04/24/05 - 2005 Draft Final Team Report Cards. How Did your Team Do?
05 Draft Final Team Report Card
Rob Rang Senior Analyst NFLDraftScout.com
April 24 - Grading a team’s draft hours after it occurred, before a single snap of football has taken place, is kind of like predicting an eight year child as a future Hollywood star based on their participation in an elementary school play.
Of course, as ridiculous as both seem, this doesn’t reduce the excitement or popularity for those involved, in either.
Therefore, we’ve graded each team’s 2005 draft. Of course, true grades cannot be ascertained until years from now.
But I ask you. What fun is that?
Grades were based on the value of the players selected, as well as perceived needs filled by the picks. But don’t fret football fans. If your team received a less than satisfactory grade for their draft, we’ve also included a list of the top players still remaining as undrafted free agents (VIEW HERE)
Arizona Cardinals: The club came into the draft looking to address their defensive and offensive backfield. Check. Antrel Rolle and Eric Green give the club two productive corners with big time experience. J.J. Arrington at the top of the second round gives the club the draft’s most productive runner. Outside linebacker Daryl Blackstock, a 2nd round talent on many boards, was simply the icing on the cake for the first day. Second day highlights included OG Elton Brown, who we believe can be a starter at the next level and middle linebacker Lance Mitchell, who could be just another off-season of recovery from a 2004 knee injury, from returning to potential starter status. Another strong effort by Arizona, their second in a row. GRADE: A
Atlanta Falcons: Able to focus on the best player available, the Falcons took exactly that with receiver Roddy White. White gives the team the legitimate deep threat they thought they’d found in free agent Peerless Price. Jonathan Babineaux is a fantastic interior athlete with similar burst to 2004 draft choice, Chad Lavalais. Jordan Beck is considered by some to athletic enough to make the transition to safety, and thus makes a lot of sense here. Day two highlights center around the club adding more speed to their front seven. Defensive end Chauncey Davis and OLB Michael Boley add potential to Atlanta’s aggressive scheme. Offensive tackle Frank Omiyale was considered one of the faster rising names in the draft and was a solid value choice at the end of the fifth round. Solid, not spectacular for a team that didn’t need to be flashy. GRADE: B
Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore likely continued their mastery of the late first round with underrated receiver Mark Clayton. Clayton could prove to be the Ravens most productive receiver next season, and no, we’re not forgetting about veteran free agent addition, Derrick Mason. Dan Cody was lauded by some analysts as being a super value choice. While we disagree, Baltimore is one of the few teams whose creativity and aggression will capitalize on Cody’s unique skills, while hiding his faults. Adam Terry was a nice addition and gives the club instant depth at tackle. The Ravens are traditionally one of the better teams in terms of finding Day Two talent and the 2005 draft looks to hold true to tradition. Jason Brown will prove to be a starter in this league someday. Derek Anderson has the size and arm to develop into a quality starter, as well. As is almost always the case with the Ravens, value throughout the draft. GRADE: B
Buffalo Bills: With only two picks to work with, the Bills elected to help their young quarterback, J.P. Losman with wide receiver Roscoe Parrish and tight end Kevin Everett. The Bills enjoyed great success with recent Hurricane Willis McGahee and clearly feel comfortable with Miami prospects. Both lines were considered primary needs and were ignored on Day One. Day two highlights included the team selecting both center Duke Preston from Illinois and guard Justin Geisinger from Vanderbilt. Neither will provide the left tackle presence lost when Jonas Jennings vacated in free agency. Preston might have been a bit of a reach. Geisinger has great strength and could surprise as a guard after playing tackle at Vanderbilt. Eric King is a quality collegiate corner, but might lack the speed needed to be successful at the NFL level. GRADE: C
