Draft report card: AFC

Draft report card: AFC
By Charles Robinson, Yahoo Sports
April 25, 2005

Charles Robinson
Yahoo Sports
More draft coverage:
NFC report card | Pick-by-pick analysis | Day 1 winners and losers

Here are my draft grades for the AFC, starting with the AFC East:

Bills Buffalo Bills
High marks: Tight end Kevin Everett adequately addressed a depth issue, as did center Raymond Preston, guard Justin Geisinger and running back Lionel Gates.

Low marks: The second-round pick lavished on wide receiver Roscoe Parrish wasn't a need and really should have gone to something else. With the Travis Henry-for-L.J. Shelton deal flaming out, the Bills had to address left offensive tackle but didn't. The need at defensive tackle didn't get addressed, and fifth-rounder Eric King doesn't really fulfill the need for a commanding cornerback. Taking Parrish over a tackle prospect like Syracuse's Adam Terry (or a trade up a few spots to take Khalif Barnes) was stupefying.

Final grade: C

Dolphins Miami Dolphins
High marks: One of the best drafts this year. Coach Nick Saban really did his homework, then got some luck. Running back, inside linebacker (for the occasional 3-4 look) and defensive end were all big needs, and Saban filled them with great talent. Running back Ronnie Brown's reputation goes without saying, but second-round defensive end Matt Roth and third-round inside linebacker Channing Crowder also have first-round talent. Cornerback Travis Daniels will help with the loss of Patrick Surtain. Offensive tackle Anthony Alabi and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson are both great projects for both lines. Saban really did well with every single pick he had.

Low marks: Late-round projects at quarterback and wide receiver would have been nice pickups.

Final grade: A-plus

Patriots New England Patriots
High marks: The versatile guard/tackle Logan Mankins is perfect for the Patriots. He fills depth issues across the offensive line, and he's got nastiness to him, too. Guard Nick Kaczur will help there as well. Ellis Hobbs meets the need for depth at cornerback, while outside linebacker Ryan Claridge is a young project to groom behind some aging veterans. Quarterback Matt Cassel, who was Matt Leinart's backup at USC, looks like a surprise, but the Patriots can't hang on to Rohan Davey forever.

Low marks: Surprisingly, the lack of depth at inside linebacker wasn't addressed at any point, although Claridge might be able to move inside. A project at safety would have filled a need, too.

Final grade: B-plus

Jets New York Jets
High marks: Their trade for Doug Jolley has to be part of the equation because it filled a need nicely. Kicker Mike Nugent is a great one who should be around 10-plus years – and he's actually good under pressure. Cornerback Justin Miller fell to them late in the second round. Miller's recent off-field problems caused him to slide, but he has first-round talent. Safety Kerry Rhodes helps with depth and is a good young player to bring along for the future.

Low marks: Defensive tackle Sione Pouha was considered a fifth-to-sixth round talent, and taking him in the third looks like a reach. Other areas could have been addressed with that pick. The serious need for offensive tackle depth didn't get filled, and seventh-round wide receiver Harry Williams really isn't the type of project that was needed at that position.

Final grade: B-plus


Ravens Baltimore Ravens
High marks: Mark Clayton might be the most refined wideout in the draft and gives quarterback Kyle Boller a good complementary weapon to go along with Derrick Mason and Todd Heap. Defensive end Dan Cody has first-round talent, but Baltimore stole him late in the second because of mental health concerns. He could step in right away in the team's 4-3 front and allow Terrell Suggs to remain at outside linebacker in that scheme if needed. Offensive tackle Adam Terry is Orlando Brown's future replacement. Clayton could be this year's big surprise, and if Cody's depression is behind him, he'll be a key cog in that defense.

Low marks: A candidate to fight for the nickel cornerback job and some safety depth would have been nice in later rounds, but there weren't a wealth of great candidates.

