It is hard to chastise the new regime, because the team needs help everywhere after their winless season. I did not agree with the Stafford pick wholeheartedly, because Stafford can easily end up like David Carr, and many more like him, without blocking. Getting Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe would have been the smarter move in my opinion. It also might've have saved the Lions tens of millions of dollars. Stafford has to play right away, prepared or not, to justify that insane paycheck. But the kid has the guts, guile, intelligence, and athleticism to be the absolute perfect pick. I was way off on Matt Ryan last year, and easily could be here. The kid has a chippiness I admire. Pettigrew was a no brainer pick. As I pointed out in my mock, Detroit has not had a really good TE since Charlie Sanders. I'm not saying Pettigrew is Sanders, but he is going to see a lot of balls in his career. Delmas was a good move, because he was easily the highest rated FS in the draft. He needs to get coached up on tackling technique, but he starts day one. Levy was picked because he fits the Lions defensive coordinators scheme. He is good against the pass, but needs lots of work against the run. He isn't a very big OLB. Williams was an excellent pick, and maybe one of their best. He helps a thin WR corps, will stretch the seam, and return kickoffs if needed. Hill is a project who needs to be coached up. He is very strong, so he helps stop the run as part of a DT rotation until he learns. A good pick, and gamble, in my opinion. Brown was someone I correctly predicted to be picked by Detroit in my mock. He will return kicks, and provide a change of pace. He has the ability to develop into a 3rd down type of pass catching back too. Murtha has a world of talent, and is very smart. His issue is durability and a perception of lacked desire. If the light turns on, this kid can help at RT or RG. If he really realizes his potential, and stays healthy, he might have LT ability. He was drafted right about where I had him, as was Gronkowski. Gronkowski is smart, tough, and durable. He will add depth, and has a shot at being the second TE one day. He is also underrated as a receiver. Follett is a possible sleeper Detroit recently signed. He had mid-round potential. He has a non stop motor, and definitely will help on special teams. Expect every draft pick to be given every opportunity to make the squad.
GRADE : B
The Bears needed a good draft, because they have mortgaged their future in Jay Cutler. Gilbert is very athletic, with the ability to line up at DT, DE, and OT. His issue is strength and consistency. He will be given time to develop, but I think DE might be his best spot for now. Iglesias is smart, tough, and a leader. He will add needed depth, but he reminds me of Bennett. I expect a good season from Bennett this year. Melton is an up and coming guy. Very athletic, he has a lot to learn. I expect him to get plugged into the rotation slowly at first. Moore is a real steal for Chicago. This kid is a winner, and even has WR experience. I think he supplants Vasher next year, or in 2011. Knox is the guy I think will be the pick of the draft. He is a burner, something the Bears really needed. He will stretch the seam from the slot, and open things up for guys like Bennett and Olsen. Freeman was also an excellent pick up. He fell in the draft because of injury concerns. He will help on special teams in the first few years. Afalava is going to be the Bears future starting SS, and is a huge upgrade over Steltz as a reserve. He put up better numbers, at his pro day, than any safety at the combine. Louis is a project, like Kellen Davis is. I think he is a developmental squad type this year. Kinder's only shot is on special teams. The Bears attacked the draft, and might have gotten six starters out of it. These are the types of drafts you need when you have championship dreams. I only saw one huge oversight. Chicago put the ball in Matt Forte's hands much, much too much last year. That recipe does not make for a long career. They should have used that Louis pick, or at least Kinder pick, on a RB. Depth is needed, and their current reserves aren't anything special.
GRADE : A -
The Vikings think they are a few steps away from the Super Bowl. They needed to fill some big needs in this draft to make that final push. Harvin was an excellent first step. He gives them a weapon they really needed. Harvin has the ability to take a three yard screen to the end zone every time he touches the ball. I expect them to line him up everywhere. Loadholt has the ability to start at RT right away, and this was a smart pick. Allen will help on the extra DB packages for now, but this kid is a future starter. He gets to learn from Winfield, not a bad gig. Brinkely is a two down type of MLB, but the guy really hits hard. He adds good depth, in case Henderson goes down again. Sanford has good athleticism, but he is raw and has character issues. His only shot is on special teams. The Vikes recently signed Ian Johnson and Khalil Bell to vie for third string RB. A good move. The bad move is that they have neglected DT. Pat Williams is 37, and might be suspended a few games. I have no idea why they blew off that need. Maybe they are praying to get to 2010 in one piece?
