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2009 NFL Draft Grades

April 27, 2009
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Here are my initial reactions on each team’s drafts, in terms of value.  That’s right, it’s the TAB Draft Grades.

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Jacksonville Jaguars: A
First, the Jags get the best overall player on my board, Eugene Monroe, with the eighth pick.  Then, they get Eben Britton in round two.  The problem with this is the fact one of these studs have to move out of OLT.  Then, in day two, they get a DT with good upside (Terrance Knighton).  They also added the small, shifty Mike Thomas and the highly-underrated, fanastic route runner Jarett Dillard at receiver.  Then, there’s also running back Rashad Jennings and wide receiver Tiquan Underwood.  Jennings will be the thunder when MJD isn’t blowing by and bowling over defenses.

New York Giants: A
Picking Hakeem Nicks over Kenny Britt was honestly a tad bit shocking, but the select was great.  Nicks uses his body well, and he could replace Plaxico Burress (without the poor catch rate, which makes me think Burress has been overrated).  If Nicks doesn’t pan out, Ramses Barden could cut the slack.  Barden is a huge receiver, and he actually fits the Burress persona better than Nicks.  William Beatty dropping to the second round could work wonders for the Giants in the future; Beatty’s an OLT worthy of a first-round grade.  The first seven picks for New York could pan out very well.

Atlanta Falcons: A-
Peria Jerry was almost the perfect pick for Atlanta.  I don’t see any preference for a big or quick defensive tackles for Atlanta, so getting a great inside pass-rusher works well.  Getting William Moore in the second round was just as good.  Third-rounder Christopher Owens has the cornerback package I love; he may be Dwight Lowery (on Lowery’s good days).  Fourth-rounder Lawrence Sidbury also will greatly improve the pass rush.  Besides that, the draft seems solid but not spectacular.  Offensive tackle Garrett Reynolds stands at 6’8″, but barely weighs over 300 pounds.

Miami Dolphins: A-
When a mega talent like Vontae Davis drops to 25, I think you gotta take him.  Considering Parcells’ mindset, there had to be confidence Davis will a cornerback and not just an athlete.  Same goes for Sean Smith, the second-round pick who could play both safety and corner.  Pat White was another day one pick, and he’ll be in an ideal situation.  White may add a whole other element to the Wildcat.  In round three, I simply love the Patrick Turner pick.  He’s big, he’s fluid and he’s got hands.  Brian Hartline is a quick, and could pan to be a YAC receiver.  John Nalbone has promise at tight end.

New England Patriots: A-
Another draft, and once again New England sets themselves up for future great draft while doing well in their current one.  Not only did the Patriots select in the second round four times, but they get two second-rounders for next year.  Did I mention they got three fringe first-round talents in the second round?  Patrick Chung by far the best strong safety IMO.  Ron Brace should’ve went a round earlier, and he’s a pure nose tackle who’ll one day seemlessly replace Vince Wilfork.  Darius Butler can be a star if he adds some bulk and physicality without losing speed.

Seattle Seahawks: A-
Not only do the Seahawks get the best defensive player in this draft, but they get a pick for the 2010 draft that may end up being the first overall.  Aaron Curry gets by Kansas City, so Seattle swoops him up.  Sure, this pick led to dropped tag of Leroy Hill, but the two parties can still work out a deal.  Meanwhile, Denver moves up in the second round, and they give Seattle their first-round pick in 2010 to do so.  Given my opinions of Denver’s current state, if things pan out the way I except them to, Seattle may have gotten themselves a prime pick.  Max Unger in the second was a great pick.

Tennessee Titans: A-
Tennessee’s first four draft picks should make a big impact.  Kenny Britt reminds me of what Terrell Owens physically brings to the table.  Sen’Derrick Marks just needs consistency, and he may actually be able to replace Albert Haynesworth.  Jared Cook could do what Alge Crumpler is longer able to do.  Ryan Mouton fits the profile of what I like in cornerbacks, and I don’t see why he can’t fit the mold of an Al Harris.  To make matters better, I think the next three picks for Tennessee were all solid choices.  The Titans could easily get production from the first five rounds.

