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Grading the 2008 NFL Draft
Football talent like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And like revenge, evaluation of talent is best served cold—like 3 years cold. It takes at least that long to truly evaluate the value of a draft. It also does no good to judge a draft on feelings. A statistical analysis is the only way to judge accurately.
The system employed here is as follows:
In addition, you must consider the traded picks and trades down to get extra choices. Extra credit is awarded for outstanding work in those areas. Let's look at the 2008 draft anyway to see who looks now like they did well.
Atlanta Falcons - C- (208)
Matt Ryan Q (3) was a good choice to provide a new face for a franchise that desperately needed one. The ultimate grade for this draft will depend primarily on if Ryan becomes the franchise QB they need. They traded up to get Sam Baker T (21) who is a serious question at LT. If he doesn't make it there, he will be a very expensive RT or guard. Curtis Lofton IB (37), Harry Douglas IV W (84) and S Thomas DeCoud (98) were good picks and can play. Chevis Jackson CB (68) is good but was taken a round too early. Thomas Brown RB (172) will be a good change of pace for free agent Turner and was a value. The rest were late round/fa types that could have been taken a lot later. They could have gotten some extra credit for free agents but the people they let go were more valuable than those that they signed.
Arizona Cardinals - B- (2.83)
Dominique Cromartie CB (16) was a little early but would not have been there with their second pick. He is very good and should be a starter as the Cards move Antrel Rolle to FS. Calais Campbell DL(50) was highly rated but I have my doubts. Early Doucet III WR (81) and Kenny Iwebema DE (116) were value picks and should contribute. The rest were below average.
Baltimore Ravens - C (2.31)
When Ryan got picked, the Ravens traded back to get more picks but wasted some of them with questionable selections. Joseph Flacco Q (18) was a desperation pick but has the best arm/mechanics combination in the draft after Ryan. I think Ray Rice RB (55) is a horse and will be outstanding. He is capable of 20 carries a game if necessary. Tavares Gooden OB (71), Thomas Zbikowski S (86) and Oniel Cousins T (99) were values and players. GM Ozzie Newsome must have gone to lunch for picks after round 3 but came back just in time to save the day in round 7. Justin Harper W (215), Allen Patrick RB (240) and Kennard Cox S (251) were all values.
Buffalo Bills - C- (1.56)
The Bills started strong but lost momentum. The best choices were the first three Leodis McKelvin CB (11), James Hardy W (41), and Chris Ellis DE/LB (72). Steve Johnson W (224) was a good pick but the rest were reaches for questionable talents.
Carolina Bears - B+ (3.25)
WOW! I loved what the Panthers did. Almost every pick was value and a player. Jonathan Stewart RB (13) is better but not as fast as McFadden and won't go down at first contact. They traded back up to get Jeffrey Otah T (19) but he was the last first round T. Charles Godfrey CB (67) is solid but Dan Connor IB (74) was a steal and is perfect for the cover 2. The rest of the choices were all solid except for Geoff Schwartz T (241) that doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the choices.
Chicago Bears - C- (1.83)
Chris Williams T (14) was a critical need and the best lineman on the board. Matt Forte' RB (44) and Earl Bennett TE (70) can play but were picked a round early. Marcus Harrison DT (90) is a first round talent with a troubled past that drove his value down. If he stays clean, he is a steal. Craig Steltz S (120) was a steal, as was Kellen Davis TE (158). Kirk Barton T (247) is a value and will likely play guard.
Cincinnati Bengals - C- (1.80)
The Bengals were either very good or very bad with very little in the middle. Keith Rivers LB (9), Patrick Sims DT (77), Andre Caldwell W (97), Anthony Collins T (112) and Mario Urrutia W (246) were value picks of players that will contribute. Then there was the choice of Jerome Simpson W (44) in the second round. I don't like him but he is fast and had better be good. This is the type of pick that if it doesn't work can get a GM fired. But then GM's are against the Bengals' policies.
Cleveland Browns - A (3.50)
1-Brady Quinn Most experts rate him above anyone the Browns could have gotten with the 22nd pick and have the advantage of a year working with him.
2-Corey Williams DT trade brought the Browns a proven lineman that will likely play end.
3-Sean Rogers DT trade is a little bit of risk but he has a ton of talent to go with his love of food. The challenge will be to motivate him to produce at a high level.Martin Rucker TE (111), Ahtyba Rubin DL (190) are players that were undervalued by most experts but still were value picks. They will contribute. Paul Hubbard WR (191) has potential. The only reach was James "Beau" Bell OB (104) who's rating was near 200.
