Monday, April 26, 2010

NFL Draft Review - Part 1 - The NFC

Since I love the NFL Draft and fans of the blog have clamored for it, I have decided to do a full review of the NFL Draft. I will be going through different rankings.

For my team rankings, I do not include the trades that they lost to acquire other players at different times. My biases include no real way of evaluating Quarterbacks potential at the next level. Unless a guy really sucks and that is clear, I don't have strong opinions on quarterbacks, because even a shitty QB like Jake Delhomme looked decent for a few years. I also don't have strong opinions on many small school players, because I simply didn't have the time to watch enough of them to make any sort of quality analysis. Finally, I am only looking at the draft picks. Because of this, teams with lots of picks will have probably added more talent than teams that traded away picks before the draft. As long as your team traded for quality guys (and not Gaines Adams and Jay Cutler), you shouldn't worry about a low ranking.

Today, I will be breaking down the NFC teams and ranking them from best to worst.

1. San Francisco 49ers
Picks I Love – Anthony Davis/Mike Iupati – OT/OG – Rutgers/Idaho – 1st Round – Wow, the 49ers did exactly what I would have loved for the Bears to do. Just load up the offensive line with talent. I picked against Rutgers in their bowl game, and I regretted it on their first possession when I saw Anthony Davis. That guy is a monster, and if he consistently plays like he did in that game, he will definitely make some pro bowls. Iupati is a little tougher for me to judge, but he plowed through people all season for Idaho, and now it’s a matter of translating that to higher competition. His technique can get sloppy, but if he gets the right coaching, all the physical tools are there for success.

Pick I Hate – Nate Byham – TE – Pittsburgh – 6th Round – Really nothing against him, but it was the first 49ers pick that didn’t make me think, “Wow, that was a great pick.”

Overall – The reason the 49ers are at the top of this list is because they got GREAT value in their first five picks. The 49ers biggest weakness was their offensive line, and they addressed it twice in the first round. Not only is that smart, but they got two very good players that were good values where they were drafted. Then they went out and got Taylor Mays. Mays floor is basically a better version of Roy Williams; his ceiling is an alive version of Sean Taylor. If he’s around a bunch of shitty defensive players, he can be exposed, but the 49ers have playmakers on defense, and this is a very good situation for him to be coming into. Then they got Navorro Bowman who was a playmaker at linebacker for Penn State. He’s an excellent athlete who will help out immediately. They didn’t have picks in the fourth or fifth rounds, but then in the sixth round, they got Anthony Dixon who quietly had a great year for Mississippi while being surrounded by a bunch of turds. He can immediately come in and give rest to Frank Gore while really being able to pound the ball up the middle. Congratulations 49ers, you had the best draft in the NFC.

2. Detroit Lions
Picks I Love – Ndamukong Suh – DT – Nebraska – 1st Round – Suh is so good that I added both of his names to my spell check dictionary. He was the best player in the draft. People want to compare him to other defensive tackles taken highly in the past, but this guy is on another level. Nobody has impacted the game from the defensive tackle position like Suh did during his college career. It’s not a matter of whether this guy can make a pro bowl, but if he can do it in his first year and how many he’ll make after that. He is an absolute monster. The only knock against him is that he could only almost beat a D-I (for now) football team single-handedly when Nebraska managed to lose to future St. Ambrose rival, Iowa State.
Amari Spievey – CB – Iowa – 3rd Round – Spievey isn’t the next great cornerback, but he is going to be a good cornerback (or a great safety). His sophomore year may have looked a little more impressive than his junior year because QBs were still dumb enough to throw to his side of the field, but the guy shut down his side of the field for every play but one. The challenge is going to be how he adapts to teams trying to beat him with quick cuts underneath, but I think he should get better as time gets on, and he may be the best tackling cornerback in the draft.

Picks I Hate – None.

Overall – An excellent draft by the Lions. Matt Millen thought it sucked as they took 0 Wide Receivers, but you can’t please everybody. I really like them getting Jahvid Best, as he should be an explosive back as long as he can stay healthy. There’s risk, but there’s also a good chance of reward with him. I also like picking up Jason Fox to help out the offensive line at the end of Round 4. Detroit probably isn’t going to come in last this year, and (spoiler alert) neither are the Vikings or Packers.

3. Philadelphia Eagles
Pick I Love – Brandon Graham – DE – Michigan – 1st Round – Although I would have loved Graham a little bit more a few picks later, the Eagles saw the guy they wanted, had a shit ton of draft picks already, so they made the move to make sure they got the guy they wanted. Nothing wrong with that. Graham does not have the prototypical build for a defensive end, but he more than makes up for that in production. He made Bulaga look like awful in their game at Iowa. He was the only good player on Michigan’s defense and he still raised hell in every game for them.