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers quietly enjoyed one of the better drafts. Thomas Davis has the ability to play either outside linebacker or safety and should make an immediate impact. Running back Eric Shelton gives the club a bruiser should their talented but fragile running backs falter again in 2005. Evan Mathis and Attiyah Ellison could have been selected a round earlier and not been considered reaches. Not flashy, but another impressive draft orchestrated by Carolina. Day Two of the draft didn’t provide a great deal of flashy names for the Panthers, but with six picks it allowed the team to re-stock on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Stefan Lefors was a solid pick for a team whose offense doesn’t require a big arm, but rather accuracy, intelligence, and consistency, some of Lefors strongest assets. Quality depth prospects along the offensive line in Georff Hangartner and Joe Berger. Carolina added three defensive picks, as well. Adam Seward has the athleticism to have been selected on the first day and with the depth concerns at linebacker for the Panthers, has a nice shot of seeing action early. Despite the steroid troubles, Carolina is quietly one of the finest run organizations in the league. They prove it year after year with their strong drafts. GRADE: B+
Chicago Bears: With only two selections the Bears have to make them matter. They did. Cedric Benson will give this club a few victories himself. Receiver Mark Bradley was considered a possibility for the first round and has the athleticism to eventually be considered one of the real steals of this draft. Chicago’s Day Two highlights include more attention on their beleaguered offense. Kyle Orton is a future NFL starter and gives the club nice flexibility should Rex Grossman never develop as hoped. Airese Currier is a similar multi-dimensional as the club’s 2nd day find last year, Bernard Berrian. Instant impact ability from Benson and future options from Bradley, Currie, and Orton make this a very solid effort. GRADE: A-
Cincinnati Bengals: Talk about a mix-bag of talent. The Bengals might have assembled the best trio of football players in the draft with their selections, but character concerns raise huge questions. Of course, their first round pick, defensive end David Pollack, isn’t a concern. The most productive defensive lineman in the country over his career, Pollack is a blue collar worker who plays to the whistle. Middle linebacker Odell Thurman and wide receiver Chris Henry have first round talent, but have enough off-field concerns that some teams took them completely off their board. Marvin Lewis is one of the few coaches with the leadership skills needed to handle these two characters. The very definition of a boom or bust first day group. Among the second day highlights was the combination of Central Michigan linemen, Eric Ghiaciuc and Adam Kieft. Rugged and consistent, each were solid value selections and play with the no nonsense attitude that Marvin Lewis is looking for. Potentially one of the best draft classes in the league, but there has to be some reservation when considering the character concerns of Thurman and Henry. GRADE: B
Cleveland Browns: Romeo, Romeo, one helluva job there Romeo. Actually, much of the credit, of course, needs to go to Phil Savage, but with this draft class, there is plenty of praise to go around. Braylon Edwards was the top player on many boards and was a superb value selection at the #3 spot. Brodney Pool fills a need at free safety and was another nice value selection. Quarterback Charlie Frye is a personal favorite of nearly every coach he meets and has a winner’s mentality. His lack of a great arm is a slight concern in this environment, but Frye made a believer out of many with his resourcefulness throughout his career at Akron and at the Senior Bowl. Cleveland’s primary Day Two highlight was the addition of several players capable of filling holes in Romeo Crennel’s defense. David McMillan, Nick Speegle, and Andrew Hoffman give the club options on defense. Cornerback Antonio Perkins, while only a serviceable man to man defender, could make an instant impact on the Browns’ special teams. Grade: B+
Dallas Cowboys: Dallas had major needs along the defensive line and at linebacker if they wanted to transition to the 3-4 defense and all they did was position themselves to take the premium players for the new scheme all draft long. With no 3rd round pick, the team had their two #1s and a #2 to work with and drafted the top 3-4 defensive end in Marcus Spears, the best pure pass rusher in the draft in Demarcus Ware and quite possibly the most underrated linebacker in the draft in Kevin Burnett. Dallas continued to stockpile 3-4 talent on Day Two, adding underrated ends Chris Canty and Jay Ratliff. Running back Marion Barber III isn’t flashy, but gives the team a talented, versatile player to provide depth behind Julius Jones. The depth of this draft allowed many teams to enjoy high grades. However, no team enjoyed a better collection of talent than Dallas. This could be the draft that turns Dallas back into America’s Team. GRADE: A+