Final grade: A-minus

Bengals Cincinnati Bengals
High marks: Defensive end David Pollack and linebacker Odell Thurman will go a long way in the playmaking department and will help against the run. Health concerns or not, Thurman might be able to take the starting middle linebacker job from Nate Webster. Project wide receiver Tab Perry looked like a fourth-rounder in the eyes of many teams, but the Bengals stole him in the sixth.

Low marks: With so many defensive needs, wide receiver Chris Henry was an odd pickup in the third round. He's a value pick at that point, but the Bengals had other pressing areas that could have been addressed there – like defensive tackle and safety. Center Eric Ghiaciuc and tackle Adam Kieft were projected around the sixth and seventh rounds, but the Bengals grabbed Ghiaciuc in the fourth and Kieft in the fifth out of need.

Final grade: B

Browns Cleveland Browns
High marks: The Browns had a fantastic first three rounds, getting future building blocks at wide receiver (Braylon Edwards), safety (Brodney Pool) and quarterback (Charlie Frye). Edwards might be the best player in the draft, while Pool was thought of as the best pure safety available. Frye's stock flirted with the late first round leading to the draft. Cornerback Antonio Perkins and defensive end David McMillan were great depth picks in the fourth and fifth rounds. Overall, it was a very strong group right through the fifth round.

Low marks: A dominant offensive tackle is still needed, and seventh-round tackle Jon Dunn looks more like a depth pick.

Final grade: A

Steelers Pittsburgh Steelers
High marks: Almost every need area on the team was addressed in impressive fashion. Tight end Heath Miller and cornerback Bryant McFadden fill two top needs with good talent. If Miller can stay healthy and proves to be an adequate blocker, he has Pro Bowl type skills. Wide receiver Fred Gibson and outside linebacker Rian Wallace were great project and depth picks in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively. Guard Chris Kemoeatu was thought to be a third-round prospect, but the Steelers stole him in the sixth.

Low marks: Offensive tackle was a need, but Trai Essex seemed like a hefty reach in the third round for a guy projected more in the fifth-to-sixth range. The Steelers could have used a pick for the future at safety.

Final grade: A-minus


Texans Houston Texans
High marks: Defensive tackle Travis Johnson has the size and strength to solidify the middle of the Texans' defensive line. Wide receiver Jerome Mathis is a burner who will stretch out the field for Andre Johnson and could eventually develop into an elite No. 2. Safety Ceandris Brown will solve the worries over the injury rehab of Ramon Walker.

Low marks: The Texans will be hurting next season when the left offensive tackle is still giving them problems. They could have had Oklahoma's Jammal Brown or Florida State's Alex Barron. They also had other more pressing needs than running back Vernand Morency in the third round. Outside linebacker Kenneth Pettway is a good project, but he's not going to help the pass rush anytime soon.

Final grade: B-minus

Colts Indianapolis Colts
High marks: Marlin Jackson is big, athletic and fast enough to really help the Colts' secondary. He should be able to start at some point as a rookie. Guard Dylan Gandy provides needed depth. Kicker Dave Rayner could allow the Colts to finally get rid of mouthy Mike Vanderjagt. Running back Anthony Davis is small, but he could be a potent situational back playing behind that athletic offensive line.

Low marks: Major needs at inside linebacker and defensive tackle didn't get touched. One of those areas should have been addressed in the second round, rather than taking a second cornerback in Kelvin Hayden – who was a third-to-fourth round prospect in the eyes of some of scouts. Defensive end Vincent Burns is too light and a tweener, which typifies some of the current problems with the Colts' defense. Late picks like outside linebackers Jonathan Welsh and Tyjuan Hagler don't seem like the right answer to supplanting Cato June.

Final grade: C-plus

Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars
High marks: Offensive tackle Khalif Barnes has first-round talent and Jacksonville got him in the second round. He can eventually replace Mike Pearson. The pickup of Barnes makes the risk on quarterback/wide receiver Matt Jones in the first round far more palatable. Scott Starks provides some depth – but not starting quality talent – at cornerback. The Jaguars might not have a single 2005 starter from this draft.

