NFL Draft Review: Part 1 (of 8)
by Brett Berliner(NFL)
Posted on May 1, 2006, 3:00 PM
For those who read my draft review last year, I have changed my criteria a little bit. Any draft picks that included in a trade will be factored into the team's overall grade. For example, when I grade the Broncos, I won't ignore the fact they traded their second round pick for Javon Walker. My decision stems from the fact that if a team traded their first round pick for a young, Pro Bowl performer, I believe that is a successful use of their draft picks.
With that said, here's the AFC East division. I chose to turn this into eight seperate columns in an effort to keep the project from being overwhelming.
Round 1, Pick 8: Donte Whitner, SS, Ohio State (5'10", 203 lbs)
Round 1, Pick 26: John McCargo, DT, NC State (6'2", 301 lbs)
Round 3, Pick 70: Ashton Youboty, CB, Ohio State (6'0", 188 lbs)
Round 4, Pick 105: Ko Simpson, FS, South Carolina (6'1", 208 lbs)
Round 5, Pick 134: Kyle Williams, DT, LSU (6'1", 298 lbs)
Round 5, Pick 143: Brad Butler, OT, Virginia (6'7", 309 lbs)
Round 6, Pick 178: Keith Ellison, OLB, Oregon State (6'1", 229 lbs)
Round 7, Pick 216: Terrance Pennington, OT, New Mexico (6'7", 325 lbs)
Round 7, Round 248: Aaron Merz, G, Cal (6'3", 346 lbs)
Best Pick: Ko Simpson, FS, South Carolina. Talk about a steal. When Ko was being considered as a first round pick, I thought that late first would be fine value, and early second he could be a steal. He's raw, but athletic and intelligent, and will make the Bills very happy. Youboty was another huge steal. I think he was a slightly better prospect than Simpson, but not enough to make him quite the eye popping steal. He's strong in run support, and played through an injury that effects the most important body part for a corner - a hip flexor. He didn't play as well as he did in 2004, and should have stayed in school another year, but he was a legit late first, early second prospect. Brad Butler is a player I like. He's not athletically great, nor is he super strong, but he's a solid tackle. If Buffalo decides on an offensive system that is quick and explosive, Butler will be a great right tackle. If they're going to run the ball a lot, he's not the guy to run behind, however. Kyle Williams is a great pick in the 5th. He may never be a starter, but he can provide help in a rotation. He will be a fine backup. Donte Whitner went way too high, but I love the pick. He's got cornerback speed and safety tackling ability, in the mold of Troy Polamalu or Bob Sanders. Should start and excel immediately.
Worst Pick: John McCargo, DT, NC State. First things first, the Bills traded up for a prospect they didn't need to trade up for. To me, that's strike one. In addition, McCargo was injury prone and not that productive at NC State. He played on a line with Manny Lawson and Mario Williams, and his statistics, while decent, aren't as strong as they should be. Every NC State game, McCargo had generally one man blocking him and he didn't beat that guy on a consistent basis. However, it wasn't for lack of effort, and he's shown flashes. I didn't think they needed to trade up to get him, and I wasn't impressed enough to make him a first round pick. Had they stayed in their spot in the second and taken him, I think it would have made more sense. He's athletic and motivated enoguh that he won't be a bust, he just may never live up to his first round status. Whitner, as good as he is, went too high. I could harp on it all day, but I'm sure everyone reading this knows and probably agrees with me here. Still, he'll fit nicely in Buffalo and should start and have impact immediately. I don't know anything about either of their seventh round picks, so I can't judge them there, but they both should provide fine depth. Finally, I wasn't a fan of Keith Ellison coming into the draft, as I think he may be too slow and stiff to start at linebacker, but he's a gamer who will help with depth.
