Texans, Titans did little to address needs on offense
Texans, Titans did little to address needs on offense
Texans, Titans did little to address needs on offenseBy Mel Kiper Jr.
Special to ESPN.com
NEW YORK -- What teams made the trip to New York City worth their while? What teams have offseason needs that still need to be addressed? Now that the 2007 NFL draft is over, it's time to evaluate what each team accomplished, from picks to trades, the past two days.
Arizona Cardinals: GRADE: B-
Once Joe Thomas was gone, the Cardinals had to make a decision whether to take Adrian Peterson or Levi Brown. Peterson would have been a luxury pick, which they couldn't afford to do, and Brown fills a hole. Arizona must improve its offensive line. There were quite a few teams that didn't think there was a lot that separated Brown from Thomas. Brown has a nasty streak and can play either tackle position. For the second straight year, Arizona took an underachieving defensive tackle from Michigan. Alan Branch has great physical skills but was an underachiever. He will either be a boom or a bust. Linebacker Buster Davis was a decent third-round pick, and Steve Breaston was a really nice choice in the fifth round because of his return skills and should pay dividends in the return game. Tight end Ben Patrick is a potential steal in the seventh round. He needs to work on his concentration and catching the ball, but Patrick could have gone in the third round and no one would have argued.
Atlanta Falcons: GRADE: B
Defensive end Jamaal Anderson was really the only option with Joe Thomas and Levi Brown gone. Plus, Anderson fills a need on defense. Justin Blalock is a big body up front and can play either guard or tackle. Cornerback Chris Houston would have been a risky pick in the in first round, but he presents good value in the second round. WR Laurent Robinson has a lot of talent, but is raw and needs to show he can make the tough catch in traffic. I thought taking him in the third round was a little high, but he does have ability. I really liked what Atlanta did Sunday. Stephen Nicholas has a very good shot to be a productive linebacker. I also liked the pick of TE Martrez Milner in the fourth round. He needs to work on his pass-catching skills, but he is a very good blocker. David Irons, at best, is a reserve defensive back; center Doug Datish could have gone in the third round, and he will provide some versatility, and Daren Stone is a developmental safety and special-teams player.
Baltimore Ravens: GRADE: B
Ben Grubbs is a great pick and pure guard. Yamon Figurs has speed to burn and will be the returner the Ravens need with B.J. Sams coming off an injury and being a free agent after 2007. Grubbs will start right away, and Marshal Yanda possibly also could start at guard or right tackle. Antwan Barnes is a typical hybrid combination between a defensive end and outside linebacker. Le'Ron McClain was the best pure fullback in the draft. Not only does he fill a need, but he could start since the Ravens lost Ovie Mughelli in free agency. This was a good organization for Troy Smith to go to as a developmental quarterback. He also could push Kyle Boller, who will be a free agent after 2007. Prescott Burgess had a nice career at Michigan, and getting him in the sixth round is a nice move because Burgess should have a solid NFL career.
Buffalo Bills: GRADE: B
The Bills had no choice but to go after Marshawn Lynch with the loss of Willis McGahee. Paul Posluszny could be a middle linebacker or OLB, making up for the loss of London Fletcher. Running back Dwayne Wright was a very good fourth-round pick if he can stay healthy. Down the road, Trent Edwards could give J.P. Losman some competition. And if Edwards develops in two or three years, the Bills could trade him, similar to what Atlanta did with Matt Schaub. John Wendling is a very athletic safety and was a good sixth-round pick. Derek Schouman is a pass-catching tight end with limited blocking skills.
Carolina Panthers: GRADE: B
I'm not enamored with linebacker Jon Beason, but he has the ability to be a team leader because he has a great attitude. I do like the fact that Carolina traded down to get Beason even though the Panthers were very high on him. The Panthers did a good job in the second round, getting WR Dwayne Jarrett and center Ryan Kalil. I thought Georgia defensive end Charles Johnson was a steal in the third round. Ryne Robinson was one of the better returners in the draft; Dante Rosario is a backup tight end; Tim Shaw, at worst, is a backup linebacker, and C.J. Wilson could be a decent backup cornerback.
