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Grading the NFL Draft – Part II – The AFC

Grading the NFL Draft – Part II – The AFC

AFC EAST

Buffalo
1 – Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal (5-11, 217)
2 – Paul Posluzsny, OLB, Penn State (6-1, 237)
3 – Trent Edwards, QB, Stanford (6-3, 222)
4 – Dwayne Wright, RB, Fresno State (5-11, 226)
6 – John Wendling, S, Wyoming (6-1, 222)
7 – Derek Schouman, TE, Boise State (6-2, 247)
7 – C.J. Ah You, DE, Oklahoma (6-4, 274)

Analysis: The Bills filled their two most prominent needs with their first two picks, selecting a pair of players in Lynch and Posluzsny who will be immediate starters. Lynch may have been a slight reach at No. 12, but as the second-best running back in the draft, was tough to pass up. Buffalo got better value in selecting Posluszny, who many had pegged as a first-rounder. Edwards was believed to be among the top quarterbacking talents available, and chances are very good that he’ll end up starting games as a Bill, though an offensive lineman or wideout might have worked better with this pick. Wright could find a role as a third-down back, but the other second-day picks were hit-or-miss. The biggest name there was that of Ah You, who was kicked off of the team at BYU for honor code violations (including a fistfight with starting quarterback Brett Engelmann) and resurfaced as a Sooner.

Bottom Line: Definitely got better, but did not address every need.

Grade: B

Miami
1 – Ted Ginn, Jr., WR/KR, Ohio State (6-0, 180)
2 – John Beck, QB, Brigham Young (6-2, 216)
2 – Samson Satele, C, Hawaii (6-2, 311)
3 – Lorenzo Booker, RB, Florida State (5-10, 193)
4 – Paul Soliai, DT, Utah (6-4, 334)
6 – Reagan Mauia, RB, Hawaii (6-0, 280)
6 – Drew Mormino, C, Central Michigan (6-3, 299)
7 – Kelvin Smith, LB, Syracuse (6-2, 234)
7 – Brandon Fields, P/K, Michigan State (6-5, 239)
7 – Abraham Wright, DE/OLB, Colorado (6-2, 242)

Analysis: The honeymoon between Dolphins fans and new head coach Cam Cameron is officially over. Miami passed on Brady Quinn to reach for Ginn, who has a foot sprain suffered in the national title game and is unlikely to be available for the team’s rookie minicamp. The Dolphins were able to snag Beck, who some regarded as the third-best quarterback in the draft behind JaMarcus Russell and Quinn, with their second pick. Satele needs to be an immediate contributor on a team with lingering o-line issues, and Booker could see lots of early touches for an offense that lost Sammy Morris (Patriots) and Travis Minor (Rams) via free agency and is uncertain about prodigal son Ricky Williams. On the second day, the most interesting selections were Mauia, who in college made the highly rare transition from nose tackle to running back, and the linebacker-sized Fields, who has a chance to handle kickoffs.

Bottom Line: Didn’t do enough to address the aging defense, and the Ginn pick, at least at the moment, looks like a major blunder.

Grade: C

New England

1 – Brandon Meriweather, FS, Miami-Florida (5-11, 192)
4 – Kareem Brown, DT, Miami-Florida (6-4, 290)
5 – Clint Oldenburg, T, Colorado State (6-5, 300)
6 – Justin Rogers, DE/OLB, SMU (6-4, 250)
6 – Mike Richardson, CB, Notre Dame (5-10, 191)
6 – Justise Hairston, RB, Central Connecticut (6-0, 222)
6 - Corey Hilliard, OL, Oklahoma State (6-5, 308)
7 – Oscar Lua, LB, USC (6-1, 240)
7 – Mike Elgin, C/G, Iowa (6-3, 279)

Analysis: Nothing that the Patriots did in the draft was as significant as the trade for Randy Moss, which convinced any remaining doubters that New England is the NFL’s team to beat in 2007. Garnering far fewer headlines was the selection of Meriweather, who is Rodney Harrison’s heir apparent at free safety. Brown, who was Miami’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, was a high-value pick who had 11 ½ sacks from his interior position as a senior. New England’s seven remaining picks look like special teams/practice squad material, though don’t be surprised if Richardson ends up helping out early in a secondary that has perennial injury problems.