Denver Broncos: The fact that Denver selected three consecutive cornerbacks, when cornerback wasn’t perceived to be that much of a need was intriguing in itself. Of course, the addition of Maurice Clarett just made the whole collection odd. Darrent Williams and Dominique Foxworth could prove to be two of the bigger steals of the draft in terms of their man to man potential. However, Karl Paymah was a considerable reach and Clarett was, as well. Clarett has talent and can be successful at the NFL level, but he could have been selected considerably later. With only two selections on the second day the Broncos didn’t have much of a chance for highlights. With offensive guard Chris Myers and punter Paul Ernster, two players many teams had as undrafted free agent types, the Broncos didn’t help themselves much. GRADE: C-
Detroit Lions: Solid draft, though not as dominant as some television announcers made it sound. Mike Williams, of course, is an intriguing talent and certainly makes Detroit’s offensive that much more potentially dominant. Versatile defensive lineman Shaun Cody is a great talent, as well. Stanley Wilson is a very good football player and an even better person. Only concern is that none of the players are consistently ranked by other teams as being dependable players. Some love Mike Williams, but many others think he is terribly overrated. Shaun Cody was a great value choice in the second round, but might struggle to find an identity. Stanley Wilson has the smoothest turn and run motion of any corner not nicknamed PacMan, but only became a starter his senior season. Detroit’s first day was built around potential and much of their Day Two selections were the same. Connecticut quarterback Dan Orlovsky is a legitimate NFL talent that Steve Mariucci could someday make into a star. Defensive end Bill Swancutt will provide passion and production and could prove one of the real steals of the draft in the 6th round. Johnathan Goddard is an athletic prospect who will be making the transition from defensive end. At worst, Detroit added solid talent with each pick. Should some of their athletes pan out, this could ultimately prove to be one of the league’s top drafts. GRADE: A-
Green Bay Packers: Bizarre first day for the Packers who sandwiched two great value selections in quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Terrence Murphy around arguably the biggest reach of the first day in defensive back Nick Collins. Rodgers has a great arm, plenty of athleticism, and a cockiness about him that will allow him to learn from Favre without being too intimidated. Murphy is exactly the type of lanky, athletic receiver the Packers have made stars out of in the past. Collins fills a need and can play, but could have been selected later. The Packers second day exploits deserve attention. Presented with numerous needs when taking the job, GM Ted Thompson acquired multiple picks and addressed each of the key needs on this club. Defensive end Bray Poppinga could be a real surprise, as could safeties Marviel Underwood and Michael Hawkins. Junius Coston is one of the better centers in this draft and was a great value selection in the fifth. Perhaps the top pick, however, was UCLA wide receiver Craig Bragg, who had shockingly dropped all the way to the 6th round. While the Packers did not address some of their perceived needs at the top of the draft, the number of players selected and the value at which they were selected make this among the weekend’s better efforts. GRADE: A
Houston Texans: With only two picks the Texans had to make their picks matter and while each was a solid selection in terms of value, there are questions regarding each pick, as well. Certainly defensive lineman Travis Johnson is a great athlete, but it remains to be seen how he translates to the 3-4 scheme and if his senior year was an indication of his future production or if the other three years of his career were more representative of his mediocrity. Vernand Morency is an underrated natural runner who gives the team some flexibility behind starter Domanick Davis. The Texans continued to add talent on Day Two with their first and last selections of the day earning the highest grades. Explosive wideout Jerome Mathis gives the team a downfield option to take pressure off of Andre Johnson and outside linebacker Kenneth Pettway was considered by many to be among the best sleepers in this draft. A solid effort by the Texans, but the lack of attention to protecting David Carr remains a concern. GRADE: B-
