2009 NFL Draft Grades
by Robert Ferringo - 04/27/2009
I've trolled the Interweb to try to see what "the buzz" or at least the "ill-advised but generally accepted public opinion" was about this weekend's NFL Draft grades. But trying to find any sort of consensus over the draft is a bit like trying to find a consensus about global warming, the current financial crisis, or whether or not Elvis is still alive or dead.
However, I tried to base my NFL Draft grades less on projections of who is going to do what in their NFL careers (if I could do that, I would have a completely different job) and more on how teams went about addressing their needs with quality, productive players with potential. That's it. I don't know how good of a career Matthew Stafford will have. I think I know (and it's not good) but I'm just grading the Lions based on how I felt they went about filling their weaknesses.
Here is a look at how I think each team did over the weekend and my NFL Draft grades:
Arizona Cardinals - B
Perhaps more than any other Super Bowl runner-up that I can remember, the Cardinals entered the offseason with a lot of holes that needed to be filled. But I think that the Cards did a good job of addressing those needs. Beanie Wells was a strong pick and gives Ken Whisenhunt the type of thumper that he built his offense around in Pittsburgh. But LaRod Stephens-Howling was also a great pick in the late rounds. They picked up some decent offensive linemen and some athletic defensive ends, which were both need areas. They also managed to hold onto Anquan Boldin, which is a major win.
Atlanta Falcons A-
I'm counting the Tony Gonzalez pickup towards their draft day booty and that's what bumps them up to an A-. This team had two primary needs entering the weekend - defensive line and secondary help - and they scored a pair of exceptional value picks with Peria Jerry in Round 1 and then an absolute steal with William Moore in round two. They might have reached a bit for some guys from small colleges in the middle rounds. But they were still aggressive and getting players in areas that they need.
Baltimore Ravens - B-
I really like what Baltimore did at the beginning of the draft, getting a gift with Michael Oher falling to No. 23 and grabbing high-motor guy Paul Kruger at pick No. 2. And I like Cedric Peerman in the sixth round. But I don't see guys that can step in and be difference makers right away and I don't think they did enough to upgrade their secondary.
Buffalo Bills - D+
I just have absolutely no idea what this team was doing. And I don't think that they knew what they were doing either. Aaron Maybin was a reach and Eric Wood was an even bigger reach in the first round. They could have had Oher at No. 11 to replace Jason Peters and then done any number of things with their second first round pick. This team is running in place but it has not been grabbing impact players in the draft. This weekend was a perfect example. Any momentum that they had following the Terrell Owens signing has been completely blunted and they missed a great opportunity.
Carolina Panthers - B-
The Panthers didn't have a first round pick but ended up with a first-round talent in Everette Brown. I have no idea why the kid dropped, but the Panthers got excellent value there. I also love what they did in the back of the draft, getting Duke Robinson and Captain Munnerlyn. Those were two very good college players and the Panthers scored them in Round 5 and Round 7. Still think they could have used more help in the defensive back seven and a WR wouldn't have been out of the question.
Chicago Bears - D
Every year I scratch my head at what the Bears do, but they always manage to steal a player or two that pays huge dividends and the rest are washouts. I don't know if they have that one top player in this draft. The Orton Trade was a debacle that set this franchise back five years, and this draft did nothing to make up any of the time. They have taken 10 wideouts and 14 DBs in the last eight drafts. Yet five of nine picks this year were dedicated to those positions, so what does that tell you about how good they are at evaluating those slots?
Cincinnati Bengals - A
I hate to say it, but the Bungles had a really good draft. Even though I was one of the only mock drafts online that predicted the Bengals taking Andre Smith I still rolled my eyes as they went with talent over character yet again. But there is no denying that Smith has loads of talent and fits a need. I love Rey Maualuga and have no idea why he was available in Round 2. Michael Johnson was a first round talent but dropped because he takes plays off. Chase Coffman has the pedigree and potential to be a 10-year contributor, Jonathan Luigs was the best center in the country two years ago and fits a need and Kevin Huber is a calculated gamble in Round 5. I do think they needed to grab another wideout and more defensive front seven depth. But all in all it was a very good day for the Bungles.
Cleveland Browns - C-
These guys were all over the place. I loved it that this team traded down, but then they reached for Alex Mack. They drafted a pair of up-and-down wideouts, but they didn't trade Braylon Edwards. James Davis was a nice get, but doesn't really address their running back situation. I don't like anything they did in Round 2. But they better hope that one of the three guys in Round 4-6 pans out. It was good for them to stockpile picks but they didn't do anything with them.
