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NFC grades: Mostly solid, non-spectacular moves

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Despite holding three of the first four picks in the draft, the NFC finished with a solid but not great performance in the 2009 NFL draft.

For the first time, no team in the NFC earned a D or F, but only one team managed to crack an A. With most teams in the conference solidly addressing their needs and most of the fireworks happening in the AFC, it was a lukewarm year for the NFC.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys
Picks: LB Jason Williams, OT Robert Brewster, QB Stephen McGee, LB Victor Butler, DE Brandon Williams, CB DeAngelo Smith, S Michael Hamlin, K David Buehler, LB Stephen Hodge, TE John Phillips, CB Mike Mickens, WR Manuel Johnson
Positive: Monster class size addressing multiple needs.
Negative: Secondary wasn't addressed until fifth round.
Bottom line: C+.
No picks in the first two rounds, but Dallas gets a solid grade on sheer size (12 picks). If even half the class makes the team, it adds solid depth. Linebacker Williams plays with some pop, and some personnel men had McGee tabbed as a potential sleeper. New York Giants
Picks: WR Hakeem Nicks, LB Clint Sintim, OT William Beatty, WR Ramses Barden, TE Travis Beckum, RB Andre Brown, QB Rhett Bomar, CB DeAndre Wright, CB Stoney Woodson
Positive: Big wide receiver targets.
Negative: Secondary addressed too late in the draft.
Bottom line: B.
There are some concerns whether Nicks and Barden will get too heavy on the NFL level, but both give Eli Manning solid targets. With some added weight and strength, Beatty could be the best thing to come out of this class. Bomar has an NFL arm, and that's not bad for a fifth-round pick. Philadelphia Eagles
Picks: WR Jeremy Maclin, RB LeSean McCoy, TE Cornelius Ingram, CB Victor Harris, OT Fenuki Tupou, WR Brandon Gibson, G Paul Fanaika
Positive: Offensive skill position additions.
Negative: Only two picks in the top 150.
Bottom line: B-.
Maclin should be another instant impact guy, like DeSean Jackson was last season. McCoy doesn't have elite speed, but he can make defenders miss and could develop into an NFL starter. Ingram will be a liability in run-blocking. After Maclin and McCoy, there may not be many future starters. Washington Redskins
Picks: DE Brian Orakpo, CB Kevin Barnes, LB Cody Glenn, LB Robert Henson, FB Eddie Williams
Positive: Impact pass rusher in Orakpo.
Negative: Only two picks in the top 150.
Bottom line: C+.
Orakpo could be an instant starter, although he could add some additional weight to anchor against the run. Barnes and Glenn offer solid depth, but they could have used a young offensive tackle, too. It's a weak class at the bottom. The first four picks might be the only players that make the final roster.

