Saturday, April 25, 2009

Shock And Awe: The Winners and Losers for Day 1 of the 2009 NFL Draft

It's a little bit folly to try and really declare winners and losers for a draft that isn't even finished, much less a day old. Players haven't even stepped on a NFL field yet, and some may not pay off for several years to come, forget this season.

Still, by the end of Saturday, it's a worthwhile endeavor to examine some teams who have ended up looking smart and others....

Well, not so much.

So with the realization in mind that we still don't know everything - here are the teams who made our jaws drop, though not always for good reasons.

The Shock

Oakland Raiders
Maybe Al Davis and his Raiders will prove us all wrong, but right now their draft can be summed up in an exchange I saw between Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times (where the Raiders once resided) and Raiders beat writer Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee (which is close to Oakland i suppose).

Farmer: Why were the Raiders reaching like that in the second?

Jones: They reach because that's what they do.

They weren't going to go offensive tackle, despite the need, because that's not really the Raiders way.

And I knew they weren't going to grab Crabtree, whether or not he was the best wide receiver on the board at the time. Crabtree's lack of timed 40 speed made it impossible because Davis is crazy for speed like the bird in that cereal commercial is coo-coo for cocoa puffs.

But I never thought he would bypass Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, who had the speed and a more developed game. I'm a little nonplussed.

Don't get me wrong, I don't wish Heyward-Bey a failed career and he will probably turn out ok. But picking him up at 7, when they could have traded back and picked him later?

That's just not achieving maximum value.

Worse, the team manages to follow it up with an even bigger reach in choosing Ohio Safety Michael Mitchell, a guy most people didn't even have ranked in their drafts much less the second round.

Mitchell also may develop into a solid player, but right now he looks like a workout warrior and a huge reach as the third safety off the board behind Patrick Chung of Oregon and Louis Delmas of Western Michigan.

It's one thing to fall in love with a player. It's another to waste a pick five rounds early.

The Raiders have five picks on Sunday, two in the fourth round. They can recover, given the tremendous value still on the board, but if they keep picking like this, they might as well throw darts at a list on the wall.

Dallas Cowboys
How can I say it's a bad draft when they didn't draft anyone?

Bad enough the Cowboys didn't have a pick for the first round due to last year's wheeling and dealing, but they then traded out of the second.

Meanwhile, value continued to tumble by them in the form of solid safeties, wide receivers and defensive ends.

Maybe it's not bad in the sense the Raiders draft was on Saturday but it's shocking to watch the usually wheeling Cowboys nuetered and missing out on the value on the board.

Cleveland Browns
The Browns made a big move back when the Jets traded for the fifth pick and Mark Sanchez (more on that in a minute) and were poised to grab some great value all day long.

Instead, they kept moving backwards accumulating more and more picks. And when they did spend them, it's questionable whether they took the best value on the board.

I can't argue with the selection of Alex Mack. The center from Cal is a versatile lineman who can work at almost any position along the line. And Brian Robiskie is a polished, fast receiver who runs a solid route tree and will contribute early, especially if Braylon Edwards is traded on day two.

But the Browns can't rush the passer and need a linebacker or top flight defensive lineman.

I say need because while Mack is a great center, USC linebackers Clay Matthews and Rey Maualuga as well as Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitus were on the board still.

Maualuga was in fact still on the board when Robiskie was picked. While offensive line and wide receiver were needs, the pass rush was a bigger one and with several very good linebackers on the board, the Browns chose to fill less important needs.

They also bypassed shoring up their need at cornerback by letting Vontae Davis and Alphonso Smith sneak away as well.

And as much as I think Hawaii defensive end/linebacker convert David Veikune will be a good upside pick, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi was a luxury, especially behind the Robiskie pick.

Massaquoi may become a good possession receiver down the road, but they could have grabbed a corner, safety or even replace Winslow at tight end.

For a team with so many holes who is rebuilding, it seems like they filled few of them with four picks in the first two rounds.

The Browns have four more picks on Sunday - one in the fourth and three in the six. Lots of defensive talent remains on the board and I hope they can recover from a lackluster day one.

