Now that the 2009 NFL Draft has come and gone, all that's left to do now is speculate between now and mini-camps. This draft left me with one message: The New York Giants dominated. Could I be wrong three years down the road? Sure. For now, here is my Post Draft Analysis, listing the Best and Worst drafts by team, and the biggest Steals and Reaches.
Top 5 Drafts
1) New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks could easily be better than advertised. Butch Davis’s comments about him being the best pass catcher he’s ever coached should not be taken lightly. Some of the best receivers to grace the NFL have gone through Davis. Clint Sintim could end up with a starting spot. He fits the Giants to a “T”. As a pass rushing LB, he gives the team another option to send after the opposing QB. William Beatty was a steal near the bottom of the 2nd round. He will eventually start at LT. Ramses Barden was one of the top small school prospects in the draft. He’s HUGE (6-6, 230) and has a thing for getting open in the end zone. If Travis Beckum didn’t get hurt last year, there would have been more hype. Don’t be surprised if he pushes Kevin Boss into a blocking role and takes over the receiving TE role before too long. Andre Brown could be the next Derrick Ward on this team. He’s a big back with some decent speed. Though he was an underachiever in college, he could be in the right situation to flourish. Rhett Bomar, in my opinion, has the potential to be as good as any QB in this draft. He was the top QB coming out of high school, started as a redshirt freshman at Oklahoma (Holiday Bowl MVP), but he broke rules and landed at Sam Houston State. He has an NFL arm, and could look good enough to get his QB coach a head coaching gig. In the 1-5 rounds, every player they drafted ranked high on many boards.
2) Philadelphia Eagles: Donovan McNabb should probably consider putting up, and/or shutting up. The team brought in a lot of talent through free agency, trade and the draft. It doesn’t look like they’re done either. Maclin was a steal at 19. Yes, he is similar to DeSean Jackson, but I think he’ll be much better. LeSean McCoy could prove many wrong. He doesn’t have measurables, but knows how to read the holes. Cornelius Ingram in the fifth round could be the best pick of their draft. Once fully healthy he rivals Pettigrew as the best TE in this draft. Macho Harris saw his stock fall, but lands on the right team, where he can sit and watch for a bit. Fenuki Tupou can play either tackle. Moise Fokou (Mo-Fo) will make fans happy on special teams. He could eventually be one of those late round picks that carves a niche on this team.
3) Cincinnati Bengals: First I will start with a disclaimer: It’s the Bengals. Now that I got that caveat out of the way, the Bengals impressed me. Yes, the team has a “gift” for drafting troubled players. Look right at the top with Andre Smith and Rey Maualuga. Both have off-field concerns, but the on-field talent speaks for itself. Both players were the best at their position in college last year, against top competition. Michael Johnson has that boom-or-bust value fits a need position for this team as an edge rusher. In my opinion, Chase Coffman could be their starting TE today. Luigs was a nice pick up at center, and could eventually be a starter. Huber was the best punter this draft had to offer. Morgan Trent is a tall, physical CB who joins former Wolverine, Leon Hall. Bernard Scott is your typical Bengal, as he has major off-field concerns, but he could be another Darren Sproles if he can stay out of trouble. Clinton McDonald has upside as a pass-rushing DT.
4) Detroit Lions: How could you not have one of the top drafts when you have the #1 pick? Believe me, the Lions have been capable of doing that in the past. However, with the franchise trying to turn the page, they had a great draft. Don’t get me wrong. Stafford holds this entire Lions draft class in the balance. If he doesn’t work out, the whole thing is practically a bust. But, let’s say Stafford works out. Taking Brandon Pettigrew was a smarter pick than first glance. I have always been a big fan of having a reliable safety-valve receiver for a young QB. The Lions lacked one on the roster, so they went out and drafted the best one available. A complimentary pick like this raises the value slightly. Louis Delmas grows on me the more I read about him. Taking him at the top of the 2nd round may have been a reach to some, but I think Delmas has star potential. DeAndre Levy’s presence could be a sign that Aaron Curry ends up in the middle (drafting Zach Follett adds more to that theory). Levy was a playmaker at Wisconsin for much of his four years there, and brings a lot of speed to the table at the OLB spot. Derrick Williams shouldn’t take long before he’s the #2 behind Calvin Johnson. The Lions needed bulk on the defensive line and got it with Stillman’s Sammie Lee Hill. He’s a poor man’s Shaun Rogers. A giant of a man, and he’ll be difficult to move. Aaron Brown was probably drafted to be more of a kick returner than a runner out of the backfield. Lydon Murtha, Zach Follett and Dan Gronkowski add depth to a team that didn’t have much last year.
