Monday, April 28, 2008

The Skinny Post Draft Grades

This was a not a strong draft, probably the weakest since 2005, when weak armed Alex Smith was the number one pick. The dropoff in talent began with the eighth pick, and there wasn't another big dropoff until late second round. So anyone that traded down, starting with Baltimore at eight, made a good move. Except of course, Detroit.

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys - B-
I loved moving up and getting Mike Jenkins at 25 and liked Martellus Bennett at 61, because there was an obvious dropoff at each of those positions. Was anyone else in that range interested in Felix Jones? I'm not sure but it was common knowledge the Cowboys were. Did they really need to make a backup RB their first choice, especially when they took one with their 4th choice? It seems reminiscent of Trung Canidate as a 1st rounder. I would have liked seeing them pick up a WR. The Pacman Jones trade has to be considered as part of their draft, and a 4th rounder for a top 5 corner could end up being a bargain.

New York Giants - C+
The Giants had the last pick in every round, so it was tough to make an impact. Manningham was overrated throughout the season and shouldn't be considered a steal. I was surprised Terrell Thomas went before Charles Godfrey. Kenny Phillips was a typical need based Super Bowl champs pick; you love to get a immediate starter late first, because they're locked up for five years at a reasonable price tag. Their 6th rounder was acquired last year from Green Bay for Ryan Grant.

Philadelphia Eagles - D
The Eagles have traded out of the first round the last two years to get guys that could be considered reaches at positions of strength with their first picks (QB Kevin Kolb last year, DT Trevor Laws this year). I like the fact that they picked up Carolina's 2009 1st in the process, but best case scenario it's early teens. They certainly addressed a need with Desean Jackson, but they would have been better served drafting a size guy to start versus another Smurf. Jack Ikegwuono could look like a steal in 18 months, but there are 4th rounders who could have helped them on special teams this year.

Washington Redskins - A
No first rounders and they get their top 2 guys at a need position? Vinny Cerrato's eyes must have been bulging out of his head. Fred Davis was also a value pick, in fact any of their top 3 picks could have gone late first without criticism. I like the Durant Brooks pick; punter was a need and he dominated the ACC this year. La Canfora nailed the Kareem Moore pick; the Redskins loved him and they didn't have to reach. It's hard to envision Colt Brennan ever playing in the NFL.

NFC North
Chicago Bears - C
Chris Williams went where he supposed to in a run on tackles, and Marcus Harrison may end up being the best player picked on the second day, although eerily reminiscent of Denver's pick of Marcus Thomas, who was busted for cocaine last month. RB was their top need, and they took speed guy Matt Forte in the 2nd, but I prefer Ray Rice as an every down back. They didn't need to take a QB on the first day, but they needed to take somebody. Zack Bowman and Kellen Davis were nice picks.

Detroit Lions
- F
I didn't like a single thing they did. They trade down with the 2nd rated offensive lineman in the draft on the board, pick up a 5th, and take the 5th rated guy. Maybe Jordon Dizon sticks, but he's small and slow. Kevin Smith has character issues, runs standing up, can't catch the football, and has no tread left on his tires. Jerome Felton is an ok pick, but Owen Schmitt explodes off of tape and went 20 picks later. Caleb Campbell is a nice story but this is about wins, not sentimentality. NFL GM should be an elected position, but in Detroit it's like Millen is a judge and can't be fired.

Green Bay Packers - A-
The Packers traded their 6th last year for Ryan Grant and picked up a 2nd for Corey Williams; both were good moves. I didn't love the Jordy Nelson pick but didn't hate it. Brian Brohm, Patrick Lee, and Jermichael Finley were all tremendous picks with regard to need and value. Matt Flynn isn't an NFL QB, but they need bodies at the position and do have a spectacular history developing QBs. Without Ryan Grant I'd give them a B-, but getting a probable Pro Bowler for a late pick is enormous.

Minnesota Vikings - B+
They traded a 1st and 2 3rds for Jared Allen, who is a better bet to dominate over the life of his contract than anyone in this draft, unless he's suspended. It's about the same that Jacksonville gave up for Derrick Harvey, who is far from a sure thing, and has a similar contract to Jake Long, who may be a RT. John David Booty could easily play this year, and picking up a potential starting QB in the 5th is remarkable. Tyrell Johnson is a classic team-with-no-1st pick, maybe the best at his position.