Indianapolis Colts: Surprisingly, one of the more questionable first day drafts was had by the Colts. While cornerbacks Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden are both intriguing and talented, each lacks the short area burst that had previously been a staple of Tony Dungy defensive backs. Vincent “Sweet Pea” Burns is a decent pass rush talent, but lacks size and isn’t real explosive, himself. Indianapolis first day yielded good players, taken at respectable value positions, but was an odd assortment based on Dungy’s prior focus on pure athleticism. That said, the club seemed to revert back to their reliance on athletic defenders for Day Two, adding speed rushers Johnathan Welsh and Tyjuan Hagler. The selection of underrated offensive linemen Dylan Gandy and Rob Hunt were also nice selections. A bit of an odd draft considering some of Indianapolis’ needs, but solid talent was added at value positions. GRADE: B
Jacksonville Jaguars: Pure athleticism is obviously a primary focus for James Harris and his scouting department. Arkansas athlete Matt Jones is the premier “boom or bust” pick of this draft, and one could classify Khalif Barnes as the same for the offensive linemen. Of course the inconsistency each has shown will be maddening, at times. Each has the inherent talent to be special players, and we’re going to give the Jacksonville front office the benefit of the doubt… for now. Wisconsin’s CB Scott Starks is a nice big play artist and a solid value in the 3rd round. Jacksonville enjoyed another solid day Sunday, sticking with the pure athleticism mantra for many of their picks. Safety Gerald Sensabaugh has a chance to be a future starter. Alvin Pearman provides the club with versatility coming out of the backfield. That said, the likeliest immediate impact player could prove to be mighty mite receiver and return phenom Chad Owens of Hawaii. Barnes has the talent to develop into a Pro Bowl left tackle and the combination of Matt Jones and Chad Owens give this club an element of big play ability they lacked. GRADE: B+
Kansas City Chiefs: Another team with only two picks to work with, but filled major needs. OLB Derrick Johnson could prove to be one of the real steals of this draft, especially in Gunther Cunningham’s defense, which will allow him to run around and make plays. Punter Dustin Colquitt has Pro Bowl ability, he just needs to play a little more consistently. Kansas City’s First Day effort was solid and with seven selections on Day Two, the club did a fine job here, as well. Among the highlights were the Chiefs’ top three Sunday selections. Cro Thorpe has the talent to be a first round selection, but wasn’t completely over his terrible leg injury of a year ago. That said, he’s a perfect match for this offense. As are Boomer Grigsby, a high effort, instinctive middle linebacker with speed and Alphonso Hodge a solid cornerback who provides the club instant depth. GRADE: B
Miami Dolphins: Ronnie Brown is the top ranked player on the NFLDraftScout.com board, so obviously we feel he was a solid value selection. Great combination of size, speed, interior and exterior running, receiving, and considerably better blocking skills than given credit. Future Pro Bowl caliber talent that instantly gives this club another dimension on offense. Matt Roth won’t necessarily make the flashy play, but his consistency and work ethic can’t be over valued. Channing Crowder was an injury and character risk, but in the 3rd round, he’s a risk you can deal with. Besides, the kid can play football. With only three more selections on the second day, the Dolphins weren’t able to do much. Versatile defensive back Travis Daniels was a nice fourth round selection and the club added athletic talent and size in OL Anthony Alabi and DL Kevin Vickerson later. A solid effort. GRADE: B
Minnesota Vikings: Deep threat to take the place of lost big play ability of Randy Moss? Check. Another pass rusher to help create the best looking young defensive line in the league (not residing in Carolina)? Check. Talented offensive lineman for Minnesota to develop into a future Pro Bowler (as they’ve done so successfully in the past)? Check. Legitimate coverman athletic enough to play cornerback, instinctive enough to play safety? Check. With all of their major needs accounted for, the Vikings could focus on the best available athlete on Day Two and yet found ways to add both talent and fill minor needs. Ciatrick Fason is a powerful runner between the tackles and gives the club another option. CJ Mosely isn’t flashy, but has size and athletic ability and will provide solid depth on a defensive line that might be the NFL’s most talented. Adrian Ward rode a strong senior season to the draft and has 4.3 speed. Shhh. Who would have thought, after giving up the best player in the game, Minnesota could improve their team more than any other in the league this off-season? GRADE: A
