jones from Arkansas. Some will criticize them for passing on Mendenhall, but they have every reason to feel good about Jones. They also wanted to get a cornerback, and they made a trade with Seattle to move up three spots and select South Florida’s Mike Jenkins, one of the draft’s best at the position. The fourth-rounder the Cowboys traded to Tennessee for Pacman Jones is a risk, even if the talented cornerback is reinstated.
By trading down in the first round for behemoth Virginia Tech offensive tackle Duane Brown, the Texans did more than address a key need with a versatile player; he can play on both sides. They also added picks that allowed them to address other needs — third-round running back Steve Slaton, a former West Virginia standout whose impressive outside speed fits nicely in Gary Kubiak’s one-cut scheme, and sixth-round safety Dominique Barber, from Minnesota. The Texans also made a solid addition to special teams with another former Hokie, linebacker Xavier Adibi, in the fourth round.
In their effort to overtake the Colts in the AFC South, once and for all, the Jaguars might have been a tad overzealous by trading up from 26th to eighth to land Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey. They also moved up for Auburn linebacker Quentin Groves. But if they end up generating more heat on Peyton Manning and slowing down the Colts’ explosive offense, they will look more intelligent than impetuous.
The Vikings have every reason to believe they nailed their first-round pick by shipping it (along with a pair of third-rounders) to the Chiefs for Allen, the NFL’s sack leader in 2007. Allen gives the Vikings the pass-rushing terror they’ve long needed. Some scouts believe second-round pick Tyrell Johnson, from Arkansas State, is the most talented safety in the draft. While playing quarterback at USC, fifth-rounder John David Booty ran much of the Vikings’ offense and that should help him put some heat on shaky starter Tarvaris Jackson.
New Orleans Saints
The mission was to upgrade the defense. And the Saints accomplished it with their first three picks: first-round tackle Sedrick Ellis, from USC; second-round defensive back Tracy Porter, from Indiana, and fifth-round tackle DeMario Pressley, from North Carolina State.
New York Giants
They filled the safety hole created by Gibril Wilson’s departure with the player widely regarded as the draft’s best at the position, Kenny Phillips. The former Miami standout provides good coverage and is physical enough to help near the line of scrimmage. Second-round cornerback Terrell Thomas, from USC, fills another key spot in the secondary. Third-round wide receiver Mario Manningham, from Michigan, is a risk because of poor workouts and personal-conduct issues, but the Giants have faith that he’ll deliver.
New York Jets
They took a major step to upgrade their defensive front by using the sixth overall choice on Ohio State defensive end/outside linebacker Vernon Gholston, who has what it takes to emerge as a dominant pass-rusher. Their trade with Green Bay allowed them to snag arguably the draft’s best tight end, Purdue’s Dustin Keller, at the bottom of the first round.
St. Louis Rams
After plenty of discussion about whether to go with Dorsey or Virginia defensive end Chris Long with the second overall pick, the Rams decided to go with Long. It is perceived as the safer choice because of Long’s exceptionally high character grades, but he can be every bit the game-changing force that Dorsey appears to be. Making Houston’s Donnie Avery the draft’s first wide receiver pick, in the second round, was a bit of a surprise, but the Rams were determined to inject his considerable speed into their offense. Fourth-rounder Justin King, from Penn State, can contribute immediately as a nickel back.
San Diego Chargers
Having lost cornerbacks Sammy Davis and Drayton Florence, the Chargers needed to find a quality player at the position. And they appear to have landed one in first-rounder Antoine Cason, from Arizona. The Chargers also needed a fullback to replace Lorenzo Neal, so trading up for LSU’s Jacob Hester made sense.
The 49ers addressed a key need in the middle of their defense with North Carolina tackle Kentwan Balmer, a solid value low in the first round. They might have landed an immediate starter at offensive guard in USC’s Chilo Rachal. Third-rounder Reggie Smith, from Oklahoma, is versatile enough to be plugged in at cornerback or safety.
The Redskins dealt their way into more picks, and invested heavily in their passing game. They grabbed arguably the two best receivers in the draft, Michigan State’s Devin Thomas and Oklahoma’s Malcolm Kelly, and one of the best tight ends, Fred Davis, in the second round. You think new coach Jim Zorn is going to put the ball in the air a bit? The sixth-round flier on Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, who is recovering from hip surgery and whose impressive college stats could be more the result of scheme than talent, was a good idea for a club that doesn’t have a well-established starter.
You have to at least admire the aggressive approach of decision-makers who feel the pressure to get this team turned around. Using a first-round choice on Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart was bold, considering he is recovering from toe surgery. But the physician who performed the operation works with the Panthers, so they are confident he’ll be fine by training camp. Trading back into the first round to land Pittsburgh offensive tackle Jeff Otah was another fearless move that helps address a crucial need, but is it a case of mortgaging the future for the present? Linebacker Dan Connor, from Penn State, was a tremendous value in the third round.