Dallas Cowboys - C+
You know, I actually like what the Cowboys did with their last two picks more than their first two picks. This team was all over the map. And while they didn't have a first day pick they raked in a lot of "potential guys" on Day 2. I would have given them a B if they had managed to trade up into Round 1 or Round 2.
Denver Broncos - C-
The Broncos had a golden opportunity to rebuild one of the worst defenses in the league. But they missed it. I like the players that they picked up with their top three. But, again, I don't think that they did enough to address their areas of need. Kenny McKinley was a good pickup in Round 5. But I think they could have had Brian Orakpo and Knowshon Moreno, and then come back with two of the following - Rey Maualuga, Ron Brace, Clint Sintim, William Moore or Sen'Derrick Marks and taken that defense up a notch. They didn't and that was a mistake.
Detroit Lions - D+
I'm not a big Stafford guy, even though the Lions didn't really ever give themselves another option this offseason. And I absolutely think that Brandon Pettigrew will be a bust. After that it's just a mess. Derrick Williams in Round 3 is solid and Zack Follett in Round 7 could stick. But this roster is still a disaster and there didn't appear to be a focus with their selections. They were in prime drafting slots and missed on a lot of good players. But then again, that's why they are the Lions.
Green Bay Packers - B
B.J. Raji was the Best Case Scenario for the Packers. And even though I'm not a big Clay Matthews guy I will say at least he fits a need. So did both of their offensive tackle selections. This team had a great Day 1 but nothing about the rest of their picks stands out.
Houston Texans - D+
This team couldn't work a trade for the No. 15 slot and did the right thing by taking Brian Cushing. But after that I don't really understand what this team had going on. They needed skill position players on offense and didn't draft a single one. They needed secondary help but only made a couple "Oh, yeah, we need that" picks in the final two rounds. Can't leave this draft feeling any better about this team.
Indianapolis Colts - B
It's tough to argue with a team that gets it right year after year. This team did a great job at addressing its need at DT and they scored powerful runner Donald Brown. Some specialty picks in the later rounds, including Curtis Painter and Pat McAfee, were solid value picks. They still need linebackers and wideouts, though.
Jacksonville Jaguars - B-
I thought the Jaguars did an excellent job by picking up two of the top five offensive tackles in the draft. They also threw several wide receivers against the wall and hope that one of them sticks. But I love that they took guys that were productive in college as opposed to the physical specimens with upside that they were reaching for at wideout in the past. This team didn't do a great job of addressing its myriad of defensive issues though, but they only had so many picks.
Kansas City Chiefs - C-
It's tough to argue with Scott Pioli. They guy is an ace and he clearly has Kansas City headed in the right direction. But some of the moves he made in the last four days left me scratching my head. Why trade Tony Gonzalez now that you have a quarterback and are ready to compete offensively? Why reach for Tyson Jackson when you could have had comparable talents later in the draft? Why pass on going either LB-OT, LB-DT, or even OT-DE with their top couple picks? Who the hell are those wideouts and why wasn't that a bigger priority? I'm sure Pioli has a plan. But I just feel like some of the momentum they had built over the last couple of months was lost over the weekend.
Miami Dolphins - B+
The Dolphins needed help in the secondary and at the skill positions. So they drafted help in the secondary in Rounds 1 and 2 and they grabbed skill guys in Rounds 2, 3 and 4. See, the draft can be a simple thing. I don't know if they grabbed enough potential impact guys but at least you could see the wheels turning with an improving team. That is in stark contrast to division rival Buffalo.
Minnesota Vikings - B-
The Vikings didn't have a lot of picks but I felt they got good bang for their buck. Percy Harvin is a great compliment to Bernard Berrian and fit a huge need. Phil Loadholt is a prospect but fits with what the Vikes like to do. I really like Jasper Brinkley and think he will be a player.
New England Patriots - A-
The Patriots owned the second round and had six picks in the Top 100. I thought they did a good job of getting talented, productive players that fit areas of deficiency. I really liked the Brandon Tate and Tyrone McKenzie selections and thought they were great value in Round 3. They retooled the secondary and have some potential All Pros. It was a really strong weekend for the Patriots.