GRADE : B -
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Green Bay already had a good roster. They just all got injured last year. Still, they went in and scored big again. Switching to the 3-4, you need a good NT. They didn't really have a good one, just a few guys you rotate in. Not anymore. Raji is that very important piece to the puzzle. A 3-4 is garbage without a good NT. Raji will fill the need. Matthews III might get spotted this year, but he can play DE and SLB. He has the ability to be special, and was the best USC LB prospect in the draft. Packer fans will like the versatility of Lang. He probably plays guard, but can play RT too. He will sit and learn a year or two. Johnson's pick shows me the Packers want a better lead blocker at FB. Johnson delivers crushing blocks, but that is about it for now. He is very raw. Meredith was a pick I loved. Another versatile kid who can play guard or tackle. He also could start in a few years. Wynn is a DE who is a run stopper. He has a shot at adding to the rotation. Underwood is very raw, but he could go FS or CB. I expect him to be developed slowly. Jones is hoping to help on special teams. My only question is why the Packers didn't grab a RB. Grant is their guy, but his reserves have been very inconsistent. If Grant goes down, it could get ugly. But, they attacked defense and OL depth. That is always a smart move.
GRADE : A -
The Cardinals draft was much like their 2008 season. They got out of the starting blocks slow, came on strong, then fell short. You know they would have preferred Moreno or Don Brown, but had to settle for Wells. Knowing they were dumping Edge, it was a need pick. Wells has been as fragile as paper mache thus far, but he has tools you want in a RB. He is big, strong, athletic, and can catch the ball well. If he holds up, for once, he can be a Pro Bowl caliber player. Cody Brown was a great draft pick. Their OLB's are aging, so this kid will be important for awhile. R.Johnson might slip right into the Cards secondary soon. He is very smart, and they may prefer him next to Wilson over Rolle. He'll add good depth at the least. I really like the drafting of Toler. The guy is an excellent athlete, and they will groom him to start down the road. H. Johnson fell in the draft, but Russ Grimm will have fun molding this mountain. Davis could be a real steal, and end up bookending C. Brown at OLB one day. Choosing Stephens - Howling confused me. There were better, and faster, guys on the board. We'll see. Canfield has a legitimate shot at adding depth. Many had him pegged as an mid - round type. Arizona drafted at every area of need, except TE. I think that was a mistake, and it will be interesting to see what they saw in Stephens - Howling.
GRADE : A -
SAINT LOUIS RAMS
The Rams have to very happy these days. They started out their solid draft by grabbing J. Smith. He is a little raw, but he has the desire to get coached up to be special. Cowan, Slater, Pace, and now Smith adds to the legacy hopefully. Laurinaitis was a great pick. The Rams desperately needed a MLB, and they got themselves a winner. Fletcher has the talent to start day one, but he needs some technical work too. Scott could end up being a steal. He has underachieved thus far, but he could open things up for an up and coming DL IF he realizes his potential. Foster is a very good athlete, and could add quality depth. Null is a project with good size and arm strength. Ogbannaya is a great pass receiver, so it will be interesting to see how he is used. After the draft, the Rams then signed the promising Guard Roger Allen, along with 2 DE's that could add depth. The only real reach was Null, but they can afford to take their time with him since Bulger is signed for a few more years.
GRADE : A +
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The Niners started out their draft by getting a gift. Crabtree gets to learn from Bruce, and is going to start right away. Coffee will try to add depth behind Gore's balky knees. McKillop is a guy Singletary will love. He is very smart, and has the ability to start one day as a two down ILB. Davis has the talent to win the starting QB job. He has very good tools, and the desire to prove his dyslexia will not prevent him from being special. Pascoe will add depth at TE. Taylor needs work, because he is so raw, but he will help on special teams until then. Jean - Francois is a guy who fell far in the draft because of character and consistency issues. If the light switch turns on, he could really help big. After the draft, the Niners also grabbed 2 DE's and a OT who could make the team. The Niners hit every area of need, and must be pleased with their draft.
