Non-grading the draft: Thoughts on every team's weekend haul of picks
Loved what the Packers, Eagles, Bengals and Ravens did
Raiders, Jets, Cowboys and Bucs all swung and missed
Business as usual for the steady Patriots, Steelers and more
Giving a draft grade for each team the day after the draft is a fruitless exercise. It takes a minimum of three years before a draft can be revisited and evaluated to determine how productive a team was with its selections. With that caveat, here's my reaction to every team's picks, grouped in categories as opposed to the standard letter grade.
Baltimore Ravens: The Wizard of Oz, GM Ozzie Newsome, does it again by entering the draft with no glaring needs and getting tremendous value at every selection. Mississippi tackle Michael Oher has all the physical tools to be a good starter in the NFL and they got him relatively late in the first round while Utah's Paul Kruger (an all-day sucker, which is football terminology for playing hard every snap) will quickly fit in on the Ravens' intimidating defense. The rest of Newsome's haul will provide depth and help on special teams.
Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis is tired of trying to play finesse football in the black and blue division. Instead of running from the bullies in the schoolyard in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, the Bengals are going to hit them in the mouth with Alabama tackle Andre Smith and USC linebacker Rey Maualuga. Smith is the best run-blocking offensive lineman by far and Maualuga is a vicious tackler, so they will both fit in well in the AFC North. Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson and Missouri tight end Chase Coffman could be steals. Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs may start as a rookie.
Philadelphia Eagles: They got arguably the best receiver in the draft, Jeremy Maclin, at No. 19 and the most elusive and pure runner, LeSean McCoy, at No. 53. The Eagles also got another receiving threat in sleeper tight end Cornelius Ingram from Florida. Oh, and did I mention they got the most talented left tackle in the league in Jason Peters via trade and a guy nicknamed "Macho" (Victor Harris)? You gotta love it.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers got the best defensive tackle in the draft in B.J. Raji, who is stout enough to play nose guard and athletic enough to line up over the offensive tackle in Dom Capers' new defense. Speaking of positional versatility, the Packers also got the best combo pass rusher-pass defender available at the outside backer position in Clay Matthews. Eastern Michigan's T.J. Lang and South Carolina's Jamon Meredith will provide further competition to an offensive line that took a step back last year.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys traded down and drafted a bunch of players who won't even make their roster. What is the point of that? Out of their 12 picks, maybe two of them will contribute in 2009. Not good.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs traded up two spots for Josh Freeman, but who else wanted him? I highly doubt Denver would have taken him at 18. The Bucs probably could have traded down and still landed him. Freeman will take at least a year or two to develop, so new head coach Raheem Morris had better have some job security for a team that is in full-blown rebuilding mode. The Bucs still need a defensive tackle, though I am sure they hope Roy Miller from Texas can fill that role.
Didn't Love It Or Hate It
Miami Dolphins: Bill Parcells likes big people at every position and believes might makes right in the NFL. He got the biggest corner in the draft in Utah's Sean Smith and just about the biggest wideout in USC's Patrick Turner. Those picks came after the Dolphins got the most talented cornerback available in the draft in Illinois' Vontae Davis, who needs to overcome maturity issues. The Dolphins also got the ideal Wildcat candidate in West Virginia's Pat White and a solid but not spectacular receiver in Ohio State's Brian Hartline.
Houston Texans: The Texans needed to get better and more versatile on the defensive side of the ball and USC's Brian Cushing and Cincinnati's Connor Barwin certainly fill the bill as almost mirror image players that can do a lot of things flanking DeMeco Ryans. Alabama interior lineman Antoine Caldwell was a value pick and provides depth which was needed up front. Local product James Casey drives down the street from Rice to start his pro career and can play a number of positions for the dynamic Texans offense.
Minnesota Vikings: Percy Harvin will make a ton of plays for the Vikings as long as he can stay on the field. Phil Loadholt is the big hammer the Vikes wanted to get at right tackle. Asher Allen from Georgia is the corner they sorely needed.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers give up next year's first rounder for the second year in a row, but it doesn't matter because they got the pass-rusher they desperately needed opposite Julius Peppers in Everette Brown, a guy who many people thought could have gone in the top 15. Georgia defensive tackle Corvey Irvin will contribute in the rotation as a rookie. Oklahoma offensive guard Duke Robinson is a big boy who needs to play with better technique and consistency. Sounds a lot like Jeff Otah last year, and that worked out pretty well for John Fox and company.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints got the best player at their biggest position of need over the past couple of years in Ohio State defensive back Malcolm Jenkins. They would have liked to have gotten an outside linebacker or a power running back, but they would rather have Jeremy Shockey and Jonathan Vilma, the players they traded for the picks.
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