Draft Grades – 2010

2010 Draft Grades: Seahawks

The Seahawks made off like bandits in the 1st round and completely revamped their roster throughout the draft. They’re definitely in the discussion as one of the biggest winners in this year’s draft.

Russell Okung just plopped into their lap in the 1st round and they wasted no time making the selection. He was the best available player and just happened to fill their biggest need. They’ll be thanking the Redskins for the next decade for passing him up in favor of Trent Williams.

The next most important position for the Seahawks to address was free safety, and sure enough, Earl Thomas fell to them at No. 14. It was simply a brilliant 1st round by Pete Carroll and company. They got two players to build around and who can make an immediate impact.

I was very surprised that Golden Tate fell to the late 2nd round. The Seahawks still need a true No. 1 receiver, but at that point in the draft Tate was easily the best available. He’s a perfect slot receiver who can make an impact from day one. If the Seahawks use him correctly, he could put up impressive numbers as a rookie.

Walter Thurmond is an electric return man and should fill that role immediately in Seattle. He’s also very underrated as a cornerback. He’s coming off an injury, however, which caused him to fall to the 4th round. He could end up being yet another steal for the Seahawks if he can stay healthy. He could win the job as their nickel corner.

The Seahawks needed a defensive end, but I’m not sure E.J. Wilson is the player I would have targeted in the 4th round. What they really need is a pass rusher, and with Ricky Sapp on the board I would have rather gone that direction. Wilson is more of a big body who excels against the run. He was a slight reach where they took him.

Kam Chancellor was a nice 5th-round pick. He’ll backup Jordan Babineaux at strong safety and potentially earn the starting job there in a year or two. He can also contribute on special teams immediately.

Anthony McCoy fell because of concerns about a failed drug test, but his college coach should know how to straighten him out. He’s nothing special as a receiver, but is a fairly complete tight end in terms of being able to catch the ball and block. He’s a great fit as a second option behind John Carlson.

The Seahawks finally grabbed a pass rusher in the 7th round with Dexter Davis. He’ll have chance to make the squad as a situational pass rusher, but I wouldn’t expect much from him. He’s slightly undersized I think he’ll struggle to make the roster.

Jameson Konz was a great pickup in the late 7th round. He doesn’t have a true position, but he’s an impressive natural athlete who’s workout numbers were off the charts. He could play fullback, tight end or receiver. Even though he doesn’t have a defined position, he’s well worth the risk in the 7th round. He may turn out to be just a workout warrior, but his upside in the 7th round was far too great to pass up.

This was simply a brilliant draft for the Seahawks. Okung and Thomas will start from day one. Tate, Thurmond, Chancellor and McCoy should also have fairly significant roles as rookies. This draft has transformed the Seahawks and they now have every reason to believe they can compete for the NFC West title in 2010.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Seahawks 1 Comment

2010 Draft Grades: 49ers

The 49ers had a chance to make a splash with their two 1st round picks, but I’m not sure they accomplished that.

They reached for Anthony Davis. He just isn’t polished enough to have been selected 11th overall. There’s no denying his potential, but he has yet to show that he can be consistent. That said, San Francisco just might be a perfect place for him. He’s best suited at right tackle, at least early in his career, and that’s likely where he’ll play with the 49ers.

I love the selection of Mike Iupati. He’ll be a starter from day one and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he earned a trip to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He’s the best interior lineman to enter the draft since I started scouting in 2004.

The issue I have with their two 1st round picks, however, is the fact that they’re showing an awful lot of confidence in Alex Smith by selecting two offensive linemen. Essentially they’re saying: you’ve got your star receiver, you’ve got your star running back, you’ve got your offensive line, now go lead us to the playoffs. If he doesn’t make major strides this year the 49ers will be back to the drawing board sooner rather than later.

The 49ers may have landed one of the top steals of the draft by snagging Taylor Mays in the 2nd round. At some point in the past year Mays became so overrated that I think he’s now actually underrated (if that makes any sense). Yes, he struggles in coverage, but he does a lot of other things very well. He’s a force against the run and he has the athleticism necessary to improve his coverage skills.