GRADE : A
Seattle had a mostly solid draft. Getting Curry was a no brainer. His addition now may give Seattle the best LB trio in the NFL. Unger was a great pick. His versatility is important, now that teams activate 7-8 blockers a game. Butler gives them a guy who can go deep, something they really needed bad. Teel is a big reach. He has a lot of experience, but has a lot to work on. He also does not have a gun. Greene is a guy whose draft stock dropped after a poor senior year. If he plays like before then, the Seahawks have their future starting SS. Reed is going to play SLB, but will have to learn the transition from DE. Morrah could be a steal. He is a receiving TE, with good speed and athleticism. Seattle recently signed RB Devin Moore. He is blazing fast, and should return kicks. They also signed ultra smart LB Dave Philistin, who will add quality depth. It remains to be seen if Teel ever does much, but the rest of the draft was very good. My only surprise is they didn't draft a RB, and are set to go with the underwhelming bunch they have now.
GRADE : B +
NEW YORK GIANTS
It isn't easy drafting quality players when you are always one of the last teams in each round, but Jerry Reese keeps finding a way. Nicks is a player with nice hands, and a flair for the circus catch. He might start right away, because he has the talent to. Sintim was a wonderful pick, and the Jints have now gotten two young OLB's to groom in the last two years. Beatty is a great athlete, but he isn't going to be needed any time soon. He will slowly be groomed, and this was a steal for them. All Barden seems to do is catch touchdowns. He should soon assume the role of red zone threat. Beckum was a great pick. He is a pass catching TE, and gives the Giants another weapon in their arsenal. Brown was a good value pick, in case one of their top three RB's isn't able to do the job. He has the ability to beat out Ware too, if he stays healthy. Bomar might supplant Andre Woodson as the young QB they want to groom. Wright and Stoney Woodson were picked up to help on special teams, but Wright has the ability to do more down the road. The G-Men have to be pleased. They get the OT to groom, a TE who can get deep, another needed OLB, and two big WR's. Getting a good RB was icing on the tasty cake they baked.
GRADE : A +
The Eagles have had a roller coaster off season. It isn't easy saying good bye to guys who gave so much, and is hardly ever popular. Especially two veterans like Dawkins and Thomas. Getting Peters was a great move, so they went into the draft looking to fill more holes. I think Maclin could be a real steal, and is my early pick as R.O.Y. He is even better at WR and PR than Jackson, and that is saying a lot. McCoy was an absolute need pick. They need someone, anyone, to give depth. McCoy also fits their system nicely. Ingram is a horrible blocking TE, and coming off knee surgery. BUT, he is an excellent receiver when healthy. If he is at full speed, he will make that offense even more dangerous. Harris is a confident player, but is not blessed with great speed. He should help in the dime package. Tupou is a guy a team would like to have. He is nasty and strong. He has the ability to start very soon at RG. Gibson is a hard working guy, and has a shot at sticking. Fanaika is another of many young blockers the Eagles have drafted the last two years to stash and develop. Fokou will help immensely on special teams, and maybe more in a few years. The Eagles were moments away from a Super Bowl last year, and McNabb asked for more weapons. He got three right off the bat. I would have liked to see Philly get more DL help, especially inside. But they chose to keep stocking the OL, so you can't be too upset. A VERY solid draft, and maybe enough to get Donovan his ring.
