With the owners locking out players, will there be a season this year? I think so, but some games are probably going to be lost.
We’re not here to talk the labor situation, but the NFL Draft. I’ll live blog the first round as long as I can.
The 2010 NFL Draft is in the books. While itâ€™ll be three to four years before we really know how any of the teams did â€” it just takes that long for players, especially quarterbacks, to demonstrate their potential â€” we all want to know how our teams did. So, Iâ€™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, Pro Football Hall of Fame member:Â Goose is the NFL writer whose opinions I trust most.Â He’s not only a veteran of the business and widely respected among his peers, but the professional scouts and GMs talk to him, so he can evaluate what they were thinking rather than just grading according to a generic list.
ARIZONA CARDINALS GRADE: C Williams was a gift â€“ a top-10 pick who slid deep into the first round. TCU’s Washington walks in as a starter, replacing free agent Karlos Dansby. But Schofield may not play this season and Skelton is a developmental project.
ATLANTA FALCONS GRADE: C The Falcons started fast with Weatherspoon and Peters for the defense but finished slow. Franks provides some depth in coverage, but Hawley and Johnson were reaches to fill needs on the offensive front
BALTIMORE RAVENS GRADE: B The Ravens lost two players when teams traded up directly in front of them â€“ Dez Bryant to the Cowboys and Rob Gronkowski to the Patriots. But GM Ozzie Newsome always seems to make it work. Kindle and Cody were steals.
BUFFALO BILLS GRADE: B The Bills claimed the draft’s most dynamic offensive weapon in Spiller, then went to work retooling the defensive front. Troup (314 pounds) and Carrington (285) give the Bills size, and sixth-rounders Moats and Batten give them speed.
CAROLINA PANTHERS GRADE: C The Panthers did quite well considering they didn’t have a first-rounder. A team with quarterback problems no longer has any with the arrivals of Clausen and Pike. Carolina had the best sixth round of this draft.
CHICAGO BEARS GRADE: C The Bears didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds, but GM Jerry Angelo was on his game in the third day, landing Wootton, Moore and LeFevour. Wright gives the Bears a playmaker in a division suddenly flush with quarterbacks.
CINCINNATI BENGALS GRADE: C Anyone remember the last time the Bengals made a draft day deal? They stay put and take whoever falls to them. Tight end was a top priority, and Gresham fell to them in the first. Longhorns Shipley and Muckelroy also were sliders.
CLEVELAND BROWNS GRADE: B If Mike Holmgren is right about McCoy, the Browns are finally headed in the right direction after years of floundering with Tim Couch, Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. Haden, Ward and Hardesty all should start as rookies.
DALLAS COWBOYS GRADE: C The Cowboys drafted the NFL offensive rookie of the year in Bryant. But one pick does not a draft make. Sean Lee is the only other draft pick likely to have an impact from this class. Owusu-Ansah is an interesting developmental project.
DENVER BRONCOS GRADE: A The Broncos had the best third round of this draft. Walton can do at center for Josh McDaniels’ Broncos what Tom Nalen did for Mike Shanahan’s Broncos, and Decker will remind the Denver faithful of Ed McCaffrey.
DETROIT LIONS GRADE: B The Lions had the best first round of the draft. The best player (Suh) fell into their laps at 2, then Detroit traded up to get a speedy offensive playmaker in Best. He’ll make Matthew Stafford a better quarterback.
GREEN BAY PACKERS GRADE: C The Packers needed to get younger at offensive tackle and did so with the Bulaga selection. Neal provides some bulk for the run defense, and Burnett is a ball hawk at the back end. He intercepted 14 passes at Georgia Tech.
HOUSTON TEXANS GRADE: C Jackson was the most physical cornerback in the draft, and Tate was the last of the four top-shelf running backs available. That was a definite need pick. Dickerson and Graham offer similar skills at the H-back position.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS GRADE: C Hughes is a perfect fit in Indy’s undersized speed pass-rush scheme, and he inexplicably fell to them at the end of the first round. Eldridge was the best-blocking tight end in this draft, and Angerer plays with anger against the run.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS GRADE: D The Jaguars wanted to get bigger and more aggressive in the defensive front seven and used the first four picks on linemen and linebackers. Alualu was a reach in the first, and that slowed the draft down for Jacksonville.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS GRADE: A+ The Chiefs drafted the NFL defensive rookie of the year in Berry â€“ and a slew of other good players. Arenas was the best returner in the draft, and McCluster will give the AFC matchup problems at both running back and receiver.
MIAMI DOLPHINS GRADE: B A typical Bill Parcells draft â€“ even if he stays in the background and lets GM Jeff Ireland and coach Tony Sparano speak for the franchise. It’s apparent Parcells believes championships are won in the defensive front seven.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS GRADE: C The Vikings didn’t have a first-rounder but rallied in the second with the biggest cornerback in the draft and college football’s best running back in 2009. Walker Award winner Gerhart will ease some of the pressure on Adrian Peterson.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS GRADE: A The Patriots had the best second round in this draft. Gronkowski is a walk-in starter at tight end, and Spikes provides a run-support presence next to Jerod Mayo. New England also took the best punter in the draft.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS GRADE: A Graham could be the home run of this draft. He played football only one season in college and has a huge upside. Robinson, Brown and Woods were multiyear starters for perennial bowl teams. Tennant could be a 10-year starter.
NEW YORK GIANTS GRADE: B The Giants like to draft giants. Pierre-Paul goes 270 at end and Joseph 328 at tackle. Pierre-Paul has the best upside of any player in this draft. He started only seven college games but is a pass-rush terror.
NEW YORK JETS GRADE: C The Jets have spent the off-season focusing on adding vets (Jason Taylor, Santonio Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson). The draft has been an afterthought; the Jets only had four picks. Conner was the best fullback in the draft.
OAKLAND RAIDERS GRADE: B The Raiders hit home runs in their draft slots in the first and second round, toughening themselves up on defense with the additions of McClain and Houston. Campbell (size) and Ford (speed) were typical Raider picks in the fourth.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES GRADE: C Graham was the most polished pass rusher in this draft. The Eagles also had the best fourth round. Harbor gives QB Kevin Kolb a move tight end in the Dallas Clark mold, and Kafka gives Andy Reid insurance at quarterback.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS GRADE: C Pouncey is a huge upgrade on an offensive line that was more blue collar than talented. Worilds will sit for two years figuring out the Dick LeBeau defense, then become a Pro Bowl pass rusher in a 2012.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS GRADE: C The Chargers had one pressing need in this draft â€“ a running back â€“ and traded high into the first round to get him in Mathews. So kudos to GM A.J. Smith. Butler, Thomas and Epps make San Diego more physical up front.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS GRADE: B The 49ers made Frank Gore and Alex Smith better players by drafting a left side of the offensive line in Davis and Iupati. They will help San Francisco win the physical battles up front, and Mays will help win them on defense.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS GRADE: A Having coached at Southern Cal all those years, Pete Carroll gave the Seahawks the same edge at the draft table that a young Jimmy Johnson once gave the Cowboys. Surprisingly, he took only one of his former Trojans.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS GRADE: C The Bucs had the best seventh round with two special teams demons in Grimm and Watson and a potential steal in Lorig if he can shake a lingering groin injury. Lorig, McCoy and Price could comprise a dominating front.
TENNESSEE TITANS GRADE: C The pass rush will get better with the arrival of Morgan, and Curran will give the Titans’ run defense additional backbone. Verner and Johnson are playmakers. Verner scored five college TDs and Johnson picked off 13 passes.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS GRADE: D One pick in the first three rounds is the prescription for disaster on draft day. The Redskins got a good one in OT Williams but were left to pick up everyone else’s scraps when they returned to the fray in the fourth round.
Mel Kiper, ESPN.Â He’s the biggest name in draft coverage, having made it his obsession for going on three decades.
Seattle Seahawks Pete Carroll and the new Seahawks regime came out of the gates with a bang. Impact players early, value later, and some trades thrown in. And they were patient! Russell Okung lands in their laps at No. 6, Earl Thomas is there at No. 14. Golden Tate is still there at No. 60. All three can help the team not in a few years, but immediately. A swap netted the team LenDale White, who isn’t remarkable, but it cost them nothing. Then, Seattle parlayed a fifth-rounder into Leon Washington. No team outside of possibly Detroit added impact players the way Seattle has.Â Draft grade: A Baltimore Ravens For top grades, it’s a contrast in styles. Seattle had high picks and got great fits, then waited and got Golden Tate. Baltimore traded down and still loaded up on talent all over the place. In Round 2, they got both Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody, a pair of guys who could have landed in the first round. They get a pair of fantastic tight end prospects in Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, continuing a promise to both buy and draft options for Joe Flacco. Love the Arthur Jones pick, a one-time Big Board guy who fell to the fifth round, mostly because of health issues. Even in the sixth, the Ravens got Ramon Harewood, a small-college tackle prospect who has a chance to develop. Draft grade: A Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa had a great draft. They get arguably the best all-around talent in the draft in Gerald McCoy, then, in a move reminiscent of what San Francisco decided to do along the offensive line, they nabbed Brian Price early in the second round with the hope they could get the wide receiver they needed a little later. Price and McCoy should complement each other well. That receiver turned out to be Arrelious Benn with the No. 39 pick, and he can be a good one. By the fourth round, when Tampa landed Mike Williams with the 101st overall pick, they had four guys I’ve had on the Big Board at some point. Myron Lewis at corner is another solid pick. The story for Tampa is they drastically improved arguably their two weakest position groups. Productive draft. Draft grade: B+ Philadelphia Eagles The Eagles were positioned well to take advantage of a deep draft, and they did, piling up seven productive picks between the third and fifth rounds. But Philly started well too. In Brandon Graham they have a potential Rookie of the Year on defense. They filled a need at safety with Nate Allen, and I like Trevard Lindley in the fourth. He has second-round ability. Ricky Sapp may be a tweener, but getting a guy who can get to the quarterback like he can in the fifth round is good value. He could be a solid situational pass-rusher early in his career. Riley Cooper is quicker than many people think to go with above-average size.Â Draft grade: B+ Arizona Cardinals The Cardinals could have a good grade for their first round alone, patiently waiting as Dan Williams fell right to them. He’s a supreme nose tackle, and will be enjoyed both by his linemates and the linebackers running free behind him. Perfect pick at a late-first-round stage. Daryl Washington lacks size, but he’s a freak athlete who can get to the quarterback. Andre Roberts is a sleeper, and could’ve gone earlier than late-third. A pick I love is O’Brien Schofield. Coming off an injury, he’s essentially a redshirt as a rookie, but the kid can become a top-flight pass-rusher. Love the bet they made there. Draft grade: B+ Detroit Lions You can’t dock Detroit just because it had the biggest no-brainer pick in the whole draft. Ndamukong Suh, combined with Detroit’s offseason additions to the line, makes that a position of strength for Detroit. It’s hard to fathom that Detroit wouldn’t be markedly improved on defense in 2010. Jahvid Best is a game-changer, and should help Matthew Stafford. He’s also the kind of player who doesn’t need a huge hole to hit a home run for that offense. Amari Spievey is a nice addition in a secondary that needs help, and Jason Fox can help them. I like Detroit’s draft at least for the fact that you can see impact soon for a team that needs it.Â Draft grade: B+ Pittsburgh Steelers What the Steelers did had some subtlety, and you have to consider their system and needs when you evaluate it. Smart to take Maurkice Pouncey and shore up the interior of that offensive line. The Steelers targeted athletic OLB types like Jason Worilds, Thaddeus Gibson and Stevenson Sylvester. The Steelers like to develop these guys in their 3-4, but in the meantime, those are the guys who can help shore up what was a disastrous special teams unit in 2009. A trade with Arizona to reclaim Bryant McFadden probably pleased fans. Not an amazing draft, but Pittsburgh got the type of guys they like. Don’t sleep on Jonathan Dwyer, the last player taken in the draft who at one time cracked the Big Board. He’ll be coming to camp with a lot to prove. Draft grade: B Houston Texans Pick a position group and the Texans took a stab at finding a good player there. They got a solid corner to replace Dunta Robinson with Kareem Jackson at No. 19. A predictable, solid pick. Ben Tate looks even better as a value at No. 58 considering Minnesota traded up to get Toby Gerhart at No. 51, and given the struggles to hang onto the ball by Houston rushers last year, he figures to get a great look. Then there’s players with promise all over. Darryl Sharpton could get a look on the inside of the 3-4 at linebacker, and Trindon Holliday could be the next Dante Hall. Even Dorin Dickerson way down at No. 227 has promise at tight end if he can add strength. Nothing amazing, but plenty of promise.Â Draft grade: B San Diego Chargers San Diego definitely got their guy in Ryan Mathews. The question is whether they needed to get all the way up to No. 12 to get him. But again, you have to find someone to trade with, and Miami was a logical trading partner as a team trying hard to move down. They didn’t have a lot of picks, but I liked the Chargers getting a great value in Cam Thomas in the fifth, and Darrell Stuckey has a chance to be a good starter in this league. Donald Butler, an inside linebacker, has good athleticism for the position, and has a chance to become the starter eventually. Draft grade: B New York Jets We can at least say the Jets got better in their secondary. Kyle Wilson is a guy some people thought could crack the top 15 picks. Now you can intensify the blitz knowing Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Wilson are back there looking to pick off errant passes. The trade up for Joe McKnight adds a dimension to the backfield and also has familiarity with Mark Sanchez. McKnight’s durability is a question, but his pass-catching skills can help that offense. Vladimir Ducasse could become a starter and John Conner is the draft’s best fullback. Just four picks, but zero misses.Â Draft grade: B San Francisco 49ers Give San Francisco credit. Early on in the draft it had a chance to get better in a couple of places and decided to get a lot better in one. But consider the trickle-down effect: By taking Anthony Davis, the left tackle with the highest upside in the draft — emphasis on “upside” — and then a lock to be a good NFL guard in Mike Iupati, the Niners are a better running team right now. The passing game suddenly seems better as well. Taylor Mays at No. 49 is a good value selection, and the kid will be motivated, but I think we’re past pretending he was a steal because of his size-speed combination. His tape fell really flat. Navorro Bowman has size questions, but he’s better than No. 91 overall. Draft grade: B New York Giants Good draft. I like the bet they’re making on Jason Pierre-Paul. If you have a chance to take a star at that point, and it won’t kill you in the meantime because you have some depth, it’s a shot you can take. Beyond that, Linval Joseph could be a steal. A really active player at his size. Giants fans may not know Phillip Dillard, but as inside linebackers go, he has excellent range and could develop into a really good one. At No. 117 overall, that’s a nice get.Â Draft grade: B Carolina Panthers Carolina started late, but consistently got value. The debate on Jimmy Clausen started a long time ago and it won’t end just because the draft is complete, but to get a guy with his skill set and upside at No. 48 is exceptional value no matter where you stand on the debate. I liked Brandon LaFell at No. 78, and Eric Norwood and Greg Hardy in the fourth and sixth rounds, respectively, are both low on risk and extremely high on potential. Norwood is inconsistent, but he’s looked positively dominating in some games, and Hardy drops mostly because of injury questions. Tony Pike may even develop into a chip they can move down the line.Â Draft grade: B Chicago Bears Chicago was absent for two rounds, but tried to address needs when they entered the picture. The Bears neither reached nor got amazing value in Major Wright, the Florida safety. But they needed a safety, and Wright has a real chance to fill that void. Corey Wootton wasn’t 100 percent in 2009 after coming off a bad knee injury, and could be a camp surprise. A decent pick. Overall, like any team stuck outside the top two rounds, the Bears were hard-pressed to find impact talent, but they were resourceful given their limitations. (The late add of a local quarterback never hurts.) Draft grade: B New England Patriots New England once again took a surgical, long-range approach to the draft, getting some good talent, but also positioning themselves for a haul in 2011. You have to factor that into the analysis. But they made some picks I liked this year as well. Devin McCourty has the chance to be very good. They add a potential big-time talent in Rob Gronkowski, but his back issues pose a risk. Brandon Spikes is a guy whose tape is better than the measurements, but Bill Belichick has succeeded with those guys for years. Taylor Price should develop.Â Draft grade: B- Dallas Cowboys The question for Dallas fans shouldn’t be about the talent of the players the Cowboys picked up early. The Boys traded up for Dez Bryant — in that case they slipped in just ahead of Baltimore, where Bryant would have been a huge score — and did the same for Sean Lee, a likely replacement at some point for Keith Brooking. But unless they do something in the interim, the Cowboys will head into camp with Doug Free as the best left tackle on the roster, and while the team likes Free’s potential, Tony Romo’s blindside protection is still a concern. Getting Akwasi Owusu-Ansah in Round 4 I liked. He could make the transition to safety.