Dallas Cowboys - B- (2.50)
As usual, Dallas was trade central. With only a couple of needs, they had the ability to pick the best player and move up and down without fear. Felix Jones RB (22) is a complementary back and they need to resign Barber (RFA) to get the most out of this pick. Just like with Reggie Bush, I am not sold on using a first round pick on a player that will only have 10-12 touches per game. Mike Jenkins CB (25) and Martellus Bennett TE (61) were solid picks and Jenkins fits a need. I loved the choice of Choice—Tashard Choice RB (122). At 215, he can be the starting back if Barber doesn't sign.
Denver Broncos - C- (2.11)
Solid early and late picks made up for a weak middle to give the Broncos a decent grade. Ryan Clady T (12) fits their system and Eddie Royal WR (42) was a good player but a touch early. In the 7th round they found Josh Barrett S (220) and Peyton Hillis FB/H Back (227) are good players with value here. The rest were reaches for questionable players.
Detroit Lions - B- (2.89)
Not bad for a franchise that has struggled with high picks. They realize that the NFC North is up for grabs if they can fill their holes. Gosder Cherilus T (17) is a right tackle but any good O-lineman will help. Cliff Avril OB (92) was a value but must be converted from a DE to an OB. Most of the other picks are fair value and anything will help the Lions. Landon Cohen DT (216) was a bad reach but they made up for it by picking Caleb Campbell S (218) from Army. He got a rousing welcome and will be able to play as his service commitment.
Green Bay Packers - C- (2.22)
It is a good thing that points are not deducted for really bad picks because the GB grade would have been lower. Jordy Nelson W (36), Brian Brohm Q (56), Patrick Lee CB (60), and Jeremy Thompson DE (102) were all A picks. There were a couple of B's and a C. BUT
Josh Sitton G (135) and Brett Swain W (217) were rated between 600-700 in most lists of players. UCH! And if you really need to draft 2 QBs you haven't been doing your job. No points were awarded for Matt Flynn Q (217).
Houston Texans - C (2.17)
The Texans got heat for reaching for Duane Brown T (26) and I agree he should have been an early second round pick. But I like Brown and think he has the tools to become a very good LT. The rest were OK but reaches except for Xavier Adibi OB (118) and Frank Okam DT (151) which were good values and can play. There may need to be a fire under Okam's plentiful rear end to get the best out of him.
Indianapolis Colts - A (3.89)
Ho, Hum, the rich get richer. Outstanding draft with every pick not only a good value but able to play and contribute. The Colts tend to pick centers and covert them to guards or tackles. They like smart players and the center in college is usually the one that makes the blocking calls. Mike Pollak C (59) was a little early but would not have been there on their next pick. I particularly liked Marcus Howard OB (161), and Steve Justice C (201). I loved the pick of Mike Hart RB (202). If you need him to wash the uniforms, he will and do a great job.
Jacksonville Jaguars - A- (3.40)
Derrick Harvey DE (8) was a bit of a reach that they traded up (and gave up too much) to take. Quentin Groves OB (52) was a value but is a risk because he was a down end that needs to prove he can become a linebacker. Trae Williams CB (159) and Chauncey Washington RB (213) were values but Thomas Williams OB (155) was a reach. I did like the fact that they signed free agent QB Paul Smith from Tulsa and awarded extra credit.
Kansas City Chiefs - C (2.08)
A must draft for the Chiefs resulted in as many reaches as value picks. First, to get some of these picks they traded away their best player DE Jared Allen. -4 point penalty! Their first 7 picks were very good to good but then they must have lost their list because they went deep sea fishing. They were lucky when Glenn Dorsey DT (5) fell to them. Most people considered him the best player in the draft. They are desperate for help on the O-Line so if Branden Albert G/T (15) can't handle LT, they will at least have a high priced guard. The next 5 picks were reasonable value and good players. What I don't understand is Brandon Carr CB (140) who was ranked in the 400's, Kevin Robinson W (182) rating in the 300's, Brian Johnston (210) with a rating of nearly 450 and worst of all Michael Merritt TE with a ranking below 800. When you have as many needs as the Chiefs have, you should be a little more conservative with safer picks. These guys may be able to play but you're walking out on a plank where the water is very cold and very deep.
Miami Dolphins - C+ (2.22)
Sorry Tuna, I don't agree that you had a great draft. After day 1, I had an A on your draft. Jake Long T (1) is a right tackle that I am not sure can play the left. Phillip Merling (32) was a value but not my favorite DE. I loved the value and ability of Chad Henne Q (57). Then came day 2.