Pick I Hate – Keenan Clayton – OLB – Oklahoma – 4th Round – Taken two picks after AJ Edds, tough break, Philly fans.

Overall – The Eagles don’t have a lot of things that really pop out at you, but the accumulation of talent is impressive. Graham was a good way to start out, and then they followed up with Nate Allen to replace Macho Harris, and basically any safety replacing Macho Harris is a huge upgrade. They added Kafka to give them a QB to groom as a backup for Kolb. Then they got Ricky Sapp out of Clemson. They followed that up with a very productive receiver in Riley Cooper. Then they got a pretty good running back in Charles Scott out of LSU. Finally, at the end of the 7th round, they got Kurt Coleman who was a very solid player for Ohio State and should be a good backup/special teams player in the NFL. I kind of stretched to say I loved Graham at 13, but there is no team that I thought made this many good draft picks.

4. New Orleans Saints
Pick I Love – Charles Brown – OT – USC – 2nd Round – This is an athletic offensive tackle that some people had sneaking into the first round. To get this guy at the end of Round 2 is awesome value and building up depth at the offensive line is always a good idea.

Pick I Hate – Sean Canfield – QB – Oregon State – 7th Round – Not like this is going to kill them since they should be alright at QB for right now, but I don’t see Canfield being any more than a Henry Burris in the NFL.

Overall – They absolutely nailed their first four picks. Patrick Robinson was a very good corner for Florida State, and should be able to make an impact for the Saints in his rookie year. I already talked about how Brown was a great pick for them. After that, they got Jimmy Graham who may have the most potential of any tight end in the draft, but there is still rawness to his game so it is going to be a project to help him reach his full potential. Plus, they got Al Woods in the fourth round that could turn into a very good defensive tackle as he showed some great ability while at LSU. The final picks aren’t anything to get excited about, but this was an excellent draft for the defending champs.

5. Seattle Seahawks
Pick I Love – Russell Okung – OT – Oklahoma State – 1st Round – They got what most felt was the best offensive lineman at number six, so that’s very good for them, especially since their offensive line has been atrocious these last couple years. This was a pick they had to make, and they didn’t mess it up. Plus Okung gets to learn under maybe the best offensive line coach in the league in Alex Gibbs, so this is a mutually beneficial pick.

Pick I Hate – None.

Overall – Most of these picks had me either slightly positive or slightly negative. The pick I was most against was Earl Thomas of Texas. I think he’s a reach at 14, and a guy who could have used another year in college to refine some of his skills. His family is poor and lost their home during Katrina, so I understand him coming out and he is getting paid so good for him, but I’m not sold on him as an impact safety. I think he’ll probably only top out at about an 85-87 overall on Madden. I liked them getting Kam Chancellor and Anthony McCoy late, because I think both of those guys will be able to contribute early on at the pro level. Notre Dame basically played a schedule equivalent to a MAC team this year, so it’s tough for me to evaluate their players. Golden Tate at the end of round two could be solid, but he didn’t face any top level corners this year, so his ability to get open is something that I’ll have to wait and see on. But Seattle had a lot of picks and added a good amount of talent so good for them.

6. Arizona Cardinals
Picks I Love – Dan Williams – DT – Tennessee – 1st Round – A big fat defensive tackle that they are going to put in their 4-3 line. Hell yeah. Him and Darnell Dockett are going to tear shit up. With those two in the middle, they have the potential for the Williams Wall that was built up in Minnesota.
O’Brien Schofield – DE/OLB – Wisconsin – 4th Round – Schofield was one of two defensive ends (Brandon Graham being the other) that pretty much owned Bryan Bulaga this season. Schofield is a tweener, but the guy had big production last year in the Big Ten, and for some reason people are able to ignore production if their size isn’t ideal. He tore his ACL during Senior Bowl week, so he will have no production in 2010, but this is a guy who I believe will pay off for them in 2011.

Picks I Hate – None.

Overall – Very good draft for the Cardinals. Another pick that I really like is Daryl Washington, the other very good linebacker out of TCU. He got overshadowed by Hughes, but I think he will be a very good pro player. They also drafted John Skelton, the QB out of Fordham. Some people think he’s got great potential, but I would just be talking out of my ass if I started commenting on a QB I never saw play. They nailed three of their first four picks, so it was a good draft for the Cards.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick I Love – Mike Williams – WR – Syracuse – 4th Round – Williams was one of the most talented wide receivers in the class, but he fell to the fourth round, because he’s a complete dumbass and there are serious character concerns. Character concerns can really hurt you if you take that guy in the first round, but getting a guy this talented in the fourth round is a definite steal and pairing him with Arrelious Benn gives them an exciting young duo at the wide receiver position.

