The Dumbest Part of the NFL Draft…Handing out a Grade

April 27, 2009 | Glenn Clark

No 15-7-0 tonight. While I’d like nothing more than to tell you about the Maryland, Towson, and Morgan State Spring games; I’ve unfortunately been spending my ENTIRE weekend following the Draft. So, I have to play Draft analyst tonight. With that in mind, I HATE Draft grades. But since everyone else gives them, I will as well.

My grade for the Baltimore Ravens 2009 Draft is………….a C+

But more on that later. First, let me rank the picks in order of which I thought were best.

Best pick: Michael Oher (Round 1, OT Ole Miss)

I really do like the selection of Michael Oher. I was watching a piece “The Blind Side” author Michael Lewis did on Oher (the book’s subject); and I was struck by something more than the life story we already know. Lewis went back to the original subject of the book; which was the evolution of the game of football.

Every day around this country; a High School quarterback picks up a football. At the age of 16, their ability is evident to everyone who sees them play. They’re the best player on the field by far. They can run circles around the defensive players, and they have the ability to step in and play just about every other position on the field. However, when they match up against other players just like them, it is really difficult to know just how good they are. It is often not until the end of their senior year at the earliest that you really recognize their potential to play at a professional level.

However, when Michael Oher strapped on a helmet at 16, everyone who saw him thought “He’s going to play at the NFL level.” That’s how simple the Michael Oher discussion is. He’s an NFL player, and there is absolutely no doubt about it. In my interview with Rebels Coach Houston Nutt Sunday on AM1570 WNST, Oher’s former Coach painted a picture of the young man as unassuming, saying “he’s not boastful, he’s not loud.”

He’s just a football player. That’s a good thing for the Ravens.

2nd: Jason Phillips (Round 5, TCU LB)

Do the words “tackle machine” sound good to you? Every picture I’ve seen of this guy makes him look mean. Heck, this is just a bio picture from the Horned Frogs official website…..

jason

I love everything about this guy’s motor. The meniscus issue is a concern, but he should be ready to go before training camp. He really fits the mentality of the Ravens defense; although that is a cliche I’m somewhat sick of hearing myself.

I think the Ravens’ choice of Phillips might eventually find them a starting middle linebacker. He won’t be given the first opportunity to replace Bart Scott, but I think he will eventually be the guy.

3rd: Paul Kruger (2nd Round, Utah DE)

Kruger’s story is very interesting; but I’m still not certain of what he’ll bring to the table as a football player. He’s 6’4″, 265; which I think is very good. But his college career must be considered “incomplete” at best.

He redshirted in 2004 (when Utah went undefeated and beat Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl); and then left the school for 2 years on his mission. In the only two years he’s played college football (inlucing the Utes’ 2nd undefeated season and run to the Sugar Bowl title), he’s been more “respectable” than “world beater.” 119 tackles, 10 sacks, and 2 INT’s in 2 seasons is nice, but what do you expect from a player like that moving forward?

Kruger has the potential to be an outstanding football player; but it is hard to just pencil him in as a sure fire NFL prospect.

4th: Lardarius Webb
(3rd Round, Nicholls State CB)

Webb told me in an interview Sunday on WNST that he is a HUGE fan of Ed Reed, and thinks he shapes his game most like the Ravens’ safety. When I asked him about analysts who consider himself undersized for a corner, Webb said “they haven’t (seen) me play yet.”

I haven’t seen Webb play much, but I know he is a much more mature player than he was at Southern Mississippi. He’s spent time studying offenses to help improve himself as a defensive player. He pitched in and helped out as a secondary coach when the Colonels were under a hiring freeze; and he even went under center to help his team out.

That being said; CB was not a position of dire need for the Ravens. I know the Ravens viewed him as the “best player available”, but I don’t know if he was as valuable as some of the other players available at that pick. The run on wide receivers in the previous 10 picks may have been part of the reason why they went with Webb at that pick; but he might well have been the man either way.

I like the player, but I’m not certain I love the pick.

5th: Cedric Peerman (6th Round, Virginia RB)

I will admit that I like Rashad Jennings much more with this pick. But the Ravens appeared committed to drafting a Running Back this weekend, and they got their man in the 6th round.

I think the Ravens would have been better served getting someone who could just be a ball-carrying machine; and Peerman never showed that. He never had more than 153 carries in a season (senior year); and never averaged 20 touches per game in any single season with the Cavaliers. He’s been used as a returner, and might have value there; but I’m not certain yet where he might fit in with the Ravens’ offense.

He could be a very good player, I’m just not certain of what he brings to the table for the Ravens given their current stable of running backs. I don’t see him playing the role that Willis McGahee currently plays, and he doesn’t appear to be that much of a change of pace from Ray Rice.

6th: Davon Drew (5th round, East Carolina)

The only reason I’m down on the selection of Davon Drew is because of the players the Ravens DIDN’T get at offensive skill positions. Drew showed some playmaking capability in his senior season with the Pirates (695 yards receiving); but he hasn’t necessarily established himself as the red zone threat the Ravens need (8 TD receptions for his college career).

He has the size (6’4″, 260 pounds) and speed (4.65 40) to be an offensive threat, but he hasn’t shown himself to be one yet. I’m not sure where he fits in amongst the Ravens’ current stable of Tight Ends, but he will have the opportunity to contribute somehow. Had the Ravens acquired other big play options, he might look like a better acquisition.

Now, getting back to my initial grade…

I gave the Ravens a C+ based on two things.

1-I really believe they acquired good players (probably the best players available when they picked), many of whom can be part of this team for some time. While my thoughts weren’t “Ozzie did it again” when Michael Oher’s name was announced, I did think of him as a solid pick with the potential to contribute right away and anchor one side of the Ravens’ offensive line. He will go a long way to keeping Joe Flacco on his feet.

2-HOWEVER, I don’t think the Ravens improved their chances of winning a Super Bowl this weekend; which I think has become all too important to accomplish in recent Draft history. We know Draft weekend is important for building franchises for their long-term future, but Draft weekend is now just as important for improving teams in their immediate future. While the Ravens’ offensive line IS immediately improved, I do not believe their most important position has been improved (offensive skill players). That could change before Training Camp, but it didn’t change this weekend.

The fact remains that NONE of us know exactly how this weekend will pan out; and next year the Ravens might well be hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy and laughing at my “C+” grade while Jason Phillips is clinching Defensive Rookie of the Year.

-G

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