Navorro Bowman is a big risk due to his character concerns, but the 49ers look like a good place for players like him to land. Mike Singletary isn’t afraid to put players in their place, and in the 3rd round there’s very little risk involved.

I love the selection of Anthony Dixon in the 6th round. I honestly have no clue why he fell that far. He has impressive size and adequate speed. He actually reminds me of Frank Gore to an extent. He should be given an opportunity to compete with Glen Coffee for the backup job.

Nate Byham was also a great pick. They needed a blocking tight end and Byham can fill that role perfectly.

Kyle Williams, the son of White Sox GM Kenny Williams, is a decent late-round pick. He can potentially help out as a return specialist, but I don’t see him being much of an asset as a receiver.

The one thing missing from this draft was a cornerback, which they didn’t land until the 7th round with Phillip Adams. He’s a decent athlete but he doesn’t look like anything special. He’ll compete for a backup job, but the 49ers really needed to do more to address this need.

I was very surprised at the way the 49ers draft shaped up. They’ve spent the past two drafts building an offense that should be able to compete immediately, but if Alex Smith doesn’t make major strides this season it may be all for nothing. It would be devastating to have spent this much effort rebuilding an offense only to be forced to start over again at quarterback in next year’s draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Draft Grades - 2010 Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Rams

I wholeheartedly agree with the Rams decision to draft Sam Bradford. While I had Ndamukong Suh at No. 1 on my draft board, I believe Bradford was the right fit for the Rams. He’s a legitimate franchise quarterback and you simply don’t pass up on guys like that when A.J. Feeley is the top quarterback on your roster.

What I love most about Bradford is his attitude and work ethic. Look around the league at the top quarterbacks – Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning – all of them out-work their teammates on a daily basis. Talented quarterbacks come along all the time, but if you don’t have the right attitude you won’t make it in this league. Just ask Ryan Leaf, Matt Leinart, JaMarcus Russell, J.P. Losman, etc. Bradford has the physical tools and the right mindset to be a great one.

I like the Rams selection of Rodger Saffold, but how much I like it will depend on where they play him. I really think he’s best suited to play guard in the NFL. He could be an adequate right tackle, but I just don’t think he has the quickness to live up to his draft status if that’s where they end up playing him.

Jerome Murphy is a great fit for the Rams. Aside from O.J. Atogwe there isn’t much worth keeping in their secondary. He definitely has a chance to beat out either Ronald Bartell or Eric King for a starting job.

The Rams needed to land a receiver who can play immediately and Mardy Gilyard definitely can. However, he just isn’t the type of receiver they needed. They already have a number of undersized receivers (Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson) and they really could have used a bigger target for Bradford. Marcus Easley, who went 107th overall to the Bills, would have been a better selection there.

Mike Hoomanawanui [nicknamed uh-oh] is a blocking tight end. He isn’t a future fantasy football star, but he can certainly be a nice piece of the puzzle in St. Louis.

Hall Davis is a developmental prospect. He’ll likely be brought along slowly, seeing minimal playing time early in his career. He’s a similar type of player to Chris Long, and could end up being a valuable backup for that reason.

Fendi Onobun is about as raw as they come, but he has the talent to be a great receiver. He’s a former basketball player at Arizona, and the Rams are hoping they can develop him into the next Antonio Gates.

I’m not a fan of the selection of Eugene Sims. He just isn’t ready for the NFL. He currently doesn’t have the size or strength to play defensive end, but he’s too tall to play linebacker in the Rams 4-3 defense. I’ll be somewhat surprised if the makes the roster.

Marquis Johnson is a great 7th round pick. He has limited upside, but can add depth to their secondary which is what they needed most at this point in the draft.

George Selvie was worth the risk in the 7th round, but I don’t know if the Rams should expect much from him. After dominating the Big East as a sophomore, he just hasn’t been the same player. He just doesn’t have the athleticism or strength to be an impact player in the NFL.

Josh Hull has the potential to be a solid contributor on special teams. The Rams are fairly thin at linebacker which could allow him to earn a spot as James Laurinaitis’ backup.