Pick I Hate – Brent Bowden – P – Virginia Tech – 6th Round – I feel like anybody in the kicking game should be treated like kickers in fantasy football drafts, there is no excuse for drafting them before your very last pick.

Overall – A very good draft for the Buccaneers. They needed to add talent as opposed to trying to address certain needs and they did that. I think they still need help at the safety position, because that was a serious area of weakness for them, but this team isn’t contending this year, so they have time to fill that hole. I like McCoy (even though people thinking he was just as talented as Suh are kidding themselves) and Price as their pair of defensive tackles, and they also did a good job of adding receiving talent for Josh Freeman.

8. Carolina Panthers
Picks I Love – Eric Norwood – OLB – South Carolina – 4th Round – An excellent value in the 4th round of the draft. This was a guy who led the South Carolina defense, and even though he isn’t the most athletic linebacker out there, all the guy did was produce in college. This guy will be a starter in the NFL, and I could see him having a few impact years.

Greg Hardy – DE – Mississippi – 6th Round – The only way I can explain him dropping this far is that teams thought that he got drafted earlier and totally forgot about him. I feel bad for Hardy, because he lost himself a lot of money by going back to school for a disappointing senior season, but if he’s healthy, this guy is a dominant force, and this is one of the biggest steals of the entire draft.

Pick I Hate – Tony Pike – QB – Cincinnati – 6th Round – I honestly do not see him ever contributing positively to an NFL team.

Overall – They didn’t have a first round pick, but they did an excellent job of making up for it by drafting high upside guys with their picks. I’m not a Clausen fan, but to be able to get him in the second round is just a very good value pick. Brandon LaFell is a high upside wide receiver, so that’s another solid pick. Obviously, I love their two defensive picks, so I think the Panthers were very impressive in their drafting.

9. Dallas Cowboys
Pick I Love – Dez Bryant – WR – Oklahoma State – 1st Round – On talent alone, Dez Bryant is somewhere between the third and fifth best player in this draft. That’s really good. He’s young and dumb, but really, not all that dumb. The NCAA rules dealing with contact with agents are unclear to me, so for a lot of football players, it’s probably like advanced calculus. He lied to the NCAA, because he was worried about getting booted from his team, so despite him not actually breaking any rules initially, the NCAA kicked him off the football team for lying. It was complete bullshit. He has acted like a dumbass in a lot of ways leading up to the draft, but wide receivers who aren’t dumbasses either aren’t good, or are secretly gangsters like Marvin Harrison.

Pick I Hate – Sean Lee – ILB – Penn State – I was way higher on Bowman than Lee for Penn State, as I just didn’t see him as an impact player. He was a guy who filled holes, but he doesn’t make plays, and he plays in a system that is going to give him opportunities to rack up tackles. I’m unimpressed.

Overall – I hate that the Cowboys took Dez Bryant, because I loved him in college and now I am forced to boo him. Although he didn’t impress at the postseason events, I like Sam Young as a 6th rounder. The Cowboys had a positive draft after Round 1, so anything on top of that is going to be gravy.

10. St. Louis Rams
Pick I Love – Mardy Gilyard – WR – Cincinnati – 4th Round – I like guys who produce in college, and that is exactly what Gilyard did. His measurables at the combine certainly didn’t pop out, but the guy had the quickness and speed to be a good return man for Cincinnati last year. I doubt that he’s ever going to be a number one receiver, but he has the potential to be a solid number two which is good value in round 4.

Pick I Hate – Mike Hoomanawanui – TE – Illinois – 5th Round – This draft was loaded with tight ends, and he wasn’t one of the better ones.

Overall – The draft didn’t blow me away at all. I understand drafting Sam Bradford in the first round, because they are desperate for a QB, and I believe he does have the best chance of success of any QB in the draft. Roger Saffold got high grades for what he did at the Senior Bowl and the Combine. I really didn’t pay attention to him enough this season, so it’s tough for me to say that this guy is going to be good or bad, but he certainly never jumped out at me. They made picks, but I wasn’t overly impressed with any of them.

11. New York Giants
Pick I Love – Chad Jones – S – LSU – 3rd Round – Out of the load of safeties that were taken in about five picks in the third round, I liked Jones the most. He’s a very good athlete who tackles well and puts him in good positions to make plays on the ball. He was successful in the SEC, and I really don’t know why he fell to the third round. An excellent pick for the Giants.

Pick I Hate – Jason Pierre-Paul – DE – South Florida – 1st Round – If he can find a way to backflip to the QB, I think this will be a very good pick. Otherwise, this guy is probably the next Mike Mamula. Everybody talks about him like he was a dominant force in his one year of college, but with just 6.5 sacks, he really wasn’t. If he ever gets 6.5 sacks in a season again, I’ll be shocked.