The Awe

New York Jets
Jet Nation is a tad split over the selection of USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, especially given the talent that slid out of the first round and through the second. But when you look at the price they paid, it's more than reasonable for a possible franchise quarterback.

Defensive end Kenyon Coleman, quarterback Brett Ratliff and safety Abram Elam were players who in all likelihood would get cut before camp or in Ratliff's case, clearly hadn't impressed the new regime all that much.

Aside from that, adding the second rounder to a swap that spanned twelve spots between first rounders is a marginal price to pay.

The Jets have put themselves in a position where they cannot make many mistakes on day two though. They have four more picks on Sunday spread across four of the five rounds.

As I said with the Browns, there are many value picks to be had but the Jets have to be conservative to a great extent. They already rolled their dice once and that's as much as they can risk.

Detroit Lions
I will openly admit - and it's a shock to nobody who has read my work the last few months - that I do not agree with the Stafford pick. It's not an awful pick - just not one I believe had to happen this year.

Yet, Stafford could develop into a nice franchise quarterback and he is far from awful. While I may not agree with the strategy to rebuild the franchise, it's a solid pick.

On the surface, Brandon Pettigrew at 20 made me wince as well. But, like Stafford, Pettigrew is considered the top at his position and on top of it, he's a tremendous blocker.

He's no offensive tackle but he will be able to stay in and protect Stafford. A pick that is more shrewd than i gave it credit for at first. As Stafford and the oline get better, Pettigrew can release and become more of a pass catching tight end.

Finally, hard hitting cornerback Louis Delmas. Again, top at his position. And Delmas is the type of hard nosed player who could help give this defense a personality - something it greatly lacks.

The Lions are looking to become more physical on the defensive side of the ball and Delmas will bring that in spades. They also need some help in the secondary and this fills that hole.

Three picks. Three players arguably at the top of their class. They may not have filled all their needs but the ones they did fill were given top talent.

With five picks on day two, including the first in round three and another later the same round, the Lions stand to pick up some very good value. They could easily pull someone like Jarron Gilbert or Michael Johnson to help fill the defensive line hole, pick up the top guard on the board in Duke Robinson or even a decent tackle like South Carolina's Jamon Meredith.

New England Patriots
The rich get richer. And richer. And richer.

How the organization ended up with the same amount of picks they started with, but also an embarrassment of riches in players is beyond me, but that's how they end up being the great team they are every year.

Four picks in the second and every one a value.

Patrick Chung, second best safety in the class brings some thump to the secondary and will make receivers pay dearly.

Defensive tackle Ron Brace got overlooked a bit with BJ raji getting the love at Boston College, but will stuff the run as good as anyone in the draft class and is likely to take over for Vince Wilfork at the nose tackle.

Darius Butler, one of the top corners in the draft, probably won't start this coming season but will take over in the aging secondary within the next year or two.

And while Sebastian Vollmer is a project for the offensive line, he will develop into a nice right tackle and used to play tight end, so he has the versatility to move around for trick plays if need be.

And, oh by the way - they have seven more picks. By the end of the draft they may have multiple picks for next years draft as well.

Before I let you go, dear reader, here are a few teams I am on the fence about. Tomorrow could be pivotal for them.

San Francisco 49ers: One pick, but what value. But you better build on Crabtree use your remaining six picks wisely.

Houston Texans: Methodically took care of two key needs with picks of USC LB Clay Matthews and DE Connor Barwin. Six more picks to shore up the corners and get a back to compliment Steve Slaton.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Almost made the Awe list, but as much as I loved watching them grab two very good offensive tackles in Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, passing on Crabtree and Maclin and then a host of good defensive line prospects makes me wonder if last season's Oline injury woes didn't get in their head too much.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Did you really need to leap up and pay the price you did to move a few spots? Especially since nobody in front of you was likely to grab your choice of Josh Freeman? Six picks on day two and like the Jets you'd beter make them count. Unlike the Jets though, your new franchise quarterback is a far bigger project and has more question marks.

1 comment:

brew said...

Michael Mitchell-NEWS ...
What the fuck is he doing?
Here:Michael Mitchell