I personally love Kendall Langford DE (66) but he was a full round early. All the of the choices were decent players but taken significantly before they needed to be except for Donald Thomas G (195) who was the only value pick in day 2. 2 point bonus for signing UDFA WR Davone Bess.
Minnesota Vikings - C+ (2.44)
They traded a pack of picks to Kansas City for DE Jared Allen. He is a very good player but because Allen is one violation away from a year long suspension by the league, this is a dangerous move. Their over all grade has been hurt by the number of picks they gave up. All of their 6 remaining picks were good players and reasonable values except Jaymar Johnson W (193) who was rated in the 400's. They did pick up a nice undrafted free agent in J. Leman IB.
New England Patriots - C (2.20)
The Pats lost their own 1 st round choice (31 st) and should have lost the 7th pick in the draft as well. As usual, they traded down from 7 to 10 to pick up choices then took Jerod Mayo IB (10). The majority of their picks were average value choices for average value players except for Mathew Slater W (153) who was a major reach. Slater has good bloodlines. His Dad was Jackie Slater the Hall of Fame tackle.
New York Giants - C (2.14)
Kenny Phillips S (31) was a need but not the best S on the board. Bryan Kehl OB (123) and Andre' Woodson Q (198) were values. The other choices were reaches that would have been available later with one exception. Mario Manningham W (95) fell from the early 2nd round because he lied to the NFL teams that he interview with at the combine. He told them he had never tried drugs and it was later discovered that he had.
New York Jets - C- (1.67)
The only phrase that describes what the Jets did is even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Even the best pass rushing OB falling in their lap could not save the Jets draft. When Vernon Gholston OB (6) was announced, they cheered. This is the only good weekend the average Jet fan get all year, particularly the way they played last year. No wonder the Jets fans at the draft are often upset. They got credit for Erik Ainge Q (162) but frankly he was over rated by most experts. Dustin Keller TE (30) was taken about where you would expect but he won't block a lick. They did sign UDFA Danny Woodhead RB who lead the nation in rushing at Chadron State (Neb.). 2 bonus points.
New Orleans Saints - B (3.17)
The Saints got very good value with each pick except the kicker. They traded up to get Sedrick Ellis DT (7) who was my top rated DT. They also got very good value from De Mario Pressley DL (144), Carl Nicks OT (164), Adrian Arrington W (237). The rest of their picks were fair value except for Taylor Mehlhan K (178) who was a terrible reach.
Oakland Raiders - D (1.43)
The only first day pick of the Raiders was Darren McFadden RB (4). Not only do I believe that DMF falls too easily, I wonder how many running backs you need. They just signed RB Justin Fargas to a 12 million dollar/4 year free agent deal, and have RB LaMont Jordan to whom they paid 7 million in signing bonus when they got him from the Jets in 2005, RB Dominic Rhodes (signed as a free agent in 06 from Indy) who made 1.7 million in 2007, and Michael Bush on injured reserve that they drafted in the 4 th round last year. For a lack of need they get half credit. They traded a couple of middle round choices for DeAngelo Hall CB from Atlanta and received 4 bonus points. The only full credit choice was Tyvon Branch CB (100).
Philadelphia Eagles - C (2.30)
What the Eagles did right was trade down to get extra choices. What they did wrong was to waste some of them by over drafting players. Trevor Laws DT (47) is one of my favorite players. He has a non-stop motor and kept his head up and provided leadership during a tough season at ND. Desean Jackson KR (49) will be a specialty player. At most he will get 8-10 touches a game. He will never survive as a WR at his size and weight. Mike Gibson T (184) and King Dunlap T (230) were both need picks and good values. Jack Ikegwuonu CB (131) would have been a 1 st round player in 06 but fell because of an injury and less than exciting 2007 season. The other three picks were wasted.
Pittsburgh Steelers - C (2.14)
The Steelers did ok early but fell off late in the draft. But their biggest need was on the O-Line and they did little to fix it. Rashard Mendenhall RB (23) was a great value to backup Willie Parker. Mendi has power and speed. Limas Sweed W (53) was a value as well. He is big and will help. Tony Hills T (130) was over drafted and not a value. Dennis Dixon QB (156) will recover and replace a couple of journeymen QB backups. He is also an athlete that can be a “slash” like Stewart was. Mike Humpal OB (188) was a decent value and can play.