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Green Bay Packers: B+
The Packers made one of the best selections in this draft, getting B.J. Raji ninth overall to become the nose tackle in their new 3-4.  Raji will solidify this D, and make the defensive line all ready for the transition.  Clay Matthews was also drafted in the first round, and he can adequately handle the position.  Adding about 15-20 pounds would like help.  The Packers got an absolute steal in fifth round in Jamon Meredith.  Meredith can be the eventual starter at OLT.

Indianapolis Colts: B+
Since Indianapolis rarely trades up, it was expected to see Peria Jerry go off the board.  Indy may have gone with the next best thing — they pick the best back in this draft in the first round (Donald Brown) and get a smaller, quicker defensive tackle in the second round (Fili Moala).  Terrance Taylor, a fourth-round pick, isn’t much different than Moala.  I love what Brown can do for the Colts, but I’m not too overwhelmed by the rest of the draft.

Philadelphia Eagles: B+
I questioned Jeremy Maclin’s ability to run a variety of routes.  He probably won’t have to worry about that in the West Coast Offense under Andy Reid.  He’ll be asked to run short routes for YAC and deep routes for the big plays.  Maclin does both of those things well.  Only problem is they already have DeSean Jackson, who has a very similar skill set if not the same.  I love the LeSean McCoy pick for the WCO.  Cornelius Ingram and Brandon Gibson have great upside.

Cincinnati Bengals: B
Most experts have given the Bengals an A, and with good reason.  Still, I have my concerns.  I wonder if Andre Smith is better off on the strong side instead of right tackle.  Eugene Monroe would’ve been a much better choice.  Meanwhile, the Bengals have continued a theme of picking talent over character and consistency.  The team selected Michael Johnson, who has been maddingly inconsistent, and Bernard Scott, who has had a troubled past.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B
Evander Hood looks like a prototypical 4-3 DT; he would’ve been a steal for Detroit had he last one more pick.  Still, Hood could produce as a 3-4 end with bite.  He’ll one day take over primary duties for Aaron Smith.  Kraig Urbik and A.Q. Shipley add the Big Ten grit to an already tough roster.  Mike Wallace will replace Nate Washington, and could eventually produce much better than him.  Frank Summers will be the remedy for the Steelers’ goal-line issues.

San Francisco 49ers: B
Michael Crabtree drops all the way to ten.  Hopefully the super-productive college receiver doesn’t get compared to Jerry Rice that often.  If Crabtree can clean up his game and eliminate his weaknesses, he’ll be a stud.  Nate Davis stole the show for me in the fifth round.  I believe he’s the best QB in this draft, due to great pocket presence, solid accuracy and nice touch.  Ricky Jean-Francois makes an entriguing 3-4 end prospect; he may do well if he keeps his mouth shut.

Baltimore Ravens: B-
Day one went rather well for the Ravens.  Michael Oher dropped to pick 23, so the Ravens traded up to get him.  Now Baltimore has two great offensive tackles for the future.  Paul Kruger’s versatility fits with the 3-4/4-3 hybrid.  In day two, Jason Phillips was the best pick.  He may become a second starter at ILB this year.  Baltimore used their other three picks to improve the team’s athleticism, but are they actual football players?

Chicago Bears: B-
For a team that didn’t pick once in the first two rounds, the Bears did a fantastic job.  Jarron Gilbert in the Cover-2 intrigues me, and if he’s a good fit for the system, he could shine alongside Tommie Harris.  D.J. Moore dropped to the fourth round, but I think they can hide his shortcomings in the Cover-2.  Marcus Freeman should also benefit in this quick zone system.  Chicago made smart moves, even without getting a special prospect.

Cleveland Browns: B-
Sure, the Browns could’ve probably picked Alex Mack sometime after 21.  My problem with the selection is that Cleveland traded down thrice, and still passed on the best 3-4 pass rusher IMO (Everette Brown).  Still, I imagine Eric Mangini thinking of Nick Mangold when he chose Mack.  Mangold was a first-round selection at center, and he became a great player immediately.  I love the Brian Robiskie and Don Carey choices.  James Davis could contribute too.