Â Draft grade: B- Green Bay Packers Green Bay stuck to a good plan in the first round and got an ideal fit in Bryan Bulaga. In the second and third rounds, I think they may have reached a bit with Mike Neal and Morgan Burnett. Good players, but I think in both cases there were some better options. The grade goes up a notch with the addition of James Starks so late. If he’s healthy, and he should be when he arrives for camp, he could be one of those running backs whom everybody wonders how he fell so far. A really good size-speed package when he’s right. Draft grade: B- Kansas City Chiefs Say this for the Chiefs: They added players you’ll notice. Eric Berry is an impact safety and should become a star. Let’s make one last Ed Reed comparison before we close the book on this draft. Dexter McCluster early in Round 2 surprised some people — Jamaal Charles has impressed — but a lot of people don’t realize how versatile McCluster is. Aside from his obvious rush and return skills, he has great hands and can line up in the slot. He diversifies that offense. Still, the Chiefs are no better on either the offensive or defensive line, outside of Jon Asamoah, but I felt he played better as a junior. Javier Arenas is a good little player, but not a starter. Draft grade: B- Tennessee Titans Tennessee stayed patient in Round 1 and got rewarded. No other defensive end in the draft has the polish and versatility of Derrick Morgan at this stage. Morgan seamlessly balances the role of pass-rusher and run defender. The absence of a player like Kyle Vanden Bosch is no longer an issue. But Morgan is the real highlight. Damian Williams has a chance to help but speed is a question. Rennie Curran plays with a ton of heart, and I think he has a chance as a weakside backer, but he was still a slight reach. Alterraun Verner has the chance to add corner depth, and give the Titans this: between math whiz Verner and Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle, they’ll have the smartest secondary in football if both stick. Draft grade: C+ St. Louis Rams There’s no way around the fact that this draft will come down to whether Sam Bradford becomes a star. I certainly think he has that kind of talent, but there’s good reason to believe it shouldn’t be right away. Bradford has to convert to a pro style system, and as smart and accurate as he is, let’s just be realistic given the recent history of shotgun quarterbacks coming to the NFL. I don’t mind the Rodger Saffold pick, but he’s likely headed to the right side. Mardy Gilyard has some value, but the bigger issue with this draft is this: Every other team in the NFC West got better this weekend, and it’s hard to know if St. Louis really did.Â Draft grade: C+ Oakland Raiders There was a sense that Oakland may have reached slightly to take Rolando McClain, but framed against the backdrop of a draft in which they also got a physical talent like Bruce Campbell well into Round 4, Oakland improved upon last year. McClain fits a need — the team reinforced that by trading Kirk Morrison — and is ready to play. Oddly, speed has been a question (which doesn’t fit the Al Davis mantra) with McClain, but I love his instincts. The Raiders definitely fit their profile with Campbell and then wideout Jacoby Ford, the fastest player in the draft. The issue with Ford is it’s straight-line speed. Even Jared “Edwin” Veldheer is a workout warrior. The late addition of Jason Campbell via trade is a decent move, but this is the Raiders — a guy who failed elsewhere seems like a good upgrade. Something’s wrong with this picture. Draft grade: C+ Buffalo Bills Buffalo surprised me with its pick at No. 9. This is a team that has to get better up front, and it opted to go with C.J. Spiller instead. Spiller is, along with Jahvid Best, the best home run threat in the draft, and will undoubtedly help that offense. But the Bills reached on Torell Troup, who has to develop. Alex Carrington, who could get backup duty, is another slight reach in the third round. Then a wide receiver pick (Marcus Easley) left the Bills looking for a long shot breakthough at tackle. Edward Wang of Virginia Tech has a chance, but outside of Spiller, it’s hard to see where Buffalo got much better. Draft grade: C+ New Orleans Saints New Orleans made an attempt at need picks but didn’t get a lot. Blame a lot of that on where the Saints were picking from. Super Bowl winners rarely get high grades for drafts. Patrick Robinson is a tough corner who provides starts or depth immediately. Then the Saints got Charles Brown with the last pick in the second round, a fair value. Centers will never go high, but Matt Tennant is one of the best the draft had to offer. Jimmy Graham could be a good developmental tight end from a school that’s produced some good ones. Not a flashy draft, but the Saints didn’t have many options.Â Draft grade: C Cincinnati Bengals Everywhere you look on the Cincy draft board, you see players you assumed would go much higher. Maybe no team outside of Baltimore did so much given its position. At No. 21, the Bengals got the draft’s best tight end. At No. 60, they got a significant talent in Carlos Dunlap, a guy at one time considered a lock for the top 10. Problem is he rarely played like it, off-field issues aside. Poor Brandon Ghee was the last guy in the green room, which means most of us thought he could be at least a second-round pick. The Bengals nabbed him at No. 96. Roddrick Muckelroy is a decent pick at No. 131, and I also like the Dezmon Briscoe pick late in the sixth round.Â Draft grade: C Cleveland Browns The Browns addressed a pressing need with the selection of Joe Haden at No. 7, and his 40 time aside, Haden is a fluid, physical cover corner who should start immediately and addresses a weakness. Cleveland clearly liked T.J. Ward, but could have gotten him later than No. 37. Montario Hardesty could be a really good back, but he’s also been hurt, and again, it didn’t seem necessary to trade up for him. My other question is both he and later safety pick Larry Asante are box safeties. But let’s not forget to mention the big name and, yes, a great value pick, Colt McCoy at No. 85. Ironic that Cleveland got a guy that late who I thought they could have grabbed at No. 38. Carlton Mitchell can flat-out fly, and could be a late sleeper.Â Draft grade: C Indianapolis Colts The fun in this draft is seeing what great player Bill Polian will pull out of the 30 percent of his picks that fall after No. 238 overall. At the top, the Colts did well to land Jerry Hughes, a productive pass-rusher who will only refine his craft learning from two of the best. I thought Pat Angerer was a reach in Round 2 — I think he still could have been around even at that No. 94 slot where Indy picked Kevin Thomas. In Thomas, they take a risk because he’s simply never been healthy. In general, nothing flashy, just Hughes then depth picks on a roster with little room to add. But I’m never going to believe Polian won’t prove me wrong on at least one these guys.Â Â Draft grade: C Miami Dolphins This draft for me is really Jared Odrick and the rest. Odrick can be a really good player, another active, disruptive tackle in a draft full of them. Koa Misi could be good, but not right away because he’ll need to spend a little time transitioning from defensive end to outside linebacker. After that, I thought the Dolphins reached a couple of times. Perhaps Nolan Carroll can recover to become a pretty good player. Draft grade: C- Denver Broncos I liked the Demaryius Thomas pick, but the three picks (net two picks) for Tim Tebow was a serious leap of faith for a guy who’s not as ready to play in the NFL as several other quarterbacks drafted behind him. I respect Denver’s conviction, but its sense of draft board value has to be called into serious question. I think anybody can see that. Zane Beadles is a tackle who has to shift positions, J.D. Walton could start at center eventually, and Perrish Cox is a good value late if he stays focused on football, but Denver isn’t much better for next year with these additions after falling apart late. We can regrade this one in a few years, and I hope it’s better then for as much as I think about the quarterback they drafted.Â Draft grade: C- Washington Redskins I projected Washington to take Trent Williams with that No. 4 pick, but while I think Williams is likely the most talented offensive lineman in the draft, and should be able to go back to the left side effectively, I felt Okung was the safer pick. He was the guy most likely to take that left tackle position and solidify it from Day 1. Washington didn’t pick again until No. 103, and maybe picked up some linebacking and special teams depth. If Williams isn’t really good, and early, this could be an empty draft.Â Draft grade: C- Minnesota Vikings This draft just didn’t impress me. After trading down, the Vikings got a guy in Chris Cook who has the chance to help them, but he also is a guy who rose late, impressing at the Senior Bowl. Can he deliver that kind of performance every week? I think the trade to move up and grab Toby Gerhart was odd, partially because there were some other good backs on the board, and also because while most think Gerhart will be able to catch the ball, it was never really his game. He’s a true pounding running back. Everson Griffen looks like a value, but he is extremely inconsistent.Â Draft grade: C- Atlanta Falcons Sean Weatherspoon is a good outside linebacker and has the strength and size to start and be productive in this league, but after that, it’s a lot of wishful thinking. Corey Peters was a slight reach on my board even at 83 and has a ways to go to improve his skills. Joseph Hawley has a chance to develop, but a pair of guards and no tight end or even a shot at a defensive end surprises me. I don’t see an improved football team. Draft grade: C- Jacksonville Jaguars A disappointing draft. I don’t knock the pick of Tyson Alualu at No. 10 because Alualu doesn’t have promise. This is a draft — it’s not just about the player. To take a guy you could conceivably get 15 to 25 slots later, you’re cheating yourself not just out of sixth- and seventh-round guys, but potentially a late second- or third-rounder. You have to know not just the pick, but the relative value. D’Anthony Smith has some promise as a penetrating defensive tackle, but bottom line, the Jags have just one pick I had in my Top 100 players. That was Alualu. Draft grade: D
Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com and CBS Sportsline, breaks the draft down division-by-division.
AFC East Buffalo Bills: C+ The Bills might be lacking at the other offensive skill positions, but with the addition of running back C.J. Spiller, they boast one of the more talented and explosive backfields in all of the NFL. Spiller’s great speed and elusiveness make him a big-play threat, but there were other, bigger needs for this club. With their need for a playmaker filled, the Bills focused on adjusting their defensive line personnel. The Bills are moving to a 3-4 scheme and added two prototype players for the scheme in nose guard Torrell Troup and defensive end Alex Carrington. Both could become starters this season. The Bills might be too optimistic in thinking they can get immediate help from fifth- and seventh-round picks Ed Wang and Kyle Calloway at offensive tackle. Miami Dolphins: C+ By trading for Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins eliminated their primary need, but lost a second-round pick in 2010. They were able to get back into the second round in a deal with the Chargers. The Dolphins were still able to reinforce their defensive line with the selection of the steady and versatile Jared Odrick of Penn State, who some teams felt might go in the top 15. The Dolphins also might have landed one of the gems of the draft in pass rusher Koa Misi in the second round. Massive OL John Jerry is a mauler and fits the typical Bill Parcells prototype. Iowa OLB A.J. Edds could surprise as a third-day find. New England Patriots: B No one gets better value in the draft than the Patriots. They masterfully move back in the draft, pick up extra picks and then add players who should have been taken earlier. As the Patriots did last April with the selections of defensive backs Patrick Chung and Darius Butler, they traded down in the first round (twice) and found steady cornerback Devin McCourty still on the board. McCourty isn’t as flashy in man coverage as Kyle Wilson or Patrick Robinson, but he’s a sound overall defender and could be a force on special teams. The Patriots gave QB Tom Brady downfield targets with arguably the best all-around tight end in the 2010 draft in Rob Gronkowski and speedy Ohio WR Taylor Price in the third round. Gronkowski slipped due to questions about the health of his back, but he’ll provide the team with a quality security blanket in the middle and, unlike most tight ends in today’s NFL, is a physical blocker. The Patriots addressed their need for young linebackers with a pair of former Florida Gators in the second round — Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham. Spikes’ poor speed in workouts won’t matter as an inside linebacker in the Patriots’ 3-4 scheme. Cunningham might have a more difficult time adjusting. He’ll be making the transition from defensive end to rush linebacker and has only marginal overall agility. A pair of SEC defensive linemen, Brandon Deaderick and Kade Weston address the Patriots’ concern for depth. New York Jets: B The Jets M.O. has been aggressively chasing the talent they want. They dealt up to land QB Mark Sanchez and RB Shonn Greene in the 2009 draft. They traded for veterans Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes in the offseason. But the Jets simply took the best available player in cornerback Kyle Wilson with the 29th overall selection of the first round. The Jets know that to get past Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the playoffs, they need to be athletic in the secondary. With the addition of the big-play specialist Wilson, the Jets should be even better against the pass. That’s a scary thought, considering they led the league by a wide margin last year. Intriguing small-school talent Vladimir DuCasse could be pushed into immediate duty with the release of offensive guard Alan Faneca. RB Joe McKnight gives the team an explosive back who could take over Leon Washington’s role. The Jets’ surprising decision — despite signing Jason Taylor — to not add a young pass rusher might come back to haunt them later. AFC North Baltimore Ravens: B- The Ravens dropped out of the first round to allow Denver to pick Tim Tebow and in doing so, added second-, third- and fourth-round picks in a spectacularly deep draft. The Ravens lost valuable depth along the defensive line through free-agent defections, but added massive NT Terrence Cody (Alabama). Considering Todd Heap’s durability is a constant question, the third-round selection of Oregon TE Ed Dickson could pay the more immediate dividends. The Ravens could also win big on their fifth-round gamble on versatile defensive lineman Arthur Jones (Syracuse). Cincinnati Bengals: C+ The Bengals invested a third-round pick last April in tight end Chase Coffman but were disappointed with his inability to make an impact as a rookie. This year’s first-round pick, TE Jermaine Gresham, gives the club a big-play threat down the seam that Carson Palmer can exploit when defenses attempt to load up to stop the Bengals’ powerful running game. The Bengals were impressed enough with the toughness of former Texas’ receiver Quan Cosby, an undrafted free agent, that they drafted a faster version of him in another former Longhorn, Jordan Shipley. Shipley isn’t an elite athlete, but could develop quickly into a reliable slot receiver and returner for the Bengals. The Bengals gambled on athleticism with defensive end Carlos Dunlap and cornerback Brandon Ghee, two players with terrific upside, but only mediocre performances in the SEC. Of their third-day picks, Texas linebacker Rod Muckleroy and Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe fill needs. Cleveland Browns: B+ Mike Holmgren is known for his ability to build an offense, but he started the draft working on improving the defensive side of the ball, securing the draft’s best cornerback in Joe Haden (Florida) and following that with the hardest-hitting safety in the country in T.J. Ward. The pick that will get all of the attention — quarterback Colt McCoy, who has enough arm strength, accuracy and intelligence to perform well in the West Coast offense. Running back Montario Hardesty (Tennessee) could emerge as the team’s most impactful rookie on offense if he can duplicate his 2009 season and remain healthy. Shawn Lauvao (Arizona State) is a tough, versatile lineman who could become a valuable swingman in Cleveland. WR Carlton Mitchell (South Florida) and DE Clifton Geathers (South Carolina), who each left after their junior seasons, have the size and athleticism worthy of being development picks. Pittsburgh Steelers: C+ To compete against the physical defenses of the AFC North, the Steelers needed to repair their offensive line. The first step in becoming stout up from was drafting Florida’s Maurkice Pouncey in the first round. The reigning Rimington Award winner as the nation’s best center, Pouncey can step in as an immediate upgrade over Justin Hartwig or could slide outside to guard. OLB Jason Worilds has the burst as a pass rusher to play outside and some 3-4 teams viewed him as a potential inside ‘backer. That versatility has to intrigue the Pittsburgh coaching staff. Speedy receiver and return specialist Emmanuel Sanders (SMU) gives the team a big-play threat. Of Pittsburgh’s seven Day Three picks, pass rusher Thaddeus Gibson (Ohio State) is most likely to make an immediate impact. AFC South Houston Texas: B- Many forecasted that the Texans would take a cornerback in the first round to replace free-agent defection Dunta Robinson, but the team surprised by adding Alabama’s Kareem Jackson over other highly touted prospects. Jackson is a good fit for Houston’s scheme. He possesses similar physicality in coverage and against the run that made Robinson a franchise player. RB Ben Tate (Auburn) gives the club the big back they’ve been chasing. He possesses enough lateral agility and explosiveness to jump ahead of Steve Slaton as the team’s primary ball carrier. Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (Arizona) was brought in to push former first-round pick Amobi Okoye. The Texans might be worried about Owen Daniels’ rehabilitation from a torn ACL, electing to invest in undersized tight ends — and pass-catching specialists — Garrett Graham and Dorin Dickerson after picking James Casey last year. Indianapolis Colts: C For all of the talk that the Colts might change their defensive style under Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis made a very Tony Dungy-like pick with TCU’s undersized pass rusher Jerry Hughes with the second-to-last pick of the first round. Hughes has an explosive first step as a pass rusher, but at only 6-2 is considered a bit of a tweener. The tweener label hasn’t seemed to hurt Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis’ production. Instinctive middle linebacker Pat Angerer (Iowa) was a reach in the second round, but Polian’s ability to plug in middle-round picks at linebacker is well documented. Cornerback Kevin Thomas (Southern Cal) gives the team some much-needed size outside. Polian’s only picks on offense came in the middle rounds with reaches for offensive guard Jacques McClendon (Tennessee) and tight end Brody Eldridge (Oklahoma). Jacksonville Jaguars: C In terms of value, Tyson Alualu was a reach. The Cal defensive lineman likely would have been available at least 10-15 picks later. However, considering the number of first-round busts we’ve seen in recent years, spending a high pick on a versatile, blue-collar player that fits your scheme very well shouldn’t be questioned. Alualu might never go to the Pro Bowl, but he’ll earn a starting role immediately and won’t give it up for a decade. The Jaguars made a similar reach to draft considerably less consistent D’Anthony Smith (Louisiana Tech) a round later. Austen Lane (Murray State) is a quality developmental prospect. Running back Deji Karim (Southern Illinois) might not have many opportunities with the similarly built Maurice Jones-Drew starring in front of him, but he could surprise if given an opportunity. Tennessee Titans: B+ The Titans had to be pleased to see Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan, rated by many as the best end in this class, still on the board at No. 16 after three other pass rushers had already been selected. Tennessee needed to boost its pass rush after the loss of Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth in successive years. The pro-ready Morgan is an ideal fit. The Titans also got excellent value in the second and third rounds, adding Southern Cal WR Damian Williams, one of the draft’s better route-runners, and ultra-productive linebacker Rennie Curran (Georgia) in the third. Curran, if two inches taller, might have been a first-round pick and addresses a key area of concern. The Titans took great advantage of their late-round picks, adding quality depth in the secondary with Alterraun Verner (UCLA) and Robert Johnson (Utah). Watch out for quarterback Rusty Smith (Florida Atlantic) and Montana wideout/returner Marc Mariani to at least make the practice squad. AFC West Denver Broncos: C+ The mystifying direction of the Denver Broncos under the guidance of head coach Josh McDaniels continues to baffle. The puzzling aspect about the Broncos’ selections is that they didn’t find players likely to make an immediate impact. Considering the many holes on the current team and the fact that the Broncos got very little out of two (Robert Ayers, Alphonso Smith) of their top three picks last year, finding players who could help this season was a must. That didn’t happen with either of the Broncos’ first-round picks, WR Demaryius Thomas and QB Tim Tebow. Both have starting NFL potential, with Thomas potentially becoming a star, but are considerable projects. To their credit, the Broncos were more conventional on the draft’s second and third days, addressing concerns along the offensive line with tough-guys Zane Beadles (Utah) and J.D Walton (Baylor) and in the secondary with talented CB Perrish Cox (Oklahoma State) and underrated zone corner Syd’Quan Thompson (California). Walton is likely to be the team’s starting center this season. The team might get more immediate dividends out of third-round receiver Eric Decker than they will their first-round picks. Kansas City Chiefs: B- Tennessee safety Eric Berry will be a star, but general manager Scott Pioli took a significant risk in not protecting the investment he made previously in quarterback Matt Cassel by ignoring the offensive tackle position. To make such an investment in a safety, Pioli must believe the team is set at offensive tackle. The Chiefs addressed other needs, notably adding potential Wes Welker clone WR-RB-RS Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss), underrated cornerback and spectacular returner Javier Arenas (Alabama), and arguably the most pro-ready guard in the draft in Jon Asamoah (Illinois). Iowa TE Tony Moeaki has an opportunity to be a star in this offense. Oakland Raiders: B+ The Raiders surprised many with their selection of Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McClain with the eighth pick because, quite simply, the perpetually irrational club made several stunningly logical additions. McClain has the bulk and speed the team is missing inside and will help to shore up a run defense that finished 30th in the NFL last season and has allowed more rushing touchdowns over the past seven years than any other team in the league. The team continued their reinforcements to the run defense with gutty defensive tackle Lamarr Houston in the second round. They filled one of their greatest needs with offensive tackle Jared Veldheer in the third round and workout warrior Bruce Campbell in the fourth. Campbell, along with fellow third day additions Jacoby Ford, Walter McFadden and Travis Goethel make Oakland’s draft one of the league’s best this year. San Diego Chargers: C+ In typical A.J. Smith fashion, the Chargers were hunters in the draft. They traded up 16 spots to land their replacement for LaDainian Tomlinson with Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews, who wore the number 21 at Fresno State in honor of the former Charger great. Mathews, who led the nation in rushing average with 150.67 yards per game last year, is an early Rookie of the Year candidate based on his fit in this offense. The Chargers made a surprising selection in the third round, taking inside linebacker Donald Butler (Washington), who is talented, but will be fighting an uphill battle considering San Diego’s depth at inside linebacker. Fifth-round pick Cam Thomas, a nose tackle from North Carolina, will likely make more of an immediate impact. NFC East Dallas Cowboys: B- Jerry Jones was known to be very high on Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, and as suspected he traded up to get him when the talented wideout began to slip. Bryant is the playmaker the Cowboys thought they were getting when they traded for Roy Williams, but in trading up to get a weapon for Tony Romo, the team may have lost its chance at getting a tackle who could protect their Pro Bowl quarterback. The Cowboys relied on aging free agents Zach Thomas and Keith Brooking at inside linebacker the past few years, but did add the steady Sean Lee in the second round. Of the Cowboys’ third-day selections, small schoolers Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (cornerback) and Sean Lissemore (defensive tackle) have the athleticism worthy of developing. New York Giants: C+ No team believes in building through the defensive line like the New York Giants, and they reinforced this mantra with the selection of talented but raw defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul in the first round and massive defensive tackle Linval Joseph in the second. Pierre-Paul only started seven games at the D-I level, but has a tantalizing combination of size and explosiveness and can be developed slowly on a team that already features a strong rotation up front. Chad Jones in the third was another depth pick who won’t crack the starting lineup as a rookie, but has legitimate upside. The Giants’ one pick on offense came in the fifth round in strongman Mitch Petrus, a guard who led the combine with 44 repetitions of 225 pounds. Philadelphia Eagles: B An indication of just how active the Philadelphia Eagles were on draft day is that of the 13 picks they made, only the 121st overall, outside linebacker Keenan Clayton, was an original Eagles selection. A year after spending great resources on improving the playmaking ability of their offense, the Eagles spent their first two days of the draft re-stocking their defense. First, they aggressively traded up to land defensive end Brandon Graham with the 13th overall pick and added another try-hard pass rusher in Daniel Te’o-Nesheim in the third. The team landed one of the draft’s better cover safeties in Nate Allen in between. While the 6-2, 270-pound Graham is a proven pass rusher who led the country in tackles for loss and won the Senior Bowl Defensive MVP honors, his selection was a surprise for the Eagles, considering the team had previously traded for another undersized pass rusher in former Seattle Seahawk Daryl Tapp. The Eagles had 10 picks on Saturday, most prominently addressing the need for depth at quarterback (Mike Kafka), linebacker (Ricky Sapp, Jamar Chaney). For a team that some believe is as deep as any in the league, however, wouldn’t packaging some of those lower round picks for top-tier talent have been a better use of them? Washington Redskins: C Though there was plenty of speculation that the Redskins might go in another direction, in the end the team took offensive tackle Trent Williams. Williams’ athleticism makes him an ideal fit in Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. Williams will need to play with a greater sense of urgency in the NFC East, however, where he’ll be going up against the NFL’s best division of pass rushers in an attempt to protect the newly arrived Donovan McNabb, who, of course, has to be considered one of the Redskins’ “draft picks.” That fact should be some consolation to Redskins fans, as the team won’t likely get much from a ho-hum group of Day 3 selections. NFC North Chicago Bears: B With their picks already used in the trades for quarterback Jay Cutler and the late Gaines Adams, the Bears could only be spectators until the 75th pick, which they used on safety Major Wright. With only one interception from their safeties last year, finding a true center fielder was a primary concern. The Bears landed quality defensive line prospect Corey Wootton in the fourth round. While Wootton was a shadow of his former self in 2009 — his first season after tearing his ACL in the bowl game his junior season — he could reward the Bears for their gamble. Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour was quite the value selection in the sixth round, as well. Detroit Lions: A- The Lions made the easiest selection in the draft when the best player in the country, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, fell into their lap. He’ll provide an immediate difference up front for head coach Jim Schwartz, a man who knows the value of a dominating defensive tackle considering his background with Albert Haynesworth. The team filled a need at running back with Jahvid Best by trading back into the first round. Best offers an explosiveness that Detroit lacked with incumbent Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris. The club added an underrated cornerback in Amari Spievey in the third and offensive tackle Jason Fox in the fifth. Each could contribute immediately. The Lions finished with six picks, but no team did more with less. Green Bay Packers: B- The first round couldn’t have worked out better for Ted Thompson and the Packers, as the team needed help up front and got one of the safer offensive tackles in the draft in Iowa’s technically refined Bryan Bulaga to fall into their lap. Bulaga’s short arms might have scared off some, but he’ll provide immediate depth at all four exterior positions for the Packers and will eventually take over the starting role for either left tackle Chad Clifton or right tackle Mark Tauscher. The Packers continued the re-building of their defensive line into a true 3-4 unit with the addition of strongman Mike Neal in the second and added playmaking safety Morgan Burnett in the third. Versatile offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse was the highlight of an otherwise ho-hum third day of the draft. Minnesota Vikings: B- Just as the Baltimore Ravens were able to take advantage of the aggressive Denver Broncos and gain several valuable picks in a trade down, Minnesota added picks in the second, fourth and seventh rounds by letting Detroit move up to take running back Jahvid Best with the 30th overall selection. They used the Lions’ pick, the 34th overall, on cornerback Chris Cook, a player who fills a significant need for depth considering the injury to Cedric Griffin and age of Antoine Winfield. The more immediate impact will likely be made by running back Toby Gerhart, whose power and underrated lateral agility could make him an ideal short-yardage fill-in for star Adrian Peterson. Workout warrior Everson Griffen has a chance to wreak havoc on a team already blessed with great defensive line talent. NFC South Atlanta Falcons: B- The Atlanta Falcons struck gold a few years ago with the selection of undersized linebacker Curtis Lofton in the second round. They went back to the Big 12 for another speedy playmaker with Sean Weatherspoon in the first. Expected to take over the weak-side position, Weatherspoon is an ideal in Atlanta’s cover-two scheme, as is third-round pick Corey Peters, an underrated defensive tackle who several teams were targeting. Offensive guard Mike Johnson and center Joe Hawley provide solid depth. Cornerback Dominique Franks slipped to the fifth round, but has the length and straight-line speed to be effective in this scheme. Carolina Panthers: B Having traded their first-round pick of the 2010 draft away last April for the right to take defensive end Everette Brown in the second round, the Panthers had to just sit and observe until the 48th pick, but were fortunate that Jimmy Clausen was still on the board. Clausen doesn’t have elite physical traits, which is one of the reasons he slipped to where he did, but he is pro-ready and a good fit in offensive coordinator’s Jeff Davidson’s scheme, as Davidson had worked with Charlie Weis when both were with the New England Patriots. Regardless of who starts at quarterback, the Panthers added help for him in physical possession receiver Brandon LaFell in the second and versatile threat Armanti Edwards in the third. While neither is sure to duplicate his success from college, the Panthers could win big with their gambles on SEC pass rushers Eric Norwood and Greg Hardy on the draft’s third day. New Orleans Saints: B+ Tracy Porter may have made the Super Bowl winning interception, but the Saints aren’t about to limit the competition in their secondary. Patrick Robinson’s footwork and speed rival any cornerback in this class, though some teams were concerned that he’s not as interested in run support. Like Porter, who had similar knocks on him coming out of Indiana, Robinson’s best assets are being used in New Orleans — where opponents are often attempting to throw the ball to keep up with Drew Brees. The Saints added to Brees’ offense on the second day, stopping Charles Brown’s slide in the second round and adding an intriguing developmental tight end in Jimmy Graham. The Saints could get surprising help with each of their third-day selections. Defensive tackle Al Woods, in particular, offers size that the Saints have lacked up front. New Orleans clearly didn’t rest on its laurels after winning the Super Bowl; this was one of the league’s better all-around drafts. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B+ The Bucs had an easy choice at No. 3 with Gerald McCoy, as he fits in nicely with their attacking scheme. The team wasn’t through at the position, pairing McCoy with UCLA tackle-for-loss specialist Brian Price. Young quarterback Josh Freeman got big-play wideout Arrelious Benn in the second and Mike Williams in the fourth round. If both are able to harness their unique athleticism, the Bucs may be able to ignore this position for years. Versatile defensive back Myron Lewis, a third-rounder, and underrated seventh-rounder Cody Grimm fill needs in the secondary. This group isn’t likely to earn the acclaim of other, flashier drafts, but this was an impressive haul for a young Tampa squad. Only the inconsistencies of Williams and Price drops the grade slightly. NFC West Arizona Cardinals: B With concerns about the development of recent picks Gabe Watson and Alan Branch, the Cardinals had to be pleased to see Tennessee’s Dan Williams still on the board at No. 26. Williams was the most dominant defensive tackle in the SEC this past season, but some teams were nervous that he only elevated his game to this level as a senior. If the Cardinals can keep him motivated, they will have found a true steal in Williams. The Cardinals found value and excellent scheme fits in the second and third rounds, as well, with athletic linebacker Daryl Washington (who some have compared to free agent defection Karlos Dansby) and underrated small school receiver Andre Roberts. If the Cardinals were worried about the transition from Kurt Warner to Matt Leinart (or Derek Anderson), they didn’t show it on draft day. John Skelton is an intriguing developmental prospect, but he’s a year or two – at least – from competing at this level. St. Louis Rams: B- The Rams were on the phones talking trade up until they made the pick, but in the end they filled the need for a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford. The club has to be concerned with Bradford’s inability to stay healthy in 2009, but there is no denying his talent. When protected, he’s shown the accuracy of an All-Pro. The Rams got good depth along the offensive line and secondary in Day 2 picks Rodger Saffold and Jerome Murphy. Saffold, a collegiate tackle, likely steps in immediately at guard. The Rams found a Donnie Avery-clone in Mardy Gilyard and two Leonard Little-like pass rushers in Hall Davis and George Selvie on the draft’s third day. Electing not to address the defensive tackle position was a surprise considering they traded starter Adam Carriker only days before the draft. San Francisco 49ers: A- With an established star in Frank Gore, many casual fans might have thought the 49ers were among the best running teams in the league, but an inability to gain an inch on short-yardage plays made addressing the offensive line a huge concern for coach Mike Singletary. Trading up to No. 11 to get Anthony Davis might have been an unnecessary move, as he likely would have been available to the 49ers at their original No. 13 selection. He provides the 49ers with a quality athlete in tandem with current left tackle Joe Staley. Having athletic tackles will help in Mike Iupati’s adjustment to the NFL’s speedier pass rushers. Few, if any, prospects in this draft presented Iupati’s power as a drive blocker. The 49ers may as well have had a third-round pick by getting Taylor Mays in the mid second. The intimidating presence over the middle fills a big area of need. Third-round pick Navarro Bowman, on the other hand, was an odd choice, given that he lacks the size most teams are looking for in a traditional edge rusher. Sixth-round pick Anthony Dixon could surprise as a goal-line back to spell Frank Gore. Sticking to their philosophy of controlling the line of scrimmage, the 49ers may have emerged as the NFC West favorite with this draft. Seattle Seahawks: A The Seahawks entered the draft with a built-in advantage, as they, along with the 49ers, were the only team to enter Thursday with two first-round picks. They didn’t waste them, eliminating their biggest needs immediately with Russell Okung, NFLDraftScout.com’s top-rated offensive tackle, and ballhawk Earl Thomas only eight picks later. Notre Dame playmaking receiver and returner Golden Tate fell to them with the 60th pick. All three could start immediately. If possible, Seattle’s draft got even better on the third day, however, as the team found a potential fourth future starter in cornerback Walter Thurmond, as well as one of the better all-around tight ends in the class in former USC standout Anthony McCoy. The team also addressed concerns at running back in trading for the explosive Leon Washington and powerful LenDale White. White will be reunited with former Trojans coach Pete Carroll and will be plenty motivated, as he’s entering his contract year. In terms of immediate impact, as well as long-term potential, there wasn’t a better draft in 2010 than Seattle’s.