San Diego Chargers - D+ (1.50)
The Chargers didn't need much and based on what they did, it was a good thing. Antoine Cason CB (27) is good but was taken a round too early. I love the choice of Jacob Hester F (69) but he was taken two rounds early. Hester can fill in at tailback and will compete with Andrew Pinnock to replace Lorenzo Neal at FB. They traded a choice for Chris Chambers which was a steal and got them a 4 point bonus. The rest was nothing special. The Chargers should have picked another tackle because Corey Clark T (234) was an average player on a below average Texas A&M line.
San Francisco 49ers - B (2.83)
The 49ers did well in the draft. Kentwan Balmer DT (29) is not my favorite NT but can take up a couple of blockers and stuff the run. Chilo Rachal G (39) was a little high but can play. Reggie Smith CB/S (75) can play both positions effectively and was a very solid value. Cody Wallace C/G (107) was picked 100 choices early but is an ok player. Josh Morgan W (174) fell due to character issues but was a very good value if he shapes up. Larry Grant OB (214) will be a special teams star. He blocked 6 kicks in JUCO. The 49ers got extra credit for UDFA Gary Guyton OB.
Seattle Seahwaks - C (2.29)
Lawrence Jackson DE (28) and John Carlson TE (38) are values and will start. Joseph "Red" Bryant DT (121) probably got his nickname from the color of the face of his coach yelling at him to give more effort. Owen Schmitt F (163) is a very good player that was drafted 2 rounds early. Tyler Schmitt S (189) was a name pulled out of a hat. Justin Forsett RB (233) was a value but they just signed 2 UFA backs—T. J. Duckett for $17M/5 yrs and Julius Jones for $12M/4 yr. Also, you never even use a 7th choice to draft a kicker particularly when you signed PK Olindo Mare for $3.5M/2 y.
St. Louis Rams - C- (1.50)
The Rams needed to either get a lot better on the O-Line or invest in a hospital to help their QBs rehab from injury. Before the draft they signed G Jacob Bell to a $36M/6 yrs contract. They must like him a lot more than I do. The did draft 2 offensive linemen John Greco G/T (65) and Roy Schuening G (157). I really like Schuening and he was an excellent value. Greco claims he can play tackle but will fit better at guard and was a 1 round reach to boot. Their first choice, Chris Long DE (2) was a value but they reached for Donnie Avery W (33), and Keenan Burton W (128). Justin King CB (101) was a great value but the Rams must have fallen asleep with their last two choices of linebackers Chris Chamberlain (228) and David Vobora (252) because both were long reaches.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - A- (3.38)
QB's are stacking up at Tampa like planes over O'Hare. They had 4 on the roster from last year but traded for QB Brian Griese (Chicago) and yet drafted Josh Johnson QB (160). Johnson was a value pick and can develop into a Randal Cunningham type signal caller but it will take time. Otherwise as the grade indicates, the Bucs did very well. Aqib Talib CB (20) is excellent and experienced but has some character issues. Jeremy Zuttah G/T (83) is one of the fastest linemen in the draft and a very good value. Dre Moore DT (115) has the ability to be the steal of the draft and was a great value pick.
Geno Hayes OB (175) and Cory Boyd RB (238) can both play and were values. I awarded some extra credit for the Griese trade and UDFA Jonathan Hefney CB. The only pick I had a problem with was Dexter Jackson W (58). He is a very fast player that you will have to scheme to get the ball to because at 169 lbs (his combine weight) he is too light to survive as an NFL receiver.
Tennessee Titans - C (2.38)
The Titans got some extra credit for stealing CB/S Chris Carr (RFA) from the Raiders and signing TE Alge Crumpler (FA), DE Jevon Kearse (FA), WR Justin McCareins (FA), and OG Jake Scott (UFA) prior to the draft. Those took care of their major needs and then they traded suspended Adam Jones CB to the Cowboys for an extra choice. Chris Johnson RB (24) was drafted a little high but fills the change of pace back, kick return and slot receiver positions. Jason Jones DE (54) and Craig Stevens TE (85) should contribute and were value picks. The other picks were just average.
Washington Redskins - D (1.33)
What? The Redskins are drafting rather than trading their picks away? Yes, but being new at drafting players, they didn't get maximum value for them. They traded out of the 1-21 pick to the second round and picked up Devin Thomas WR (34) the one year wonder at Michigan State which was a value at that point. Fred Davis TE (48) and Malcolm Kelly (51) were values and will contribute. All of the rest of the choices were over picked and they missed higher rated players that could have done more to strengthen the team in a very competitive conference. Durant Brooks P (168) was a value pick but they got no love for drafting a punter. They did get extra credit for signing UDFA Kerry Brown G.
By Bill Smith
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