Bottom Line: Found a couple of potential impact players on defense, but the move for Moss highlighted the weekend’s festivities.

Grade: B-

N.Y. Jets
1 – Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh (6-0, 197)
2 – David Harris, ILB, Michigan (6-2, 239)
6 – Jacob Bender, T, Nicholls State (6-6, 316)
7 – Chansi Stuckey, WR, Clemson (5-11, 197)

Analysis: Eric Mangini obviously had particular affection for Revis, who he traded up to get rather than reaching for a slightly less talented player like Chris Houston or Eric Wright at No. 25. The Jets will need Revis to be an impact player right away, and the same goes for Harris, who is seen as an ideal fit at the heart of the Jets’ 3-4 defense. The trades for Revis and Thomas Jones wiped out the team’s chance to grab another potential starter, though Stuckey could have an opportunity to get on the field for team with depth issues at receiver. With only four selections, New York was unable to add a decent pass-rusher or a pass-catching tight end, voids that will linger into the 2007 season.

Bottom Line: Improved the defense by adding Revis and Harris, though the gap between them and New England only got wider over the weekend.

Grade: B-

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Re: Grading the NFL Draft – Part II – The AFC

AFC SOUTH

Houston
1 – Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville (6-2, 287)
3 – Jacoby Jones, WR, Lane (6-3, 210)
4 – Fred Barnett, CB, South Carolina (6-1, 195)
5 – Brandon Harrison, SS, Stanford (6-2, 227)
5 – Brandon Frye, T, Virginia Tech (6-4, 301)
6 – Kasey Studdard, G, Texas (6-2, 303)
7 – Zach Diles, LB, Kansas State (6-2, 230)

Analysis: It was a bit of a surprise that the Texans took a defensive lineman first for a third consecutive year, but it’s difficult to argue with the Okoye pick given Houston’s annual problems at stopping the run. What Gary Kubiak’s team missed out on was a potential starter in the secondary, with Barnett and Harrison both projecting as backups at best. And Jones, the team’s only first-day pick other than Okoye, will have a steep learning curve in his transition from the Division II ranks. Elsewhere, Matt Schaub had to be wincing when he saw that his new team failed to take an offensive lineman until the fifth round. To Houston’s credit, it did take a couple of players in Frye and Studdard that have played against their share of top-notch defensive lines. Diles, who few services rated as a draft-worthy player, had to be shocked to hear his name called.

Bottom Line: The second draft of the Kubiak/Rick Smith era produced one stud in Okoye and just a bunch of guys behind him.

Grade: C-

Indianapolis
1 – Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Ohio State (6-0, 195)
2 – Tony Ugoh, G, Arkansas (6-5, 305)
3 – Daymeion Hughes, CB, Cal (5-10, 192)
3 – Quinn Pitcock, DT, Ohio State (6-3, 301)
4 – Brannon Condren, FS, Troy (6-1, 208)
4 – Clint Session, OLB, Pittsburgh (6-0, 233)
5 – Roy Hall, WR/TE, Ohio State (6-2, 229)
5 – Michael Coe, DB, Alabama State (6-1, 190)
7 – Keyunta Dawson, OLB/DE, Texas Tech (6-3, 254)

Analysis: Gonzalez might just be the luckiest man alive, as a player that was seen by most as a second- or third-round talent gets first-round money and becomes the No. 3 receiver on a team with perhaps the best quarterback in NFL history. Ugoh was a “best player on the board” pick, a player projected as a first-rounder by some who doesn’t have a natural position in Indy as of yet. Since the Colts rarely spend money on defense via free agency, they will need Hughes, Pitcock, Condren, and Session to progress quickly. The biggest head-scratcher of the Indianapolis draft was the fact that the sketchy d-line was addressed with only one of nine selections. There was also no attention paid to targeting Dominic Rhodes’ replacement as the backup behind Joseph Addai at running back.

Bottom Line: Not that many tears will be shed in Indy, but the Colts weren’t much better on Sunday night than they were on Saturday morning.