Overall – I loved Jones, and I also really liked Mitch Petrus out of Arkansas as a late pick, but their first pick was so bad, it made it hard to judge this draft. I really don’t know enough about their second round pick, so they find themselves here, because this is where the good is enough to make up for the bad.

12. Green Bay Packers
Pick I Love – Bryan Bulaga – OT – Iowa – 1st Round – Bulaga in the Top 10 would not have excited me, but him falling to 23rd is definitely good value. There are some major question marks about him after the way that he played last year. But he was awesome as a sophomore, and if he gets back to that level, he’s a big time steal. I definitely think he can as he did get better as the year progressed, and I’m not happy that he is a Packer.

Pick I Hate – Michael Neal – DT – Purdue – 2nd Round – Well, at least they made up for their good pick with a big reach for Neal in round two. He’s nothing special, and in the second round, it’s a pretty disappointing pick.

Overall – They added some solid talent, and took the free safety that the Bears wanted two picks before they drafted, so that was a very quality move on their part. It wasn’t a bad draft, but it also wasn’t a good one. They still don’t have to worry about last place.

13. Atlanta Falcons
Pick I Love – Dominique Franks – CB – Oklahoma – 5th Round – This is a guy who dropped because of a pretty awful combine, but since I don’t give two shits about the combine in most cases, that doesn’t bother me. Oklahoma, despite struggling last year, still had a really tough defense. They played against very explosive passing offenses and were able to contain just about everybody. Franks is a great value pick in the 5th round, so good for the Falcons.

Pick I Hate – Corey Peters – DT – Kentucky – 3rd Round – A shitty defensive tackle who I’m already putting the bust label on. This is despite me never watching Kentucky. I expect him to be the defensive tackle version of fellow former Wildcat, Tim Couch.

Overall – I wasn’t able to say I hated any of their picks, but there were some close calls. Although I think Sean Weatherspoon will be a solid linebacker in the pros, I think he was an overdraft at 19th overall. They got some shitty defensive tackle out of Kentucky in the third round, and the rest of their picks are nondescript guys. Outside of the Franks pick, there’s nothing to get excited about with this draft.

14. Minnesota Vikings
Pick I Love – None.

Picks I Hate – Mickey Shuler – TE – Penn State – 7th Round – I don’t understand drafting a backup tight end when there were productive players still available.

Overall – It’s not terrible, but nothing jumps out at you either. I like Chris Cook, because improving the corner position had to be their number one priority. They upgraded on Chester Taylor with Gerhart. Also, can we please stop comparing him to Mike Alstott? I know that he’s a white running back, but that doesn’t mean that we are unable to compare him to black people. Maybe he could get a Natrone Means or a Craig “Ironhead” Heyward comparison. They may have not done anything that stood out, but they also didn’t fuck up, and that’s a major positive.

15. Chicago Bears
Pick I Love – Freddie Barnes – WR – Bowling Green – UFA – Yep, I had to dig deep to find something I loved, but Barnes is about the best thing that I could find about the Bears. He may not make the team, but I enjoyed watching him on weeknights when nothing else was on.

Picks I Hate – Gaines Adams – RIP – Six Feet Under – 2nd Round – This deal was so bad that it almost made the Cutler deal look semi-intelligent. Actually, no, it still didn’t. Speaking of…
Jay Cutler – QB – Double Chin U – The Bears Future – The Bears traded their future for a bum. This team has no chance of winning until 2014 at the earliest. Consider third place a success until then.

Overall – I don’t count trades against anybody else’s draft, so it’s not fair for me to do it here. The Bears didn’t do terrible. Major Wright should be solid. I actually did like the Wootton pick, but nothing stood out about the draft. Without picks in the first two rounds, they needed to draft a couple high upside guys and they failed to do that.

16. Washington Redskins
Pick I Love – None.

Pick I Hate – Eric Cook – OG – New Mexico – 7th Round – Cook went to New Mexico, but was not coached by Steve Alford, an unforgivable sin on his part.

Overall – When there’s about 100 picks between your first and second pick in the draft, it’s going to be tough to have a big impact. But if you have the fourth pick, you should probably try to get somebody who is close to a sure thing, Trent Williams probably isn’t that. For how talented NFL scouts thought Oklahoma was, they sure didn’t take advantage of it. Not having Bradford or Gresham is definitely a big deal, but this offense was pretty poor, and it’s not like Williams was surrounded by bums on the offensive line. They should have still been able to move the ball consistently. I think Washington should have traded down and taken one of the many offensive tackles available later in the round, because there was no superstud tackle this year, just a lot of quality guys with question marks. I don’t hate Williams, but I also can’t say that he is definitively better than the guy taken 19 spots later, Bryan Bulaga.

And that's all for the NFC.


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