The First Round As I Saw It

April 26, 2009 |

It certainly was a wild first round of the NFL Draft. What actually happened made my mock draft from last week look silly. Then again, nearly everyone who put a mock draft out there was wrong. As for what actually happened, well – here’s my take on how it went down (my grades , too).
1. Detroit: Matthew Stafford – This was no surprise, but considering he is getting $41.7M guaranteed, he better not be the next coming of Joey Harrington.
Grade: B: Stafford is no sure thing, and the Lions might have been better off with Smith fiven the state of their O-line.
2. St. Louis: Jason Smith – The Rams made some noise about a certain USC quarterback, but considering they allowed Orlando Pace to go to Chicago and didn’t bother replacing him during free agency, Smith was the guy they had pegged. They hope he will man the left tackle spot for the next ten years.
Grade: B+: Smith was one of the safest players in this draft. The Rams addressed a need.
3. Kansas City: Tyson Jackson – They might regret not taking Aaron Curry here. Jackson will be solid but he will not put up 10-15 sacks a year.
Grade: C: Jackson will be solid, but how could they have passed up Curry, who had the least question marks of anyone in the draft?
4. Seattle: Aaron Curry – Kansas City lets the draft’s best defensive player fall into their lap. Sanchez here would have been about the future. Curry is about winning now. And the NFL is a win now league.
Grade: B+:  Curry will have instant impact in Seattle. The Seahawks were lucky he fell to them.
5. New York Jets: Mark Sanchez – Cleveland dealt out of this spot (and a few others too). The Jets take their quarterback of the future without giving up next year’s first round pick. The Browns got an extra two plus players Eric Mangini had when he was with the Jets. A win-win deal all around.
Grade: B-: Sanchez will get NY’s fan base excited, and he’ll be a good pro. But, how long will it take for him to become that good pro? Will he be more Carson Palmer or more Matt Leinart?
6. Cincinnati: Andre Smith – Why not Eugene Monroe? The Bengals may regret this, as Smith isn’t the most mature player the league has ever seen. They drafted the right position but they drafted the wrong guy.
Grade: C: Let me get this straight. The Bengals took a player whose attitude has come into question over the past few months? Oy vey!
7. Oakland: Darrius Heyward Bey – Uh, you need a WR, so why not draft the best available in Michael Crabtree? Heyward Bey can run, but there are questions as to whether or not he can catch the ball consistently. Can you say Troy Williamson??
Grade: D: Al Davis let his stopwatch make this pick. He should have used his head and gone with Crabtree/
8. Jacksonville: Eugene Monroe – They could have drafted Crabtree. Maybe they should have. But Monroe is a safe pick here.
Grade: B-: Monroe is solid but not spectacular. The Jaguars made a safe pick here. 
9. Green Bay: B.J. Raji – The Packers thought Raji would be long gone. They thought long and hard about Crabtree, but they had Raji rated higher, and he fills a need for their new 3-4 defense. You can’t argue with this pick.
Grade: B: I would have gone with Crabtree. Ted Thompson got away from his M.O. He normally takes the player he has rated highest on his board. But, Raji fits a need and he was thought of as a top-five talent. You can’t complain all that much.
10. San Francisco: Michael Crabtree – Too bad he has Shaun Hill and Alex Smith throwing the ball to him. A weird fit. This is a team that loves to run with Frank Gore and will stress defense under Mike Singletary. Make no mistake. This is a terrific pick. But it may take a while to bear fruit because of the quarterback situation.
Grade: A: San Fran got the best player in the draft. Now if they only had a quarterback….
11. Buffalo: Aaron Maybin – The Bills have been looking for a pass rusher for a while. I watched Maybin up close and personal last year when Penn State visited (and destroyed) Wisconsin. There is some question as to whether or not Maybin was a one year wonder at Penn State, but the Bills have had success over the years with Penn State players.
Grade: B-: I would have gone with Orakpo because there are some questions about Maybin and whether or not he was a one year wonder. Not a bad pick, but it could have been better.
12. Denver: Knowshon Moreno – The Broncos wanted Sanchez. Moreno was Plan B. A solid pick. Denver went through seven running backs last year.
Grade: B-: Denver needed an RB, but they might have been able to get Moreno later in the round. Not a big reach, but they could have gotten more value out of this pick.
13. Washington: Brian Orakpo – The Redskins also lost out on Sanchez but were thrilled to have Orakpo fall into their lap. They took less than three minutes to make the pick.
Grade: B+: He’s not a bad consolation prize considering they wanted Sanchez.
14. New Orleans: Malcom Jenkins – The Saints could have used a running back like Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells. But, their defense needed as much help as it could get. Jenkins is a solid pick who can play both corner and safety.
Grade: B: Jenkins, whether at corner or safety, will help what was just a pathetic New Orleans pass defense.
15. Houston: Brian Cushing – The Texans could have gone in a number of different directions. Cushing helps as they continue to build the defense.
Grade: B: A very solid pick. Demeco Ryans now has a running partner.