Grade: C

Jacksonville
1 – Reggie Nelson, FS, Florida (6-0, 193)
2 – Justin Durant, ILB, Hampton (6-1, 235)
3 – Mike Walker, WR, Central Florida (6-2, 209)
4 – Adam Podlesh, P, Maryland (5-11, 202)
4 – Brian Smith, DE, Missouri (6-3, 239)
5 – Uche Nwaneri, G, Purdue (6-3, 325)
5 – Josh Gattis, S, Wake Forest (6-1, 213)
5 – Derek Landri, DT, Notre Dame (6-2, 288)
7 – John Broussard, WR, San Jose State (6-0, 176)
7 – Chad Nkang, LB, Elon (5-11, 220)
7 – Andrew Carnahan, T, Arizona State (6-7, 306)

Analysis: The Jaguars needed to address the injury problems and age questions regarding Donovin Darius and Mike Peterson, and did so by taking Nelson and Durant with their first two picks. Both have a chance to be special players from the get-go. Walker filled less of a need, and Jacksonville would have been wiser to find a much-needed pass rusher with its final pick of the first day. The only such player they found, Smith, isn’t big enough to be an every-down end and may have to play outside linebacker in the pros. Other strange occurrences included drafting Podlesh in the fourth round, when the Jags could have found a decent punter with one of their three fifth-round or four seventh-round choices, and selecting the likes of Broussard and Nkang, who are major long shots that were probably shocked to be picked.

Bottom Line: A couple of reaches and questionable fits after the first two picks, but those first two selections were gold.

Grade: B-

Tennessee
1 – Michael Griffin, S, Texas (6-0, 195)
2 – Chris Henry, RB, Arizona (6-0, 228)
3 – Paul Williams, WR, Fresno State (6-1, 209)
4 – Leroy Harris, C, North Carolina State (6-2, 298)
4 – Chris Davis, WR, Florida State (5-10, 181)
5 – Antonio Johnson, DL, Mississippi State (6-3, 305)
6 – Joel Filani, WR, Texas Tech (6-2, 211)
6 – Jacob Ford, DE, Central Arkansas (6-4, 249)
6 – Ryan Smith, CB, Florida (5-10, 174)
7 – Mike Otto, OL, Purdue (6-5, 308)

Analysis: Receiver, running back, defensive end, and cornerback were all seen as need areas for the Titans, so what do they do with their first pick? They select Griffin, an in-the-box type of safety who some thought might have been available in the second round. The running back requirement was filled by Henry, who has a dazzling combination of size and speed but was viewed as an underachiever in college. Tennessee went with quantity rather than quality at wide receiver (a draft approach that failed two years ago, but the way), and will need either Williams, Davis, or Filani to stick. Unless the Titans are trying to pass off their second-day picks of Johnson and Ford as filling the need at defensive end, or their selection of Smith as being a potential replacement of Pacman Jones’ spot on the cornerback depth chart, then those holes were left unfilled.

Bottom Line: Griffin and Henry will help, but the Titans once again took on too many projects.

Grade: C-

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Re: Grading the NFL Draft – Part II – The AFC

AFC NORTH

Baltimore
1 – Ben Grubbs, G, Auburn (6-3, 314)
3 – Yamon Figurs, WR/RS, Kansas State (5-11, 174)
4 - Marshall Yanda, G, Iowa (6-4, 304)
4 – Antwan Barnes, OLB, Florida International (6-1, 240)
4 – Le’Ron McClain, FB, Alabama (6-0, 257)
5 – Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State (6-0, 225)
6 – Prescott Burgess, LB, Michigan (6-3, 249)

Analysis: The Ravens may have lucked out in not completing a maneuver to land Brady Quinn, since his presence could have caused some division in a locker room where Steve McNair still commands great respect. The selection of Smith in the fifth-round looks like a great one, since the Heisman winner will have the ability to learn at McNair’s feet for a couple of years while the Ravens have time to assess whether he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. The pick of Grubbs was a prudent one for a team that needs some blockers for Willis McGahee, and the selection of Figurs pretty much means B.J. Sams is looking for a job. Apart from Smith, the most significant second-day pick was that of McClain, who should be the starter at fullback following the free agent defection of Ovie Mughelli. Elsewhere, the team will hope that Barnes and/or Burgess can develop into potential starters in a linebacking corps undergoing a transition.

Bottom Line: The Ravens’ past draft success makes any criticism of them difficult, but the fact that no definite impact players were added to the aging defense raises some questions.