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons - D
The worst thing they did was trade up with the Redskins for Sam Baker, who has 2nd round talent written all over him. Taking Matt Ryan at 3 after Glenn Dorsey was mentioned so prominently reflects poorly on new GM Tom Dimitroff - was it his pick or Arthur Blank's? And Matt Ryan is as much a reach as Joe Flacco: is he really the third most talented guy in the draft? Curtis Lofton was a good need pick. I'm not a big fan of any of their 3 3rds. If this team trades back with New Orleans and doesn't trade up with Washington maybe they get Joe Flacco at QB, Jamaal Brown at LT, and they can fill out a decimated roster with 2nds and 3rds.

Carolina Panthers - A-
Jonathan Stewart is an enormous favorite for rookie of the year. I thought he was a slight reach when they needed a tackle, but they got mammoth Jeff Otah at the expense of next year's 1st, the only reason they don't get an A. Trading next year's 1st for a tackle is more likely to work out than any other position, last year's 49ers-Patriots deal notwithstanding. Charles Godfrey and Dan Connor were both great value picks, particularly Godfrey who can play all over the defensive backfield. I'm a big fan of Nick Hayden in the 6th, too.

New Orleans Saints - A
Love what they did in the 1st. Everyone knows they want a DT, yet they get the last blue chipper on the board for a very reasonable price tag. Tracy Porter is a great fit for their nickel package. The Saints also picked up Jonathan Vilma for a 4th, so their run D figures to be vastly improved. I was surprised DeMario Pressley was still available when they took him, and Carl Nicks was one of the better value picks among O linemen.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - B+
One of the few drafts ever where you might have heard of every pick. Aqib Talib has by far the best ball skills of any defensive back in the draft and is a perfect fit in Tampa. Dexter Jackson has been squarely on my radar since lighting up Michigan in September and shouldn't be considered a reach. Jeremy Zuttah is my number one player not drafted on day one and is a lock to start at some point. Maryland DTs have produced recently in the NFL, so Dre Moore has a pedigree. Geno Hayes could be a stud on special teams. I penalized them for adding a 7th QB to the roster, but I liked the way they waited for their guys to come to them.

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals - C+
They were taking the top CB available, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was the top CB for a number of teams (the Cowboys for one). Calais Campbell clearly should have stayed in school, but the success of Chris Canty should have helped his stock at least a little. I'm not a big Early Doucet fan but it's not like they reached on him. Their draft picks have some of the coolest names of the weekend, my favorite being Tim Hightower.

San Francisco 49ers
- D
If they went 11-5 you'd like their draft more, but they went 5-11 and the Patriots reaped the reward. Kentwan Balmer was rated by many as the 3rd DT and fills a big need - one of the better picks of the 1st round. Chilo Rachal went 44 picks before the next OG drafted - seems like a huge reach. Reggie Smith and Josh Morgan were a nice value and need picks. This team needed more picks, but the Patriots deal and losing their 5th for tampering with Lance Briggs killed their draft.

Seattle Seahawks - C-
Hate what they did on the 1st day, love what they did on the 2nd day. I was shocked they took Lawrence Jackson over Dustin Keller in the 1st, and then they respond by overpaying to trade up in the 2nd for John Carlson, who ran a 4.88 at the combine (Keller ran a 4.55). Red Bryant could have gone 2 rounds earlier without criticism, Owen Schmitt is a Mike Alstott clone, and they got 2 elite special teams prospects late in long snapper Tyler Schmitt and strong legged kicker Brandon Coutu.

St. Louis Rams - D-
Chris Long or Glenn Dorsey would have been fine picks at 2, but in the dome I would lean toward an edge rusher. Long is the rookie most likely to make the Pro Bowl, but they still should have traded down instead of giving him $30 million up front. Donnie Avery was a substantial reach as the first WR drafted and St. Louis should have traded down; the deal the Ravens took 5 picks later would have been much better to have. I can't believe St. Louis waited all night and took John Greco with the 2nd pick of day 2, another reach when they surely could have traded down. I like Justin King's measurables in the 4th but he's the football equivalent of Jim McIlvaine in that he's on everyone's highlight tape.

AFC East
Buffalo Bills - B
They traded Darwin Walker and Willis McGahee for picks used to trade for Marcus Stroud, my favorite DT trade of the offseason. Leodis McKelvin was absolutely the right pick at 11. James Hardy went where he was expected, but the WRs drafted around him were all expected to be drafted higher. I like the Chris Ellis and Demetrius Bell picks because they fit my script: productive big school pass rusher with non-character flags and raw small school OT.