5) Buffalo Bills: While I wasn’t a fan of the Bills taking Maybin over Orakpo, and taking Eric Wood so early, they still made several value picks. Maybin is younger than Orakpo and might offer more upside. Apparently, he reminded their front office of a young Jason Taylor. Whether Wood was a reach or not, he was a great college player. He won’t be on the bench for long. Jairus Byrd got a lot of hype late, and should fill in as the Nickel-Back early on. Andrew Levitre could also land a starting spot after Dockery’s departure. Shawn Nelson was arguably the 3rd best TE in this draft. With the wide open spot at TE on the Bills, he should have no problem starting. He’s like a WR playing TE and should make Trent Edwards’s job easier. Nic Harris is a bit of a tweener. As an OLB, he brings a lot of speed to the position and could get significant time on the weak side. Cary Harris and Ellis Lankaster should both contribute on special teams. Lankaster was a Juco All-American return-man, also blocking a handful of field goals, before transferring to WVU.
Worst 5 Drafts
1) Oakland Raiders: DHB over Crabtree and Maclin??? That has Troy Williamson written all over it. Al Davis has to realize, this isn’t John Madden Football. Every pick, outside of Louis Murphy, was a reach. Michael Mitchell was a bit of a reach in my opinion, but not as bad as everyone acted like it was. Mel Kiper shouldn’t have had him as the 73rd ranked safety in the draft. Matt Shaughnessy isn’t really a pass rusher, and he’s not really a run-stopping DE. Slade Norris, Stryker Sulak and Brandon Myers might have been rookie free agent targets for many teams.
2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa gets the low grade for picking Freeman. I pegged this as their pick, but that doesn’t mean I thought he was worth the pick. He has that strong arm that the Bucs have lacked, but he still has a lot of work to do. DT Roy Miller was a good college player, but he has very little upside. He could contribute, but most-likely won’t be a starter in the league. Kyle Moore is similar to Miller, as he doesn’t have much upside. He has great size, but lacks pass rushing skills or the physical strength/speed. Xavier Fulton is a project who has the physical tools, but not the experience. Edjuan Biggers and Sammie Stroughter probably could have been had as rookie free agents. Stroughter has been seen by some, but he lacks size.
3) Washington Redskins: Yes…I have to be overly-critical of my team. Then again, they deserve all of it. The Orakpo pick was great. No arguments there. He was not expected to fall to 13. However, the rest of the draft failed to address the biggest need on the team – the offensive line. Add in the fact that the team was without a 2nd rounder they traded for Jason Taylor. Kevin Barnes was a decent pick in the third, and could end up contributing. The rub is in the next two picks. Cody Glenn is a converted RB. He only played seven games as a LB at Nebraska. Robert Henson, on the other hand, has the experience, but he weighed in around 225. He won’t be able to handle the pounding in the middle. FB/TE Eddie Williams is supposed to be a Mike Sellers clone, but not as good of a blocker. Thanks for nothing. I’m sure Cooley and Fred Davis don’t have to worry about the challenge. Not even going to address the WR pick in the 7th. Jamon Meredith was taken four picks after Glenn. Duke Robinson – five picks. There were RBs available that would send Ladell Betts to the 3rd team. You heard it here, Rashad Jennings (taken at 250 by Jacksonville) will add more value to his team then all Redskins picks outside of Orakpo, maybe even combined. By the way...Vinny Cerrato's reasoning for not going after an O-Lineman: The Skins signed Mike Williams (yes...the former #4 overall bust pick for the Bills). And nobody was knocking down his door. The downsized (450 to a now 400 lbs) offensive lineman was Derrick Dockery's roommate. Dockery asked for the Skins to give Williams a chance. Guess the Raiders have some competition.
4) Denver Broncos: Hard to hate on their draft after their first three picks. All will help the team. However, one wonders what happened afterwards. I will detail Darcel McBath and Richard Quinn in my “Reaches” section. Both picks were horrible, in my opinion. I can’t hate on the David Bruton pick. He might be starting before McBath. Seth Olsen will be a versatile backup, but will probably not be a serviceable starter for the Broncos. Kenny McKinley is a Spurrier WR. No need to make that argument. Tom Brandstater is a weak-armed QB from Fresno State. Could he have more working against him? Blake Schlueter is a Broncos-style lineman…under Shanahan. He’s an undersized zone-blocking center, but has some potential.