Chris Burke, NFL Fanhouse:
Arizona (Day 1: A-; Day 2: B): Started off very strong with Dan Williams and Darryl Washington — arguable one of the best picks, period, at No. 47. Then Arizona started reaching. Project WR Andre Roberts, injured DE O’Brien Schofield, some guy named Jorrick Calvin. QB John Skelton was a nice pick in Round 5. All in all, pretty solid. Final Grade: B Atlanta (Day 1: B; Day 2: C): Something went wrong for the Falcons after their first pick, Sean Weatherspoon at No. 19. Only one of six picks after that really stood out: CB Dominique Franks at 135. Everything else was mediocre — though you have to root for WR Kerry Meier (No. 165 overall), whose brother died earlier in the week. That story aside, an uneven draft for Atlanta that didn’t address the DE end position. Final Grade: C Baltimore (Day 1: B+; Day 2: A): What else can you say about Baltimore? There may not be a team in the league better at finding talent in the draft. Sergio Kindle, Terrence Cody, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, David Reed, Art Jones and Ramon Harewood. Are there questions with a couple guys? Sure. But all seven should make contributions in 2010. Final Grade: A Buffalo (Day 1: D+; Day 2: B): The C.J. Spiller pick at No. 9 was a head-scratcher and Torrell Troup at 41 wasn’t exactly gold, but Buffalo’s work improved markedly after that. OTs Ed Wang (No. 140) and Kyle Calloway (No. 216) were value picks that add needed depth, while the Levi Brown selection at No. 209 will hopefully give Buffalo some hope at quarterback. Final Grade: B- Carolina (Day 1: Inc.; Day 2: D+): Day 3 certainly presented Carolina’s best work after an absence in Round 1 and a odd second day — Jimmy Clausen, Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards. OLB Eric Norwood (No. 124) and DE Greg Hardy (No. 175) are solid selections. QB Tony Pike at 204 was good value, but unnecessary with Clausen in tow. Final Grade: C- Chicago (Day 1: Inc.; Day 2: A-): Only five picks and none in Rounds 1 and 2. Chicago made three really solid picks: S Major Wright (No. 75), DE Corey Wootton (No. 109) and QB Dan LeFevour (No. 181). That said, the Bears only addressed their OL at No. 218 with J’Marcus Webb. Final Grade: B- Cincinnati (Day 1: B; Day 2: B+): It’s hard to find fault with much here — maybe the reach for OL Otis Hudson at No. 152, a virtual no-name. But the Bengals needed offensive weapons and added TE Jermaine Gresham (No. 21), WR Jordan Shipley (No. 84) and WR Dezmon Briscoe (No. 191), plus found some potential gems on defense like DE Carlos Dunlap (No. 54) and CB Brandon Ghee (No. 96). Final Grade: B Cleveland (Day 1: C+; Day 2: C-): There were a handful of great picks overshadowed by a couple weird ones. Joe Haden at No. 7 was a stellar start, but the T.J. Ward-Montario Hardesty combo on Day 2 was hard to comprehend. Colt McCoy could help down the line, and the Browns made three really strong picks on Day 3. Final Grade: C+ Dallas (Day 1: B+; Day 2: B+): Consistent, if nothing else, over the first two days with WR Dez Bryant (No. 24) and LB Sean Lee (No. 55). The Cowboys then stole CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (No. 126). We’ll have to wait and see after that. A lot of people are high on OT Sam Young (No. 179), but he was awful in pass protection at times for Notre Dame. Final Grade: B+ Denver (Day 1: A; Day 2: B): No matter what else happens, Round 1 will make or break this group — WR Demayrius Thomas and QB Tim Tebow, specifically the latter. C J.D. Walton (No. 80) could be a stalwart for years and CB Perrish Cox (No. 137) was a stroke of genius. Pretty strong draft, but Round 1′s picks will get all the attention. Final Grade: A- Detroit (Day 1: A; Day 2: A-): Find the weak link here. Go on. You can nitpick on RB Jahvid Best (No. 30), CB Amari Spievey (No. 66) or OT Jason Fox (No. 128), but they were all good picks at positions of need. Even DE Willie Young (No. 213) should get in the rotation. Oh yeah, and there’s that Suh guy. Final Grade: A Green Bay (Day 1: B; Day 2: B): OT Bryan Bulaga got the Pack rolling at No. 23. They’ll get mixed reviews on DL Mike Neal (No. 56), S Morgan Burnett (No. 71) and TE Andrew Quarless (No. 154), a really questionable pick. RB James Starks at No. 193 could bump this group up down the road. Final Grade: B Houston (Day 1: B; Day 2: B-): CB Kareem Jackson at No. 20 was a good pick at a position of huge need. RB Ben Tate (No. 58) could be a contributor, but he’s far from a sure thing. And everything after that — save for maybe value-pick TE Dorin Dickerson (No. 227) — was pretty dull. Final Grade: C+ Indianapolis (Day 1: B+; Day 2: B): Scored big with Jerry Hughes at No. 31. LB Pat Angerer (No. 63) and CB Kevin Thomas (No. 94) should both pan out. Day 3 was kind of a dud, however, with only LB Kavell Conner (No. 240) looking like a real sneaky-smart pick. Final Grade: B- Jacksonville (Day 1: F; Day 2: F): What a train wreck. The Tyson Alualu (No. 10) and D’Anthony Smith (No. 74) picks back-to-back made no sense. And DE Larry Hart (No. 143) was a reach as well. DE Austen Lane (No. 153) was a fine pick, but did the Jags really need RB Deji Karim at No. 180. This entire draft was hard to figure. Final Grade: D- Kansas City (Day 1: A; Day 2: C+): Only two Day 3 picks and neither’s an immediate impact player. S Eric Berry (No. 5) was an obvious call, then the Chiefs landed OL Jon Asamoah (No. 68) and TE Tony Moeaki (No. 93) to finish Day 2 strong. Taking Dexter McCluster at No. 36 and Javier Arenas at No. 50 drags this grade down. Final Grade: B Miami (Day 1: A; Day 2: A): Really strong work here, pretty much across the board. DT Jared Odrick got high marks at No. 28, as did DE Koa Misi (No. 40) and OT John Jerry (No. 73). The biggest haul may be S Reshad Jones, a top-50 talent to some, in Round 5. Final Grade: A Minnesota (Day 1: B+; Day 2: B+): Traded out of the first round, then scored with CB Chris Cook at No. 34, RB Toby Gerhart (No. 51) and DE Everson Griffen (No. 100). Nothing special happened on Day 3, but keep an eye on LB Nathan Triplett, a guy the Vikings need to compete. Final Grade: B New England (Day 1: B-; Day 2: A-): The Patriots did well early on with CB Devin McCourty (No. 27), TE Rob Gronkowski (No. 42) and OLB Jermaine Cunningham (No. 53). Not sure either LB Brandon Spikes (No. 62) or WR Taylor Price (No. 90) will pan out, though. Landed three blows between picks 247 and 250. Final Grade: B New Orleans (Day 1: C+; Day 2: B+): Took CB Patrick Robinson to close out Round 1, but the Saints’ best picks came at No. 64 (OT Charles Brown) and No. 158 (C Matt Tennant). Final Grade: C+ New York Giants (Day 1: C-; Day 2: A-): A pretty mixed bag here — DE Jason Pierre-Paul didn’t make the most sense at No. 15, but DT Linvall Joseph (No. 46) and S Chad Jones (No. 76) could both start. OL Mitch Petrus (No. 147) adds needed depth inside. Final Grade: B- New York Jets (Day 1: A-; Day 2: B): CB Kyle Wilson in Round 1 will help and OT Vladimir Ducasse might start immediately after the release of Alan Faneca. Running back Joe McKnight (No. 112) and FB John Conner (No. 139) were fine, but not sure either was a huge necessity. Final Grade: B+ Oakland (Day 1: A; Day 2: A): Basically went five-for-five to start: LB Rolando McClain, DT Lamarr Houston, OT Jared Veldheer, OT Bruce Campbell (No. 106!) and WR Jacoby Ford (No. 108). Went all Raiders with their final four picks, taking athletes over need. Final Grade: A- Philadelphia (Day 1: C-; Day 2: C+): Quantity over quality? Philly wound up making 13 selections, starting with Brandon Graham at No. 13 and ending with S Kurt Coleman at No. 244. In between was a mix of good and bad, but at least a few guys — like S Nate Allen (No. 37) — should play key roles. Final Grade: B- Pittsburgh (Day 1: A-; Day 2: B-): There are a lot of solid selections here — C Maurkice Pouncey (No. 18) was a much-needed pick in Round 1. Still not loving the Emmanuel Sanders pick (No. 82), but WR Antonio Brown (No. 195) is a sleeper. Also like the pick of RB Jonathan Dwyer (No. 188) Lots of needs filled in. Final Grade: B San Diego (Day 1: B; Day 2: B): Big leap up for RB Ryan Mathews (No. 12) in Round 1 and a steady pick of LB Donald Butler (No. 79). Big score with DT Cam Thomas (No. 146). QB Jonathan Crompton (No. 168) will get time to sit and develop. Final Grade: B+ San Francisco (Day 1: A; Day 2: A): Not sure that anything happened on Day 3 to change the Niners’ grade. RB Anthony Dixon (No. 173) and TE Nate Byham (No. 182) should just add to the haul that included Anthony Davis (No. 11), Mike Iupati (No. 17) and Taylor Mays (No. 49). Final Grade: A Seattle (Day 1: A+; Day 2: A): Russell Okung and Earl Thomas in the first round got Seattle off to a spectacular start. You have to take into account trades for RBs LenDale White and Leon Washington, which could remake the Seahawks’ offense. Seattle’s last few picks were only average. Final Grade: A- St. Louis (Day 1: A-; Day 2: B+): Sam Bradford started it, but the Rams had a very good start, including WR Mardy Gilyard at No. 99. There were a few average selections after that — until the Rams stole DE George Selvie at No. 226. Final Grade: B+ Tampa Bay (Day 1: A-; Day 2: C): Top marks for Gerald McCoy, but came back down to earth with DT Brian Price (No. 35), WR Arrelious Benn (No. 39) and CB Myron Lewis (No. 67). OLB Dekoda Watson (No. 217) was a steal — it almost offset the pick of WR Mike Williams (No. 101). Almost. Final Grade: B Tennessee (Day 1: B; Day 2: A+): DE Derrick Morgan made for a nice fit at No. 16, then Tennessee stole WR Damian Williams (No. 77) and LB Rennie Curran (No. 97). Day 3 was a mixed bag — safeties Robert Johnson (No. 148) and Myron Rolle (No. 207) should help the secondary, but the QB Rusty Smith pick (No. 176) was hard to figure. Final Grade: B+ Washington (Day 1: B+; Day 2: Inc.): Only had OT Trent Williams to show for the first two days, but he was a good selection at No. 4. The last few rounds were unsteady — LB Riley Cooper was not great at No. 103, but OT Selvish Capers made for a perfect pick at No. 231. Final Grade: B
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Arizona: Some thought the Cardinals would pursue a quarterback in this draft, but they passed on some big names and ended up taking strong-armed John Skeleton of Fordham in the fifth round. Tennessee DT Dan Williams fell into their lap in the first round and he should be the nose tackle this 3-4 defense needs. They traded with the Patriots to take TCU OLB Darrell Washington, who had 39 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine and was once considered a possible first-round pick by the Jets. Washington had a super senior season at TCU and maybe he replaces Karlos Dansby as a playmaker — great value with the 47th overall pick in Washington. Wisconsin pass rusher O’Brien Schofield will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list after tearing his ACL at the Senior Bowl, but he has tremendous upside when healthy. Not a need position, but Schofield, who was the MVP of the East-West game, was good value. Grade: B Atlanta: The Falcons concentrated on filling needs with Missouri OLB Sean Weatherspoon, possibly the most complete linebacker in the draft. He can cover and also rush the passer. To beef up the defensive line, Kentucky DT Corey Peters was taken with the 83rd overall pick and he should be a run stuffer. Alabama guard Mike Johnson is a physical run blocker and gives the Falcons some much needed depth at the position. Johnson started 41 consecutive games and played in a school-record 54 games. You have to remember, too, that the Falcons used a second-round pick on Tony Gonzalez, who paid huge dividends last season to Matt Ryan and the offense. Weatherspoon should be a starter. Guard Joe Hawley provided much-need depth. Oklahoma CB Dominique Franks knows how to play, but does he possess NFL speed and quickness? Grade: B Baltimore: GM Ozzie Newsome made all the right moves on the first two days of the draft, trading out of the first round and getting two quality defensive players with first-round grades in Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle of Texas and massive Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody with the 57th overall pick. Kindle was downgraded by some teams out of the first round because of a knee injury, but he’s a fast, explosive outside linebacker and should fit well in Baltimore’s defensive scheme. Cody has struggled with his weight (he’s listed at 350 pounds), but Newsome feels that he has a relationship with the fellow Alabama grad and can get this guy under control. The addition of Cody means that few teams will be able to move the Baltimore middle. Syracuse DE Arthur Jones was a super value pick. Baltimore added to their receiving corps with Utah’s David Reed, who has excellent hands and is quick out of the break. Grade: B+ Buffalo: The Bills passed on their quarterback needs (maybe Trent Edwards is better than we think?), but they took the draft’s best running back, Clemson’s C.J. Spiller, who is a home-run hitter. To shore up their porous run defense, they grabbed 318-pound nose tackle Torrell Troup of Central Florida about 20 spots too high. Troup was a three-year starter and a team captain and ran a spectacular 5.1 40-yard dash. Arkansas State DE Alex Carrington should fit ideally into the 3-4 scheme. Surprisingly, the trade rumors were false on Marshawn Lynch, meaning that he and Spiller could be in the same backfield, which should pose problems for opposing defenses. Troy QB Levi Brown was an interesting pick late, but Coach Chan Gailey apparently likes ex-Packer Brian Brohm, too. Grade: C Panthers: On paper, if this is GM Marty Hurney’s final draft with the Panthers, it has a chance to be his best. Hurney didn’t have a first-round pick and he tried to trade up with the Rams in order to select Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, but got him anyway with the 48th overall pick in the second round. Clausen should give Matt Moore a run for his money sometime this season as the starter. With Carolina’s great running game, Clausen has excellent deep-ball accuracy. Remember, the Panthers traded away their first-round pick last year to San Francisco in order to draft Everette Brown, who had 15 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks last season. To help Moore and Claussen, the Panthers got two potential playmakers in Armanti Edwards and Brandon LaFell. Edwards was the quarterback at Appalachian State where he won two national titles, but he projects as a receiver and maybe even a wildcat quarterback. LaFell had a rough senior season at LSU and ran a poor 4.62 at the Combine, but he finished with 175 receptions for 25 TDs. The only bad thing was that Hurney traded away next year’s second-round pick to the Patriots to get this done. OLB Eric Norwood was also good value in the fourth round. Cincinnati QB Tony Pike was an interesting pick. Grade: A+ Chicago: The Bears did pretty well, considering they didn’t select until the 75th pick when they got tremendous value in safety Major Wright. The former Florida Gator draws immediate comparisons to the once-great Mike Brown, who suffered too many injuries in his short Chicago career. The Bears have had 21 different safeties since Lovie Smith took over and the hope is that Wright will be a mainstay. Northwestern’s Corey Wooten had a chance to be a high pick this year until he had knee surgery, but he should develop into a great edge rusher. Considering their limited draft location, the Bears did well but GM Jerry Angelo made a critical mistake in not trading into the top of the round for an offensive tackle. Remember, the Bears have made so many personnel moves this off-season (Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor) to win this season. Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour has the smarts and feet to develop into a backup quarterback. He needs to improve his throwing accuracy. Grade: C Cincinnati: Bengals QB Carson Palmer will be excited with Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham who can stretch the field and has been given a clean bill of health after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Most mock drafts had Gresham landing here. The Bengals typically select some risky players, but they claim that Carlos Dunlap’s DUI conviction prior to the SEC championship game was an aberration. Dunlap was a great pass rusher at Florida and he has drawn comparisons to Julius Peppers because he’s 6-6 and 277 pounds and very athletic. His nickname was “Baby Freak” because he drew comparisons to former Gator Jevon Kearse. Dunlap had 26 tackles for losses and 19 1/2 sacks in his three-year career. Texas WR Jordan Shipley was very productive in college with at least six games with 10 or more catches. He’s a physical, deep-threat receiver. Wake Forest CB Brandon Ghee has been compared favorably to current Bengals starter Johnathan Joseph. Ghee started 33 games, but came up with only one interception. The steal of their draft could be WR Dezmon Briscoe of Kansas who ran poorly at the Combine and has some off-the-field issues but once was considered just a step behind Dez Bryant in the Big 12 Conference. Grade: B. Cleveland: For an offensive president, Mike Holmgren listened to his coaches and scouts and picked two secondary players with his first two picks. Cornerback Joe Haden started 40 games for Florida and finished with 157 tackles and 8 interceptions. They didn’t reach on him. T.J. Ward of Oregon is a hitter, but he didn’t have many interceptions in college and some had him rated as a fourth-round pick. Montario Hardesty was a great north-south runner at Tennessee, but can he juke and change direction in the lane? Hardesty is a banger and Holmgren thinks his running style will prove valuable in bad winter weather. But the key to the draft was the selection of Texas QB Colt McCoy with the 85th overall pick. McCoy won 45 games in 53 college starts. McCoy made perfect sense in the third round and he will be given every opportunity to be the future quarterback of this struggling franchise. Holmgren did say that he won’t be coaching McCoy, nor will the rookie play this season. It’s Jake Delhomme’s job in 2010. Grade: B+ Dallas: With the uneven play of Roy Williams, owner Jerry Jones wanted a playmaker opposite Miles Austin and he moved up in the draft to get Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant, who will wear Michael Irvin’s No. 88 jersey. Bryant’s upbringing and the fact that he lied to NCAA investigators about his involvement with Deion Sanders got him suspended troubled some teams, but not the Cowboys, who will build a support system around him. Jones claims that he won’t trade Williams or Patrick Crayton to make Bryant’s transition easier. Penn State’s Sean Lee was the most instinctive linebacker in college football last season and the only concern about him is if he can keep himself healthy. Several teams wanted Lee, but the Eagles traded a pick with Jones in order for him to become a Cowboy. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is a big, athletic cornerback from tiny Indiana (Pa.) State. He’s coming off an injury, but he’s expected to be ready for training camp. The Cowboys didn’t address their needs on the offensive line, but there are big hopes that either Doug Free or Robert Brewster, a third-round pick last year, will fill Flozell Adams’ spot at left tackle. Grade: B Denver: Yes, there have been many snickers around the NFL about coach Josh McDaniels being immature (Chargers incident last season) and still learning on game days. But he’s turned into one trading Jessie on draft day. He and GM Brian Xander left the first round with two selections and the two players they wanted in WR Demaryius Thomas and QB Tim Tebow, who should compete with Kyle Orton for the starting job. Unlike Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler, these two players are saints and definitely hard-workers. Zane Beadles played left tackle at Utah, but is projected inside as a guard and was a solid pick in the middle of the second round. Minnesota receiver Eric Decker was a one-man show in college and a lot of teams loved him in the second round until a foot injury sidelined him. Decker played all four seasons at Minnesota and finished with 227 catches for 3,119 yards and 24 TDs. Cal CB Syd’quan Thompson projects to be a physical, tough zone player and should make the team despite being a seventh-rounder. McDaniels eventually took a risky pick in Oklahoma State CB Perrish Cox, who was suspended at the end of the season, but he could turn into a top-flight player and returner. Grade: B+ Detroit: GM Martin Mayhew learned under former boss Matt Millen and he’s responded by being more aggressive and also selecting quality. The Lions wanted Cal running back Jahvid Best in the second round, but got fearful and traded into the bottom of the first round to make sure they grabbed the complimentary runner to Kevin Smith. DT Ndamukong Suh was the top-rated player in the draft and he went second overall simply because the Rams had to take a quarterback. Iowa CB Amari Spievey was a ballhawk in college and the Lions need him to produce. Miami OT Jason Fox will be given every opportunity to make the lineup. Nate Burleson was a quality addition in the offseason, too, but he won’t have to contend with Mr. Irrelevant, Weber State receiver Tim Toone, the last player taken in the draft. Toone is 5-11 with 4.55 speed. Grade: B Green Bay: The Packers got great value with their first pick, Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga, who has a chance to start as a rookie at right tackle. Georgia Tech safety Morgan Burnett gives the Packers some depth at safety where Atari Bigby has had injury concerns. Mike Neal is really strong and spent five years at Purdue, starting as a defensive end and then switching to defensive tackle. His first love was basketball, but he will play end in the 3-4 defense. He had 26 tackles for a loss and 13 sacks at Purdue. The best news about the team’s top three picks is that all are solid citizens with no injury history. TE Andrew Quarless spent a lot of time in Joe Paterno’s doghouse at Penn State, but he did have 41 catches last season and could be a deep threat for Aaron Rodgers. RB James Stark missed his entire senior season at Buffalo, but if he plays to his old level could prove to be a valuable addition. Grade: C Houston: The Texans shocked most scouts by taking Alabama CB Kareem Jackson over Kyle Wilson, but they believe Jackson is more versatile and can play press and also fill the nickel role. Auburn RB Ben Tate (5-11, 220 pounds) is a powerful back with no durability issues, plus he ran 4.34 and had a spectacular workout at the Combine. They took a high motor defensive lineman in Earl Mitchell of Arizona who lacks size and may be a situational defender. Wisconsin TE Garrett Graham is solid insurance, considering Owen Daniels’ injury history. Miami (Fla.) LB Darryl Sharpton is an instinctive player and he should help on special teams right away and could force his way into the lineup. They added another tight end in Pitt’s Dorin Dickerson, who caught 10 touchdowns last season. Dickerson was ranked as a top-100 player, but he fell to the 227th pick for some reason. Maybe it’s because he’s not a good blocker and more of a receiver than a tight end? Grade: C Indianapolis: Bill Polian said he wanted defense in this draft and he went out and did exactly that. TCU pass rusher Jerry Hughes fits the Dwight Freeney mold and should help immediately in the rotation. Iowa MLB Pat Angerer has the right name for a football player and should back up Gary Brackett. He’s a very instinctive player and was highly productive in college. USC’s Kevin Thomas has played against some of the best in the Pac-10 and fits the Indy mold. Oklahoma’s Brody Elridge (6-5, 261) was the best blocking tight end in the draft and fills a short-yardage need. Tennessee OG Jacques McClendon gives the team some depth on what is a questionable offensive line. Grade: B Jacksonville: The Jaguars had only 14 sacks last season and that’s why they focused on defensive linemen and pass rushers in this draft. However, they should have traded down to get Cal’s Tyson Alualu instead of picking him with the 10th overall selection. Maybe the 49ers would have made that trade for their 17th overall pick? The draft consensus is that Alualu ranked between 25 and 40 on the majority of team’s draft boards. The Jaguars must be faulted for not knowing the value of their first pick. Larry Hart, a defensive end from Central Arkansas, has a chance to be special. Austen Lee and D’Anthony Smith are rangy, athletic pass rushers. Scotty McGee of Murray State has 4.37 speed and should upgrade the return game. One good move was adding linebacker Kirk Morrison, who has led the Raiders in tackles for five straight seasons. Grade: C- Kansas City: Former NFL coach Monte Kiffin says that Tennessee safety Eric Berry is ready to play right away on the pro level and destined to be a star. Berry likes to think of himself as the next Ronnie Lott. Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss, could be the slot receiver that Matt Cassel had in Wes Welker when with the Patriots. Many compare McCluster to Darren Sproles or former Giants Dave Meggett when gauging his versatility. And with the pick for Tony Gonzalez, the Chiefs took Javier Arenas of Alabama, who may be the best returner in the draft. He’s only 5-8, but he made a lot of plays for the Tide off the edge. The first three picks all came from the SEC. Free safety Kendrick Lewis plays better than he ran at the Combine and is a classic overachiever and high character player. Grade: B Miami: The Dolphins took advantage of their work at the Senior Bowl by drafting a lot of players they coached there, plus they moved down in the first round, saving some money in order to pay new receiver Brandon Marshall. First pick Jared Odrick of Penn State fits their defensive scheme in the 3-4 and Utah outside linebacker Koa Misi is a pass-rush specialist and a hard-nosed player. The Dolphins have already said that DE Randy Starks will be moved to nose tackle in order to make room for Odrick and Misi on the outside. Ole Miss OT John Jerry, whose brother Peria plays for the Falcons, will slide down to guard where his powerful leverage and quickness should be better suited. Grade: A Minnesota: The Vikings tried to trade back into the first round for Boise State CB Kyle Wilson because cornerback was a need. They ended up with Virginia’s Chris Cook, who ran a 4.49 at the combine. This position was a need because the Vikings probably won’t have Cedric Griffin for the start of the season, plus veteran Antoine Winfield missed six games last season and will be 33 this season. In a trade with the Texans, the Vikings took Stanford RB Toby Gearhart, who rushed for 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns last season. He was Jimmy Johnson’s favorite college player. Gearhart should be able to spell Adrian Peterson and keep the offense moving. USC pass rusher Everson Griffin was a top-25 talent in the fourth round while Minnesota LB Nathan Triplett gives them some insurance in case E.J. Henderson doesn’t fully recover. Grade: C+ New England: No one understands the NFL trading game better than Bill Belichick, who moved around in this draft and left it with two first-round and two second-round picks for 2011. This is great news because those picks could be extremely valuable if the league institutes a rookie salary cap. New England’s first two picks, Rutgers CB Devin McCourty, and Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski, were need picks. The Pats really don’t have a tight end after losing Ben Watson. Gronkowski missed the entire 2009 season with a back injury, but Tom Brady should find him down the seam because he is 6-6, 265 pounds. He averaged 18.1 yards a catch. Florida LB Brandon Spikes is an old-school middle linebacker who has superior instincts and probably is a better all-around player than DE Jermaine Cunningham who was taken nine picks ahead of him. In the fifth round, the Pats took punter Zoltan Mesko of Michigan and he figures to make the team. Grade: B+ New Orleans: Starting offensive tackle Jamaal Brown, who will be an unrestricted free-agent in 2011, wasn’t happy with the selection of USC Charles Brown in the second round. Brown is a left tackle and he was value pickup late in the second round because he appeared in the first round on some mock drafts. LSU defensive tackle Al Woods needs to work his double-team moves, but he did have a 37-inch vertical jump for a huge man. Woods fills a defensive need. Miami TE Jimmy Graham is the perfect Sean Payton pick because he’s a project after playing only one season of college ball. First pick Patrick Robinson of Florida State suits the Saints’ style of defense; he can play zone coverage or press coverage on the outside. Robinson gives this team necessary depth, considering how much they love to blitz. Boston College center Matt Tennant adds depth while Oregon State QB Sean Canfield may push aging Mark Brunell. Grade: C New York Giants: The Giants wanted Alabama MLB Rolando McClain, but they might have lucked out with Phillip Dillard with the 115th pick. Dillard was a solid middle linebacker at Nebraska and played super at the end of the season for the Cornhuskers. Before that, the Giants risked their first-round pick on South Florida pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, who is physically gifted but short on football experience. NT Linval Joseph battled weight issues (up to 370 pounds) at East Carolina, but he’s a powerful player who has a chance to anchor the defensive line. LSU safety Chad Jones played in the outfield for the Tigers’ national championship team and the Giants love his hands and 6-2, 220-pound frame. With 44-year-old Jeff Feagles entering his 23rd NFL season, the Giants took East Carolina punter Matt Dodge in the fifth round. Grade: B- New York Jets: They fell into one of the draft’s best cover cornerbacks in Kyle Wilson of Boise State at the bottom of the first round. Wilson could end up teaming with Darrelle Revis. OT Vladimir Ducasse moved here in 2002 from Haiti and only played two years of high school football, but he started three years at Massachusetts and was all-league twice. Ducasse is a great project because he’s 6-4, 332 pounds with 35-inch arms. USC running back Joe McKnight was great value in the fourth round. His style suits the pro game because he can catch and also return kicks. The key is whether McKnight is as productive as Leon Washington, who was traded to Seattle. They added a solid fullback blocker in Kentucky’s John Conner, a 246-pounder. They also unloaded veteran guard John Faneca because he was guaranteed more than $5 million this season. Grade: B Oakland: Owner Al Davis lit a bonfire under JaMarcus Russell with the acquisition of Redskins QB Jason Campbell for a 2012 fourth-round pick. Campbell is a deep-ball thrower that Davis has always loved. Russell is due over $9 million this season and I can see the Raiders asking him to take a $7 million pay reduction; if they release him, who would take him? Davis finally went against his size and speed measurements and simply took a quality football player in MLB Rolando McClain, the defensive leader of Alabama’s national championship team. Lamarr Houston was a high school running back who ballooned into a very good defensive tackle at Texas. He should be a great one-gap penetrator. Finally, the Raiders took Maryland OT Bruce Campbell, the athletic phenom (4.84 for 314-pounder) at the Combine, who simply needs to listen to head coach Tom Cable to learn how to play a little tougher and stronger. Campbell had a low second-round grade, so it was a great selection. Clemson WR Jacoby Ford has 4.28 speed and should be a playmaker. To get Ford, Davis traded starting MLB Kirk Morrison to the Jaguars, opening up the position for McClain. Grade: A+ Philadelphia: The Eagles gave up a lot to move up in the first round to take Michigan pass rusher Brandon Graham, who was a dominant performer in the Big Ten. Andy Reid is hoping that second-round pick Nate Allen of South Florida can shore up the safety position, but he’s not an intimidator like Brian Dawkins was for this franchise. Allen is also going to be remembered as the Donovan McNabb selection, too. A lot of pressure on this kid to produce. For all their ammunition prior to the draft, the Eagles kind of struck out. With the 122nd pick, the Eagles surprised many by taking Northwestern QB Mike Kafka over Tony Pike and Dan LeFevour. Obviously, Kafka is smart but his arm seemed limited. The Eagles did a lot better in the later rounds on value, getting Clemson OLB Ricky Sapp, who had second-round grades, Florida receiver Riley Cooper who should be a big target in the red zone and H-back Clay Harbor of Missouri State. Ohio State safety Kurt Coleman was a playmaker and has a shot to make the team from the seventh round. Grade: B- Pittsburgh: There were phony rumors out there that Ben Roethlisberger was on the trading block, so the Steelers focused on shoring up the offensive line with Florida center Maurkice Pouncey, who was their target from the outset. Virgina Tech OLB Jason Worilds ideally suits the Steelers’ 3-4 scheme as an edge rusher and may remind some of James Harrison. Former Ohio State standout Thaddeus Gibson is a great athlete who was only a one-year starter and he was something of tweener at OLB and defensive end. He’s a project. SMU WR Emmanuel Sanders will try to fill Santonio Holmes’ shoes. RB Johnathan Dwyer of Georgia Tech was considered a second-round pick, but fell to the sixth round because of a failed drug test for amphetamines for medical reasons at the Combine. Dwyer was off some teams’ draft boards. Grade: B+ San Diego: The entire draft for the Chargers will be based on what kind of impact Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews makes this season. The Chargers gave up their 40th pick to move up in the first round and take Mathews, who was considered the draft’s best all-around runner. Coach Norv Turner now has the big back to work with Darren Sproles. Washington linebacker Donald Butler can play inside and outside and is super smart. North Carolina’s Cam Thomas (330 pounds) will be given every chance to win the starting nose tackle spot while the Chargers actually took a quarterback in Jonathan Compton, who passed for 27 touchdowns and 13 INTs last season with Tennessee. Grade: C San Francisco: The 49ers bolstered their offensive line and didn’t take a quarterback, meaning they will stick with Alex Smith this season. Anthony Davis of Rutgers will be given every chance to start at right tackle this season while Idaho guard Mike Iupati is a tremendous run blocker with a nasty streak. These two players will allow the 49ers to pound the ball while also providing Smith with better pocket protection. Free safety Taylor Mays of USC was considered a top ten pick a year ago, but he slipped this season because he didn’t track the deep ball very well and missed so many interception opportunities. But Mays can run and tackle and should be a good fit. He is motivated to prove his worth, too. Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon was a one-man offense in college and is a good fit behind Frank Gore. LB Navorro Bowman played well at Penn State, but his draft stock fell because of some off-the-field issues. Grade: A Seattle: Despite former player Taylor Mays taking a personal shot at his former coach, Pete Carroll, the former USC coach had a great three-day draft. The Seahawks got a great playmaker in Texas safety Earl Thomas, who was coveted by coordinator Gus Bradley. And OT Russell Okung was the top-rated tackle on the majority of teams’ boards and was available because the Redskins prefer a zone-blocking scheme and wanted a more athletic tackle in Trent Williams. They spent the 40th pick on Chargers QB Charlie Whitehurst. They needed a receiver and got Golden Tate, who had a great final season at Notre Dame with 93 catches for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns before going to play center field for the baseball team. They tried to trade for Marshawn Lynch, but ended up with ex-Trojan in LenDale White in a deal with the Titans. White gives them a power running back to go with Justin Forsett, considering how disappointing Julius Jones has been. But the best news was the acquisition of Leon Washington from the Jets, meaning that Jones might be an afterthought as a starter. Tate should be a return man. Carroll took a chance on his former player, Anthony McCoy, who tested positive for marijuana at the Combine. McCoy was hampered by an ankle injury last season. Grade: A+ St. Louis: This team, regardless of who the owner is, had no other choice but to draft a quarterback and hope that Sam Bradford does become the successful new face of the franchise. There should be no threat of a holdout because CEO Kevin Demoff has done four big contracts with agents Tom Condon/Ben Dogra over the past six seasons. Indiana OT Rodger Saffold, a three-year starter, had first-round grades by at least a dozen teams and this was another huge need. Marty Gilyard was an explosive receiver at Cincinnati and he should be the starting kick returner, too. DE George Selvie lost his starting job at South Florida to the Giants’ first-round pick, Pierre-Paul, but he did have an awesome sophomore season and Penn State linebacker Josh Hull was a solid pick in the seventh round. There seemed to be 30 tight ends taken in this draft and the Rams took two of them in Michael Hoomanawanui of Illinois (the blocker) and Fendi Onobun of Arizona (the vertical threat). Grade: B Tampa Bay: Maybe they had Ndamukong Suh rated higher than Gerald McCoy, but this Oklahoma tackle will be an instant starter and bring energy and pass-rush ability. The Bucs followed that with another DT in UCLA’s Brian Price, a great three-technique rusher while ignoring a chance to take a receiver. But they got quality at that position with Arrelious Benn of Illinois because he entered the 2009 season as a top ten pick but suffered an ankle injury and struggled because of the horrible Illinois quarterback situation. Syracuse WR Mike Williams got suspended last season, but most teams had a second-round grade on him, so he was a bargain in the fourth round. I don’t know if Cody Grimm can hold up in the NFL, but the Virginia Tech safety forced eight fumbles last season and is a high-energy guy. Grade: A Tennessee: Having lost Kyle Vanden Bosch to the Lions in free-agency, the Titans fell into one of the draft’s most complete defensive ends in Georgia Tech’s Derrick Morgan in the first round. Most teams had Morgan as a top ten pick. USC receiver Damian Williams returned two punts for touchdowns last season and the Titans have a definite need in that area. Williams was also a productive receiver with 70 catches for 1,010 yards and six touchdowns. He finished is career with 17 TDs. Rennie Curran was a tackling machine at Georgia with 130 tackles in his senior season. The only knock on the 235-pound Curran is that he’s only 5-10. Curran was also a team captain and started 25 games in his last two seasons. The Titans took the smartest player in the draft in former Florida State safety Myron Rolle, who spent last season as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Rolle hopes to one day to become a surgeon. Grade: B Washington: The only way to look at their draft is that Mike Shanahan gave up a second-round pick for Donovan McNabb, a veteran QB that he loves. OT Trent Williams will be an instant starter and his athletic style suits Washington’s zone-blocking run scheme. LSU linebacker Perry Riley fills a need. The only bad thing is that the Redskins couldn’t get better compensation (2011 fourth-round pick) for Jason Campbell in the trade with the Raiders. Grade: C
Scouts, Inc. and ESPN Stats have devised a new formula based on the idea that “getting value has a bigger impact on a draft class than addressing, and possibly reaching for, team needs. And unlike most draft reviews, we wanted to make sure we accounted for the year-round use of draft picks.” Unfortunately, they don’t assign actual letter grades.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports.
Best pick: Second-round pick Daryl Washington will be an immediate starter. He will add a speedy linebacker to a defense that needs it.
Questionable move: Drafting O’Brien Schofield in the fourth round. He is coming off an ACL injury that dropped him down, and you have no idea if he’ll ever be the same.
Third-day gem: Fordham QB John Skelton has a big arm and the Cardinals were hoping to get him. He has a chance to be a backup in a year or two.
Analysis: This is a team that has really improved its drafting. They had another nice group, getting two important defensive players with their first two picks. Dan Williams will really help the inside defense.
Best pick: Third-round guard Mike Johnson is a tough guy from Alabama who will fit right in with the Falcons’ style of linemen. He is insurance for Justin Blalock, who has one year left on his deal.
Questionable move: I wasn’t enamored with first-round pick Sean Weatherspoon as much as the Falcons were. I think he’s a bit overrated.
