Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Draft grades

Remember, C is average. C means you got average value for your drafting position, made solid but unspectacular picks, and improved your team as much as the average team in the draft.

Arizona Cardnals - A
Picked up the best QB in the draft, three other starters, and a LB that will contribute immediately on special teams.

Atlanta Falcons - C+
Good value for their first-round pick (John Abraham) and second-round pick (Jimmy Williams).

Baltimore Ravens - B+
Love Ngata for this defense, and Demetrius Williams in the fourth round is excellent value. Chris Chester should be a solid player for several years.

Buffalo Bills - C-
I really tore up the Bills on my blog during the first day of the draft. Whitner was a reach at #8, but he is a good football player who fills a need on their defense. Trading up to grab John McCargo was a terrible decision. Staying put and drafting Bunkley and Bullocks would have been a much more formidable combo than Whitner and McCargo, and wouldn't have cost them anything to move up. Strangely enough, Buffalo nearly made up for this mistake with great picks in rounds 3 and 4. Yobouty and Ko Simpson can help out immediately in nickel/dime packages and are starters in 2007. Overall, the draft produced several quality players in areas of need.

Carolina Panthers - B-
A solid draft. DeAngelo Williams is a quality RB, and both Richard Marshall and Rashad Butler should develop into starters. An average draft that gets a small bump for their extra third round pick.

Chicago Bears - D
Didn't draft any immediate help. Manning was a reach and Hester is developmental. Both look like special-teamers in year one, though Manning figures to be the nickel corner. The only pick that has excellent value is Mark Anderson in the fifth - I was hoping the Eagles would snag him on day 2.

Cincinnati Bengals - C-
Stayed put in the first round and drafted what some consider the top CB in the draft. Reached often after round one, however...picks like Whitworth, Rucker, and Nicholson all have huge question marks. I like McNeal in round six.

Cleveland Browns - B-
Another solid but unspectacular draft. I don't like Travis Wilson in round three, there were better WRs on the board at the time. He's very similar to Jason Avant, who was a fourth-round pick. Babatunde Oshinowo is a solid sixth-round pick who has a chance to be a productive NFL starter for many years in a 3-4 defense.

Dallas Cowboys - C
This draft was too rich in DBs to let their first pick at safety slide to the fifth round. Bobby Carpenter is a very good player. Fasano will help the running game, and gives the Cowboys the ability to line up in the two TE set that Parcells likes so much. Jason Hatcher is an nice pick-up in the third round, and should be a solid starter as a 3-4 DE.

Denver Broncos - A
Trading up to get Cutler was a fantastic move. He'll carry the clipboard for one season, and then he's going to make Denver forget all about The Jake Plummer Years. Javon Walker as their second-round pick is another coup. Get ready to watch a lot of TD passes from Cutler to Walker on ESPN starting in 2007. Filled a need for a pass-catching TE in round two, drafted Brandon Marshall to take over starting duties next to Walker next season. Greg Eslinger in round six was an absolute steal.

Detroit Lions - C
Sims should be a playmaker at LB, but I'm not sure that he was good enough to be drafted at #9. I've got a feeling that Huff and Whitner were 1 and 2 on their wish list, and they were a bit shocked to see both off the board when they picked. Bullocks is a nice pick-up in round two, and Brian Calhoun will improve the RB depth behind Kevin Jones.

Green Bay Packers - A
Traded their way into 12 picks over the seven round draft. Their top seven picks should either start or see significant playing time immediately. Hawk, Colledge, Jennings, Hodge, Spitz - of them, only Jennings won't be a starter by the middle of the season. My favorite selection is Will Blackmon in round four - he's going to be a solid NFL CB, and it's amazing that he lasted that long.

Houston Texans - B
Selected four players who will step in and start right away. Williams and Ryans should anchor that defense for years. Winston in round three is a steal.

Indianapolis Colts - D
Addai is a nice fit, but they reached a bit to draft short, speedy defenders in rounds two and three. Not an awful draft, but definitely below average.

Jacksonville Jaguars - D
Lewis is a perfect fit for them and was a nice selection in round one. I was a bit suprised at the selection of Drew in round two, but if he becomes an every-down back in the NFL, it will obviously turn out to be a wise move. Traded away their fourth round pick to move up in the third round for no good reason. If Drew develops into their starting RB, then this draft was a successful one. But for now, it's looking below-average in quantity and quality.

Kansas City Chiefs - D+
Hali and Pollard were both reaches, but both are solid football players who should contribute right away. Brodie Croyle in round three is good value, and he has a chance to excell in this offense. Didn't address their most glaring need (CB) in one of the richest CB drafts in history until round five. Slightly below average.

Miami Dolphins - B
Daunte Culpepper as a second-round pick makes this draft class a winner. Derek Hagan was good value in the third, Joe Toledo is good value in the fourth, and Rodrique Wright has tremendous upside for a seventh-rounder. Jason Allen may be a bit of crapshoot with his injured hip, but if he stays healthy, he'll be a very productive CB.

Minnesota Vikings - C+
Greenway's a solid pick at 17. I like the second-round haul of Griffin, Cook, and Jackson...although Jackson would have probably been there in round three if they just waited. With three probable starters and a developmental QB coming out of this draft, it's slightly above average.