5) San Diego Chargers: It was difficult to place this team on this list, but there are some decent reasons. Many teams also did a decent job of drafting too. My biggest gripe about this draft is that the Chargers drafted like they are a team rebuilding. Unless the Chargers had a tip about Larry English going earlier, they probably could have taken Cleveland’s place and traded down with Tampa, then with Philly, and maybe more, and still landed English in the latter part of the first round. Is Merriman hurt that bad? Is this insurance? Is Shaun Phillips in danger? Maybe they envision English in the middle, because they need the help there. Guards Louis Vasquez and Tyronne Green and DT Vaughn Martin have great upside, but won’t help a playoff team anytime soon. Brandon Hughes could be a sleeper. Gartrell Johnson, Kevin Ellison and Demetrius Byrd probably would have been available as free agents. While Johnson flashes power running, he’ll lose a footrace to some DTs. Ellison reminds me a lot of former USC safety Darnell Bing, and we know how that turned out in the NFL. After Byrd had his accident, he was sure to be out of the draft. Kudos if the Chargers were trying to be the “nice guys.”
Top 5 Steals
1) Jarron Gilbert (68) Bears: Gilbert dropped completely out of the first day. The Bears got a steal. While Gilbert can play DE, he fits in as a Tommie Harris clone. He has great explosion, as evidenced in his YouTube video, jumping out of a swimming pool. How Gilbert fell to the 3rd round after Jason Jones’s success on the Titans last year is a mystery.
2) Lawrence Sidbury (125) Falcons: There was some word that the Falcons were thinking of moving Jamaal Anderson over to DT, and drafting a DE in the first round. Instead, they took DT Peria Jerry in the first. Anderson might still get some competition from Richmond’s Sidbury. Though he played against a lower level of competition, Sidbury’s talent shone over the offseason. Don’t be surprised if Sidbury relieves Anderson on passing downs. While we can’t expect a Mark Anderson-like rookie year, Sidbury should show some flashes.
3) Duke Robinson (163) Panthers: What caused Duke Robinson to fall to the 5th round? It was obvious that he wouldn’t fit with every team, as he is a massive, run-blocking guard. The only speculation I can muster is that maybe he had some red-flags. Did he bomb on the Wonderlic? Regardless, the Panthers got great value at this pick.
4) Coye Francies (191) Browns: Francies was a top 10 ranked CB on many draft gurus’ boards. The only knock on him is the level that he played, and the fact that he is a little raw. Francies’s upside is vast. He has prototypical size, strength and speed at the CB position. He can also work as a returner.
5) Rashad Jennings (250) Jaguars: One of my personal favorites in this draft, and maybe the reason I had him overrated. However, the 7th to the last pick in the entire draft is a major steal. I have no doubt that by mid-season he will be MJD’s primary backup, and will receive a good amount of carries. He could make his mark as a slightly smaller version of Brandon Jacobs (slightly smaller, but still making him bigger than most backs in the league). He could also work as Greg Jones’s understudy, as he can make the transition to fullback.
Top 5 Reaches
1) Darrius Heyward-Bey (7) Raiders: There were whispers that the Raiders were thinking of taking DHB at #7. Why pass on a nearly can’t-miss prospect like Crabtree? If it’s speed you want, why not Maclin? Picks like this are the reason the Raiders will always be right there with one of the top ten picks in the draft and be one of the biggest jokes on the field.
2) Richard Quinn (64) Broncos: Richard Quinn was a first day pick?!?!?!? Quinn is a pure blocking TE, not a receiver. He had 12 career receptions at UNC. What made the Broncos think they couldn’t get Quinn later? What’s keeping them from drafting an undersized offensive tackle and using him in that role?
3) Darcel McBath (48) Broncos: The team nabbed Darcel McBath while William Moore was still on the board. McBath is a poor-man’s William Moore. Maybe the Broncos have something up their sleeve.
4) Sebastian Vollmer (58) Patriots: Over William Beatty?! Vollmer might be strong and agile, but he’s got a ways to go to even get to Beatty’s level (especially when it comes to pass blocking). Vollmer might replace Kaczur at some point, but the second round was a too high, in my opinion.
5) Eric Wood (28) Bills: Don’t get me wrong. Wood is a good player. I can’t really knock him. But a first round pick??? I think the Bills could have used that pick as an opportunity to trade down if they wanted Wood. Max Unger, who went in the mid-second round is a better center, in my opinion, and offers versatility enough to play any position on the line.