Third-day gem: Cornerback Dominique Franks from Oklahoma is a talented player. He does have some character issues. But he could push for time as a nickel corner.
Analysis: They were hoping a defensive end fell to them in the first round, but when the top ends went they took Weatherspoon. The rest of the draft was mostly spent trying to improve the defense. They landed some solid players.
Best pick: Landing huge defensive tackle Terrence Cody in the second round was a great move. The Ravens will keep his weight in check and he will be a force in the middle of their defense.
Questionable move: Sergio Kindle, their second-round pick, has some knee issues and some character issues. He’s a good player, but that’s two big flags.
Third-day gem: Tight end Dennis Pitta, taken in the fourth round, might end up being a better player than Ed Dickson, the team’s third-round pick. Pitta is a nice pass-catching threat.
Analysis: The Ravens always seem to tear it up in the draft. They know how to find good players, and this year was no exception. They landed a heck of a group, without even using a first-round pick. Well done.
Best pick: I love the pick of C.J. Spiller in the first round. He will add an explosive presence to the offense, helping to offset for some bad quarterback play.
Questionable move: Taking nose tackle Torrell Troup in the second round. There were better nose-tackle options left on the board when they made the pick.
Third-day gem: Quarterback Levi Brown, taken in the seventh round, is raw but he has a good arm, which you need in Buffalo weather.
Analysis: Getting Spiller was a nice move, but at some point they need to find their quarterback of the future. Why not Jimmy Clausen in the second round? Hoping Brown is it is a long shot.
Best pick: Getting Jimmy Clausen in the second round will change this team. They finally have a franchise quarterback.
Questionable move: Trading this year’s first-round pick last April to draft defensive end Everette Brown. He better become a 12-sack player.
Third-day gem: Fifth-round pick defensive end Greg Hardy was once considered a potential top-20 pick. He has that type of skill. He just needs to be more focused as a pass rusher.
Analysis: For not having a first-round pick, general manager Mary Hurney had a nice draft. Landing Clausen was the big move. They finally have a quarterback.
Best pick: I love the choice of defensive end Corey Wootton in the fourth round. He suffered a major injury late in 2008 that hurt him in 2009. He could be a steal.
Questionable move: Trading their second-round pick for the late Gaines Adams. Even if he didn’t tragically die, it wouldn’t have been a good deal.
Third-day gem: Cornerback Josh Moore has a chance to be a nickel corner in their defense. He has nice cover skills.
Analysis: They didn’t pick until the third round — the first-round pick went in the Jay Cutler trade — so it was tough to give them a high mark. But they did get some good players with their picks.
Best pick: I love the pick of receiver Jordan Shipley in the third round. He will be a Carson Palmer favorite. He also will help the return game.
Questionable move: Taking Carlos Dunlap in the second round will be a feast-or-famine pick. He has ability, but he needs to be more productive.
Third-day gem: Fourth-round pick Geno Atkins is an undersized defensive tackle from Georgia who was productive in a big-time conference.
Analysis: I really like the haul they had in this draft. Getting tight end Jermaine Gresham will really help the passing game. So will Shipley. The Bengals’ drafting as of late has really paid off.
Best pick: There was talk they would take Boise State corner Kyle Wilson, but they stuck with Joe Haden, who was the better player, with the seventh overall pick.
Questionable move: Passing on Jimmy Clausen in the second round. They did get Colt McCoy later, but Clausen is a better player.
Third-day gem: Sixth-round pick Carlton Mitchell has good size and speed. He’s a receiver who could challenge for time as a rookie.
Analysis: They landed good players in Haden and second-round pick T.J. Ward. But they waited too long to address the quarterback situation.
Best pick: I love the move to trade up to get Sean Lee in the second round. He has the talent to start in a year or two.
Questionable move: I like it, but some will say trading up to get Dez Bryant was questionable. That’s because of character, not talent.
Third-day gem: Sixth-round pick Sam Young was a quality starter at Notre Dame. He doesn’t have great feet, but neither does right tackle Marc Colombo.
Analysis: Their first two picks really make this draft. Bryant and Lee will be contributors right away. Did you see the way the Cowboys reacted when they landed Bryant?
Best pick: Third-round pick J.D. Walton is a quality center who has a chance to start as a rookie.
Questionable move: Trading back into the first round to take Tim Tebow. Why? Why? Why?
Third-day gem: Fifth-round corner Perrish Cox has a lot of talent. He does have some character issues.
Analysis: They better hope Tebow becomes a star. If not, this draft will be known as a disaster. They did regroup after that to make some nice picks. Demaryius Thomas is a risk in the first round coming off a leg injury. But Tebow will define this draft.
Best pick: It was their first one. They took defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with the second overall pick. He will be an immediate starter.
Questionable move: Trading back into the latter end of the first round to take Jahvid Best. Best is a good player, but he has concussion issues.
Third-day gem: Tackle Jason Fox, taken in the fourth round, is a tough guy whose draft status was hurt by a knee injury. But he is a good player when he’s healthy.
Analysis: After Suh, the rest of the draft was very uninspiring. For a team with so many needs, you have to wonder how many they filled. Best was a reach in my mind.
Green Bay Packers
Best pick: Third-round pick Morgan Burnett is a playmaking safety who has the range you want in a modern-day player at that position.
Questionable move: Taking defensive tackle Mike Neal in the second round over some other tackles will be a move watched closely. Was he worth a second-round selection?
Third-day gem: Defensive end C.J. Wilson has a chance to stick as a seventh-round pick. He was a quality player at East Carolina.
Analysis: Getting tackle Bryan Bulaga to fall to them in the first round was a good thing. I think the second-round pick brings the grade down. They reached on that one.
Best pick: Second-round running back Ben Tate will push for a starting job as a rookie. I really like his toughness as a runner.
Questionable move: Taking Arizona defensive tackle Earl Mitchell in the third round. There were better options for the Texans at that time.
Third-day gem: Darryl Sharpton is a small linebacker from Miami, but he has speed and knows how to get to the football.
Analysis: I like the pick of cornerback Kareem Jackson in the first round. He excels in man coverage and will start right away. The rest of the draft after Tate was so-so.
Best pick: First-round pick Jerry Hughes will be another explosive pass rusher on the Colts’ roster. I really love his rush ability and he fits what they want to do.
Questionable move: Not taking a tackle in the first round. They have issues on the left side, but that’s not Bill Polian’s way.
Third-day gem: Guard Jacques McClendon is a powerful blocker who could help inside. He is a strong mauler in the run game, which the Colts need.
Analysis: Polian’s track record is very good and I do like the pick of Hughes. But why not take a tackle early? I also like third-round pick Kevin Thomas.
Best pick: Third-round pick D’Anthony Smith was a player I really liked coming into the draft. The only knock on this defensive tackle is he took some plays off.
Questionable move: Taking Tyson Alualu with the 10th pick in the first round is a move many questioned. But they had him that high on their board. It was a little high.
Third-day gem: Defensive end Austen Lane, a fifth-round pick, was a player the Jaguars eyed heading into this draft. He is a pass rusher whose coach in college at Murray State is on the team’s staff.
Analysis: Their draft will be defined by what Alualu does. If he’s a Pro Bowl player, it will be a good draft. If not, they will be questioned. I do like the trade to land linebacker Kirk Morrison from the Raiders. He will start.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best pick: Third-round tight end Tony Moeaki has a ton of talent, but never lived up to it at Iowa. I say he does in the NFL.
Questionable move: Taking a safety fifth overall is always a risk. They did that with Eric Berry. He’s good, but safety isn’t a value position.
Third-day gem: Fifth-round safety Kendrick Lewis is an aggressive player who led Mississippi in tackles for two years.
Analysis: I wasn’t as thrilled with their draft as some others. I think Berry will be good, but that’s high. Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas are questionable moves as second-round picks.
Best pick: Second-round pick Koa Misi is perfect for the Miami defense. He is a pass-rusher who will move to outside linebacker.
Questionable move: Trading down in the first round and not taking Brandon Graham. That might be a move they regret. But that’s nitpicking.
Third-day gem: Fifth-round safety Reshad Jones was a three-year starter at Georgia who has good range in the secondary. He is athletic, but some question his tackling.
Analysis: I like what they did in the first two rounds. They traded down and landed defensive end Jared Odrick. He and Misi will help the defense. They did a nice job.
Best pick: Second-round pick Chris Cook was a player the Vikings would have considered in the first round if they didn’t trade down.
Questionable move: Taking Toby Gerhart in the second round. I think there were better backs on the board when they took him.
Third-day gem: Fourth-round pick Everson Griffen was considered a possible first-round pick. In the Vikings’ aggressive defense, he will fit right in.
Analysis: Did they get a starter in this draft? Not right away. But they did add some quality players. But it’s not all that exciting.
New England Patriots
Best pick: I like second-round tight end Rob Gronkowski. He has first-round talent and I predict he starts as a rookie right away.
Questionable move: Taking linebacker Brandon Spikes with one of their other second-round picks. He is slow to the football.
Third-day gem: Tight end Aaron Hernandez caught a lot of footballs at Florida. He will take on their Dallas Clark role.
Analysis: They always seem to find good football players and always seem to have a ton of picks. They know how to work a draft. I like what they did, even if they did overdraft a few players. Twelve picks really helps.
New Orleans Saints
Best pick: Second-round pick Charles Brown is a good player who will be even better in the NFL. He has great feet, which you need in this offense.
Questionable move: Taking Patrick Robinson in the first round. You can never have enough secondary players, but why not a defensive-front player?
Third-day gem: Center Matt Tennant has a chance to develop into a starter in two years. He was a good player at Boston College.
Analysis: They took some chances on players, which could pay off but they’re risky. Robinson is a good cover player, but was he really needed?
New York Giants
Best pick: It was their first one. I love Jason Pierre-Paul. They need a pass rusher, and they got a good one.
Questionable move: Not taking a middle linebacker until Phillip Dillard in the fourth round. They need to replace Antonio Pierce.
Third-day gem: Fifth-round pick Mitch Petrus is a strong, powerful player who excels in the run game. The Giants want to get tougher, and he will help.
Analysis: Their first three picks were all players I really liked. Pierre-Paul will be a beast. I also liked second-round pick Linval Joseph and third-round pick Chad Jones. Jerry Reese did a nice job.
New York Jets
Best pick: I love Kyle Wilson in the first round. He joins Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis at corner to give the Jets a heck of a tough group to throw against.
Questionable move: Taking Vladmir Ducasse in the second round. They will move him from tackle to guard, but he is raw.
Third-day gem: I like running back Joe McKnight in the fourth round. He has big-time speed.
Analysis: Getting Wilson is a nice move, but the rest of the draft wasn’t too exciting. I do like McKnight to take over the Leon Washington role.
Best pick: I really like second-round pick Lamarr Houston. This former running back will be a dominant defensive tackle.
Questionable move: Taking raw tackle Jared Veldheer in the third round. He has ability, but he played at Hillsdale.
Third-day gem: Fifth-round pick Walter McFadden was a quality corner who made a lot of plays in a good conference at Auburn.
Analysis: They got Rolando McClain in the first round and Houston in the second round. That’s two quality players. They also traded for quarterback Jason Campbell, which I like. The Raiders did a nice job.
Best pick: Trading up in the first round to get Brandon Graham. He will be a 13-sack player in two years. I love the kid.
Questionable move: Trading Donovan McNabb for a second-round pick. But that’s nitpicking.
Third-day gem: Fifth-round pick Ricky Sapp was a potential first-round selection until he tore up a knee two years ago. He moved to outside linebacker, but he is more of a down end.
Analysis: You look up and down their draft board and it’s full of really good players. They had a lot of picks and the Eagles really did a nice job with them. That shouldn’t be surprising.
Best pick: I like fourth-round pick Thaddeus Gibson, a linebacker from Ohio State. He didn’t always play to the level of his talent, so the Steelers have to hope they can get it out of them.
Questionable move: Third-round receiver Emanuel Sanders played in a wide-open offense at SMU, but there were better options when he was on the board.
Third-day gem: Fifth-round pick Stevenson Sylvester was an active linebacker at Utah. He doesn’t run well, but the Steelers can hide him inside in their defense.
Analysis: They addressed their offensive-line woes with Maurkice Pouncey in the first round. He will play guard. They also added some good players the rest of the way.
St. Louis Rams
Best pick: Taking Sam Bradford first overall in the draft. They had to get a franchise passer, and they did.
Questionable move: Taking corner Jerome Murphy in the third round might have been a bit of a reach.
Third-day gem: Fourth-round pick Mardy Gilyard is a perfect slot receiver for Bradford. He will be a 65-catch player.
Analysis: Landing Bradford was a great move. They then came back and got a protector for him in the second round in Rodger Saffold. I also liked the pick of Gilyard.
San Diego Chargers
Best pick: Third-round pick Donald Butler is a quality inside linebacker who could move one of the starters aside and take their job.
Questionable move: Trading so many picks to move up to draft running back Ryan Mathews in the first round. He better be LaDainian Tomlinson.
Third-day gem: Cam Thomas is a big nose tackle who the Chargers got in the fifth round. I think Thomas might push for time right away.
Analysis: I think to move up and trade so many picks to get Mathews was too pricey. They did make up for it later in the draft with some nice picks.
San Francisco 49ers
Best pick: Guard Mike Iupati was a nice pick with the 17th choice in the first round. He is a tough guy who will help the run game.
Questionable move: Taking safety Taylor Mays in the second round. I think he lacks cover skills that will show up in the NFL.
Third-day gem: I like running back Anthony Dixon, who was taken in the sixth round. He was a productive runner at Mississippi State.
Analysis: They landed two good offensive linemen with their first two picks, with Anthony Davis going first. I like that, but they took Mays too high, which drops the grade down.
Best pick: I like the pick of Golden Tate in the second round. Seattle needs a receiver and Tate can provide the big play.
Questionable move: Taking safety Earl Thomas at No. 14 in the first round instead of a much-needed pass rusher. The value is better at defensive end.
Third-day gem: Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond, a fourth-round pick, was a good player in a tough conference. Pete Carroll knows him well. He will be a starter someday.
Analysis: It was hard not to have a good draft with two first-round picks. Landing Russell Okung in the first round was a must. They better hope Thomas ends up being an Ed Reed-type player. They also traded for Leon Washington and LenDale White.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best pick: I like the choice of receiver Arrelious Benn in the second round. He has loads of talent and will become Josh Freeman’s go-to receiver.
Questionable move: Receiver Mike Williams quit the Syracuse football team, which dropped him down. But he is a big-time talent who might turn out to be a heck of a player.
Third-day gem: Dekoda Watson is an athletic linebacker who fits in perfectly with what Tampa Bay wants to do. Getting him in Round 7 is a steal.
Analysis: I absolutely love their draft. General manager Mark Dominik did a great job with a lot of picks. The Bucs have a great young group to build around.
Best pick: Third-round pick Rennie Curran is an undersized linebacker out of Georgia. But he always seems to be around the football.
Questionable move: I’m not as sold on first-round pick Derrick Morgan as others, but I know why they took him. He will be good, but I don’t think he can be great.
Third-day gem: Cornerback Alterraun Verner, taken in the fourth round, was a productive player at UCLA, but he isn’t a burner. They have an opening opposite Cortland Finnegan and he will be in that mix.
Analysis: The Titans had another solid draft. They went in with the idea of helping the defense, which they did. Morgan has a chance to start right away.
Best pick: They landed a franchise tackle in Trent Williams in the first round. He will protect the blind side for a long time.
Questionable move: Passing on taking a quarterback for the future at some point. Donovan McNabb can’t play forever.
Third-day gem: Fourth-round pick Perry Riley is a linebacker who could be in the mix inside in the new 3-4 scheme. Riley was an active player at LSU.
Analysis: I like the pick of Williams in the first round and getting McNabb for the second-round pick is stealing. If you factor in the McNabb trade, they had a nice draft.
Jarrett Bell of USA Today breaks it down in grade order:
â€¢Seattle Seahawks: The top priority, Russell Okung, supplants retiring Walter Jones as the franchise left tackle. Playmaking safety Earl Thomas fell into the Seahawks’ lap in the 14th slot. Picked 60th overall, wideout-returner Golden Tate came with tremendous value. Exclamation points were added with trades that landed power runner Len Dale White, scatback Leon Washington and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson. An impressive performance to mark Pete Carroll’s return to the NFL.
â€¢Oakland Raiders: The franchise broke tradition and didn’t spring bizarre moves from left field. A solid draft began with top-rated inside linebacker Rolando McClain, followed by underrated D-tackle Lamarr Houston. O-tackle needs were addressed with small-school wonder Jared Veldheer and sliding workout warrior Bruce Campbell. They still satisfied Al Davis’ thirst for speed. Fourth-round wideout Jacoby Ford had a combine-best 4.28 in the 40. Oakland was also shrewd in trading for QB Jason Campbell to unseat No. 1 flop Jamarcus Russell.
â€¢Detroit Lions: The team got arguably the best player in the draft in difference-making D-tackle Ndamukong Suh, which left no need to trade for Albert Haynesworth. With Kevin Smith healing from a torn knee ligament, they traded to get back in the first round to select big-play running back Jahvid Best. A great start in trying to duplicate last year’s draft. Middle-round corner Amari Spievey and tackle Jason Fox were good value picks.