This was a great draft for the Rams to get them pointed in the right direction. They had so many holes to fill, and they really needed to come out of this draft with a number of players who can step right into a starting role. If everything goes their way they could end up with as many as four immediate starters and certainly will have no fewer than two (Bradford and Saffold). They only thing holding them back from a solid A is the fact that they reached for a few guys to fill specific holes. A team with so little talent really shouldn’t limit themselves to addressing a specific position at any point in the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Rams Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Cardinals

In terms of value, Dan Williams was one of my favorite picks in the 1st round. Considering the emphasis that teams running 3-4 defenses have placed on nose tackles, I expected him to come off the board early. When he started to fall, I even thought someone that didn’t really need a nose tackle (the Steelers, for example) would take him because he was simply the best available player.

In Arizona, Williams will team with Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell to give the Cardinals one of the most impressive defensive lines in the game. If he lives up to his potential early on, their defense could be much better than expected in 2010.

I like Daryl Washington, but I don’t necessary like how he fits into Arizona’s defense. He’s slightly undersized and for that reason I think he’s better suited for a 4-3 defense.

Andre Roberts is a decent 3rd round pick, but I was surprised they didn’t go after a more NFL-ready receiver. They really needed to find someone who would help Matt Leinart (or Derek Anderson) right away and I don’t know that Roberts will be able to do that.

I don’t like the selection of O’Brien Schofield for two reasons. One, he is undersized, much like Washington. He just doesn’t look like a great fit for a 3-4 defense unless he bulks up significantly. Two, he’s coming of an injury. The Cardinals want to win now and they needed a linebacker who could play immediately. It’s uncertain whether or not Schofield will be ready for the season.

John Skelton is a great fit for the Cardinals. They obviously have concerns about Matt Leinart, but they didn’t want to push the panic button just yet and take someone in the early rounds. Instead, they rolled the dice on Skelton in the 5th. They can bring him along slowly and develop him over the course of a year or two with Leinart as the starter. That should be enough time to determine if Skelton can be a starter of if they need to start over.

Jorrick Calvin will add depth at cornerback and help replace Bryant McFadden. I would have liked to see them add a cornerback earlier than the 6th round, though.

Tight end was another position that the Cardinals should have addressed earlier. Jim Dray has limited upside and will struggle to beat out Anthony Becht, Ben Patrick or Stephen Spach for a spot on the roster.

Overall, this was a solid but unspectacular draft for the Cardinals. They hit a home run with Dan Williams in the 1st round, but I’m not confident that anyone else from this draft class will develop into a starter. I like the draft, but I’m not as enthusiastic about it as I have been in years past. The Cardinals have developed a reputation under Rod Graves and Steve Keim as being one of the top teams in the draft, and this year’s class didn’t quite live up to expectations.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cardinals, Draft Grades - 2010 Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Bears

Considering what they had to work with, the Bears did just fine for themselves on draft day.

I like the selection of Major Wright. I had Reshad Jones and Chad Jones as the highest rated available safeties, but Wright was just behind and he’s still a great fit. He has an excellent chance to win the starting free safety job over Al Afalava.

Corey Wootton is an absolute steal in the 4th round. I thought he was a better fit for a 3-4 team, but he should still be a great addition to the Bears defense. Don’t expect a lot of sacks from him, but he can be a valuable asset in run defense. I’m not sure that he’ll develop into a starter, but he’s a great guy to have in the rotation.

Joshua Moore has limited upside, but he’s a decent 5th-round pick. The Bears really needed to add depth in their secondary and Moore can get the job done as a third or fourth option at cornerback.

Dan LeFevour fell further than expected on draft day. While his fall wasn’t nearly as publicized as Jimmy Clausen’s, I think it was for the same reasons. There are concerns about his attitude and work ethic. He rubbed a lot of people the wrong way by declining to throw at the combine, despite being in perfect health. There were a lot of whispers about him not being the best team leader at Central Michigan, and those concerns certainly could have contributed to his fall. That said, he’s certainly worth a 6th-round pick. He comes to Chicago with zero expectations and can learn behind Jay Cutler.