New England Patriots - C-
I'm not going to give New England a free pass on every draft choice they make because they lucked out once by picking Tom Brady in the 6th round (if you had any idea he was going to be a multiple Super Bowl winner, why wait six rounds to draft him?) Maroney is an ok pick...they needed a RB to replace Corey Dillon, but I've seen Maroney get shut down in college way too often against good defenses to make me think he's a top-flight back. Chad Jackson was excellent value in the second round. But drafting two TEs, and then a kicker, when your defense was in shambles last year and desperately needs an infusion of young talent...that's a mistake. They did a nice job filling out depth in the 5th and 6th rounds, but unless they uncover another rare hidden gem, it's going to be a below-average draft.

New Orleans Saints - C+
Difficult draft to grade, because if Reggie Bush is the superstar that most have predicted he'll become, then the rest of the picks are basically irrelevant. Any time you get the best player in the draft, it's a huge help to your football team. Roman Harper is a bit of a strange pick in the second, and the rest of the draft is unremarkable at best.

New York Giants - C
Trading down seven slots for a third- and a fourth-round pick was a shrewd move. But Kiwanuka had fallen into the second round on most draft boards, and didn't fill a need. I'm not as high on Moss as some, but he's a solid second-round choice. They did their best work in the fourth round, with Barry Cofield and Guy Wimper, both which should develop into starters. The Giants didn't gain an edge or fall behind the average with this draft.

New York Jets - A
This is how you build a football team. They got the top two offensive linemen in the draft, an elite QB prospect, and a total of 10 picks through seven rounds. I would have liked to see them draft a pass-rushing DE to replace Abraham, but this team has so many needs, they could not have possibly addressed them all in one draft.

Oakland Raiders - B-
Very solid. The top four will step right in and start. Michael Huff is one of the best football players in the draft, and Darnell Bing was good value in round four. They might regret passing on Leinart and Cutler, but not because Huff will disappoint. The Raiders helped themselves a lot, and avoided the typical draft-day reaches that have become commonplace under Al Davis.

Philadelphia Eagles - A
I've blogged extensively about this already. Other than Arizona, the Eagles had the best draft in the NFL. They certainly did the most with the position they had. Since I blasted the Gocong selection in the third round, I've found out quite a bit more about him. Apparently the Eagles are projecting him as a strong side LB, which alleviates my concern about his lack of bulk as a DE (the witty comparison to N.D. Kalu was unwarranted, apparently.) I've no idea how he projects to a backer, but the Eagles weren't the only team who were impressed by his talents. The Jets would have taken him if the Eagles hadn't moved up in the third round. I'll withhold my judgement til I see him play. If he ends up as a serviceable starting LB, this draft will be even better.

Pittsburgh Steelers - B-
It's amazing to me that the Super Bowl champions could get the best player at their position of greatest need. Other than Santonio Holmes, there wasn't a player in this draft that they could have taken who would have started on their team. It's a testament to their competence that they moved up and grabbed him. Yes, the cost of a third- and a fourth-round draft pick was too high...but it was a rare opportunity and I can't blame them for seizing it. Harris and Jacobs represent good value in the fourth and fifth round, and they finished with a total of nine draft choices. Don't be surprised if Cedric Humes makes the team and has success running the ball, even as a seventh-round pick.

San Diego Chargers - C
Comartie and McNeil fill needs, while Whitehurst is an intriguing prospect/insurance policy behind Phillip Rivers. Solid and unremarkable.

San Francisco 49ers - C
Picked up two top-flight talents in Vernon Davis and Manny Lawson, and both filled big needs. But Brandon Williams and Michael Robinson were picked too high. Parys Haralson was good value in the fifth round.

Seattle Seahawks - C
Didn't have many picks to work with, but did a nice job with what they had. Jennings and Tapp are both players who will be productive with the Seahawks.

St. Louis Rams - B
Nabbed four starters in five picks, and Victor Adeyanju should see action as a situational pass rusher right away. Traded down in the first round and still got the man they were looking for in Tye Hill. Jon Alston is excellent value in round three, and Claude Wroten is high risk/reward (which is ok when you have three picks in the third round.) The only Rams draft I can remember since the beginning of the Vermeil era where I wasn't left scratching my head in confusion at one (or more) of the picks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - C
Both Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood were taken too high, but both will be productive NFL starters and fill a need for the Bucs. Stovall, Zemaitis, Jenkins, and Gradkowski represent good value in rounds 3-6.

Tennessee Titans - D
For a team picking #3, I expect to see impact players. They drafted a very raw, mechanically poor QB, a fat RB, and beyond that, not much. Lowry is a limited player with good football instincts. Jesse Mahelona will be a serviceable part of the DT rotation right away. How you could pass on Matt Leinart, especially with Norm Chow as your offensive coach, is beyond me. They will be regretting that move for years. If Vince Young and LenDale White turn out to be stars, then obviously this grade should be much higher. But a team with as many needs as the Titans, drafting in such a good position, shouldn't take wild risks on players that won't be contributing for years.

Washington Redskins - F
Draft, what draft? Consider that their first-round pick this year was worth 1/2 of Jason Campbell, and their third-round draft is Brandon Lloyd. It's still a terrible draft. And then they trade up, throwing away yet another pick, to grab Rocky McIntosh when there were numerous quality weakside LBs still on the board. Dan Snyder sticks to his plan of overpaying mediocre veterans and whiffing completely on draft day. The Redskins may have grabbed headlines in March, but they took two steps backwards compared to the other teams in their division in April.


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