â€¢San Francisco 49ers: The club sent a clear message by using their two first-round picks (11th and 17th overall) to beef up the O-line with tackle Anthony Davis and guard-tackle Mike Iupati. This should boost Frank Gore’s effectiveness and help fix short-yardage woes. Hard-hitting safety Taylor Mays brings a bonus. Miffed that he was bypassed by his former college coach Carroll, May will have extra incentive for two games a year vs. Seattle.
â€¢Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Some think D-tackle Gerald McCoy is a better prospect than Suh. There’s no debate McCoy, compared to Warren Sapp because of his quickness, is a great fit for the rebuilding Bucs defense. He’ll be joined in the middle by second-rounder Brian Price. Athletic wonder Arrelious Benn and fourth-rounder Mike Williams bolster the receiving corps.
â€¢Baltimore Ravens: After trading out of the first round, the Ravens made good on two second-round picks, linebacker Sergio Kindle and 350-plus-pound nose tackle Terrence Cody. Kindle was considered a potential first-rounder. Cody is a huge run-stuffer. Baltimore addressed tight end needs with Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.
â€¢New England Patriots: Team officials were plenty busy with 12 picks, including six in the first 113. They went right to work on filling needs, from first-round corner Devin McCourty, big, stretch-the-field tight end Rob Gronkowski and two Florida linebackers â€” Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes. Coach Bill Belichick, close to Florida coach Urban Meyer, has made annual treks to Gainesville. Still, the jury’s out for whether Cunningham, who is moving from defensive end, will fill the Patriots’ need for an impact pass rusher.
â€¢St. Louis Rams: They have their franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, but how they support the No. 1 pick will have much to do with his success. Underrated tackle Rodger Saffold, a nice pickup at the top of Round 2, is part of the equation. Fourth-round wide receiver Mardy Gilyard brings speed and could start as a rookie on a thin roster. Two tight ends were added with midround picks. But they didn’t replace D-tackle Adam Carriker.
â€¢Philadelphia Eagles:Â They had an NFL-high 13 picks, and just one of the choices was an original selection. Not so typical: The Eagles didn’t pick an O-lineman, breaking an Andy Reid pattern and more stunning considering how the Dallas Cowboys manhandled the front at season’s end. But this was about a defense that slipped in 2009. The first five picks were used for the defense, including a first-round trade-up for end Brandon Graham and second-round pick of cover safety Nate Allen.
â€¢Miami Dolphins: After dealing down in Round 1, the Dolphins went for two impact defenders: tackle Jared Odrick and linebacker Koa Misi, who fills a huge need with the departures of Joey Porter and Jason Taylor. The third-round pick, guard John Jerry, adds beef to the line.
â€¢San Diego Chargers: They paid a high price for Ryan Mathews, moving up 16 spots in the first round. But they had little choice in filling the most glaring need. LaDainian Tomlinson is gone, and they needed a big-back complement to third-down type Darren Sproles. Mathews led the nation by averaging more than 150 rushing yards a game in 2009. Another need is nose tackle, which means fifth-round Cam Thomas has a chance to make a name for himself.
â€¢Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer has a couple of new weapons in Jermaine Gresham, the draft’s top-rated tight end, and likely slot receiver Jordan Shipley. In between, the Bengals nabbed defensive end Carlos Dunlap. The three solid picks addressed three needs as the Bengals let the board fall their way.
â€¢Kansas City Chiefs: So much for general manager Scott Pioli not believing in picking safeties high. Eric Berry was tabbed at No. 5. It might suggest the Chiefs are happy with their O-line, as they passed on Okung. It might also suggest they view Berry as the next Ronnie Lott. They claimed a big-play weapon in second-round running/slot back Dexter McCluster, a small-fast-tough package.
â€¢Cleveland Browns: Offensive guru Mike Holmgren’s first Browns draft began with defense. He picked the top corner, Joe Haden, then went for hard-hitting safety T.J. Ward. Quarterback Colt McCoy fell to the Browns in the third round, who might ultimately define this class. Second-rounder Montario Hardesty fits the profile of a between-the-tackles, cold-weather back.
â€¢New Orleans Saints: Corner Patrick Robinson is a good fit for the press coverages needed for Gregg Williams’ schemes. While O-tackle Charles Brown offers good value in Round 2, they didn’t address the D-line until tackle Al Woods in the fourth.
â€¢Dallas Cowboys: They hope they’ve landed the next Randy Moss after moving up three slots in the first round for Dez Bryant, considered the draft’s best receiver. Bryant, though, fell because of questions about his maturity. Inside linebacker Sean Lee might be a hit. But Dallas didn’t draft a left tackle, increasing the odds of Flozell Adams re-signing.
â€¢Pittsburgh Steelers:Â They got the top-rated center, Maurkice Pouncey, early. If history is any indication, second-round linebacker Jason Worilds will learn Dick LeBeau’s zone-blitz scheme as an understudy, then blossom into a star. Trading for Bryant McFadden helped, too.
â€¢New York Giants: With linebacker McClain off the board, the Giants added more talent to the D-line. This time it’s Jason Pierre-Paul, picked over Derrick Morgan. Pierre-Paul has a more athletic upside. Now he can develop gradually with spot duty. Five of the Giants’ first six picks were used on defense, including a couple of midround linebackers.
â€¢Minnesota Vikings: After trading out of the first round, they nabbed one of the draft’s biggest corners in Chris Cook and college football’s most productive running back last year, Toby Gerhart, who can relieve Adrian Peterson. Fourth-round end Everson Griffen slid significantly.
â€¢Indianapolis Colts: Defensive end Jerry Hughes should be a perfect fit in the Colts’ fast, undersized defense. And he can learn while adding relief for Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, rather than be counted on as an instant starter. Second-round linebacker Pat Angerer will do likewise behind Gary Brackett.
â€¢Arizona Cardinals: They got a break when top-rated nose tackle Dan Williams fell to the bottom of the first round. They need him for their 3-4 scheme. With Karlos Dansby gone, they got good value with linebacker Darryl Washington. Third-round receiver Andre Roberts won’t replace Anquan Boldin.
â€¢Green Bay Packers: Bryan Bulaga lacks the reach desired in a prototype tackle, but he’s technically sound and tough. That made him a solid pick late in the first round and a likely starter at right tackle. They bolstered the defense with lineman Mike Neal and safety Morgan Burnett.
â€¢Atlanta Falcons: Needing linebacker help, they might have landed the most complete one in the draft in Sean Weatherspoon. They might have reached for third-round D-tackle Cory Peters before adding O-line depth with midround picks. Atlanta got value for the second-round pick it traded in Tony Gonzalez.
â€¢Denver Broncos: Coach Josh McDaniels and GM Brian Xanders worked the trade market and settled on two No. 1′s near the bottom of the round: receiver Demaryius Thomas and quarterback Tim Tebow, whose track record as a winner did little to establish him as a can’t-miss prospect. Thomas, meanwhile, has raw tools. It’s boom or bust on these picks.
â€¢New York Jets: They might have found a steal in cornerback Kyle Wilson, another fast cover man to team with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Vladimir Ducasse is an intriguing prospect for the O-line. But some of the other moves are puzzling for a team that fielded the NFL’s No. 1 rushing attack: Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca was released before Ducasse has proved his worth. Southern Cal’s Joe McKnight was drafted, and running back Leon Washington was then traded. With fullback Jon Conner being nabbed with a fifth-round pick, is Tony Richardson next to leave?
â€¢Buffalo Bills: The draft’s most explosive player, running back C.J. Spiller, now jockeys for touches with Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. His big-play ability was undoubtedly too good to pass up. But Buffalo, with a 3-4 scheme, reached for nose tackle Torell Troupe rather than addressing its quarterback need. And the Bills didn’t tap a tackle until the fifth round.
â€¢Carolina Panthers: Jimmy Clausen, considered the draft’s most NFL-ready quarterback, fell to them in the second round. Good value. And instant competition for Matt Moore, who figured to replace departed Jake Delhomme. Maybe Clausen will be a long-term answer, though it’s uncertain if GM Marty Hurney and coach John Fox â€” each in the final year of his contract â€” will be the beneficiaries. And why did Carolina trade a second-round pick in 2011? For a third-round choice used on Appalachian State receiver Armanti Edwards.
â€¢Houston Texans:Â They passed on Kyle Wilson to take cornerback Kareem Jackson. He may be the draft’s most physical corner, similar to Dunta Robinson, whom the Texans lost in free agency. Maybe running back Ben Tate will ease tension at that critical position. With Owen Daniels recovering from a torn knee ligament, Houston picked two tight ends, Garett Graham and receiver-like Dorin Dickerson.
â€¢Chicago Bears: Having traded away picks in trades for Jay Cutler and the late Gaines Adams, they didn’t select until the 75th slot. Their grade is skewed accordingly. Still, in safety Major Wright, they added a playmaker to a defense that has received significant offseason attention. Keep an eye on sixth-round quarterback Dan LeFevour.
â€¢Tennessee Titans: The Titans scored in landing the rush end they needed with Derrick Morgan, considered the most complete defensive end in the draft. Third-round receiver Damion Williams represents value. But in dumping running back LenDale White and D-tackle Kevin Vickers, the Titans moved up seven and nine slots, respectively, in the fourth and sixth rounds for defensive back Alterraun Verner and quarterback Rusty Smith.
â€¢Washington Redskins: Their second-round pick was Donovan McNabb, the veteran quarterback who can drive Mike Shanahan’s offense â€¦ if the line is working. Washington took its left tackle of the present and future in Trent Williams, whose athleticism gave him the nod over Okung and fits better with the Redskins’ zone-blocking schemes. They went 1-for-2 in dealing disgruntled players, finding a home for Campbell, the former starting quarterback, but not Haynesworth.
â€¢Jacksonville Jaguars: The draft’s first shocker came with the selection of defensive tackle Tyson Alualu in the 10th spot overall. A reach. At least he’s a trendsetter. The Jags used each of their first four picks on defensive linemen. Jacksonville had 14 sacks last season.
Pat Kirwan of NFL.com and Sirius NFL Radio and one of my favorite analysts has a good team-by-team discussion but doesn’t actually hand out grades.
NFL.com generally decided to drag out their draft grading much as the NFL has dragged out its drafting.Â Rather than releasing report cards the day after the draft, as is customary, they dripped out division-by-division analyses over the next week.Â Bucky Brooks does the honors:
DallasÂ Cowboys: B+
Jerry Jones is a noted wheeler and dealer, and his aggressive ways resulted in the Cowboys landing a terrific draft class. The team traded up a handful of spots to land one of the most talented players in the draft in Dez Bryant, and used a similar ploy to get Sean Lee in the second round. Both players have the potential to be all-stars at their respective positions and will make contributions very early in their careers. Throw in the addition of draft sleeper Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, and the Cowboys’ draft class will play a major role in their Super Bowl run in 2010.
PhiladelphiaÂ Eagles: B
The Eagles continued to infuse the locker room with young talent by taking 13 players in the draft. Andy Reid cleverly moved up and down the board to pick up targeted players, while also adding a bevy of picks. Brandon Graham was nabbed after making an aggressive jump into the top half of the first round, and he gives the team a high-motor rusher to pair with Trent Cole. In Nate Allen, the Eagles address their pressing need at free safety by bringing in a natural ball hawk in the back end. Mike Kafka becomes the Eagles’ latest quarterback project to develop into a future contributor.
New YorkÂ Giants: B-
The Giants do an excellent job of stockpiling talent at critical positions, and that philosophy was reflected in their approach this year. The team added two young defensive linemen (Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph) to an already deep rotation, and third-round pick Chad Jones becomes the team’s third safety. While they were unable to get a middle linebacker in the early portion of the draft to fill their obvious hole at that spot, the addition of Phillip Dillard gives them a highly productive player to compete for time at the position. The Giants’ draft is short on pizzazz but provides the team the necessary depth to make a strong push for the NFC East title.
WashingtonÂ Redskins: C+
The Redskins must be graded on a curve due to the addition of Donovan McNabb. The acquisition of the six-time Pro Bowler cost the team their second-round pick, but stabilized a quarterback situation that had been in flux for more than a decade. Additionally, the team solidified the left side of the line with the selection of Trent Williams. Although most teams had Russell Okung rated higher, the Redskins believe that Williams’ athleticism makes him a better fit for their scheme. With only mid- to late-round picks at their disposal, the Redskins are hoping to uncover a gem in Perry Riley and Terrence Austin.
MinnesotaÂ Vikings: B+
The Vikings routinely draft well by sticking to their philosophy of taking the best available player regardless of position. In adhering to the premise this year, they came away with three players (Chris Cook, Toby Gerhart and Everson Griffen) that could be key contributors in 2010. The selection of Griffen, in particular, was a great pick because he carried borderline first-round grades on most draft boards across the league until character concerns led to an unexpected drop during the draft. Given their talent-rich haul at value prices, the Vikings deserve kudos for their management of draft.
DetroitÂ Lions: B+
The Lions entered the draft needing to add impact players on both sides of the ball, and they came away with two difference-makers in the first round. Ndamukong Suh gives the team a dominant force in the middle of the defensive line, and Jim Schwartz will take advantage of his exceptional skills to rebuild the Lionsâ€™ porous defense. In Jahvid Best, the Lions nab a dangerous runner in the mold of â€œCJ2Kâ€ to alleviate the pressure on QB Matthew Stafford. Though the Lions didnâ€™t pick up an elite offensive tackle to provide Stafford with protection, the addition of Jason Fox gives them an intriguing developmental prospect at the position.
Green BayÂ Packers: C+
The Packers rely extensively on the draft to bolster the talent on their roster, and the team addressed a few key positions this year. The addition of Bryan Bulaga provides depth at offensive tackle, and Morgan Burnettâ€™s selection adds athleticism to their secondary at the safety position. Mike Neal gives the Packers another big body to use in their defensive line rotation, but the team failed to add a young corner to the roster, and the depth at the position remains a glaring weakness heading into the season.
ChicagoÂ Bears: C
The Bears entered the draft with little ammunition based on a series of trades in 2009. However, they still landed a solid draft class with immense potential. While the selection of Major Wright will stand out as the pick that nets an immediate starter, it is the additions of Corey Wootton and Dan LeFevour that could pay big dividends for the Bears down the road. Both were expected to be early-round selections, and their production could easily surpass their draft status. Wootton, in particular, could emerge as a key contributor on a Bearsâ€™ defensive line that needed to add another athletic player to the mix.
Tampa BayÂ Buccaneers: B+
The Buccaneers needed to hit it out of the park during this draft due to their host of needs. By all accounts, the team fared well in filling voids on its roster. The team landed two starters along the defensive line in Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, and may have added a pair of starters at wide receiver with the selections of Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams. Throw in a trio of solid special teamers (Brent Bowden, Cody Grimm and Dekoda Watson), and the Bucs have significantly upgraded their roster.
CarolinaÂ Panthers: B
The Panthers were without a first-round pick after trading it away last season for Everette Brown, so they had to patiently wait for a top player to fall to them in the second round. Unexpectedly, the team landed a potential franchise quarterback in Jimmy Clausen after the top-10 talent fell out of the first round. In the subsequent rounds, the team added much-needed depth to their defensive line and receiving corps. While some would categorize Armanti Edwards as a reach in the third round, his ability to bring an explosive element as a receiver/returner prompted the team to move up to get him. The Panthers were expected to struggle adding talent due to a lack of picks, but the overall quality of their draft haul is worthy of solid marks across the board.
AtlantaÂ Falcons: C+
The Falcons wanted to upgrade the speed and athleticism of their team at a few key areas, but fell short of their intentions. While Sean Weatherspoon adds a dynamic playmaker to their linebacker corps, the team was unable to add a pass rusher to alleviate some of the pressure on John Abraham. The Falcons landed a quality cover man in Dominique Franks in the fifth round, and he could play a pivotal role as a sub-defender in their dime packages. Overall, the team added a few talented players, but it still enters the summer with a some holes to address.
New OrleansÂ Saints: C+
The Saints were limited in their ability to address some of their areas of weakness due to their low draft position after winning the Super Bowl. However, the team still added some quality pieces to its roster with the selections of Patrick Robinson and Charles Brown. They give the Saints much-needed depth at key positions and the duo’s presence gives the team the flexibility to reconfigure its personnel in some packages. Jimmy Graham is an athletic pass catcher who will undoubtedly benefit from serving an apprenticeship behind Jeremy Shockey. Although the Saints were unable to add a pass rusher or linebacker, their draft class is high on value and potential.
SeattleÂ Seahawks: A+
Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider knocked it out of the park in their first draft. The Seahawks meticulously addressed their biggest needs with the selections of OT Russell Okung, S Earl Thomas and WR Golden Tate in the draftâ€™s first two rounds. And Seattle took care of its woeful running back situation by trading for LenDale White and Leon Washington. Although they were unable to land an explosive pass rusher, the Seahawks grabbed an underrated player in E.J. Wilson. With the team able to fill several holes without mortgaging the future, the Seahawks deserve a lot of credit for their efforts.
San FranciscoÂ 49ers: A
Coach Mike Singletary is intent on building a tough, hard-hitting team with an abundance of speed at all of the skill positions. Based on the teamâ€™s draft haul, the philosophy is apparent in all of their selections. Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati add size and toughness to their offensive line, while Anthony Dixon gives them another sledgehammer to use in the running game. Defensively, the additions of safety Taylor Mays and linebacker Navorro Bowman bolster the athleticism of the unit. Given the depth of talent the 49ers acquired throughout the draft, they deserve kudos.