I really like J’Marcus Webb in the 7th round. He’s extremely raw, but he has elite size and strength (6’8′, 328 lbs). He reminds me of a taller version former Bear Qasim Mitchell. In team, he could develop into a steal.

When you consider that the Bears didn’t pick until the 3rd round, this was a very impressive draft. But there was one glaring omission: wide receiver. Mike Martz has taken every opportunity to talk up their current group, but I’m not buying it. Damian Williams, Brandon LaFell, Jordan Shipley and Eric Decker were all on the board when the Bears were finally on the clock at No. 75. Any of those four would have been a great pick. Even in the later rounds, a guy like Carlton Mitchell would have been a nice addition. It was still a very solid draft, but failing to add a receiver was definitely an oversight.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Draft Grades - 2010 Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Packers

Ted Thompson has built this Packers team through the draft and he impressed on draft day once again this year.

Having Bryan Bulaga fall to No. 23 was a dream scenario for the Packers. They re-signed Mark Trauscher and Chad Clifton this offseason, but both tackles are over the age of 32 and are noticeably declining. Bulaga could be used in a reserve role this year, or potentially at guard, but his future is definitely at left tackle.

I don’t think the Packers reached for Mike Neal nearly as much as some other draft analysts have suggested. He’s an elite athlete for his size and should be able to make a seamless transition to defensive end in the Packers 3-4 defense. If injuries hadn’t slowed his development, its possible he would have been in the mix to come off the board in the 1st round.

Morgan Burnett is a steal in the 3rd round. His ball skills are on par with Eric Berry’s and he has the size to be effective against the run. He’s probably best suited to play free safety early in his career, but with some work he could be an effective strong safety as well. There isn’t a starting job available for him right now, but he should be a starter down the road.

Andrew Quarless is a solid 5th-round pick. He’ll have to fight to make the roster, with Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee likely to earn the top two spots on the depth chart, but his upside makes him worth the pick. He’s an impressive athlete who just never lived up to expectations at Penn State.

I was surprised the Packers didn’t address their interior offensive line earlier in the draft, but they got lucky when Marshall Newhouse fell to them in the 5th round. He played left tackle at TCU and excelled as a run blocker. His athleticism will be an asset, as will his ability to provide depth at both guard and tackle. While he’s penciled in as a backup, don’t be surprised if he earns a starting job by the end of the season.

James Starks is a low risk-high reward pick in the 6th round. He’s coming off a shoulder injury which caused him to miss the entire 2009 season, but he has the potential to develop into a starter. The key to his career will be his ability to bulk up without losing speed. If he puts in the necessary hard work in the weight room, the Packers could have found themselves one of the gems of the draft.

C.J. Wilson is about as good a prospect as you’ll find in the 7th round. He’s a perfect fit for defensive end in the Packers 3-4 defense. He may have a hard time making the roster, considering their depth at the position, but he was well worth the 7th-round pick.

This was a great draft for the Packers from start to finish. They didn’t make any unnecessary reaches and they landed a good mix of players ready to contribute and guys to develop over the next few years. That is the blueprint for a successful draft and Ted Thompson executed it perfectly.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Packers Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Vikings

I usually like when teams move back and accumulate picks, but I think the Vikings may have outsmarted themselves. Rumor has it they wanted Patrick Robinson, and liked their odds of getting him in the early 2nd round. I won’t penalize them in my grade, because we can’t know for certain, but it’s worth mentioning.

Since Patrick Robinson was off the board, the opted for Chris Cook. I like Cook, but it was a huge reach to take him in the early 2nd. That said, I understand the Vikings decision. Assuming Brett Favre returns, they’re going to do everything they can to win it all next year. They needed to add depth at cornerback and Cook filled that hole.

I love the selection of Toby Gerhart. Some have criticized this pick because he doesn’t have the athleticism to fill Chester Taylor’s role in the offense. But I like the selection because he’s better suited to take of the workload off Adrian Peterson’s shoulders. The combo of Gerhart and Peterson will allow the Vikings to wear down opposing defenses and will be an especially frightening duo when they’re running out the clock.