New England Patriots: On paper, the addition of a couple versatile offensive linemen and a short cornerback wouldn’t appear like much, but Logan Mankins, Nick Kaczur, and Ellis Hobbs III are three of the more underrated players in this draft. Mankins and Kaczur give the team immediate flexibility all across the line and Hobbs III won’t take long to make an impact as a cover corner. The Patriots continued their historically strong Day Two performances with another intriguing effort Sunday. SS James Sanders and OLB Ryan Claridge don’t fit every scheme, but are productive, instinctive prospects capable of developing here. Perhaps the most intriguing of the bunch was quarterback Matt Cassell, who has been forced to ride the bench behind Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. Cassell was very impressive at the USC Pro Day and was no stretch to be drafted. With time, he could prove to be quite the surprise catch. Mr. Irrelevant, TE Andrew Stokes isn’t a great blocker and needs to add strength, but catches the ball well… No news here, just New England doing what New England does…reloading. GRADE: B+
New Orleans Saints: After years of under-achieving drafts, the Saints look like they’ve added a solid group with this class. Jammal Brown, Josh Bullocks, and Alfred Fincher all fill immediate needs, and weren’t reaches at all. The Saints continued to add quality talent on Day Two, as well. Chase Lyman was considered by some teams to have a shot at Day One, but the better selections could prove to be their three final picks. New Orleans had shown great interest in QB Adrian McPherson and added his rocket arm and high upside in the fifth round. Later, the club added two versatile and historically productive defensive linemen in Jason Jefferson and Jimmy Verdon. Too many of the recent New Orleans drafts could have been described as fancy alcoholic drinks. Intoxicating, sure, but ultimately bad for your health. This wasn’t a flashy draft for the Saints by any means, but it has the cold water element to it that could give this team a longer life in the post-season. GRADE: B
New York Giants: Considering the club only had four picks all weekend long, the Giants did a nice job of acquiring good talent at need areas. Corey Webster and Justin Tuck had to be considered among the top values at their points of selection and have high level football experience so the transition to New York and the disciplinarian approach of Coughlin shouldn’t come as a surprise. Tuck, along with late round selection Eric Moore gives the club pass rush ability from the outside. Monster running back Brandon Jacobs can provide Tiki Barber with some much needed rest if Jacobs is to remain at running back. Some believe the Giants, never a stranger to projects and small school types, have other plans for the 6-4, 267 Jacobs. Solid grade for adding talent at value points with each selection. GRADE: B
New York Jets: While not flashy, the Jets made solid choices throughout the first day, filling needs with quality players after trading for tight end Doug Jolley earlier in the week. Justin Miller, of course, is the big story. Most had him as a first round selection, but his immaturity led to poor interviews and an arrest for disorderly conduct less than a week before the draft. While a great talent and value selection in the 2nd round, it remains to be seen how Miller reacts to New York. Kicker Mike Nugent filled a huge need, though the New York fans at the draft, itself, didn’t seem thrilled with the selection. They will once he starts making field goals in clutch situations. Sione Pouha was considered a considerably lower pick on most boards, but has great strength and could fill in nicely as a nose tackle. Notable Day Two highlights center around the running back, Cedric Houston and tight end, Joel Dreesen selections. The main knock on Houston is his lack of breakaway speed and elusiveness, but the kid is a reliable runner who helps the Jets replace Lamont Jordan. Dreesen is a bit one dimensional as a receiving tight end, but also gives the club depth behind Jolley and the incumbent Chris Baker. One could argue that this class deserves a higher grade as big needs were addressed with mostly value selections, but 3rd round pick Pouha has to be considered a reach and Miller, likewise, has to be considered a character risk. GRADE: B