Chicago Bears: GRADE: B
The Bears didn't expect Greg Olsen to be available that late in the first round; he'll give Rex Grossman a solid pass-catching tight end. Defensive end Dan Bazuin is perfect for the Bears' scheme. Garrett Wolfe showed he could catch the ball during his workouts and has the potential to be a good returner even though he wasn't asked to return kicks in college. Wolfe will be a good change-of-pace running back and potentially could be a very valuable part of this organization. Michael Okwo is undersized for a linebacker, but he runs well and is a smart player. In the fourth round, Chicago got really good value in Josh Beekman. He can play center but will be a guard on this offensive line. Kevin Payne is a versatile safety who makes plays and was a good fifth-round pick; Corey Graham will fight for a roster spot at cornerback and on special teams. Cornerback Trumaine McBride is a marginal prospect.
Cincinnati Bengals: GRADE: C+
Picking Michigan CB Leon Hall without having to trade up to get him turned out to be very good value for the Bengals. Running back Kenny Irons could have been a first-round pick but couldn't stay healthy his senior season at Auburn. Safety Marvin White was not a bad fourth-round pick; Jeff Rowe was a system quarterback at Nevada, and I didn't like this pick because there were better quarterbacks still on the board; Matt Toeaina is a good fit for Cincy's defensive line because he can play defensive end or tackle. Hall was a very good pick, but the Bengals did not do much else to improve on defense.
Cleveland Browns: GRADE: B+
The Browns were going to use the third overall pick on Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas or Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn. At the end of the day, the Browns came away with both players. From a pure talent standpoint, getting CB Eric Wright in the second round is good value. Wright had first-round talent -- you could argue he's better than Leon Hall and Darrelle Revis -- but slid because of character issues. Cornerback Brandon McDonald played under the radar at Memphis; and Melila Purcell has the skills to be a pass-rushing specialist. DT Chase Pittman will be a hardworking backup. The Browns did, however, give up a lot of picks in this draft.
Dallas Cowboys: GRADE: B
Purdue's Anthony Spencer -- who I think has a chance to be the rookie of the year -- gives Dallas a great pass-rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware. James Marten provides good security behind tackle Flozell Adams, who will be a free agent after next season. Isaiah Stanback will move from QB to wide receiver, and I really liked the pick of tackle Doug Free in the fourth round because he has a lot of talent. Dallas took place-kicker Nick Folk when Mason Crosby was still on the board; Deon Anderson will be an excellent lead blocker at fullback, and Courtney Brown has the necessary skills to be a developmental cornerback.
Denver Broncos: GRADE: B-
The Broncos tried to strengthen the defensive line, starting with Jarvis Moss in the first round. In the Broncos' system, he has a chance to get 10-12 sacks next season. Tim Crowder, if he can be more consistent, has a chance to be really good. Denver rolled the dice on former Florida DT Marcus Thomas. No question about his talent -- he spent a lot of time this year on my Big Board -- but character issues caused him to drop. If he stays focused, Denver got a steal in the fourth round. Offensive tackle Ryan Harris had a first-round grade in August, but his stock dropped and Denver grabbed him in the third round.
Detroit Lions: GRADE: C
It would have been tough to pass on Calvin Johnson, the best prospect in the draft. Drew Stanton will be measured against Brady Quinn because the Lions could have taken the Notre Dame QB. Stanton could be a decent starter, but he does not have a lot of upside. Ikaika Alma-Francis is a very good, but very raw, defensive end. Alma-Francis has a lot of talent and potential, and a lot of teams had a high opinion of him. Safety Gerald Alexander was a reach in the second round; A.J. Davis could be a good nickel or dime cornerback; Manuel Ramirez was a nice fourth-round pick who will be a starting guard in the NFL; and Johnny Baldwin was a good small-school linebacker at Alabama A&M who will be a good backup and special-teams player.
Green Bay Packers: GRADE: C+
Defensive tackle Justin Harrell didn't fill need, but the Packers chose the best available player over need. Harrell was hurt most of his senior season, but that didn't hurt his stock much. RB Brandon Jackson, if he can build on his strong finish to 2006, has a chance to be Green Bay's starting running back. James Jones was a decent third-round pick, a good wide receiver with natural receiving skills; safety Aaron Rouse is just an OK third-round pick; offensive tackle Allen Barbre is a bit overrated because he doesn't play as well as he tested during workouts. WR David Clowney has a lot of speed, and inside linebackers Korey Hall and Desmond Bishop should make it in the NFL as backups. Place-kicker Mason Crosby was a really good find in the sixth round. He has a great leg and has kicked in all kinds of weather playing at Colorado and in the Big 12. Crosby is not a product of the altitude in Colorado. I also liked the Packers' seventh-round picks: RB Deshawn Wynn from Florida and Rutgers tight end Clark Harris.