Everson Griffen was a steal in the 4th round. I was shocked to see him fall that far, despite injury concerns. If he gets back to 100 percent he more than live up to expectations. He’s also a great fit for their defense. He’s similar to Ray Edwards and will be a nice addition to their rotation as a rookie.

They reached for Chris DeGeare in the 5th round. His ability to play both right tackle and guard made him an attractive option, but his upside is limited. A number of linemen, such as Marshall Newhouse, were still on the board and would have been better fits.

Nathan Triplett was also a reach. They did need depth at linebacker, but players such as Greg Hardy and Dekota Watson were still on the board and are much better fits in Minnesota than Triplett.

Joe Webb is an elite athlete and a great 6th round pick. He played quarterback at UAB, but he has the size and speed to play receiver in the NFL. He likely won’t see much playing time early on, which will serve him well as he sits and learns the position.

Mickey Shuler will compete for a backup tight end job behind Visanthe Shiancoe and Jim Kleinsasser.

Ryan D’Imperio has limited upside but could contribute on special teams. He’s nothing special, but there wasn’t much left on the board in the late 7th round.

I have mixed feelings about this draft. Their first pick was very short sighted, but for good reasons. Gerhart will serve as a nice complimentary piece and Griffen could be a steal. However, they failed to add much on the third day of the draft. They seemed to reach for a number of players and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of their picks fail to make the roster, even as rookies. This was a very solid draft, but it certainly isn’t anything special.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Vikings Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Lions

The Lions landed the best player in the draft and the player that best fits their needs in Ndamukong Suh. Together with Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams, Suh will help give the Lions an impressive, new revamped defensive line.

I like the Lions willingness to move up to get the guy they wanted, but I just don’t think Jahvid Best is worth a 1st-round pick. He’s a very nice weapon to have, but he isn’t a player to build around. The fact that Best is vastly undersized and is coming off a serious injury raises significant concerns about his ability to carry the load in the NFL. If he’s only a Darren Sproles-type change-of-pace back then he isn’t worth a 1st-round pick.

They reached for Amari Spievey but he’s a perfect fit for their defense. They needed depth at cornerback and Spievey will be able to help immediately.

I really like the selection of Jason Fox. He’ll be a backup at both tackle positions, and will be groomed to potentially take over a starting job in a few years.

Willie Young was a steal in the 7th round. However, he may struggle to make the roster in Detroit. Their defensive line is now one of the strong suits of the team and they’re very deep at defensive end.

Mr. Irrellevant, Tim Toone, will have to fight to make the roster at receiver. His best chance will be to stand out on special teams.

Overall, this was a solid but unspectacular draft for the Lions. I would have liked to see them land a weak-side linebacker to replace Ernie Sims. Someone like Darryl Washington would have been a perfect fit in the late 1st round instead of Jahvid Best. Ultimately I can’t criticize the draft too much though. They landed the best player in the entire draft class. The Lions are definitely headed in the right direction.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Lions 2 Comments

2010 Draft Grades: Saints

This was a strange draft for the Saints, and it got off the bizarre start with the selection of Patrick Robinson in the 1st round. I like Robinson, perhaps more than most even, but I don’t see why the Saints wanted him with their first selection. Jabari Greer had a very solid season, Tracy Porter came on strong in the playoffs and they spent their 2009 1st-round pick on Malcolm Jenkins. The addition of Robinson creates a crowded secondary in New Orleans.

I think Charles Brown will be a steal in the late 2nd round. I certainly don’t fault them for landing a potential left tackle that late in the draft. However, I am shocked that they didn’t spend either of their first two picks on a defensive end or outside linebacker. Their run defense was a disappointment in 2009, and if they’re going to repeat as champs in 2010 they need to address that hole.

Jimmy Graham has a ton of upside and he’s in a perfect situation in New Orleans. He’ll be able to take a backseat to fellow Hurricane Jeremy Shockey early in his career while he continues to learn the position. The former basketball player has a long way to go before he’s ready to start, but they could potentially use him as a receiver in favorable situations, specifically in the red zone, early on.