ArizonaÂ Cardinals: B
The Cardinals needed to retool their defense after losing several key players during the offseason. Their plan was executed flawlessly as they were able to land two impact players with their first two selections, and picked sleeper O’Brien Schofield, who could develop into a valuable pass rusher. In addition, the team found a quarterback to groom for the future in John Skelton. Although the competition is closing the gap in the NFC West, Arizonaâ€™s strong draft could lead to a third straight division title.
St. LouisÂ Rams: B-
The Rams nabbed a franchise quarterback with the selection of Sam Bradford, and spent the rest of the draft adding weapons to allow him to thrive in the pocket. Rodger Saffold will provide protection as a tackle or guard, and Mardy Gilyard gives Bradford a dynamic receiving option as a slot receiver. Additionally, the team added two tight ends on Day 3 to give Bradford more options. Though the Rams needed to address their defense more, the offensive makeover should allow them to be more competitive in 2010.
New EnglandÂ Patriots: B+
The Patriots are one of the most aggressive teams at maneuvering up and down the board while still picking up quality players along the way. This year’s draft was no different, as the team added several highly rated prospects at every stage of the event. Although Devin McCourty ranks as the team’s marquee player due to his draft status, it is the value selections of Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Spikes and Aaron Hernandez that makes the Patriots’ haul worthy of praise. Throw in the fact that the team picked up an additional pair of early selections in 2011, it’s hard to knock the Patriots for their clever draft strategies.
MiamiÂ Dolphins: B
The Dolphins entered the offseason hoping to turn over their roster to make it more athletic, and the draft has been instrumental in the transition. The team traded down in the first round to pick up the second-rounder lost in the Brandon Marshall trade. With the two selections, the Dolphins nabbed Jared Odrick, a big bodied interior defender, and picked a versatile pass rusher in Koa Misi. In addition, the team grabbed a late-round pass rusher (Chris McCoy) to add to their pass rush rotation. Although the Dolphins surely wanted to address their safety situation early, the selection of Reshad Jones could be the sleeper pick that pushes their draft over the top.
New YorkÂ Jets: B-
The Jets have earned kudos for their aggressive offseason moves, and the praise should continue after a solid draft. The Jets grabbed the top-rated corner on several boards with the selection of Kyle Wilson, and he will step right in as their nickel corner. In Vladimir Ducasse, the Jets get a young, physical interior blocker to develop for a big role along the line. With Leon Washington no longer in the mix, Joe McKnight becomes the team’s third-down back if LaDainian Tomlinson is unable to provide a spark to the running back rotation. The Jets didn’t have many picks to utilize, but their value and potential is immense, which makes this draft class worthy of solid marks.
BuffaloÂ Bills: C+
The Bills land a dynamite runner in C.J. Spiller, but the early pick cost them a chance to fortify their woeful offensive line with an elite offensive tackle. In fact, the Bills didn’t address their offensive tackle need until the fifth-round when they selected Ed Wang. Defensively, the team found a few essential pieces along the defensive front with the additions of Torell Troup and Alex Carrington. Both should see immediate time in the rotation as the Bills move to a 3-4. The Bills took an unconventional route to upgrade their roster, and time will tell if the team plotted the right course for 2010.
BaltimoreÂ Ravens: B+
The Ravens did a terrific job of grabbing highly rated players throughout the draft. Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody carried first-round grades on several boards, but the Ravens were able to land both of them in the second round. Baltimore also picked up a pair of athletic tight ends — Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta — with outstanding potential. Both were viewed as top-50 talents, but unexpected free falls led to their availability in the third and fourth round, respectively. Throw in the addition of Anquan Boldin for a second-round pick and the Ravens significantly upgraded the talent on their roster by cleverly managing their draft picks.
CincinnatiÂ Bengals: B
Marvin Lewis has molded the Bengals into a division champion by successfully gambling on talented players with various issues. In looking at their most recent draft haul, the Bengals are continuing to hope that the reward outweighs the risks associated with taking various prospects. Jermaine Gresham and Carlos Dunlap were regarded as sure-fire first-round prospects based on their exceptional talent, but injuries (Gresham) and background issues (Dunlap) prevented teams from pulling the trigger earlier in the draft. If they perform to their potential, they could be difference-makers for the Bengals. Jordan Shipley and Brandon Ghee are good value picks with outstanding potential.
ClevelandÂ Browns: B-
The first draft of the Mike Holmgren era reflects his preference for substance over sizzle. The Browns diligently addressed concerns in their secondary by selecting Joe Haden and T.J. Ward with their early picks, and added Larry Asante as a value pick in the fifth round. With the weakest part of their roster solidified, the Browns were still able to land their quarterback of the future, Colt McCoy, in the third round. The team further bolstered their anemic offense with the selections of Montario Hardesty and Carlton Mitchell. The Brownsâ€™ haul might be short on star power, but features a blue-collar bunch that upgrades the talent on the roster.
PittsburghÂ Steelers: C+
The Steelersâ€™ draft will not win any beauty contests on the surface, but they consistently plucked players who eventually emerge as difference-makers. Maurkice Pouncey gives them a versatile interior blocker with the skills to start immediately at guard or center. In grabbing Jason Worilds and Thaddeus Gibson, the Steelers continue their tradition of converting undersized college defensive ends into hybrid pass rushers. Emmanuel Sanders adds explosiveness to their receiving corps with his exceptional speed. The Steelers are one of the best teams in the league at developing their talent, so this yearâ€™s draft will likely rate higher when the reviews come back in three years.
HoustonÂ Texans: B
The Texans entered the draft with two big needs (cornerback and running back), and they addressed both areas with their first two selections. The decision to opt for Kareem Jackson over Kyle Wilson came as a surprise to some, but the Alabama standout is an exceptional player with a solid overall game that fits the team’s scheme. In Ben Tate, the Texans pick up the rugged runner they desperately need to effectively run the ball between the tackles. If the Texans are able to get some production from a pair of intriguing sleepers (Trindon Holliday and Dorin Dickerson), this year’s draft class may provide the boost the team needs to finally get into the postseason.
IndianapolisÂ Colts: B
The Colts have a roster without any glaring weaknesses, so the team added several intriguing prospects who will be groomed for key roles down the line. First-round pick Jerry Hughes will work behind Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis as a situational pass rusher, and his classmates, Pat Angerer and Kevin Thomas, will also serve as apprentices at their respective positions. Given the team’s success hitting on late-round picks, it is quite possible that Kavell Conner or Ray Fisher will emerge as key contributors at some point, too.
TennesseeÂ Titans: B-
The Titans needed to identify players capable of providing instant production, and their early selections have that potential. Derrick Morgan is a Day 1 starter who will thrive in the Titans’ aggressive defensive system. While Damian Williams is unlikely to start at receiver, his ability to provide an impact as a punt returner made him a sensible selection in the third round. Rennie Curran, Alterraun Verner and Myron Rolle will add toughness to the team’s special teams, and one could emerge as a starter with a strong training camp. The Titans’ draft class doesn’t dazzle, but it provides the team with key contributors at every level.
JacksonvilleÂ Jaguars: C+
The Jaguars suffered through 2009 without much of a pass rush upfront, and the team persistently attacked the weakness this offseason by committing most of their draft to the defensive line. While the pick of Tyson Alualu drew criticism in many circles, he was rated as a first-round talent by several teams, and his high-motor style is needed on a defensive line that generates little push. The additions of D’Anthony Smith, Larry Hart and Austen Lane reflect the commitment of the team to get younger and more athletic along the line. Although the Jaguars’ moves have increased the scrutiny on GM Gene Smith, the esteemed personnel man may enjoy the last laugh if his bold moves revitalize the team’s underperforming defense.
San DiegoÂ Chargers: B+
The Chargers cleverly moved around the board to add to their talent-rich roster. San Diego traded up in the first round to nab a franchise running back in Ryan Mathews. The Chargers duplicated the aggressive tactics by moving up to take LB Donald Butler in the third round. After ignoring their glaring hole at nose tackle early, the Chargers addressed the need with the selection of Cam Thomas. General manager A.J. Smith entered the draft hoping to upgrade a few key positions, and executed his plan by getting the players he targeted.
DenverÂ Broncos: B
The Broncos have opened themselves up to criticism by opting to take Demaryius Thomas over Dez Bryant. The move was a little surprising given Thomasâ€™ foot injury and limited experience in the passing game. Coach Josh McDaniels added to the controversy by trading back into the first round to take Tim Tebow despite concerns about the quarterbackâ€™s mechanics. While the Broncos picked up good value in the later rounds with the selections of WR Eric Decker and CB Perrish Cox, this draft will ultimately be judged on whether the Tebow to Thomas connection surpasses the output of Jay Cutter and Brandon Marshall in Denver.
Kansas CityÂ Chiefs: B
The Chiefs desperately needed to add playmakers on both sides of the ball, and the early stages of the draft netted Kansas City two impact players. Eric Berry has the multi-faceted skill set to emerge as a star in his first season, while Dexter McCluster will play a huge role as a versatile weapon. Additionally, the Chiefs added a dynamic returner in Javier Arenas, who has the ability to flip the field. The selection of Jon Asamoah solidifies the interior of their offensive line. The Chiefs opted for substance over sizzle, which should result in more wins.
OaklandÂ Raiders: B
The Raiders have been roundly criticized for their recent drafts, but Oakland appeared to get it right this time. The selections of Rolando McClain and Lamarr Houston will help shore up the middle of the defense. However, the additions of Bruce Campbell and Jacoby Ford continued the Raidersâ€™ tradition of taking the fastest and most athletic players in the draft. Finally, with the trade for Jason Campbell, the Raiders addressed all of their major needs without making questionable moves that have plagued the franchise of late.
More to come as more are posted. Some publications are adhering to their old formula of publishing draft grades on Monday, even though the draft ended a day early this year.
Alualu wasn’t projected to be picked this high. I think this is a risky selection. Tweeners have a nasty habit of being draft busts. Anyone remember Eric Kummerow?
NFL.com writes- Alualu appears to be a bit of a tweener (combination of height and weight) for an NFL defensive lineman. He doesnâ€™t have the great bulk as an interior lineman in a 4-3 front or the ideal height to play end in a 3-4 scheme. Alualu shows deceptive power for his size that can push the pocket as a pass rusher as well as penetrate the line of scrimmage as a run defender. He has quick hands to control and separate from blockers as well as solid instincts to feel pad pressure and maintain leverage in his gap responsibility. Alualu has enough tools and talent to contribute giving depth to an NFL defensive line.
For the 5th year OTB Sports will blog the NFL Draft. I will stay with this as long as I can. I got health issues and there are other distractions. So here we go to all 50 of my readers……
Why is a playoff game subject to a different set of rules than a regular season game. From ESPN-
The NFL owners voted to change an element in the overtime rule, giving the team that loses the coin toss at the start of overtime to get a possession if the coin-toss winning team scores a field goal with the first possession.
The proposal passed 28-4. As it is written, the rules change applies just for the postseason, but the owners also decided to discuss adopting the changes for the regular season at their next meeting, in May in Dallas.
The Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals voted against the proposal.
The competition committee recommended the change in a vote of 6-2, and commissioner Roger Goodell supported the plan. He was able to secure enough votes to get the proposal passed on Tuesday, a day before the expected Wednesday vote.
The reason for the change was the increased accuracy of kickers since 1993. In 1994, the NFL moved kickoffs from the 35 to the 30, which created better field position for the teams that won the coin toss and received the kickoffs.
Statistics examined by the committee showed that since 1994, teams winning the coin toss win the game 59.8 percent of the time. The team that loses the toss wins the game 38.5 percent in that 15-year span.
“We’ve had this discussion for a number of years,” competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay said. “We feel this year’s proposal gave us the opportunity to [install] a pretty good rule. Statistically we felt it needed to be changed. It wasn’t creating the fairest result as far as field goal accuracy, field goal distance and drive starts.”
Under the new rules, both teams will get one possession whoever leads at the end of it is the winner. If both are tied, then whoever scores first wins. Then doesn’t that defeat the new rule, I mean the team that won the toss gets the first 2nd crack at scoring!
The NFL has used the same rule for over 50 years to decide playoff games. No matter how you finesse matters, the stats are never going to come out 50-50. If teams don’t like it being decided by a coin toss, go for two points instead of playing it safe late in the game when the team kicks the tying extra point.
No sudden death for sudden death? From AP-
An NFL spokesman said Saturday the league could change its overtime format for playoff games at a meeting next month.
Under the new format, both teams would get the ball at least once unless the first team to get the ball scores a touchdown, Greg Aiello said. If the first team to get the ball makes a field goal and the other team ties the game, action would continue until a team scores again.
Under the current rules, the first team to score wins.
“There have been various concepts that have been discussed in recent years, but this one has never been proposed,” Aiello said.
The competition committee will discuss the new concept with teams and players at league meetings March 21-24 in Orlando, Fla., when it could come to a vote. At least two thirds of the teams would need to agree to the changes for new rules to be adopted.
It is my prediction that the NFL does make some kind of change. Personally, I’m ambivalent on the issue. I believe the statistics show that the teams who lose the toss win slightly more often in regular season games. What the playoff record, I don’t know. Honestly, who says life or sports has to be fair?
In a affidavit he accuses his girlfriend of attacking him. From AP-
Officials say Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Tony McDaniel is out of jail after being arrested and accused of domestic violence.
McDaniel was released Sunday on $3,500 bond. Authorities say the 25-year-old South Carolina native returned from a night out with friends and then got into a fight with his girlfriend early Saturday at his home in Davie, which is near Miami.
McDaniel says in a police affidavit that his girlfriend attacked him.
McDaniel is in his fourth season. He played for Jacksonville for three seasons and came to Miami in 2009. He had 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks this season.
McDaniel is a marginal NFL player. Getting in trouble with law enforcement won’t help his career.
The NBA has required this test for its players since 2006. From ESPN-
Between the time of Bears defensive end Gaines Adams’ death last Sunday to his funeral Friday, the NFL’s Cardiovascular Committee began discussing the possibility of subjecting all players to a heart scan called an echocardiogram, starting with potential draft picks invited to the NFL scouting combine next month.
NFLPA medical director Thomas Mayer told ESPN that the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Adams stated the enlarged heart that led to his death could have been detected by an echocardiogram.
But, as Mayer pointed out, the process is complicated.
Is the fear of legal liability going to influence a doctor? Are cardiologists going to agree on whether a player has an enlarged heart or an athlete’s heart? Does that mean he’s systematically finished as a football player?
More likely, a questionable echocardiogram could lead to more sensitive tests, such as a cardio catheter procedure.
As a person who had major cardiac surgery less than 18 months ago, I see mandatory electrocardiograms as a good idea. Putting the policy into place will be complicated, but it shouldn’t be used as a reason not to do this. My heart condition, a bicuspid heart valve and ascending aortic aneurysm was very serious, and till as little as two weeks prior to my operation, nobody knew I had those conditions. Some heart problems in addition to a enlarged hearts, show few or little warning signs.
I would also add that a large amount if not majority of NFL players, are grossly overweight. Heart testing is for their own good.
The Browns won despite getting just 86 yards of passing offense. From AP-
Eric Mangini’s first season — warts and all — with Cleveland is in the books. He can only hope it was good enough to get him a second.
Jerome Harrison rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown and Josh Cribbs ran for a TD as the Browns beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-17 on Sunday, giving Cleveland its first four-game winning streak since 1994 to push Mangini into an uncertain offseason with momentum to fight for his job.
While the Browns (5-11) ended their season on a high, they ended Jacksonville’s razor-thin AFC playoff hopes. The Jaguars (7-9), who had to win and needed four other teams to lose just to qualify, will have the months ahead to ponder what went wrong. They dropped their last four games.
Playing on a slippery, snow-covered field, the Florida visitors were mostly out of their element and lost for the first time in six visits to Cleveland.
The Jaguars close to the 2009 season was similar to the Miami Dolphins. A month ago each team looked like wild card teams. Today they both lost their final game to finish 7-9.
I think Eric Mangini will be fired during the off season. The head coach always makes a easy scapegoat and Mangini’s tenure in Cleveland has been a controversial one. New Team President, Mike Holmgren, is also likely to want his own man calling the on the field shots.
If Mangini is fired, he will join Ray Rhodes as the only NFL head coaches to be fired two consecutive full seasons in a row. Rhodes was with Philadelphia and Green Bay. Mangini was fired by the NY Jets at the end of the 2008 season.
A former 7th round pick out of Florida, McCray is currently in his second season playing for the Saints. From AP-
New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray was arrested early Tuesday and charged with driving while intoxicated and other counts, police said.
Police spokesman Gary Flot says McCray, 28, was stopped by an officer who saw him speeding about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. He was booked into Orleans Parish Prison on charges of driving while intoxicated, speeding, careless operation of a motor vehicle and not having his vehicle registration with him.
A jail spokesman said McCray was released on his own recognizance around 7 a.m.
McCray refused to take a Breathalyzer test, police spokesman Janssen Valencia said.
“You have the right to refuse the test, but it has consequences,” Valencia said. “Those include arrest and losing your license.”
I’ve never understood how a country that has a constitutional ammendment protecting those accused of a crime from incriminating themselves, then penalizes those who refuse to incriminate themselves. Which is what a person refusing a Breathalyzer test is doing. Does anyone else see the paradox?