Grade: B-

---

Cincinnati
1 – Leon Hall, CB, Michigan (5-11, 193)
2 – Kenny Irons, RB, Auburn (5-11, 195)
4 – Marvin White, FS, Texas Christian (6-1, 199)
5 – Jeff Rowe, QB, Nevada (6-5, 226)
6 – Matt Toeaina, DL, Oregon (6-2, 301)
7 – Dan Santucci, G, Notre Dame (6-3, 301)
7 – Chinedum Ndukwe, S, Notre Dame (6-2, 206)

Analysis: Hall was viewed as the best cornerback in the draft by some experts, and he and 2006 first-round pick Johnathan Joseph could eventually form one of the top CB tandems in the league. Irons is an intriguing talent, but filled less of a need for a team with Rudi Johnson, Kenny Watson, and former first-round pick Chris Perry still on the roster. The Bengals might have done better to choose an outside linebacker or a pass-catcher in this spot, or in any spot for that matter. White was a beneath-the-radar pick who could end up being the steal of the fourth round, if he gets a chance to play. Rowe is big and has a strong arm, but played exclusively in the shotgun in college and is a major project.

Bottom Line: Two highest-impact players are both members of the secondary, which means other need areas of the team went begging.

Grade: C

Cleveland
1 – Joe Thomas, T, Wisconsin (6-6, 313)
1 – Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame (6-3, 226)
2 – Eric Wright, CB, UNLV (5-11, 190)
5 – Brandon McDonald, CB, Memphis (5-11, 181)
6 – Melila Purcell, DE, Hawaii (6-5, 280)
7 – Chase Pittman, DE, LSU (6-5, 270)
7 – Syndric Steptoe, WR/RS, Arizona (5-9, 194)

Analysis: Thomas and Quinn will be staples of the Cleveland offense for years to come, though Romeo Crennel has to be quietly sweating over whether either will develop quickly enough for him to coach them beyond their rookie seasons. Wright is not a can’t-miss corner and had some off-the-field problems in college, but his selection made sense for a team with secondary needs. Of the second-day selections, Crennel and his staff will need McDonald and Pittman to contribute more quickly than the others. And Jamal Lewis has to be smiling over the fact that the Browns selected neither Adrian Peterson nor any other running back, though Cleveland fans should not be.

Bottom Line: Thomas and Quinn won’t turn this team around immediately, but things look good for Cleveland two or three years down the road.

Grade: B+

Pittsburgh
1 – Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Florida State (6-3, 232)
2 – LaMarr Woodley, DE/OLB, Michigan (6-2, 269)
3 – Matt Spaeth, TE, Minnesota (6-7, 267)
4 – Daniel Sepulveda, P, Baylor (6-3, 229)
4 – Ryan McBean, DE, Oklahoma State (6-5, 290)
5 – Cameron Stephenson, G, Rutgers (6-3, 306)
5 – William Gay, CB, Louisville (5-10, 187)
7 – Dallas Baker, WR, Florida (6-3, 208)

Analysis: Providing further evidence that they’ll stick with Dick LeBeau’s zone-blitz scheme over Mike Tomlin’s Tampa-2, the Steelers used their first two picks on edge pass rushers. With Joey Porter now a Dolphin, much will be expected from both players right away. The next two picks filled less of a need, as Spaeth will have trouble getting on the field with Heath Miller, and Sepulveda, well, he’s a punter. Interesting that a team that saw center Jeff Hartings retire and Alan Faneca openly lament his contract status took just one offensive lineman, Stephenson, on the second day. Also, a club that has had some well-publicized secondary struggles managed a single selection in that area.

Bottom Line: First two picks made sense, the others raised more questions than they answered.

Grade: B-

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AFC WEST

Denver
1 – Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida (6-6, 251)
2 – Tim Crowder, DE, Texas (6-4, 271)
3 – Ryan Harris, T, Notre Dame (6-5, 299)
4 – Marcus Thomas, DT, Florida (6-3, 296)

Analysis: The Broncos shocked no one by selecting Moss with their first pick, and reinforced their need for pass-rushing help by using their second selection on Crowder. Harris has a chance to be a good player, though by taking him on the first day, Denver went against its usual approach of uncovering diamonds in the rough to contribute up front. Thomas has a sketchy off-the-field history, but could become a major talent if Mike Shanahan can keep his head on straight. The biggest need area that went unfilled was at linebacker, where the team is apparently content to let D.J. Williams slide to the middle to take over for the recently-released Al Wilson.

