April 24, 2010
With the 2010 NFL draft in the rear-view, here's a quick look at the thrill of (early) victory and the agony of defeat (at least, on paper). Judging drafts right after they happen is a goofy exercise ... but nonetheless, here's how things look right now.
Best Overall Drafts
Seattle Seahawks: A win from start to finish. The Seahawks addressed just about every team need, and there were many of them. Getting Russell Okung(notes) and Earl Thomas(notes) in the first round was great, and Golden Tate(notes) could be a second-round steal, but the trades may make the biggest early difference. The Seahawks dealt a fourth-round pick for Titans running back LenDale White(notes), and a fifth-rounder for Jets speedster Leon Washington(notes). Depth picks helped their secondary greatly. For a first draft together, head coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider hit it out of the park - on several different occasions.
Cincinnati Bengals: An unheralded bounty of value. First-round tight end Jermaine Gresham(notes) will be a matchup nightmare at the next level, reminiscent of Antonio Gates(notes). End Carlos Dunlap(notes) has ridiculous athleticism, and should put the rest together under defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. The sleeper pick here is sixth-round receiver Dezmon Briscoe, who should develop into an attractive short-area and red zone target.
Oakland Raiders: And we're not even grading on a curve! Giving up Kirk Morrison(notes) for a Ziploc bag and a couple of Kit Kat bars was a bad move, but it was totally mitigated by getting Jason Campbell(notes) for a fourth-round pick ... in 2012! And instead of grabbing athletic freaks with limited football skills, Oakland addressed needs in its interior run defense, and took the projects later on. This is the kind of draft that could make the Raiders an upset special, if not a competitive team, in the short term. All we want to know is, who locked Al Davis in a closet?
San Francisco 49ers: Last year, the 49ers went a little pass-happy, running more shotgun than you'd ever expect from a Mike Singletary team. In this draft, they turned everything around and went smashmouth to the extreme. Tackle Anthony Davis and guard Mike Iupati(notes) should shore up the NFL's worst run-blocking line (and Frank Gore(notes) was still productive behind it). Safety Taylor Mays(notes) would have been a first-round reach, but he's a great fit and a good value in the second round. Underrated players like linebacker Navorro Bowman(notes) and running back Anthony Dixon round out a draft that should have the Niners competing hard for an NFC West title this season.
Worst Overall Drafts
Denver Broncos: To have a truly weird draft, a team must begin with an inexplicable first-round reach. Though Tim Tebow's(notes) intangibles are off the charts, there are far too many questions about his throwing mechanics in a long-term sense to spend a first-round pick on him, especially when you, as Denver did, trade multiple later picks to get him. Demaryius Thomas(notes) is a good deep receiver, but none of the three current Denver quarterbacks have good deep arms.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Big first-round reach, Part 2, with Tyson Alualu(notes) taken with the 10th overall pick. The Jags have spent far too much draft currency on their front seven and still show inconclusive results, a trend that continues through this draft.
Washington Redskins/New York Jets: Both teams made significant free agency moves, but unloaded talent on draft day that they may have been better off keeping. Both first-round picks (Trent Williams(notes) to the Redskins; Kyle Wilson(notes) to the Jets) are impressive, but the general sense in the NFL is that you build through the draft and augment through free agency. Both teams are expected to make playoff runs this season, and the ramifications will be interesting if they fall short.
Chicago Bears: Okay, let's get this straight. The Bears trade pretty much everything, up to and including George Halas' first leather helmet, for quarterback Jay Cutler(notes). They have needs all over their roster, despite a very active free agency plunge. And in their draft, which didn't start until the 75th overall pick, they spend one of their five picks on ... Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour, who refused to throw at the combine because he wasn't familiar with the receivers. Ouch, guys.
Florida QB Tim Tebow: See above. When you have this many needs, and you blow multiple picks to get a quarterback that is at least one full season away from being a legit NFL starter ... well, let's just say that I wouldn't mind playing poker with Josh McDaniels sometime.
USF DE Jason Pierre-Paul(notes): The Giants took this pure pass rusher 15th overall with the more versatile Derrick Morgan(notes) still on the board. Pierre-Paul has a dynamic first step off the edge, but he's not good in run support and seems befuddled by line stunts and loops.
Alabama OLB Rolando McClain(notes): It's not so much that McClain isn't worth a top 10 pick, but in going eighth overall to the Raiders, Oakland gets a 3-4 inside guy and jettisons Kirk Morrison, breaking even in the end.
Cal DE/DT Tyson Alualu: Alualu can be a dynamic 4-3 tackle, but most mocks had him a full round below where the Jaguars took him with the 10th overall pick. There was word that the Titans were looking hard at Alualu down at 16, but this is another questionable move with possibly better positional talent still on the board.
Boise State CB Kyle Wilson: the Jets get a guy compared to an embryonic Darrelle Revis(notes) by some experts with the 29th overall pick. Some had Wilson going top 10. If the Jets' secondary wasn't already illegal with Revis and Antonio Cromartie(notes), Wilson should push the envelope.
Texas FS Earl Thomas: Called the draft's most instinctive safety by the NFL Network's Mike Mayock (a former NFL safety himself), Thomas could have easily gone in the top 10 as well. Seahawks general manager John Schneider, talking from the team facility on Thursday night, sounded stunned that Thomas was there for him to take with the 14th overall pick.
Tennessee DT Dan Williams(notes): Thought by many to be taken in the first 15 because he projected well as a 3-4 nose tackle, Williams fell to the Arizona Cardinals at the 26th pick. This was great news for a Cards team that had trouble stopping the run and lost several valuable players in the offseason.
USC OT Charles Brown(notes): While there are questions about his inline power-blocking, few expected Brown, the former tight end, to fall to the end of the second round. But that's where the Saints found him with the 64th overall pick. He's a good fit as a quick left tackle, and this might push Jermon Bushrod(notes) over to the right side.
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