Houston Texans: B-
I’m not a big fan of Brian Cushing, but he does fill a need.  If Cushing proves the doubters wrong, and Connor Barwin plays effectively as a 4-3 end in Houston, I’m confident this draft class can turn the corner for a team on the verge of becoming a serious playoff contender.  I love Antoine Caldwell pick — I think he can be among the best interior linemen in this draft — and the Texans add a great blocking TE (Anthony Hill) and potential H-back (James Casey).

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Arizona Cardinals: C+
I’m not exactly sure why the Cards got Chris Wells when they already had Tim Hightower and rely on the pass (Wells lacks consistency in receiving and blocking).  Maybe Arizona’s done with Hightower, or maybe they want a big duo to have the run game take over.  Day one was simply uninspiring.  Instead of LeSean McCoy, LaRod Stephens-Howling was the shifty back drafted.  Possible draft picks with big dividends include Rashad and Herman Johnson.

Buffalo Bills: C+
I have mixed feelings on this draft.  Aaron Maybin should be a dynamo, which works wonders in the Tampa-2, but can he be effective against the run at all?  Offensive linemen Eric Wood and Andy Levitre were drafted in day one, but will they help outside, where the team has more concerns?  Fourth-round selection Shawn Nelson has the ability to be one of the better tight ends in a few years.  This draft can be great if the questions have good answers.

Carolina Panthers: C+
The Panthers gave up the first-round pick in 2010 to get a player worthy of a first-round pick in the second round.  Still, I wonder if Everette Brown is well-suited for a 4-3.  Carolina’s day two picks are impressive.  Mike Goodson will be a playmaker in the backfield, and Tony Fiammetta can block and run.  An already great backfield probably became the best and most complete backfield.  Duke Robinson dropped down to Carolina in round five.

Detroit Lions: C+
Much of this grade hangs on Matthew Stafford.  Since 2002, seven QBs selected in the first round had either (1) less than 32 starts or (2) worse than a 57.5 completion percentage in college (excluding transfer turn DI FCS QB Joe Flacco).  David Carr, Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller, Rex Grossman, J.P. Losman and Jay Cutler make up the list — and Cutler’s predecessors did much more terrible than Cutler.  That’s uninspiring company.  Stafford had a 57.1 comp%.

Minnesota Vikings: C+
I’ve got a red flag on the Percy Harvin pick.  Minnesota could’ve went the safe route and got Kenny Britt or Hakeem Nicks to get a bigger, possession-type receiver with YAC skills.  However, with the risk comes the potential reward.  If Sidney Rice becomes the possession receiver, and the Vikings use Harvin exclusively for YAC purposes, this offense could be the most explosive one in the league.  Besides my concerns about Harvin, this draft was short and sweet.

New Orleans Saints: C+
New Orleans had only four picks in this draft, so there’s not much to say.  Malcolm Jenkins was a great pick at 14.  He has the potential to be a great free safety, and he can adequately hold down the fort at cornerback.  Chip Vaughn could be strong safety of the future, but if not, he could be a special teams force.  Inside linebacker Stanley Arnoux and punter Thomas Morstead also boost special teams.

San Diego Chargers: C+
I vote the Chargers for having the most interesting draft.  Instead of getting inside linebacker Rey Maualuga, San Diego goes for pass rusher Larry English.  I’ve heard concerns about his ability in a 3-4, but he may be third awesome pass rusher on the roster.  Vaughn Martin gets drafted from Western Ontario in Canada, but he has amazing potential.  Gartrell “Quads” Johnson may be the compliment to Darren Sproles.  Crash victim Demetrius Byrd gets drafted late.

Saint Louis Rams: C+
Jason Smith most certainly is not the problem here.  Neither is James Laurinaitis.  However, after Saint Louis’ first two picks, I’m not all that impressed.  Quick and big defensive tackle Dorell Scott probably has the best upside.  Chris Ogbonnaya may gets some carries at running back behind Steven Jackson.  Still, this draft seems a bit too ho-hum for me to give them a better grade than this.  The rebuilding process took some positive steps, but not many steps.

Dallas Cowboys: C
There’s little to rave about, but also little to complain about.  After losing their first-round pick in a trade fiasco, Dallas took the depth approach to this draft.  Dallas drafts three pass rushers and four players in the secondary.  While some may interpret that as potentially wasted draft picks, fact is second-day players have a better chance to drop out of the league before making an impact.  The team had 12 picks, and at least some should spend a few years on the roster.