GRADE : A +
Williams was used as a pass rushing defensive end in college, but rumor is that the Cowboys will try him out as an inside linebacker. He will have time to learn behind the veteran starters, and help on special teams. A good draft choice. Brewster is very experienced and versatile, but needs to hit the weight room and get stronger. A solid prospect. McGee had a very erratic and injury filled collegiate career, but he blew away scouts at both the East-West Shrine Game and his pro day. He has good size at 6'3" 225, and is a good athlete. He needs major work in all areas of his game, but there is no rush. A solid pickup. Butler has stiff hips and questionable awareness. He needs a lot of work, but might make the team as a special teams performer. Williams is virtually a slower clone of Butler, but with a bigger upside. He is also strictly a pass rusher and special teams player right now. Many felt Smith was the highest rated defensive back of the talented trio of Bearcats in this draft. He can play cornerback, best fitting in a zone scheme, but his best position may be safety. He is very good at supporting the run. An excellent pick. Which safety spot Hamlin will play is the quandary. He is very smart, and a team leader. He also has been very injury prone in college, and is not a great athlete. He has intangibles and desire, so he could prove to be valuable as more than just a special teams player. Buehler was a good pick. Dallas doesn't need him to score points, because Nick Folk was nearly perfect last year. He is athletic and huge, at 6'2" 225, and will be a kickoff specialist. Possibly more, there are rumors he will get looked at in other positions. Hodge is a fantastic special teams player, and this is how he will make the team. Phillips is not much of a receiving threat, and an average blocker. He was also injury prone throughout college. We will see what they saw in him. Mickens went up and down draft boards last month. Mickens was a four year starter in college, and was very productive, having led the NCAA's in interceptions last year. A possible steal. Johnson runs good routes, and has above average hands. He has shown the toughness to go after the ball in crowds, but has an elbow injury worth watching. He has the ability to replace Hurd or Austin, but it is doubtful he'll ever be starting material. The Cowboys also recently signed a WR, Ogletree, who might be better than Johnson. They also smartly signed Greg Isdaner, a guard who could end up starting one day. One can criticize Jerry Jones in many areas, but the draft is not one of them. He has always overseen solid drafts. The man makes sure the homework is done. Most pundits were not enthralled by the talent in this draft, and the Cowboys seemed to be part of that group. The most interesting part may be witnessing how many of these picks even make an already very good team.
GRADE : B -
The Redskins headed into the 2009 NFL Draft with little to work with, thanks to their incompetent player personnel director Vinny Cerrato. Cerrato proved again why he is the worst at what he does in the 2009 NFL Draft. He chose to ignore the team’s needs, as well as better players, while choosing projects. It makes one wonder if he drafts by throwing darts at names, or draws the names out of a hat blindfolded. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. In spite of the incompetent Vinny Cerrato, the Skins lucked out and wisely grabbed Orakpo. He should have fun lining up next to Haynesworth, and open things up for Andre Carter. Barnes can play any scheme, and really hits hard. He needs to hit the weight room to stay healthy, but he adds much needed depth. Glenn was A WEIRD PICK. A former RB with good speed, but is very raw. He has character issues, and his toughness is in question. Doubtful he would have been drafted, but Washington has the incompetent Vinny Cerrato making these picks. Glenn is a special teamer, unless he somehow develops into more. Henson is a small linebacker at 6′ 228, and is fast. He might get a look at safety, but will certainly try to help on special teams. Williams projects as an H-Back/ FB type. Hard worker, but in a crowded position. Mitchell is tall and a good leaper. He has an intriguing set of skills. Might be a guy worth developing. Getting Orakpo might be best defined as, “Even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while”. That blind furry rat is Cerrato. Barnes was actually one of the few picks, besides Orakpo, to like. I have seen this kid grow as a Terp. He really brings it as a hitter, and he is very good in any coverage scheme. Maryland has been producing many good DB’s for the NFL lately, and Barnes should continue that tradition if he stays healthy. The Glenn pick is bothersome. Yes, the Redskins desperately need linebackers, but Glenn? He isn’t really one yet. He is an athlete with character issues. Will Davis, a pass rusher from Illinois, somehow had fallen on the board and has a much bigger upside. Henson is too small to be an NFL linebacker. I assume they drafted him for special teams, but sitting right on the board was a much better special teams player just a few miles away from Fed Ex Field. Moise Fokou, of Maryland, is a special teams star and has a chance to play linebacker in the pros. Now Fokou is an Eagle, thanks to Cerrato passing on him. Davis, now a Cardinal, was also still available. The Williams pick was not another wasted pick on a tight end, like Cerrato did last year on Fred Davis of USC. Though it is highly doubtful Williams makes the team, he is built for the West Coast offensive system the Redskins employ. I suspect he was picked to get a look to see if he can replace Mike Sellers one day. Mitchell has a real shot, in my opinion, of making the squad. Malcolm Kelly, another of Cerrato’s wasted draft picks last year, is slower than an iceberg and produced nothing in 2008. Mitchell is very raw, but has excellent skills. All it takes is his being coached up to reach his potential.The Redskins draft will have Orakpo’s face on it. Behind the P.R. gloss, you see missing draft picks that the Miami Dolphins used by bamboozling Cerrato for high draft pick in exchange for a washed up, Hollywood bound, and departed Jason Taylor. Using the few picks they had on projects is unacceptable for team that missed the playoffs. Especially after witnessing all their division rivals upgrade significantly. The only reason they do not get a failing grade is because of the Orakpo and Barnes picks.