Houston Texans: GRADE: C-
The Texans took defensive tackle Travis Johnson in 2005, and he hasn't played up to his potential. They took DT Amobi Okoye when they should have been looking at a cornerback such as Leon Hall or Darrelle Revis. Also, they didn't do much to help new QB Matt Schaub on offense. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones played at Lane College, and tackle Brandon Frye and guard Kasey Studdard look more like backups than starters. This turned out to be a typical Houston draft. The Texans didn't help David Carr when he was their QB, and they didn't do much to help Schaub. Cornerback Fred Bennett was a good pick in the fourth round, and I really like linebacker Zach Diles. He had two productive years at Kansas State and might have flown under some teams' radar. Getting Diles in the seventh round was a good move.
Indianapolis Colts: GRADE: B-
The Texans should take a page from the Colts. They win the Super Bowl and what do they do in the first round? Give Peyton Manning another weapon on offense by taking WR Anthony Gonzalez. This was a great pick, replacing Brandon Stokley in the Colts' arsenal. Tony Ugoh could be the heir apparent to Tarik Glenn at left tackle, and I really like wide receiver Roy Hall, Gonzalez's teammate at Ohio State. On defense, Daymeion Hughes doesn't have great speed, but in the Colts' scheme, he could excel. Defensive end Quinn Pitcock is a tough, hard-nosed player who gets the job done; safety Brannon Condren was a bit of a reach in the fourth round, and fifth-round pick Michael Coe has the chance to be a good developmental cornerback.
Jacksonville Jaguars: GRADE: C
The Jaguars needed a playmaking safety. They not only got Florida's Reggie Nelson but traded down and still got the player they wanted in addition to draft picks. Linebacker Justin Durant (second round) went a little early, but I know Jacksonville really liked him. Wide receiver Mike Walker (third) also went earlier than I expected, but he does have a nice combination of size and speed. Not only do I like punter Adam Podlesh's strong leg, but he runs a 4.45 40 time, which will force defenses to always be thinking about a fake punt. Linebacker Brian Smith has some pass-rush abilities, but I also thought he would go later than the fourth round. Uche Nwaneri as a guard or center made sense in the fifth round. Josh Gattis is an intriguing safety because he had a good 2006 at Wake Forest only to lose that momentum in the months leading up to the draft. Still, Gattis has a chance to be a decent player.
Kansas City Chiefs: GRADE: C
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is a good player, and he filled a need for the Chiefs. Kansas City used its next two picks on defensive tackles: Turk McBride is versatile, and Tank Tyler needs to build on his strong senior season. Kolby Smith is a serviceable running back; Justin Medlock is a good place-kicker, but I would have taken Mason Crosby.
Miami Dolphins: GRADE: C
Passing on Brady Quinn was ridiculous. Ted Ginn is a good player, will help Miami in the return game and fills a need. Still, they had Quinn staring them in the face, and they weren't going to have to trade up to get him. The Dolphins were fortunate that QB John Beck was still available in the second round and they were able to salvage their quarterback situation. Samson Satele is a good center, but he might have to play guard because Miami already has Rex Hadnot. Lorenzo Booker could be a really good third-down back. Paul Soliai was a very good pick in the fourth round and could see a lot of playing time in 2007. Drew Mormino made sense as a backup center; Kelvin Smith has a chance to be a starting linebacker someday; and Brandon Fields has a strong leg but is inconsistent.
Minnesota Vikings: GRADE: B+
Vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman had an outstanding weekend. Somebody had to fall to the Vikings in the first round, and with Adrian Peterson, they got a potential franchise running back to go along with Chester Taylor. Sidney Rice -- who could have been a top-15 pick if he had returned for his senior season -- is a great value pick in the second round. If cornerback Marcus McCauley plays the way he did as a junior, the Vikings got a great player in the third round. If McCauley plays like he did in 2006, he'll struggle to make the team. Brian Robison is a pass-rushing defensive end and a very good Day 2 selection. Robison also will contribute on special teams. Wide receiver Aundrae Allison spent time on the Big Board in 2006 and was a good pick in the fifth round; Rufus Alexander was a solid sixth-round pick; and Tyler Thigpen is more of a developmental, third-string quarterback.