Miami Dolphins - C-
Jake or Chris Long would have been a fine pick at 1, but I'm always in favor of trading down at the top of the draft. Now you've got a guy you're not sure can play LT as one of the 3 highest paid non QBs in the league. Philip Merling is an excellent complementary DE that reminds me of Rob Burnett. I don't see the attraction with Chad Henne; poor size, mechanics, and athleticism. If he played at Michigan State he'd be a 5th rounder.

New England Patriots - C
Sometimes I think I'm the only person that realizes that the Patriots draft more for need than any other team in the NFL, mostly because they have fewer needs than any other team. I thought they would have been better served with McKelvin in the 1st and either Gooden or Connor in the 2nd but I have zero Super Bowl rings and Scott Pioli has 3. I also thought the Patriots didn't get enough trading down, but I thought the same thing last year and that's how they got the 7th overall pick. Loved Jonathan Wilhite in the 4th, my favorite pick of the 4th, and I think he'll be a starter in this league.

New York Jets - B-
Vernon Gholston wasn't quite the worst case scenario for the Jets, but he was close. Still, he was the obvious pick for the 3-4. I loved the move for Dustin Keller; taking him in the 1st means he signs a 5 year deal instead of a 4 year deal, and there's reason to believe he would have been gone if they didn't trade up. I question Dwight Lowery and Marcus Henry's ability to contribute on special teams. Erik Ainge is an intriguing prospect, and you can compare to Tom Brady in that he's the quickest decision maker among 2nd day QBs.

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens - B
Joe Flacco may have been a reach, but let's say they stay at 26 and Flacco is gone. Then they're taking Chad Henne at 26 which is an even bigger reach. The embedded NFL Network reporter said the Ravens heard the Jets were looking to trade up for Flacco, which is possible. For where he was taken, Ray Rice is my 2nd favorite RB in the draft after Mendenhall. I don't view him as undersized, and he's a great athlete with soft hands. Look at where the Rutgers program is right now, and Rice is the biggest reason. He figures to get 100+ touches next year. With only 2 legit safeties on the roster, Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura are locks to make the roster and contribute on special teams, which will be excellent next year. Scouts, Inc. had Oniel Cousins as the #3 OG and Cris Carter was a huge fan of Marcus Smith, a converted RB. Tarvares Gooden is a classic Ravens early 2nd day pick and filled a need. Everyone picked after him will have to contribute on special teams to make the final 53. With so many trades you would have liked to see them pick up some picks for next season. Their 5th rounder was used on Jared Gaither in the supplemental draft last year, which was worthwhile. They also traded a 4th for Oakland CB Fabian Washington, a former 1st rounder who fills a need at a reasonable base salary.

Cincinnati Bengals - C-
I liked what they did with their 1st 3 picks. I heard they were disappointed not to land Ellis, but if they wanted him enough they should have traded up. Keith Rivers was another obvious pick. Jerome Simpson reminds me Chad Johnson a little, certainly in terms of measurables. Pat Sims was a great value/need pick. Andre Caldwell seems to be the pick made because of Johnson's threats; perhaps it's another indicator they should have taken the Redskins' offer for Chad. Corey Lynch is another guy drafted off of Appalachian State.

Cleveland Browns - D
The Browns gave up their 1st in the Brady Quinn deal last year, their 2nd for Corey Williams, and their 3rd for Shaun Rogers. What I want to know is why is any team emulating the Daniel Snyder Redskins? They also traded their 3rd rounder next year for Martin Rucker. With free agent contracts spiraling out of control late 1st rounders-3rd rounders are so valuable it's ridiculous. And they've done nothing at backup RB. I did like Beau Bell in the 4th.

Pittsburgh Steelers - A-
The classic debate of need versus best play available must have taken place in the Steelers draft room. It's not even debatable that they took the best player available with their first two picks, but offensive line was by far their biggest need. I'm always a proponent of sticking to your board, but they need another blocker or 2 before they start the season, although Tony Hills was a nice pick that should make the 53. Dennis Dixon is more valuable because he's injured: you put him on injured reserve and doesn't waste a roster spot.

