Non-grading the draft (cont.)
Steady As She Goes
New England Patriots: I feel like I have seen this draft before because it seems eerily similar to what the Patriots did last year, and every other year that I can remember for that matter. They fortified the back end with Oregon's Patrick Chung and UConn's Darius Butler. They continued to draft for depth and competition on the offensive line by collecting a bunch of blue collar-types in Houston's Sebastian Vollmer, Penn State's Rich Ohrnberger and Louisville's George Bussey. Boston College's Ron Brace was the best pure nose guard available and North Carolina receiver Brandon Tate could end up being a steal if he can overcome injury and off-field issues.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The fans in the Steel City like 'em strong and tough and that is exactly what they got with their first two picks in Missouri defensive tackle Ziggy Hood and Wisconsin guard Kraig Urbik. They needed some depth up front and they got that in Hood and Urbik. The Steelers also landed the fastest wide receiver in the draft, Mississippi's Mike Wallace. Cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett will compete for the nickel spot and fill the void left by Bryant McFadden's departure to Arizona.
Indianapolis Colts: Bill Polian really can't help himself when it comes to getting talented skill players in round one, but he got a prototypical Colt in intelligent do-it-all running back Donald Brown from UConn. Polian then addressed their most glaring need by getting big space eaters in USC defensive tackle Fili Moala and Michigan nose guard Terrance Taylor. BYU wide receiver Austin Collie has Colt written all over him and could be running routes from the slot as a rookie if he can grasp the complicated scheme that Indy runs.
Tennessee Titans: Wide receiver Kenny Britt and tight end Jared Cook give the Titans more speed and options for Kerry Collins on the outside. The Titans got another young body on the defensive line in Sen'Derrick Marks, who they will need to get to play hard on every snap. Javon Ringer, Troy Kopog and the rest of the Titans picks will be counted on to provide depth on a team disappointed by its early playoff exit.
Atlanta Falcons: Thomas Dimitroff knows exactly what he is doing. He traded for Tony Gonzalez and filled the only real need on offense before sinking his teeth into the other side of the ball. Peria Jerry is a rolling bucket of butcher knives and plays his tail off every play, which fits what Mike Smith and the Falcons are trying to do. William Moore injects some youth and physicality into the secondary, and look out for sleeper defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, who dominated at the FCS level for the Richmond Spiders.
Arizona Cardinals: Ken Whisenhunt had a solid draft again, getting power running back Chris "Beanie" Wells from Ohio State in the first round. Cody Brown from Connecticut fits the mold of the Steelers outside linebackers that Whisenhunt remembers from his time in Pittsburgh. Rashad Johnson from Alabama and small-school prospect Gregory Toler will fight for playing time in the secondary as rookie.
Shrug Of The Shoulders
St. Louis Rams: The Rams let the draft come to them and it worked out well as they filled three needs in the first three rounds. Baylor tackle Jason Smith was number one at his position on most boards because he is a more physical finisher than Eugene Monroe. James Laurinaitis was a three-time All-American at Ohio State and noted student of the game. He'll be a team leader in the NFL. Iowa cornerback Bradley Fletcher had the size-speed combo that Rams GM Billy Devaney was looking for at that position.
Cleveland Browns: Eric Mangini and George Kokinis did a ton of business in stockpiling players that fit what they are looking to do in Cleveland, starting by trading down and getting a trio of former Jets. Georgia's Mohammed Massaquoi and Ohio State's Brian Robiskie are the anti-divas at wide receiver who could both become solid pros. Cal center Alex Mack was the best interior lineman in the draft, and his passion for the game will wear off on his fellow linemates.
Washington Redskins: The Skins swung and missed on Mark Sanchez, but that may be a blessing in disguise. Brian Orakpo looks like Tarzan but too often plays like Jane, and Washington defensive coordinator Greg Blache will be all over him in order to get maximum effort. Maryland corner Kevin Barnes should help too, but I certainly hope they don't picture former top-five pick Mike Williams being the answer at right tackle after signing him Friday night.
San Diego Chargers: It is hard to question A.J. Smith when it comes to outside linebackers, so I won't with his decision to take the super-productive Larry English from Northern Illinois. Texas Tech's Louis Vasquez is a mauler who benched 225 pounds 39 times at the combine and will compete for the starting right guard spot vacated when Mike Goff was not re-signed. Sleeper alert is in effect with defensive tackle Vaughn Martin from Canadian powerhouse Western Ontario.
Kansas City Chiefs: New Chiefs GM Scott Pioli cares only about good football players, thank you, and doesn't care if they lack the flash that some fans might be seeking. Tyson Jackson is a big defensive end with great hands in the Richard Seymour mold and will be a force right away and will be joined on the defensive line by Purdue's Alex Magee. Donald Washington probably should have stayed at Ohio State but his physical ability is unquestioned and he will compete in an already youthful Chiefs defensive backfield.
San Francisco 49ers: Mike Singletary had to be smiling from ear to ear when Michael Crabtree fell into his lap at No. 10, giving the Niners the elite playmaker they have been seeking for a long time. Alabama running back Glen Coffee will lessen the load for Frank Gore as they run behind the second-best blocking tight end in the draft in Fresno State's Bear Pascoe. Pitt linebacker Scott McKillop is a throwback who makes tackles all over the field. Ball State quarterback Nate Davis gives San Francisco a physically gifted quarterback who has some obstacles to overcome to become an NFL caliber passer.
NFL Truth & Rumors