Team-by-team draft thoughts (cont.)
What I liked: The Pats came into the draft with a huge need at tight end and they filled it ably my getting both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
What I didn't: New England really wanted to get a legitimate pass-rushing threat opposite Tully Banta-Cain but they weren't able to do it. It is unlikely that Florida's Jermaine Cunningham has the natural explosion to become that guy.
Moving forward: The Patriots were humbled in the postseason by the Ravens as they appeared to have been shell-shocked by the injury to Wes Welker the week before. They'll need him at full-strength as soon as possible to compete for a title in the AFC East, where their competition appears to be gaining on them.
What I liked: Safety Chad Jones is a special player who may really come into his own once he is able to fully devote himself to football and no longer split time between that and baseball.
What I didn't: Drafting two defensive linemen with their first two picks when the Giants really could have used a linebacker or two. That's got to be seen, in part, as an indictment of the free agent signings of Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard.
Moving forward: The Giants still have holes on defense, particularly at the middle linebacker position, that remain unfilled. Obviously they are higher on Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff then everyone else seems to be.
What I liked: Rex Ryan loves cover guys and he got the best one in this year's draft in Kyle Wilson from Boise State.
What I didn't: Releasing Alan Faneca and trading Leon Washington during day three of the draft.
Moving forward: The Jets have added some high-profile names and clearly are better at receiver and in the defensive backfield, but has that come at the expense of messing with the rushing attack that made this team so formidable in the postseason?
What I liked: Matt Tennant and Jimmy Graham are potential starters at center and tight end, respectively, and represent tremendous value picks where the Saints were able to get them.
What I didn't: Adding Patrick Robinson to an already crowded defensive backfield when they could have filled a major need at outside linebacker by drafting Washington from TCU.
Moving forward: The Saints have the talent base to get back to the Super Bowl but will have to overcome the Super Bowl hangover effect that a lot of teams suffer from, especially those that are so unaccustomed to that level of success.
What I liked: A lot, which is highly unusual when critiquing the moves that the Raiders franchise makes. Rolando McClain should help the front seven immediately.
What I didn't: Trading Kirk Morrison to the Jaguars for virtually nothing. Obviously we have to assume that was their best offer, but it doesn't appear as if there was any semblance of value recouping involved there.
Moving forward: The Raiders have a shot now that they have a legitimate starting quarterback in Jason Campbell. He is not a star but he is a heck of a lot better than what they had before Saturday's trade.
What I liked: Getting quarterback Mike Kafka and tight end Clay Harbor in the fourth round. Both of those players had been rising up the draft charts and could pay dividends down the line for the Birds.
What I didn't: Trading up yet not taking Earl Thomas, arguably the best player in the draft at the Eagles biggest position of need. Brandon Graham is a stud but he is a want whereas Thomas was more of a need.
Moving forward: The Birds need second-round pick Nate Allen to step up and fill the safety spot next to Quentin Mikell. That spot remains a question mark at a very important position in the pass-happy NFL.
What I liked: Trading with Arizona to get former Steeler Bryant McFadden back in the fold. He is far from a shut-down corner but he is a marked improvement from some of the guys that got playing time last year.
What I didn't: Drafting three outside linebackers when they already have the best pairing in the NFL in James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. One is understandable but three would seem to be a bit much.
Moving forward: The Steelers season could be made or broken based upon how well Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon play in the first four to six games while Ben Roethlisberger is suspended. A bad start could doom them in the competitive AFC North.
What I liked: Rodger Saffold was worthy of a first-round pick and is a lineman that a lot of offensive line coaches were extremely high on. He'll likely start at right tackle.
What I didn't: Taking Sam Bradford with the number one pick. Drafting quarterbacks high in the first round has been pretty much a 50-50 proposition over the years. That being the case, drafting one coming off of a shoulder surgery and paying him close to $50 million guaranteed doesn't seem especially prudent.
Moving forward: The Rams will be under a lot of pressure to play Bradford right away but they need to resist that in order to make sure he is ready before they throw him into the fire.
What I liked: Cam Thomas was inconsistent in his effort and performance at North Carolina but he still represents a possible starting nose tackle candidate at some point, something the Chargers surely didn't think they would be able to get in the fifth round.
What I didn't: The Chargers traded Antonio Cromartie to the Jets yet have not really replaced him, other than signing Donald Strickland to be their nickel corner. They could have gotten another prospect in the fold in this draft but elected not to.
Moving forward: The Chargers gave up a decent amount to get him but they got their man in Fresno State running back Ryan Matthews. He gives them a chance to run the ball better in 2010 than they did in 2009.
What I liked: Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman is fantastic in space and could get on the field in obvious passing downs as a rookie. Taylor Mays has the physical tools that coaches love to work with and should play with a rather sizable chip on his shoulder after going much later than he anticipated.
What I didn't: Trading up to select Anthony Davis seemed unnecessary, and drafting a second offensive linemen in round one in Mike Iupati didn't seem to be nearly as pressing as getting one of the top two or three corners in the draft in Wilson or Jackson.
Moving forward: The 49ers have made their bed at the quarterback position with Alex Smith and now they will lie in it. Most of the other positions seem to be primed for a division title; now Smith just needs to lead them there.
What I liked: Everything. Not many franchises in the history of the NFL have had better three-day periods than the Seahawks did, when everything seemed to go perfectly and fall just the way they wanted it to.
What I didn't: In praising the Seahawks for their selections, it must be noted that they were extremely fortunate that Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, and Anthony McCoy all came to them in the manner in which they did.
Moving forward: This draft along with the trade pick-ups they got in LenDale White and Leon Washington get the Seahawks off to a great start in the Pete Carroll era, but only time will tell whether or not they can get enough production out of the quarterback position.
What I liked: The Bucs got the perfect fit for their biggest need in Gerald McCoy. If they had the first pick in the draft, it would have been McCoy; that is how well-suited he is for what they do defensively.
What I didn't: Brian Price from UCLA is a good player but seems like a better fit at three-technique, the same position that McCoy plays, than he does at nose tackle, where the Bucs will likely put him.
Moving forward: This is a team that still has a ways to go, but they are making enough solid draft choices, most notably triggerman Josh Freeman last year and McCoy this year, to give them a chance to take a step toward respectability.
What I liked: Drafting Myron Rolle in the sixth round. It's nice to see that at least one team is progressive enough to believe that a smart guy with varied interests can excel in pro football.
What I didn't: If the reports that the Titans really wanted Jason Pierre-Paul are accurate, than they should have done whatever it took to get him and not allow the New York Giants to take him one pick ahead of them.
Moving forward: Can Vince Young pick up where he left off last season or even take a step forward? The Titans season pretty much all hinges on that one question.
What I liked: Their first two picks. Getting a franchise quarterback in Donovan McNabb and franchise left tackle in Trent Williams is not too shabby for the start of the Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan regime in D.C..
What I didn't: Getting a fourth-round pick in 2012 from the Raiders for Campbell. The 2012 season seems like a long time from now and the Redskins should have been able to get something that could help them now in return for a starting quarterback.
Moving forward: The defense should be solid as usual, so if Shanahan can get the Skins running game going the way he normally does, Washington could be a surprise contender in the NFC East.
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