Oakland Raiders: Just another day at the office for the Oakland Raiders… Speed is the primary asset and the club found plenty of that in lightning fast cornerbacks Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt. Quarterback Andrew Walter is the perfect addition to this club due to his beautiful deep passing ability and size. Kirk Morrison was a bit of a surprise, but plays with high intensity and is productive, two elements Oakland linebackers need more of. While there were legitimate questions as to the value of some of Oakland’s first day selections, the Raiders received excellent value throughout Sunday’s rounds. DT Anttaj Hawthorne, despite the positive drug test, still deserved to be drafted considerably higher than the 6th round. He could prove to be a huge steal if motivated. Cal sackmaster Ryan Riddle lacks size versus the run, but has inherent pass rush skills and can develop. Another intriguing selection was Iowa’s Pete McMahon, a player who isn’t flashy, but has great size and plays with technique. Overall, quite a solid draft class with the potential for a couple of the middle picks, Andrew Walter and Anttaj Hawthorne capable of developing into standout performers in the future. GRADE: B+
Philadelphia Eagles: When you have a team as stocked as the Eagles do and have this many picks to retool the roster, it really isn’t fair. That said, the Eagles could have wasted picks needlessly trading up, but didn’t. Much in the style New England has used the past few years, the Eagles looked for situational players and succeeded it dramatic fashion. Mike Patterson provides the club with all kinds of flexibility in dealing with Corey Simon. Ryan Moats provides the club with similar options as Brian Westbrook. Wide receiver Reggie Brown was a bona fide steal in the second round. Outside linebacker Matt McCoy was considered a reach by many, but has the instincts, speed, and aggression needed to be successful in Jim Johnson’s hyperactive scheme and actually is a terrific fit here. The Eagles continued to add talent on the second day of the draft, as well. With seven selections in the final four rounds, the club was able to address even more specific needs, particularly at safety in the reliable Sean Considine, linebacker in the speedy Trent Cole and heady David Bergeron, and all along the offensive line. Scott Young and Todd Herremans were considered two of the top sleepers along the offensive line in this year’s draft. The perception is that with this many picks the Eagles couldn’t screw things up. Well, they certainly didn’t. Many of the players released by the Eagles will be quickly scooped up by other teams. GRADE: A+
Pittsburgh Steelers: Another solid, unspectacular draft by Pittsburgh. The addition of tight end Heath Miller gives the club the middle of the field option they haven’t enjoyed since Eric Green in the early 90s. Bryant McFadden, while not flashy, is a solid corner in coverage and one of the better run defending players at his position. Trai Essex was certainly considered a bit of a reach, but has the size and athleticism the team likes in their interior lineman and could surprise here. Day Two’s first three picks provided plenty of highlights for Steeler fans. Fred Gibson has the size at receiver the Steelers lost when Plaxico Burress left as a free agent. Rian Wallace is an intriguing rush linebacker option for the 3-4 scheme. Guard Chris Kemoeatu has the size, strength, and perfect road grader mentality to develop here. As is always the case, another unheralded but effective draft for the Steelers. GRADE: B
San Diego Chargers: Remember just about a year ago when San Diego GM A.J Smith was being characterized as a buffoon who couldn’t handle his position? Give Smith and his scouting department a great deal of credit. After a spectacular 2004 draft, the Chargers look like they’ve done it again. Shawne Merriman will bring instant production as an outside rush threat. Luis Castillo could prove to be the best defensive lineman from this draft and has promised to pay back his signing bonus should he ever fail another drug test. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson is very nearly the athletic marvel Matt Jones is, but has three years experience at the position already. Last year was no one season wonder, this team is building to be very good for a long time. The Chargers added potential difference-makers with all three selections on the first day, a pretty difficult feat with a team this talented. Day Two saw the club revert back to their roots, adding quality depth along the offensive line with three of their four selections. The fourth, of course, was simply one of the draft’s most dynamic runners, Darren Sproles. Look for Sproles to post some big plays in the few opportunities he’ll get playing behind Tomlinson. GRADE: A+