Overall: I had to think outside the box, to evaluate Buffalo's draft. If I was told they picked, in order, Donte Whitner, Ashton Youboty, Ko Simpson and John McCargo, from 1st to 4th round, I would have given them a very high grade, with only minor marks off for taking Whitner too high. As it is, I do have to consider the fact that the Bills could have had a stronger draft, with the positions they picked. If they took Youboty and Simpson where they were picked, and traded down to get Whitner (and maybe even McCargo), that would have been amazing. I think they could have traded down to at least 15, with the Broncos, to grab Whitner, and stayed where they were to pick McCargo, so I'm not entirely satisfied with their draft. They did a nice job recovering after a shaky first round, and their second day was okay, so overall, I think they did fine. But this has got to be one of the oddest drafts I've ever seen in my life. I think Marv Levy is bi-polar. Overall Grade: B
Best Pick: Rodrique Wright, DT, Texas. I'm not a huge Wright fan - he's never bothered to learn proper technique or become greatly conditioned at Texas, but consider this - after the 2003 season, the GBN Report had him as their number one overall player for the 2005 NFL draft. That wasn't based on his production, but rather, his athletic ability. Wright can move very well for a big man, but he doesn't have great conditioning and it keeps him out of most plays. He doesn't use his hands well in pass rushing, and he's not strong enough to be considered a wall, but I can't deny the fact he's a steal in the 7th round. He probably merits a higher pick just on potential - he doesn't seem to have any major character flaws, but he may be lazy. A disciplinarian like Nick Saban could turn him into something special. Their other seventh round picks are two different types of players, but I like them both. While Devin Aromashodu never lived up to his potential at Auburn, he's a fast, tall receiver with great hands. He needs to work on his route running, but should eventually develop into a nice deep threat in Miami. Again, though, like Wright.. does he want it? That scares me with any player. I don't know much about Fred Evans, but he's a great run stopping tackle that can probably play both 3-4 DE and NT, so his versatility is intriguing. I'm not the biggest Derek Hagan fan, but in the third round, he is a fine value. He needs to work on his speed, but if he does, he could be the receiver the Dolphins need across from Chris Chambers.
Worst Pick: Joe Toledo, OT, Washington. I like Toledo's size, athleticism and competitiveness. I didn't think he'd go this early, simply because his size probably means he'll have to play tackle in the NFL, and I'm not sure he can make the conversion. It's not a bad pick, per se, but he's a big question mark, a risk I might not have taken. I was a huge Jason Allen fan, while he was in school, but he went way too high. I know that Nick Saban's defense needs phyiscal, solid tackling corners, but I'm not sure Allen, with his injury prone nature, was skilled enough to be drafted right below Tye Hill. It may have been a reach, but it's tough to say, since the Dolphins have very different criteria for DBs than we do, and Allen seems to fit them. I just worry about him staying healthy in the pros.
Overall: I thought the Dolphins had a very nice sevent round, but their first few picks have some big questions about them. I'll give them some additional credit for the Daunte Culpepper trade, but I don't think they improved their overall talent level enough. Nearly all of their draft picks have major questions. Final Grade: C+
Best Pick: Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota. I was a big fan of Maroney, coming in to last year, and he didn't disappoint. He's the type of back that people always question when they come into the league - he doesn't have top end speed, nor is he a power back, but he runs fast for his size, has great vision and moves, and will pick up yardage in nice chunks. He'll definitely be successful, and Bill Belicheck should love him instantly. I'm not the world's biggest Chad Jackson fan, but I think he makes a lot of sense at 36. In the top 15, I thought he'd be overrated, but early in the second makes more sense. I don't worry about him as much, falling into the Florida receiver trap, because he didn't play in Spurrier's offense. He should turn out to be a very solid receiver next to Deion Branch. Later on, I really liked New England's sixth round. Jeremy Mincey ran well at his pro day, and could easily make the conversion to OLB in the Pats scheme, while Dan Stevenson and Le Kevin Smith are athletically limited, but smart and tough. Smith may need some motivation, but he's got great athletic talent and was worth a sixth round pick.
