It’s hard to give grades for an NFL draft one day after its conclusion. Considering how players can progress and regress, it’s hard to give an accurate evaluation of how a team’s choices will pan out. If given the opportunity in 2006, I would have easily said that the Texans blew the pick on Mario Williams by passing up hometown hero Vince Young and the next Gale Sayers in Reggie Bush. Three years later, Young is riding the bench and Reggie Bush looks more like Reggie “Bust” (at least when compared to the player he was “supposed” to be). It’s a topic that can be debated for years. Either way, I’ll do my best.
Some of the strongest drafts this year came from teams that are pretty consistent in drafting well. The Eagles added players in two major needed areas and picked up two big playmakers that can make an impact almost immediately. WR Jeremy Maclin provides speed and a great target for McNabb to throw to and RB LeSean McCoy will be a great backup for oft-injured Brian Westbrook.
The Patriots had a good day as well. They added a key player in a needed area by adding CB Darius Butler, who some analysts had going late in the first round. The Patriots found a way to get impact players in late rounds without having to spend too much money. New England gets it.
Despite having no first-day picks, the Bears did a good job with late round picks. They added a good target for Cutler in WR Joaquin Iglesias and got some depth on the D-line with DT Jarron Gilbert and DE Henry Melton. They also acquired Cutler this offseason with draft picks, so this draft also landed them a star franchise quarterback.
Many liked the Jets’ draft, because they added Mark Sanchez. Although I like Sanchez and believe he will be a star QB, I don’t like the fact that they drafted so few players and lost even more future draft picks. They made some good offseason moves by adding Bart Scott, Lito Sheppard, and Brian Leonhard, but these pickups came accompanied with a big hit on their pockets. The Jets seem to be attempting to build a team that can win now instead of building for the future like they should.
The Cowboys didn’t really do as well this year as in their past drafts. With 12 picks in the second day, many thought they would own the draft. Few will say that they did. They did acquire a solid player in LB Jason Williams only to follow up by wasting one of their early picks on K David Buehler. Why get a kicker when they already have Nick Folk? The guy kicked 91% last year on FGs. I do like the pick of Stephen McGee as a future backup for Tony Romo, but overall the Cowboys’ draft picks made me scratch my head a little.
And then we reach Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders. Their picks made many people shake their heads and get lost in confusion. They began this circus draft by selecting WR Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick in the draft. They needed WRs badly, but they passed on four WRs selected in the first round and all are better receivers. Many teams would surely give up a good amount to pick seventh overall yet the Raiders decided to use the pick on a probable second round pick.
However, Oakland didn’t stop there. They used their next pick on S Michael Mitchell. There’s no tape on the guy, he wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, and many analysts had Mitchell as a fifth-round pick. Many were left perplexed by this pick.
The draft, along with key offseason moves, will make Philly and New England big contenders in their respective conferences. The Lions also had a good draft day by getting their franchise QB in Matt Stafford and picking up many needs, except for their biggest need in the O-line. The Texans also added many good playmakers on the defensive side, which was very needed. LB Brian Cushing will be an impact player in his rookie year. The Packers had a good day with two solid first-round picks in LB Clay Matthews and DT B.J. Raji. I also like the Dolphins bulking their secondary with CB Vontae Davis and CB Sean Smith, along with adding QB/WR Pat White to their Wildcat offense. Perfect fit.
San Diego made questionable picks by taking many players higher than they should have been taken, like LB Larry English. Many had him as a second-rounder and San Diego got him 16th overall. The Buccaneers also made a questionable pick by trading up two spots to get QB Josh Freeman. The pick alone is suspect as Freeman is solid, but lacks star potential. But what stands out is that they traded ahead of Cleveland and Denver, both of which would not have taken Freeman. So why trade up then? Not only that, but the Buccs didn’t assess other needs that needed to be filled after cutting a lot of starters following the hiring of Raheem Morris.
There were many solid drafts this year and many questionable ones. Only time will tell the real winners and losers of the 2009 NFL Draft.