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks seemed to have set themselves up beautifully for this draft adding receivers, cornerbacks, defensive linemen, and linebackers in free agency to allow them to take the best available player. That said, the expectation remained that a difference-making pass rusher would still be the focus. While Seattle got solid value and filled a need with their initial pick, C Chris Spencer, the team surprised many with their selection of middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu in the second round. Most had Tatupu as a middle round selection. Tatupu, however, had been skyrocketing up boards and it is believed by many he’ll end up providing Seattle with a Zach Thomas like presence in the middle. Quarterback David Greene was a solid selection in terms of his value at the point selected, but there were pass rushers available that would have made more sense for this team. Outside linebacker Leroy Hill is a similar player to undersized pursuit linebackers D.D. Lewis and Tracy White already on the roster. The club continued to fill needs at linebacker and the offensive line throughout Day Two. Cornelius Wortham in the 7th round might have been their best value selection since Round One. Ray Willis makes a lot of sense with the release of Chris Terry. Tony Jackson, who played tight end for Iowa, projects as a fullback here, which was another need with Heath Evans moving on. Simply put, Seattle enjoyed a solid draft in terms of adding reliable, high character football players, but two of their perceived biggest needs, a standout pass rush threat and return specialist remain monstrous needs. GRADE: C
San Francisco 49ers: One could argue that with the initial pick of the draft it is easy to add great talent. While that might be true with most drafts, the relative uncertainly atop the 2005 board made it all the more difficult for the 49ers. While we’re only hours removed from the selections, it certainly appears they made the right selection in quarterback Alex Smith at the top of the draft and their picks throughout the rest of the day did very well in helping him ease into the league. With free agent left tackle Jonas Jennings already on the roster, the 49ers added two underrated and versatile offensive linemen in David Baas and Adam Snyder in the second and third rounds, respectively. The 49ers also made the intriguing selection of Frank Gore with the first selection of the third round. Gore, the running back who kept Willis McGahee on the bench, would have been a first round pick except for multiple knee injuries. As a 3rd round pick, he gives the club a potential superstar with little risk. Day Two continued with more of the same. The 49ers added one of the better interior linemen remaining in Ronnie Fields, two athletic receiver prospects in Rasheed Marshall and Marcus Maxwell, as well as another two receiver specialist tight ends in Patrick Estes and Billy Bajema. The team also added two underrated cornerbacks in Derrick Johnson and Daven Holly, corners who likely would have made the 5th round, not the 7th, in most drafts but had dropped down because of the depth of the position. In terms of wins and losses, it remains to be seen how much San Francisco will improve next year. They will, after all, be led by a rookie head coach and likely a rookie quarterback, as well. That said, with one off-season, this team became considerably more talented. Quite a beginning by new coach Mike Nolan and VP of Player Personnel, Scot McCloughan… GRADE: A+
St. Louis Rams: Another intriguing mix bag of talent for St. Louis. Kudos to the club for realizing that you simply cannot win consistently in the NFL without adding talent to their offensive line. Alex Barron could someday be considered among the true steals of this draft. That said, later the Rams made a surprise selection of Richie Incognito, who injured himself twice in workouts for scouts, had been kicked off the Nebraska team, and not allowed to play for Oregon after breaking undisclosed rules weeks after attempting to transfer there. Ronald Bartell is a small school player with big time talent, though there are legitimate concerns about his physicality. O.J. Atogwe could prove, like their first pick, to be one of the real steals of the draft, as he has good speed in coverage, lays monster hits, and is a turnover specialist. The Rams had quite a variety of players pegged on Day Two, as well. With seven selections, the Rams were actually able to address seven different positions, quite a feat in today’s world of runs on positions. Among the highlights were a pair of underrated talents in safety Jerome Carter and offensive guard Claude Terrell in the fourth round. Athletic tight end, Jerome Stevens in the fifth round, hot punting prospect Reggie Hodges in the sixth, and underrated Harvard quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick in the seventh were all nice additions. An interesting mix of players, but then again, with the Martz’s Rams, this is always the case… GRADE: B+