Kansas City Chiefs: C
The Chiefs have done every well in the past 13 months to set themselves up to be a future power, but I wasn’t inspired by this draft.  Kansas City got the best 3-4 DE in the draft (Tyson Jackson), but I don’t think he was the third overall pick.  I’m assuming Kansas City wasn’t able to move down.  This pick reminds of Jerod Mayo going tenth last year.  Problem was they let Aaron Curry pass them.  Besides Donald Washington, no other picks stand out to me.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C
First-round draft pick Josh Freeman, quarterback, put up Matt Ryan numbers in the Lewin Forecast.  That doesn’t mean all that well, though, because Matt Ryan’s college numbers put him on the fringe of the bust projection.  Quite honestly, not all players with those numbers will make an immediate impact anywhere close to Ryan’s.  The rest of the picks here seem to be solid, yet not spectacular.  No rants, no raves for Tampa’s draft.

Denver Broncos: C-
Perhaps Denver knows what they’re doing, but I haven’t been a fan of their offseason at all.  This includes the draft.  The Broncos switch to a 3-4, yet they don’t address the front seven.  Robert Ayers was selected, but I wonder if the 3-4 will get the most out of him.  I don’t think he’s quick or explosive enough to be a 3-4 OLB.  Being an end may also present a problem.  Also, the Broncos gave their first-round pick next year for a second-rounder this year.

Washington Redskins: C-
Washington gets Brian Orakpo at 13, which is simply fantastic.  Orakpo looked better in the 4-3 in my opinion, and playing next to Albert Haynesworth will work wonders for him.  However, after Orakpo, I don’t see anything special.  Maybe Kevin Barnes shows up to play, but I only see special teams potential for the rest of the picks.  Year after year, Washington has thin drafts (in quantity and quality), and thin drafts don’t go over too well, in my opinion.

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New York Jets: D+
Believe it or not, Matthew Stafford wasn’t the only first-round quarterback this year to make the daunting list determined by the Lewin Career Forecast.  Mark Sanchez, with his 16 starts, was also on that list, so I can only be equally as critical for this pick as I was with the Stafford pick.  The Jets moved up to five, and gave away their second-round pick and three players to draft Sanchez.  Having only 16 starts simply scares me, and the Jets only had three picks in this draft.  I love the Shonn Greene selection, but if Sanchez flames out, this draft goes up in flames.

Oakland Raiders: D+
Suprise, surprise!  Right?  Not so much.  I fully expected the Raiders to get Darrius Heyward-Bey.  I once suggested him to go to Oakland, but I slowly creeped off his bandwagon in the past week.  Heyward-Bey’s potential outshines all other receivers, but he could end up like another former Maryland specimen (see Vernon Davis).  As for the infamous Michael Mitchell selection, I understand he was likely getting drafted in day one; I just don’t know his overall package.  Consider this, though:  the Raiders once reached big on Nnamdi Asomugha.  Look how that baby turned out.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Greg permalink
    April 28, 2009 3:29 am

    Britton would have never played LT anyways. He was a RT prospect from Day 1.

  2. Greg permalink
    April 28, 2009 3:35 am

    And Ohio State just doesn’t throw the ball to their RB’s. Like, at all. I have no clue how to gauge Beanie Wells’ recieving abilities. I hear he was viewed as an above average recieving threat coming out of high school, but I could be wrong.

  3. tabsports permalink*
    April 28, 2009 12:54 pm

    Most of those I’ve heard from had Britton going as an OLT. I think he’ll be a great ORT nevertheless, and he’s probably better off playing on the right side, because he did have some shortcomings for someone who may have been the OLT.

  4. originalblackforest permalink
    April 28, 2009 4:09 pm

    I’m glad somebody else loved the Dolphins draft. Mel Kiper has been going on about how they would’ve gotten a D without the Pat White pick… I think their whole draft was really nice.

  5. tabsports permalink*
    April 28, 2009 10:22 pm

    I’ve learned to ignore Kiper. Dude works on the Draft 24-7-365 (supposedly) and still can’t figure out (A) how certain teams draft and (B) what constitutes a stud at certain positions. He also doesn’t understand the risks of tying down the franchise to a potential bust at quarterback.

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