Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of 32 teams on draft weekend. Though I am loathe to give grades, I have a few observations on each team, particularly the ones I didn't cover much in the top of this column:
(Click on team names for entire draft class.)
Arizona. Liked the draft for the long haul. No one can dispute the pick of Dan Williams at 26, and the value he gives the Cards. Tremendous pick, tutored by Monte Kiffin last year at Tennessee and shaped up for the pro rigors. The Saints had Daryl Washington, the Cardinals second-round pick, as their top-rated outside 'backer in the draft, and he should give some pass-rush help immediately. Hidden gem: Wisconsin LB O'Brien Schofield, who blew out his knee in the winter prepping for the draft. Taken with the 130th pick, he'll miss this year, but he could end up being a good bargain in 2011 and beyond.
Atlanta. Not the impact GM Thomas Dimitroff was dreaming of, though he got two contributing players he really wanted for the front seven -- linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and defensive tackle Corey Peters, which broke the hearts of Cleveland. Key to long-term success of this draft is whether interior linemen Mike Johnson and Joe Hawley can plug holes at guard and center in the next two to three years.
Baltimore. Loved what Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta did. I thought they'd stay in the first round and steal Dan Williams at 24, but they dealt down and did better. No team got the impact between 43 and 114 that the Ravens did, though the Pats might argue.
Sergio Kindle was a steal at 43. The real key could be Terrence Cody at 57. Now, people will say, "Why are you taking this fat guy with the weight problem?'' Two things here. Newsome went to Alabama. He's a legend there. He loves picking Alabama players and he gets the inside dope on them. He knows Cody can be whipped into shape.
Plus, there's no defensive player on the planet who can walk into the Baltimore locker room and NOT get into line behind Ray Lewis. I think Cody has gone to the right place and should be a force alongside Haloti Ngata long-term.
The Ravens topped things off by picking two tight ends, one of whom will be the starter in 2011, and a productive one.
Buffalo. I'm a little skeptical of C.J. Spiller's ability to lug the rock 300 times a year, because he never did it in four years at Clemson. Maybe he'll be the kind of Felix Jones-ish all-purpose back that, in touching it 12 to 15 times a game, can have four-wins-a-season impact. But it's doubtful he can carry it as much as the fans will scream for him to.
Instead of taking Dan Williams at nine overall, the Bills waited 'til pick 41 to take potential nose-tackle starter Torell Troup of Central Florida. For this draft to be good, Troup will have to play well. Potential 3-4 defensive end Alex Carrington, too, is a must-succeed for this draft to be a good one.
Carolina. I make no bones about it: I like Jimmy Clausen. I think he was the victim of a bit of a whisper campaign about his personality, and I think he's going to be a good downfield thrower and should play fulltime sometime this year for the Panthers. To get him at 48 is an incredible piece of good fortune.
I didn't like the trade for Armanti Edwards; the 89th pick in the draft is a nice place to get a position-change prospect, but trading potentially the 40th or 45th pick in 2011 for him? A reach. Sixth-rounder David Gettis is a 6-4 receiver who should be a good target after emerging late in his Baylor career as a reliable possession receiver.
Chicago. Late in draft prep, I kept hearing Corey Wootton's name in sixties or seventies; good job by the Bears to get him at 109 to stick in the defensive-line rotation. When you don't pick for the first time until 75, getting a coverage safety in Major Wright to band-aid a position of big need is a good job. But make no mistake -- the Bears' draft is Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor. They have to play big or this offseason is an abject failure.
Cincinnati. Tight end Jermaine Gresham should be the answer to Cincinnati's problem at that position, and just ask Colt McCoy about Jordan Shipley's reliability. He won't drop many. The key could be if an up-and-coming Brandon Ghee, the Wake Forest corner, proves to be the third good cover player for a Cincinnati secondary that had a resurgent season last year.
Cleveland. See the top of page 2 of this column for thoughts on the Browns.
Dallas. Like the Dez Bryant value a lot, of course, and the Cowboys think they'll get production in some defensive packages immediately. My pet guy in the Dallas class -- fourth-round corner/safety/returner Akwasi Owusu-Ansah of Division II Indiana (Pa.) -- could make a big difference in the Dallas special-teams on day one. He'll be a gunner (the outside pursuit man on the punt team) and returner from day one, and with 4.32-in-the-40 speed and 208 pounds, he should make a smooth transition to safety. With one big if. "He's got to adjust to the level of competition, obviously,'' Cowboys special-teams boss Joe DeCamillis told me. "He's got the measurables. Now we've got to make sure he can compete on Sundays. But I think he's got a great chance. I think he'll play in this league for a long time.''
Denver. I'll riff on the Broncos tomorrow in my Tuesday mailbag column.
Detroit. Second overall pick Ndamukong Suh is a draft in himself, and Jahvid Best should be a speedy back to pair with Kevin Smith. Down the line, some league people I talked to like the developmental potential of Miami tackle Jason Fox to be a long-term tackle. If so, this draft could be a home run, but not many 128th picks in the draft become starters for a long time in the league.
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