AFC South
Houston Texans - C+
They took some heat for the Duane Brown pick, but they took some heat for the Mario Williams pick and how did that work out? You have to figure they had Brown targeted because they took 50 cents on the dollar to move back, when they could have stayed at 18 and drafted Otah or Mendenhall. Brown was also maybe their most obscure pick. Antwaun Molden was the best corner available when they picked him, Steve Slaton is a nice change of pace back, and Xavier Adibi's fall raised some eyebrows. You just know Dominique Barber is going to be a player with his bloodlines.

Indianapolis Colts - B-
The Colts traded their 1st rounder for Tony Ugoh last year, so right away they look good. They took the consensus top OC in the draft with their 2nd with Mike Pollak, and maybe the #2 center with Steven Justice in the 6th, and one more OC with their last pick. The Colts always seem to be drafting TEs, (they took 2) but that's a product of their offense. Philip Wheeler and Marcus Howard are good need/value picks that can help out special teams. At the end of the day, Mike Hart is small, slow, and can't stay healthy.

Jacksonville Jaguars - D
They traded a 1st, 2 3rds, and a 4th for Derrick Harvey, which makes me wonder if they should have matched the Vikings' offer for Jared Allen. Harvey wasn't a huge reach, but there was a big dropoff from 7 to 8. There was a point in time Quentin Groves was expected to be a high 1st rounder, so the upside is there. There are flags around Chauncey Washington, but any time you get a starting USC tailback in the 7th round you're getting a steal.

Tennessee Titans - D
The Chris Johnson pick screams bust. These pure speed RBs that go too high always bust because too much is expected too early. Jason Jones and Craig Stevens were okay picks who will see the field as rookies. Stevens is a fantastic in line blocker but they already have Crumpler and Scaife. Few people had heard of William Hayes, including those putting together the invites for the combine. Lavell Hawkins in the 4th saves the draft from a fail, and is a sleeper for rookie of the year.

AFC West
Denver Broncos - C-
Ryan Clady was great 12th pick who could have easily gone 8th. Eddie Royal went ahead of a lot of more noteworthy, larger WRs. Kory Lichtensteiger also seems like a reach. They drafted 2 guys from both Virginia Tech and Arizona State. They took RB Ryan Torain in the 5th; every time they take a 2nd day RB they end up rushing for 100 yards at least once during the season. There were all kind of 2nd day picks going to and from Denver in trades, most amusingly Washington's 4th rounder in the T.J. Duckett deal.

Kansas City Chiefs - A+
At first I was shocked they turned down the Saints offer of their 1st, 2nd, and 1st next year for the 5th pick, but then I realized the dropoff from 5 to 10, let alone from 5 to 6, so I could see what Carl Peterson was doing. They add a top 2 defensive lineman and a top 2 offensive lineman in what may go down as one of the greatest drafts of all time. Out of all the top 10 picks, you can feel good about Glenn Dorsey's contract, as he'd get $20 million or more up front were he a free agent. Branden Albert is the one O lineman that was a value pick on the first day. Brandon Flowers fell 10-20 picks for running a 4.55 and not a 4.45, which isn't atrocious. 3rd rounders Jamaal Charles, Brad Cottam, and DeJuan Morgan are ridiculous value picks, each of whom could have gone in the top 40 without raising any eyebrows.

Oakland Raiders - D-
The Raiders traded their 2nd and 5th for DeAngelo Hall, and I can't imagine anyone else could have matched that offer, so I don't like that deal. They're basically an expansion team, (Nnamdi Asomugha and Derrick Burgess are their only players who can start on more than half a dozen or so teams) so they would have been better served trading down. Now Darren McFadden will get beaten up for 5 years while Oakland wins 2-6 games a year. Tyvon Branch is a great size and speed guy who is a classic Raiders pick. I don't think anyone knows who they're last pick is - he's listed at 0'0", o lbs.

San Diego Chargers
- C
For the 2nd straight year the Chargers stand pat in the 1st round and take a guy not recognized as the top guy available at a need position. A lot of mocks had them taking Brandon Flowers, but Antoine Cason was a better pick than Buster Davis over Anthony Gonzalez last year. If anyone can figure out how to use Jacob Hester it's Norv Turner. It was pointed out by Mike Nolan yesterday that the 49ers suffered for the late loss of Turner, so it's interesting that the Chargers may have helped the Patriots draft by hurting the 49ers. Their 2nd rounder was traded for Chris Chambers, and their 4th round pick was used on Paul Oliver in the supplemental draft last year.

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