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs’ draft is right there among the elite first day classes of any team in the league… Carnell Williams is the obvious face of the class and rightfully so. “Cadillac” will provide the Gruden with the dual running and receiving threat he once enjoyed with Charlie Garner, but with considerably more explosiveness. Barrett Ruud is the type of no nonsense players Gruden and GM Bruce Allen haven’t consistently selected for this club. While middle linebacker isn’t considered an immediate need, Ruud was a terrific value choice, at the time and begins adding youth to a defense sorely needing it. The 3rd round selections of TE Alex Smith and OT Chris Colmer could prove to be two of the best 3rd round picks from this draft. Each were grossly undervalued falling to this point in the draft. With no less than ten selections on Day Two, the Bucs had plenty of options. The team addressed concerns at safety with two prospects, Donte Nicholson and Hamza Abdullah. Wide receiver depth was also a focus, with three Day Two selections going here. Most notably among the three was JUCO prospect, Larry Brackins, who at 6-4 and running a mid 4.5 has legitimate NFL talent. Perhaps the best of Tampa’s Day Two selections came with their first pick of the day, as offensive guard Dan Buenning, while not flashy, is the type of technician that lasts in the league for a decade and was a super value in the fourth round. The Bucs, after a few tough drafts, appear to be well on their way to rebuilding. GRADE: B+
Tennessee Titans: Jeff Fisher and Floyd Reese do a fabulous job of re-tooling their team each year. Obviously with this off-season’s salary cap casualties, the team had plenty of options. They started off well, selecting the top cover corner in the draft in PacMan Jones. Raw, but extremely talented OT Michael Roos was a nice selection in the second round. Wide receivers Courtney Roby and Brandon Jones are exactly the type of receivers that many feel are one dimensional and the Titans turn into productive starters. With a club needing so much help, Day Two is terribly important. The club addressed depth throughout their entire team, especially adding talent at receiver, defensive back, and the offensive line. Tulane’s Roydell Williams is a solid prospect who enjoyed a strong week at the Senior Bowl and could prove to a nice Day Two steal. The most intriguing Day Two selections for the Titans, however, were OT Daniel Loper and CB Reynaldo Hill. Loper has the size and athleticism you look for in a left tackle, but needs time to develop upper body strength. Similarly, Hill enjoyed a breakout campaign as a senior for Florida, but hadn’t shown much previously. Like their entire draft, neither pick was terribly flashy, but this draft was about addressing needs and finding players who with a little time and development could turn out to be pleasant surprises. GRADE: B
Washington Redskins: With only two selections, each coming in the first round, the Redskins had to be quiet about who they really wanted with their picks. Oops. Oh well, it didn’t matter much that everyone knew who Gibbs’ crew was targeting, the Redskins still got the players they wanted in Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell. Both should prove to be solid pros and were nice value selections. Day Two offered only four more selections, two of which the team used to add linebackers, two of which were used to add fullbacks. Linebackers Robert McCune and Jared Newberry are try-hard guys with intriguing measureables, but questionable instincts. Fullbacks Manuel White Jr. and Nehemiah Broughton are solid prospects, but with other needs, the selection of two fullbacks seems odd. While the selections of two highly respected prospects in the first round will likely have a dramatic effect on the Redskins, needs on the defensive line and receiver were ignored, and thus, there remain legitimate questions about this draft. GRADE: C+