Al Woods was a great 4th-round pick. Their interior defensive line struggled at times in 2009 and Woods will provide some much needed depth. His career at LSU was a bit of a disappointment, but he has the talent to be a steal. He was worth the risk where the Saints landed him.

Matt Tennant was one of the best picks in the draft in the 5th round or later. Its rare that you take a guy in the 5th round and immediately view him as a future starter, but Tennant has an excellent chance to replace Jonathan Goodwin at center in a year or two.

A lot of people soured on Sean Canfield after he struggled at the Senior Bowl, but I decided to stay on the bandwagon. I loved the progress he made throughout his career. While he may not have elite arm strength or accuracy, I think he has enough skills and the smarts to develop into a quality quarterback. He has a decent shot at beating out Chase Daniel for the backup job in 2010.

I really don’t hate any of the Saints picks, so I can’t give them a poor grade. However, I don’t understand how they managed to go through the draft without adding a single linebacker or defensive end. Those are two glaring holes that needed to be addressed. Someone like Eric Norwood in the 3rd round would have been a great addition. In the long run, I think this draft class will do just fine, but they did very little to help themselves in the immediate future.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Saints Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Bucs

The Bucs needed to find a number of immediate impact players in this year’s draft, and I think they did a great job finding players that fit their system and could play a role from day one.

Gerald McCoy was the obvious choice in the 1st round. He’s a dominant penetrating tackle and can wreak havoc in the backfield. Few interior linemen have entered the NFL with his ability to take over a game. He can be overaggressive at times, which is a big reason why Ndamukong Suh was viewed as the better prospect, but McCoy is a smart kid and should only get better as he develops.

I was surprised to see them take another defensive tackle in the 2nd round, but I actually like the selection of Brian Price. He’s a perfect compliment to McCoy, and the two of them could make a significant impact immediately. I really like that they’re starting this rebuilding process on defense up front. I strongly believe that building from the interior line on out is the way to go.

The Bucs interest in Arrelious Benn was obvious entering the draft and he’s a perfect fit. He has all the tools to be a number one receiver. They’ll groom him as Josh Freeman’s go-to target. I only hope they don’t ruin his development by asking him to do too much early on. He already looks like the obvious choice to be their No. 1 receiver, which is a lot to ask of a rookie.

I think they reached for Myron Lewis. I don’t think he has the skills to be a great cornerback and would have rather seen a team draft him and move him to safety. Additionally, I think safety is a bigger need for the Bucs. Morgan Burnett, Major Wright and Chad Jones were all on the board and I think all three will have much better careers than Lewis.

Mike Williams is a huge risk, even in the 4th round. He has the skills to be an elite receiver, but there’s just so many questions regarding his departure from Syracuse. I would have rather seen him land on a team with more of a veteran presence in the locker room, especially at receiver. He could develop into a steal, but its a risk.

I don’t like taking punters before the 7th round at the earliest, so I’m not crazy about the selection of Brent Bowden. He’ll be their starter as a rookie, but I don’t think he’s any better than four or five others that went undrafted. This pick could have been better spent on another position player.

Cody Grimm is a great 7th-round pick. His upside is very limited, but he’s a hard worker and should be a beast on special teams. He’s one of those guys that will have a long career simply because he does all the little things and coaches love having him around.

Dekoda Watson fell a lot further than I expected. His talent level is far above that of your typical 7th-round pick, but he just wasn’t able to perform consistently at Florida State. The Bucs don’t have a strong group of linebackers, and he could compete for playing time in a backup role.

Erik Lorig is a solid 7th round pick. He doesn’t have a lot of upside but he’ll compete for a roster spot. He’s a tough, physical lineman that excels against the run. He isn’t starter material, but has the size and strength to potential stick around as a backup.

Overall, the Bucs did a great job finding multiple players that can start and make an impact immediate. If things go as planned, they’ll have four players – McCoy, Price, Benn and Williams – all starting as rookies. That’s a recipe for disaster as far as the Bucs 2010 season is concerned, but in the long run this draft could be exactly what they needed to turn the franchise around.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Buccaneers, Draft Grades - 2010 Comments Off