New England Patriots: GRADE: C-
Brandon Meriweather was the Patriots' only pick on the first day. He will fill a need at safety, fits their scheme and can cover, but Meriweather has to play like he did as an underclassman because he did not have a good senior season. Kareem Brown was an average defensive tackle at Miami who never took his game to the next level. Of the six picks the Pats had in the sixth and seventh rounds, they'll be fortunate if two of them pan out.
New Orleans Saints: GRADE: B-
New Orleans went with Robert Meachem, the best available player on the board. The Saints weren't desperate for a wide receiver, but this was still a good pick. Cornerback Usama Young has a lot of physical talent, but his play at Kent was up and down. Taking Young in the third round could qualify as a reach. Young might have been a reach, but guard Andy Alleman was a quality pick in the third round. Antonio Pittman will give New Orleans more depth at running back; Jermon Bushrod is a quality prospect at left tackle; and David Jones from Wingate was a good sleeper pick. He had 15 career interceptions and was a really good small-college defensive back. Marvin Mitchell will be a backup linebacker.
New York Giants: GRADE: C-
I would have gone differently with the Giants' draft. Cornerback Aaron Ross has very good ball skills but not great catchup speed. I was surprised they didn't take left tackle Joe Staley because they need someone who can protect Eli Manning's blind side. The Giants took offensive tackle Adam Koets in the sixth round and even passed on left tackle Jermon Bushrod. If they had taken Staley, they could have drafted Eric Wright from UNLV instead of WR Steve Smith. I would rather have had Staley and Wright, but Smith is a good receiver and will be someone who holds onto the ball. Zak DeOssie was a really good long snapper in college and, at worst, will be a backup linebacker in the NFL. Kevin Boss (fifth round) is a natural pass-catching tight end with speed and has a chance to make an impact in the passing game. Safety Michael Johnson was a good pick in the seventh round but needs to be more physical.
New York Jets: GRADE: B
it was quality over quantity for the Jets, who drafted only four players. They traded up to get their first two picks, CB Darrelle Revis and linebacker David Harris. I had Harris going in the first half of the first round, so this is a great pickup for the Jets. Jacob Bender has a chance to be a nice developmental prospect at tackle.
Oakland Raiders: GRADE C+
JaMarcus Russell was a no-brainer because he has the chance to be a franchise quarterback. The Raiders have been trying for years to draft a tight end, and they took Zach Miller in the second round. Defensive end Quentin Moses had a first-round grade entering 2006, but he had an average senior season. Personally, I would have taken Moses' teammate Charles Johnson, but Moses does have talent. Left tackle Mario Henderson has tremendous physical ability but needs to put it all together on the field. I really like the picks of Johnnie Lee Higgins and running back Michael Bush. Higgins has very good hands as a wide receiver and also will help out in the return game. As for Bush, if he's healthy, the Raiders got a first-round pick in the fourth round. Jay Richardson was an average defensive end at Ohio State; safety Eric Frampton was a solid fifth-round pick out of Washington State; and Orenthal O'Neal is a good lead blocker for a fullback.
Philadelphia Eagles: GRADE: C-
First, they made a trade with the Cowboys, who used the pick on defensive end Anthony Spencer. Then, the Eagles used the 36th overall pick (their first pick in the draft) on Houston QB Kevin Kolb when QBs Drew Stanton, John Beck and Trent Edwards were all still on the board. I thought Kolb was a reach because he reminds me of Kyle Boller. Defensive end Victor Abiamiri was a good pick in the second round, and linebacker Stewart Bradley was a decent choice in the third round. Running back Tony Hunt was a good third-round pick; C.J. Gaddis, I thought, would have been a priority free agent instead of a fifth-rounder; Brent Celek is an average tight end prospect; and cornerback Rashad Barksdale will battle for roster spot.
Re: Texans, Titans did little to address needs on offense
Pittsburgh Steelers: GRADE: B
For the 3-4 defense, Lawrence Timmons was a good pick in the first round and using their second-round choice on LaMarr Woodley will give the Steelers some versatility in that Woodley could play as a defensive end in four-man fronts. I'm not sure how effective he can be as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but Woodley is a true playmaker on the field. Tight end Matt Spaeth is an excellent blocker and will complement Heath Miller and Jerame Tuman. I liked the fourth-round pick on Daniel Sepulveda, a left-footed punter with a big leg; defensive tackle Ryan McBean has a ton of talent but has to get more consistent; William Gay has a chance to be a good cornerback who can help in nickel or dime packages; and Dallas Baker was a good seventh-round pick because he has good height (6-3) and very long arms.