Worst Pick: David Thomas, TE, Texas. I have seen Thomas play plenty of times, and he never stood out at me. He's not tall enough to be a great red zone prospect, he isn't tough enough to be a great blocker, and he isn't fast enough to stretch defenses. I thought he had some draft value because he has nice hands and is very reliable, but I didn't thinkh e was nearly big or athletic enough to warrant a first day choice. Guys like Thomas come out every year, and while there's a place in the NFL for reliability, it isn't on the first day. I wasn't fond of New England's first three picks on the second day. Garrett Mills is a fine FB prospect, but he's making a move from TE and isn't a great blocker. He may indeed be in the Patrick Pass mold, but I don't think he's a good enough FB prospect to warrant such a high pick. It was smart of New England to address the kicking situation properly, but Gostkowski doesn't have great leg strength, and he wasn't in the position to be as clutch as Adam Vinatieri. He certainly can boot the ball, but I'm not entirely sure he is a sure enough thing to be drafted higher than most kickers. Ryan O'Callaghan may be too big to play guard, but too slow to play tackle in the NFL. He's a big question mark, but others had him rated about at this spot, much higher than I did.
Overall: I liked this draft a lot more than New England's last year. Although they didn't take anybody I thought was an absolute steal, they drafted tough, smart players who fit their system, and attacked their two biggest holes early. This is a solid draft with some players that could easily develop into starters, and two potential impact players who could play very early. Final Grade: B
Best Pick: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia. D'Brick is something that doesn't come along too often - a premier left tackle. Very few tackles rated and drafted this high fail. While you see a few guys like Chris Samuels, who don't turn out to be All-Everything, most of them end up in the Walter Jones/Orlando Pace category. Ferguson isn't going to be perfect from day one, but the only thing he lacks is experience. He'll be helped greatly by the fact that he's joined on the line by the best center in the draft, and the best probably since Damien Woody entered, Nick Mangold. Mangold's ability to pull and get leverage reminds many of former Jets center Kevin Mawae, and stabilizing the line will go a long way to helping the team as they grow. Later on, I liked their pick of Leon Washington, who will provide depth at TB and should be an excellent third down back. I'm not a huge fan of Kellen Clemens, but apparently he impressed teams with his workouts and his interviews, which are big for QBs. I didn't see him play enough, since when I watched Oregon, he was often injured, but bringing in a third QB to fight it out with Chad Pennington and Patrick Ramsey should be good for all three of them. Titus Adams and Jason Pociask were fine values where they were drafted and could easily grow into starters with a lot of hard work.
Worst Pick: Tie: Eric Smith, S, Michigan State and Anthony Schlegel, ILB, Ohio State. I will give Eric Magini credit in that he comes from a system where they place a premium on instincts and intelligence, and these two guys placed at the top of their list because of that, but both players are extremely athletically limited. Smith runs like a linebacker, but isn't particularly big for a safety, and while Schlegel is a classic plugger, he isn't very strong for his size and plays very high. I like both players' ability to provide depth, but I don't see either of them being a long term starter. I have to wonder if New York's need for players lead them to select a few that could play NOW, as opposed to guys they'd need to develop. Either way, I didn't like either of those picks, and I saw a lot of both players. In addition, while it may be the 'cool' thing to do, selecting college QBs and turning them into receivers, I don't think it's going to work in a lot of cases. Brad Smith is not Antwaan Randle El, he's not Matt Jones, nor is he even Josh Cribbs. He doesn't have top end speed or elusiveness, and really, his numbers are about that of a typical fourth round WR prospect. I didn't think he was top end athletically, and while he could turn into a fine player, it's a big risk, especially considering where he was drafted.
Overall: On first glance, I really liked the Jets draft, especially the first round. On further inspection, however, they did some things I'm not particularly fond of, though, on the second day, and the third round was one of the worst in the entire draft. I think next year will be the true test, it appears as if they scouted well early, but weren't quite prepared on the second day. Final Grade: B