The Bears needed a quarterback, but passed on Henne and Louisville’s Brian Brohm. First-round offensive tackle Chris Williams, from Vanderbilt, was a good pick. But what does he do to upgrade quarterback? Ditto for third-round wide receiver Earl Bennett, another Vanderbilt product. Running back Matt Forte, from Tulane, might have been a reach in the second round, although the Bears must get better ground production than Cedric Benson gave them last year. The Bears look to have added yet another special-teams standout in fourth-round defensive back Craig Steltz, from LSU.
First-rounder Keith Rivers was an outside linebacker at USC, but the Bengals need help at middle linebacker and he could end up starting there as a rookie. Given the release of troubled Chris Henry and Chad Johnson’s holdout threat, wide receivers Jerome Simpson (second round, Coastal Carolina) and Andre Caldwell (third round, Florida) provide some necessary insurance. Defensive tackle Pat Sims, a third-rounder from Auburn, gets good penetration as a pass rusher. However, given the Bengals’ many problems with character issues, why would they use their fifth-round pick on Fresno State tackle Jason Shirley, who has a history of off-field trouble?
It’s impossible to gauge the Browns’ draft until we see how the players for whom they gave up their top three picks — quarterback Brady Quinn and defensive tackles Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams — pan out. And, if all goes well with Derek Anderson, Quinn might very well not see the field. Fourth-rounder Beau Bell, a linebacker from Nevada-Las Vegas, figures to provide additional run-stopping help.
Using a first-round pick on Boise State offensive tackle Ryan Clady made perfect sense, especially after the retirement of Matt Lepsis. What was a little bit of a head-scratcher was second-round wide receiver Eddie Royal, from Virginia Tech. Sure, the Broncos have reason to be concerned with Brandon Marshall’s arm injury, but didn’t they sufficiently address depth at the position with the signings of Darrell Jackson and Keary Colbert?
Although they traded down and addressed a crying need, the Lions still might have reached on first-round offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, from Boston College. Third-rounder Kevin Smith, from Central Florida, doesn’t appear as if he has what it takes to solve a major problem at running back. Second-round pick Jordon Dizon, from Colorado, is the kind of speedy linebacker that is perfect for the Lions’ scheme. Everyone’s favorite sentimental pick is Army safety Caleb Campbell, in the seventh round.
Green Bay Packers
Figuring out the Packers’ draft strategy isn’t easy. After bailing out of the first round, they used a second-round choice in an area where they didn’t seem to need any help: wide receiver. Still, Kansas State’s Jordy Nelson, a speedster, is an intriguing prospect. And doesn’t Aaron Rodgers have enough pressure on him as Brett Favre’s replacement and with the potential that Favre might come back from retirement? Why invest another second-rounder in Louisville QB Brian Brohm, even if he was widely projected as a first-round pick? The Packers did address needs with second-round cornerback Patrick Lee, from Auburn, and third-round tight end Jermichael Finley, from Texas.
New England Patriots
Given their aging defense, the Patriots made some logical picks. However, it could be argued that they went a bit too high by selecting Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo in the first round. It also could be argued that they reached with their third-round choice, San Diego State quarterback Kevin O’Connell.
Arkansas running back Darren McFadden might very well have been the most talented player in the draft, but could the Raiders truly afford to use the fourth overall pick on a player at a position where they are pretty well stocked? The Raiders needed a defensive tackle more, and took a big chance by passing on Dorsey. Considering that they traded for DeAngelo Hall, the apparent fourth-round reach for cornerback Tyvon Branch, from Connecticut, is a little puzzling. Wide receiver Arman Shields, from Richmond, also looks like he might have been a reach in the fourth.
We’ll have to wait until next year’s draft to see what the Eagles do with the first-round choice they traded to Carolina, to get the true picture of how well they did this year. Second-round wide receiver/return man DeSean Jackson, from Cal, is a dynamic playmaker that the Eagles need. Offensive guard Mike McGlynn, from Pitt, might have been a reach in the fourth round. Ditto for fourth-round defensive backs Quintin Demps (Texas El Paso) and Jack Ikegwuono (Wisconsin), who has knee and off-field problems.
Although they moved down in the first round, the Seahawks might have reached a bit with USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson. Tight end was a need, but did it make sense to use their second-rounder on Notre Dame’s John Carlson when another Trojan, Fred Davis, was still on the board? Fifth-round fullback Owen Schmitt, from West Virginia, hits like a sledgehammer and should be a good replacement for Mack Strong. Investing even a sixth-round pick in a long-snapper, Tyler Schmitt from San Diego State, is curious.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers needed help at cornerback, but did they take too much of a risk by investing a first-round choice in Kansas’ Aqib Talib, whose off-field issues figured to push him lower? And is the big, physical Talib the best fit for the Bucs’ Tampa-Two scheme, where smaller and quicker defensive backs tend to excel? Second-rounder Dexter Jackson, from Appalachian State, could be a dynamic return man. Fourth-round defensive tackle Dre Moore, from Maryland, has the potential to emerge as an impressive player.
The Titans needed to get more receiver help for Vince Young. Instead, they allowed themselves to be caught up with the remarkable speed of running back Chris Johnson, and might have reached by selecting the former East Carolina star in the first round. Second-rounder Jason Jones, from Eastern Michigan, adds some beef to the middle of their defensive line.
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