St. Louis Rams: GRADE: C+
A very good player and a solid first-round pick, Adam Carriker will be used more as a defensive tackle by the Rams. I really like the pick of Brian Leonard in the second round because he gives St. Louis options on offense. He can spell Steven Jackson at running back, play fullback when necessary, and also be used as a move tight end or H-back. Former wide receiver Jonathan Wade is still raw as a cornerback but was a decent third-round pick; center Dustin Fry is an overachiever; and Cliff Ryan should be able to contribute along the defensive line.
San Diego Chargers: GRADE: C
Wide receiver Craig Davis was a slight reach in the first round, but he does fill a major need. The Chargers also gave up a lot to get safety Eric Weddle in the second round; however, like Davis, Weddle fills a major need and was one of smarter and more versatile players in the draft. Anthony Waters is coming off a torn ACL, so if he can play like he did in 2005, he would be a good value pick. Tight end Scott Chandler is a good pass catcher but a marginal blocker, and WR Legedu Naanee has long-range potential.
San Francisco 49ers: GRADE: B+
After the 49ers took a tackling machine in linebacker Patrick Willis with the 11th pick, I liked seeing them move back into the first round (trading for New England's second first-round pick) and get Joe Staley, one of the best offensive tackles in the draft. QB Alex Smith needs someone who's going to protect his blind side, and Staley could do that for years to come. Jason Hill has a lot of speed and was a decent third-round pick. Defensive end Ray McDonald fits Mike Nolan's 3-4 defense; Jay Moore is an intense, hardworking outside linebacker; Dashon Goldson is more of a backup cornerback; Joe Cohen is a backup defensive tackle; cornerback Tarell Brown is a nice cornerback if he stays focused; and running back Thomas Clayton will be a very good backup to Ryan Gore.
Seattle Seahawks: GRADE: C
The Seahawks didn't have a pick in the first round, but they were able to get cornerback Josh Wilson in the second round and he could be a factor in Seattle's secondary in 2007 and also help in the return game. Brandon Mebane will be good rotation defensive tackle. The same goes for Baraka Atkins at defensive end. Mansfield Wrotto (4th round) went a little high for a player I think will be a backup; Will Herring will be a backup linebacker and solid performer on special teams; WR Courtney Taylor does not have a lot of speed but is more of a possession receiver and should make the team as a fourth or fifth wide receiver; and wide receiver Jordan Kent, son of Oregon basketball coach Ernie Kent, also has some ability.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: GRADE: C
The Bucs wanted wide receiver Calvin Johnson, but they weren't willing to give up enough to get the best player in the draft. Gaines Adams is similar to Simeon Rice, but he needs to do a better job against the run. Arron Sears is a versatile guard and was a solid second-round choice. Safety Sabby Piscitelli doesn't play as fast he does in workouts, but in Tampa Bay's defensive structure, there's a chance he could end up starting in 2007. You could argue Quincy Black was the fastest and most athletic linebacker in the draft, but he's not really instinctive. Tanard Jackson is an aggressive cornerback who could move inside to safety; defensive lineman Greg Peterson is a good developmental lineman; linebacker Adam Hayward is a marginal prospect; and offensive tackle Chris Denman is underrated and an overachiever and I like his chances of making the team.
Tennessee Titans: GRADE: C
Vince Young needed help at wide receiver, and the Titans had Robert Meachem staring right at them. Michael Griffin is a nice safety, but he was a luxury pick and the Titans couldn't afford to take a safety when they needed help at other positions. The Titans also needed a running back, but Chris Henry wasn't productive in the Pac-10, so I'm not sold on taking him in the second round. Wide receivers Paul Williams, Chris Davis and Joel Filani are good but not great. Tennessee could have done a better job of helping the offense around Young. Griffin is a tough, hard-hitting safety and will be a great special-teams player.
Washington Redskins: GRADE: C-
Washington had only one pick in the first four rounds and made the most of it, getting LaRon Landry. (You could argue Landry was the best defensive player in the draft). Drafting Landry will allow Sean Taylor to play center field and roam the middle of the field. Landry will be in the box, and that will negate his weakness, which is judging the deep ball. In the fifth round, the Redskins took an average linebacker in Dallas Sartz; linebacker HB Blades was a decent sixth-round pick although a bit undersized; and QB Jordan Palmer never really emerged as a potential starter.