New Orleans Saints - D+
The Saints only had four picks so there was only so much they could do. And they used one of those picks on a punter. They simply had too many needs and not enough picks. And the bottom line is that I thought Malcolm Jenkins was a pretty average guy to take in the middle of Round 1.
New York Giants - A-
The Giants addressed need with quality talent at excellent value. Period. Again, they didn't outthink themselves and picked up a good young crop. I love Hakeem Nicks. And although I think the Giants would have been better served trading their No. 1 for either Braylon Edwards or Anquan Boldin, Nicks was the next best option. Clint Sintim and William Beatty were guys that were showing up in Round 1 of some early mock drafts and were solid picks. Travis Beckum has some sleeper potential and Andre Brown was an absolute steal as the replacement of Derrick Ward.
New York Jets - D+
They gave up too much for Mark Sanchez. And I think if the Jets had been patient the kid would have made it out of the Top 10 (Jacksonville wasn't going to take Sanchez, and San Fran wouldn't have passed on Crabtree for Sanchez). Then they could have given up less to get a guy I'm not that thrilled about anyway. They only had two other picks and I like Shonn Greene.
Oakland Raiders - F
I said before the draft that it was ridiculous to think that the Raiders would be so dumb to pass on Michael Crabtree for Jeremy Maclin just because Maclin was a little faster. I underestimated how pathetic this franchise is. Nothing but reaches and projects and this team didn't address any of its needs. Just pathetic.
Philadelphia Eagles - A-
"Hey, Donovan, please stay with us!" The Eagles needed difference makers on offense and depth on the offensive line and defense and they got it. They picked up three great athletes that were both productive in college and offer breakout potential in the NFL. Macho Harris could be a steal in Round 5. Also, you have to count Jason Peters as part of their draft haul and I think he'll be exceptional if the Eagles can pay him.
Pittsburgh Steelers - D+
The defending champions didn't have a ton of glaring needs. But I also don't think they addressed any of the ones they had to the best of their ability. They could have had a better running back or receiver in the middle rounds. They reached for their first round pick. It's OK, because they're the champs, but I think five years from now they are going to be left scratching their heads at what the Steelers did.
San Diego Chargers - C-
This team didn't have a ton of needs. And they addressed the one that they had with Larry English in round 1. They also made another strong pick in Round 6 with Kevin Ellison. But the rest of the picks are projects or developmental guys. Nothing here that really makes you excited for what they did.
San Francisco 49ers - B+
A big part of San Fran's grade revolves around just not being an idiot and stealing Crabtree. But hey, that one stroke of luck (and how great is it that if he becomes an All Pro Oakland fans will have to hear about it from across The Bay every single day!) boosted what had been a pretty bland offseason. Glen Coffee has a chance to contribute right away. Scott Mckillop has the chance to be a strong starter in the NFL. And I love the pickup of Nate Davis in the middle rounds and an extra No. 1 for next year. It was a good weekend for the Niners.
Seattle Seahawks - B-
Much like the Niners, Seattle had a great weekend because one of the top players slid to them and they didn't balk. Aaron Curry didn't fit a need but has the potential to be a great player so it was a good pick. Also, Max Unger was a very good pick in Round 2. They didn't have a lot of middle round selections so there was only so much they could do.
St. Louis Rams - B-
The Rams made three strong selections with their first four picks. They addressed their most pressing needs - which were many - and although they missed some potential impact players later in the draft this team just played it straight and did what it had to do. Nothing flashy, but a solid weekend.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - D+
The only reason this team even gets a "plus" at the end of its 'D' is because they got Sammie Stroughter, who could be a productive pro, and because Roy Miller fell to them. Other than that it was a mess. In getting Josh Freeman the Bucs secured a worse version of Byron Leftwich, who they also already have. Oh, and we can count Kellen Winslow towards this pick as well. Doesn't change the grade because he is amazingly overrated as well. This team is a mess at the moment.
Tennessee Titans - B+
I'm not sure if Kenny Britt is the guy that Tennessee is looking for. But he has great potential and addresses a need. They then tried to fill Albert Haynesworth's mammoth hole along the defensive line with talented, but inconsistent Sen-Derrick marks. Jared Cook (Round 3) and Javon Ringer (Round 5) and Ryan Durand (Round 7) were all solid value picks.
Washington Redskins - C-
Brian Orakpo was a great pickup at No. 13. He fits a need and has a lot of upside. But they completely ignored their floundering offensive line and none of the other five guys they got are anything to get too excited about.