GRADE : C -
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
When you have only four picks to use, you better do well. Getting Jenkins was the right move. Whether they line him up at FS or CB, he helps a secondary in big need of an upgrade. Vaughn is a guy who will need to be groomed, but he has a chance to start down the road. Arnoux will try to add MLB depth, and help on special teams. Morstead was a great pick, even if rookie punters are hard to predict. The Saints recently signed Parrish of Kent State, and he is a lineman worth developing. They also grabbed OLB Casillas of Wisconsin, and hope he can help. It is hard to grade a draft that has one first round pick, two fourth rounders, and a fifth. They did well with the little ammunition they had.
GRADE : C
Getting Josh Freeman wasn't too confusing. A QB HAS to go now. But who? They aren't going to keep Griese for long, or it may be time to trade McCown instead. Josh Johnson is a prospect I REALLY like, but the Bucs new head coach knows Freeman really well from their time in college together. Leftwich is expected to start the next year or two as the kid learns, but maybe McCown wins the job?. They smartly added depth to their D-line. Miller and Moore are two guys who are best at stopping the run, and they should help the rotation. Fulton adds depth, but he will need time to mature and get stronger. Biggers is a reach, but he is a big CB, Stroughter might be a steal. He is an electric return specialist, and he could help as a WR down the road. The Bucs seem OK with their OLB'S, but I think it was a mistake not thinking about the position in the draft at all. CB was another area they needed to bolster. Macho Harris was sitting right there, and is perfect for their cover two scheme, but they went with Fulton.
GRADE : C
Having reached the playoffs unexpectedly, the Falcons are trying to keep the ball rolling. Getting a Hall Of Fame TE was just a start. They then finally focused on defense. Jerry is already the best DT they have, and they better hope his back holds up. If so, he opens things up for their excellent DE's. Moore could be a real steal. They could move him to WLB if DeCloud holds onto the SS spot. Owens and Middleton will try to add depth to a young group of CB's. Sidbury was a need pick, and he might really help at SLB. Adkins is a special teamer, but he also adds depth to a dreadfully thin LB corp. Walker does the same for an equally thin group of DT's. The pick I liked best on the second day was Reynolds. The Falcons are really thin at OT depth, and especially at Guard. He has the ability to fill both needs. They also just signed Arkansas OT Jose Valdez, a mauler, to try to get more depth. Atlanta got the best defenders they had on their board. I think they should go into the next draft and continue upgrading the trenches, but it is hard to hit every area when you are rebuilding and winning at the same time.
GRADE : A
Carolina has been really aggressive since draft day. They traded up to get their pass rusher, Brown, to learn from Peppers before Julius departs. Martin was a need pick, after losing Lucas, and he has the ability to start one day. Irvin is a guy who is best at stopping the run, and the Panthers need DT's in the worst way. Goodson will allow Stewart to get off KR duty, and provides good depth. Fiammetta was grossly underutilized in college, but the kid can do all the little things well. Don't be surprised if he beats out Hoover soon. Robinson is a steal, and he could line up next to Otah to give Carolina two huge mashers on the right side. Munnerlyn maybe should have stayed in college another year, but he might help on special teams. Carolina then went out right away and signed twenty undrafted players. Cantwell is a strong armed QB worth sticking on the developmental squad and seeing where he goes. Cadogan had first day talent, but has yet to use it. If the light turns on, he will help. Marlon Favorite, of LSU, is a squatty DT who is very strong. He is purely a run stopper, but he has a shot of joining their DT rotation. The guy to watch, in camp, is Jamall Lee of Bishop's University. At 6' 225, the kid runs a 4.5 forty. He might have a shot. You cannot be upset, if you are a Panther fan. They aggressively got the best pass rusher in the draft, at the expense of next year. That tells the roster you want to win NOW. Always a good message for a veteran team.
GRADE : A