Bottom Line: Paid attention to most of their needs, but with only four selections, couldn’t attend to all of them.

Grade: B

Kansas City
1 – Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU (6-2, 217)
2 – Turk McBride, DT, Tennessee (6-4, 276)
3 – Tank Tyler, DT, North Carolina State (6-2, 323)
5 - Kolby Smith, RB, Louisville (5-11, 215)
5 – Justin Medlock, K, UCLA (6-0, 201)
6 – Herb Taylor, T, TCU (6-4, 296)
7 – Michael Allan, TE, Whitworth (WA) (6-6, 251)

Analysis: The Chiefs have long lacked a bona fide No. 1 receiver, so the selection of Bowe made plenty of sense. Kansas City fans are hoping he doesn’t become the next Sylvester Morris. Herm Edwards and GM Carl Peterson sent a message by taking interior d-linemen with their next two picks, but in doing so, failed to address the aging and generally suspect nature of the secondary. The two fifth-round picks were both reaches, as Smith doesn’t have a natural role on this team and Medlock was believed by most scouts to be a notch below Mason Crosby, who went to Green Bay in the sixth round. Taylor, the sixth-round pick, is pretty much an unknown. Allan may have been a steal in the seventh-round, as some considered the Division III product to be among the top five tight ends in the draft. He won’t be the next Tony Gonzalez, but has a chance to contribute.

Bottom Line: Not too much offensive line or secondary help, which were both significant need areas.

Grade: C

Oakland
1 – JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU (6-6, 263)
2 – Zach Miller, TE, Arizona State (6-5, 259)
3 – Quentin Moses, DE, Georgia (6-5, 249)
3 – Mario Henderson, T, Florida State (6-6, 302)
3 – Johnnie Lee Higgins, WR, UTEP (5-11, 184)
4 – Michael Bush, RB, Louisville (6-3, 253)
4 – John Bowie, CB, Cincinnati (5-10, 187)
5 – Jay Richardson, DE, Ohio State (6-5, 276)
5 – Eric Frampton, S, Washington State (5-11, 204)
6 – Oren O’Neal, FB, Arkansas State (6-0, 244)
7 – Jonathan Holland, WR, Louisiana Tech (6-0, 191)

Analysis: The Raiders did what they had to do in picking Russell, now the trick for Al Davis will be getting him signed. Miller was viewed by most as the second-best tight end in the draft behind Greg Olsen, but Oakland has struck out on tight ends before (see Teyo Johnson). Henderson could contribute immediately to the team’s work-in-progress line, but Higgins, the other third-round choice, projects as more of a backup. Bush was among the steals of the second day, and will be able to find his footing (literally and figuratively) for a year behind LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes. The rest of the second day was about depth, and Oakland will need a couple of its risky picks to surprise early.

Bottom Line: Not a lot to criticize in Lane Kiffin’s first draft, and Russell has a chance to be an elite NFL player.

Grade: A-

San Diego
1 – Craig Davis, WR, LSU (6-1, 207)
2 – Eric Weddle, SS, Utah (5-11, 200)
3 – Anthony Waters, ILB, Clemson (6-3, 245)
4 – Scott Chandler, TE, Iowa (6-7, 257)
5 – Legedu Naanee, WR, Boise State (6-2, 225)
7 – Brandon Siler, LB, Florida (6-2, 241)

Analysis: The first draft of the Norv Turner era in San Diego was a strange one. The Chargers passed up the likes of Dwayne Jarett and Sidney Rice to make Davis a surprise first-round pick. Davis scored just seven touchdowns in his college career, and that was with JaMarcus Russell doing the throwing and fellow first-round pick Dwayne Bowe on the other side of the field. The Bolts then traded multiple picks to move up and select Weddle, who might not have been worth the price tag but adds some life to an average secondary. Waters has a chance to play immediately at inside linebacker, but he’ll get a major challenge from Siler, who was seen by many as possessing first-day talent but almost fell out of the draft entirely. Chandler is an intriguing pick because of his size, but needs some work before he gets on the field.

Bottom Line: Could have done better than a possession receiver with their first pick, and probably over-extended themselves in acquiring Weddle as well.

Grade: C+

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