16. San Diego: Larry English – Could the Chargers have moved down to get English? Probably. This, though was an insurance pick. Insurance in case Shawne Merriman’s knee isn’t as sound as the team wants everyone to think.
Grade: C: Was this spot too high for English? Could be. But if Merriman’s knee is an issue English might come in handy.
17. Tampa Bay: Josh Freeman – The Bucs made the deal with Cleveland, leapfrogging Denver and taking their quarterback of the future. And future is the operative word. Freeman will need a couple of years to learn the pro game. But he has all the tools necessary to become a good NFL quarterback.
Grade: B-: Some wondered why Tampa traded up. They did because the Broncos would have taken Freeman at 18. They identified their guy and got him. You can’t fault them for that.
18. Denver: Robert Ayers – The Broncos had to do something to shore up a bad defense. Ayers will definitely help and had been pegged in recent weeks to go highers than he did.
Grade: C+:  They wanted Freeman. Ayers will need some time to make the transition to the pro game. I’m not as high on Ayers as others are.
19. Philadelphia: Jeremy Maclin – He might not have been their first choice (Moreno was). But, Donovan McNabb wanted help. He’ll get it from Maclin.
Grade: B-: He’s not Anquan Boldin, who they wanted badly. But Maclin will help. 
20. Detroit: Brandon Pettigrew – Pettigrew will turn out to be a good player. But why not Michael Oher here, to protect your $78M investment in Matthew Stafford.
Grade: C: Did Matt Millen make this pick? Pettigrew will be good, but the O-Line needed attention. I would have gone Oher here.
21. Cleveland: Alex Mack – The Browns continue to build their offensive line. Mack was the best center in the draft.
Grade: B-: Considering the team’s new hierarchy comes from the Patriots tree, this wasn’t much of a surprise. Solid pick.
22. Minnesota: Percy Harvin – They needed a WR. Harvin’s made a lot of questionable decisions off the field. From that standpoint, the match with Minnesota is somewhat wierd. From a physical standpoint, Harvin brings a lot to a team that had a need at the position.
Grade: C+: Harvin’s got talent, but he has a lot of questions too. He better watch his P’s and Q’s off the field. And he better make the transition to being a full time WR easily.
23. Baltimore: Michael Oher – The kid has already made it. There aren’t many who could have overcome the kind of childhood Oher had. Baltimore will be happy with this selection.
Grade: B: The Ravens won’t have to worry about Oher for the next ten years. The Packers thought long and hard about him at #9.
24. Atlanta: Peria Jerry- The Falcons get a solid player here, continuing to build under GM Thomas Dimitroff
Grade: B: Let’s see, Dimitroff came from where? New England! The pick makes sense.
25. Miami: Vontae Davis – A Bill Parcells kind of corner. He can be good at times, and he can struggle at times. there will be growing pains.
Grade: C: Davis is talented but inconsistent.
26. Green Bay: Clay Matthews Jr. – For the first time in his life, Ted Thompson might be hearing cheers from Packer fans. His normal M.O. is to trade down and take players no one has ever heard of. Well, he traded up to get one of the top linebackers in the draft. Matthews will help tremendously as Green Bay transitions into a 3-4.
Grade: B-: Matthews fits their new defense, and you have to admire the way he went about building himself up as a player.
27. Indianapolis: Donald Brown – The Colts have to protect themselves in case Joseph Addai struggled with injuries again. Brown will fit right in to a well oiled machine.
Grade: B+: There should have been more buzz about this player. Given Addai’s health problems, Brown could be their go to guy sooner than you think.
28. Buffalo: Eric Wood – The Bills needed O-Line help, but I thought they’d go tackle here, especially since they traded their best lineman to the Eagles a few weeks ago.
Grade: C-: Why not a tackle here? You traded Jason Peters and needed to fill that spot. Wood helps the interior of the line, but tackle was a more pressing need.
29. New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks – He fills a need. When the talks with Cleveland for Braylon Edwards fell apart, the Giants started hoping this player would fall to them. He did.
Grade: B+: As long as the New York media doesn’t expect him to fill Plaxico Burress’ shoes right off the bat, he’ll be fine. He might need a year as most WR’s do, but the Giants made a very smart pick here.
30. Tennessee: Kenny Britt – The Titans have needed a playmaker on the outside for years. It looks like they finally got one.
Grade: B-: Britt can play, but there are concerns he can be moody if he doesn’t get the ball. The Titans are a run first team. It will be interesting to see how Britt reacts when he doesn’t get the ball for long stretches.
31. Arizona: Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells – The Cards were always looking for an RB, but their thought they’d be looking at Donald Brown. Instead, it’s Wells, who was projected as the top back in the class not so long ago.
Grade: B+: I don’t know why Wells fell this far. I do know that he and Tim Hightower will form a very good RB combination.
32. Pittsburgh: Evander ‘Ziggy’ Hood – What do you get the team that seemingly has everything? Another run stuffer. One who will help Casey Hampton stay fresh as the season wears on.
Grade: B-: With the nickname ‘Ziggy’ he might be the perfect Steeler. He won’t jump out at you but he’ll be a very solid player.