Low marks: Jones is yet another project player at wide receiver, to go along with Reggie Williams and Ernest Wilford. Jacksonville needs immediate impact players to take the next step into the playoffs, not more projects. The Jaguars need an every-down cornerback, but didn't get it, which effectively makes Terry Cousin their No. 2 starter thus far. That's not so great. Running back Alvin Pearman in the fourth round and safety Gerald Sensabaugh in the fifth were both healthy reaches.

Final grade: C-plus

Titans Tennessee Titans
High marks: The Titans got a much-needed haul of talent. They really attacked their three major needs effectively at the top of the draft. They got a starting cornerback in Adam Jones, then added offensive tackle Michael Roos, who could push for the starting spot at right tackle. Needing youth and depth at wide receiver, they grabbed two big speedy guys in Courtney Roby and Brandon Jones in the third round. Defensive back Vincent Fuller and tackle David Stewart were great depth picks in the fourth round, as well as running back Damien Nash in the fifth.

Low marks: Another quarterback in the late rounds would have been nice to give Tennessee another option beyond Billy Volek.

Final grade: A


Broncos Denver Broncos
High marks: Loading up for Randy Moss or another possible date with Indianapolis in the playoffs, the Broncos shored up their secondary depth by choosing super-fast cornerbacks with their first three picks (Darrent Williams, Karl Paymah and Domonique Foxworth). Williams is a character risk, but he could be a special talent.

Low marks: Talent is sometimes worth a character risk, but the Broncos reached on Maurice Clarett in the third round. Even if he is a good fit for their system, they could have traded back into the late fourth round, picked up additional picks and still gotten him. Running back wasn't a need, anyway. The Broncos should have spent one of their cornerback picks and the Clarett pick on other needs. A guard that can compete for a starting spot would have been nice, as would a safety and wide receiver to develop down the line.

Final grade: C

Chiefs Kansas City Chiefs
High marks: The second-round pick for Miami's Patrick Surtain was a great move. People can trash Texas outside linebacker Derrick Johnson all they want (he wasn't Kansas City's first choice) but he's still a fast upgrade over Shawn Barber. Craphonso Thorpe isn't as fast as some would like, but he was a good value pick in the fourth round. Third-rounder Dustin Colquitt should be punting for the Chiefs for the next decade. Seventh-round tackle Jeremy Parquet, who was expected to go as high as the fourth round, has some nice talent.

Low marks: Sixth-round pick Khari Long isn't going to solve the need for an anchor defensive end. Needs for young depth at safety and defensive tackle weren't fulfilled.

Final grade: B-plus

Raiders Oakland Raiders
High marks: Cornerback Fabian Washington needs to work on his ball skills, but he was the fastest player in the draft and has the coverage ability to be a rookie starter. Quarterback Andrew Walter is huge and has the cannon arm that Norv Turner will develop to succeed Kerry Collins. Defensive tackle Anttaj Hawthorne and defensive end Ryan Riddle were great pickups in the sixth round who could develop into starters in a year or two.

Low marks: Cornerback Stanford Routt was a huge reach in the second round. He has awesome speed but is years away from being a starting quality cornerback. Inside linebacker Kirk Morrison was another reach in the third round. Those were both critical picks that should have been spent shoring up safety and outside linebacker.

Final grade: C-plus

Chargers San Diego Chargers
High marks: The defensive front seven got two huge playmakers in outside linebacker Shawne Merriman and defensive tackle Luis Castillo. Both are players who should get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson is a huge target and has nice speed for his size – a nice receiver to bring along over the next few years. Running back Darren Sproles will be great in special teams and situational downs on offense. Offensive tackle Wesley Britt is good for depth and development for the future.

Low marks: A wide receiver capable of a more immediate impact could have been had over Jackson in the second round.

Final grade: A

Charles Robinson is the senior investigative reporter for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Charles a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Monday, Apr 25, 2005 6:08 pm, EDT

Email to a Friend | View Popular