NFC North

Chicago Bears
Picks: DT Jarron Gilbert, WR Juaquin Iglesias, DE Henry Melton, CB D.J. Moore, WR Johnny Knox, LB Marcus Freeman, S Al Afalava, G Lance Louis, WR Derek Kinder
Positive: No offensive tackle selections.
Negative: No picks in the first two rounds.
Bottom line: B.
The lack of a pick in the first two rounds hurts a nice-sized class, and Iglesias isn't going to solve the wide receiver issues. However, Gilbert could blossom into a good pass rusher from the tackle spot, and the fact that the first-round pick was traded in a deal for quarterback Jay Cutler is factored in. Detroit Lions
Picks: QB Matthew Stafford, TE Brandon Pettigrew, S Louis Delmas, LB DeAndre Levy, WR Derrick Williams, DT Sammie Lee Hill, RB Aaron Brown, OT Lydon Murtha, LB Zach Follett, TE Dan Gronkowski
Positive: Offensive skill position upgrades.
Negative: No cornerback help.
Bottom line: B+.
Stafford could be the franchise quarterback. Pettigrew is a good blocker and should be a very good offensive weapon. Despite some size concerns, Delmas was the most complete safety in the draft. The super-athletic Murtha is a fantastic gamble in the seventh round. Green Bay Packers
Picks: DT B.J. Raji, LB Clay Matthews, OT T.J. Lang, FB Quinn Johnson, OT Jamon Meredith, DE Jarius Wynn, CB Brandon Underwood, LB Brad Jones
Positives: Raji, Matthews, tackle prospects
Negative: Could have used a more highly rated cornerback.
Bottom line: A.
Almost all the team needs were addressed in some way. Nose tackles in the 3-4 scheme are at a premium, and the Packers had a great one fall in their lap in Raji. Matthews has a ton of versatility and adds another badly needed piece in the Packers' scheme change on defense. The two tackle prospects are something to work with long term. Minnesota Vikings
Picks: WR Percy Harvin, OT Phil Loadholt, CB Asher Allen, LB Jasper Brinkley, S Jamarca Sanford
Positive: Harvin's talent.
Negative: Harvin's character issues.
Bottom line: C.
It's a small class, but Harvin and Loadholt have the potential to be immediate starters. This entire class is wagered on Harvin getting his head straight, and there doesn't seem to be a great deal of confidence out there in other personnel departments. His talent is undeniable, but you wonder if the Vikings have turned back the clock to their problematic character days.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons
Picks: DT Peria Jerry, S Williams Moore, CB Chris Owens, DE Lawrence Sidbury, CB William Middleton, OT Garrett Reynolds, LB Spencer Adkins, DT Vance Walker
Positive: Aggressive attention on defense.
Negative: Injury risk with Jerry.
Bottom line: B+.
They addressed every defensive need in some way. If Jerry stays healthy this class could be very lucrative long term. Owens could be a surprising playmaker, and Sidbury is a highly skilled athlete who could be a big steal in the fourth round. Carolina Panthers
Picks: DE Everette Brown, CB Sherrod Martin, DT Corvey Irvin, RB Mike Goodson, FB Tony Fiammetta, G Duke Robinson, CB Captain Munnerlyn
Positive: Standing pat and landing Brown in the second round.
Negative: No picks in the top 50.
Bottom line: C.
The Panthers traded their first-round pick for Jeff Otah last year, then took another risk by shipping next year's first-rounder for the right to draft Brown. It looks like a far riskier maneuver than Otah did last season, but Brown provides insurance against possibly having to break ties with Julius Peppers in 2010. Martin is a potential starter at cornerback, and Goodson looks like a quality best-player-available pick. New Orleans Saints
Picks: CB Malcolm Jenkins, S Chip Vaughn, LB Stanley Arnoux, P Thomas Morstead
Positive: A starting caliber cornerback in Jenkins.
Negative: Only one pick in the first three rounds.
Bottom line: B.
Jeremy Shockey and Jonathan Vilma factor into this class as part of previous deals. None of the five picks were wasted, but Jenkins looks like the only immediate defensive starter out of this draft. New Orleans reportedly targeted Ohio State's Beanie Wells later in the first round but couldn't make the deal happen. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Picks: QB Josh Freeman, DT Roy Miller, DE Kyle Moore, OT Xavier Fulton, CB Edjuan Biggers, WR Sammie Stroughter Positive: A quarterback to groom long term.
Negative: No immediate help for 2009.
Bottom line: C-.
Freeman addresses a pressing need, but he might not be a full-time starter until 2011. He's a long way from what Jay Cutler would have been. Miller looks like a solid plugger on the defensive line and Moore has loads of potential. Stroughter, who has overcome depression, is an intriguing and talented late pick.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals
Picks: RB Chris Wells, LB Cody Brown, S Rashad Johnson, CB Gregory Toler, G Herman Johnson, DE Will Davis, RB Larod Stephens- Howling, G Trevor Canfield
Positive: Landing an explosive running back.
Negative: No defensive line help until sixth round.
Bottom line: B+.
Getting Wells with the second-to-last pick in the first round was a coup. He adds exactly the kind of explosion the position needs. Brown should add some pass rushing help, but he'll need to get stronger to be a complete linebacker. Johnson is a good playmaker who works hard all the time. St. Louis Rams
Picks: OT Jason Smith, LB James Laurinaitis, CB Bradley Fletcher, DT Dorell Scott, WR Brooks Foster, QB Keith Null, RB Chris Ogbonnaya
Positive: Starting potential at the top of the class.
Negative: Didn't address wide receiver until fifth round.
Bottom line: B.
Smith should continue to get better and has the potential to be a rock on the offensive line for the next decade. Laurinaitis is the definition of consistent at middle linebacker. Fletcher could be a starter eventually. Null is big, has a strong arm and could stick as a long term developmental guy. San Francisco 49ers
Picks: WR Michael Crabtree, RB Glen Coffee, LB Scott McKillop, QB Nate Davis, TE Bear Pascoe, S Curtis Taylor, DT Ricky Jean-Francois
Positive: Landing Crabtree without moving up.
Negative: Going with a running back with their second pick.
Bottom line: B-.
It looks like a draft that might only produce one starter in the next year or two, but Crabtree could be a great one. Coffee was a head-scratcher in the third round, considering the plethora of needs in other areas for the 49ers. If Nate Davis' learning disability can be overcome, he could be a steal in the fifth round. Seattle Seahawks
Picks: LB Aaron Curry, C Max Unger, WR Deon Butler, QB Mike Teel, S Courtney Greene, DE Nick Reed, TE Cameron Morrah
Positives: Instant starters in Curry and Unger.
Negative: Only three picks in the top 175.
Bottom line: B.
Curry and Unger are great picks, and Butler has the speed and skill to eventually be a solid No. 2 wideout. However, the rest of the class drops off dramatically from that point. Teel is a long-term project and Greene, Reed and Morrah look like backups, if they can manage to make the final roster.
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