Best Pick: Demetrius Williams, WR, Oregon. Williams was at times projected as a first round pick. I always felt that was a bit high for him, but he's probably a second round type player. The value of the WR in the draft fell with Santonio Holmes and Chad Jackson dropping, but Williams was probably the third best receiver in the draft. Some question his focus, and I think it's valid, but he won't be called upon to start right away, with Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason already in place, so that's something to work on. PJ Daniels is a strong runner. A guru I respect always has a comment to make about running backs - there are two types of backs that are 5'10" - short backs, and small backs. PJ Daniels is a short back. He actually has great size for his height, and although he'll never develop into a LaDanian Tomlinson type runner, he can help the Ravens. Sam Koch, I thought was a strong punter. Okay, I'm only kidding, I don't really follow PUNTERS, but he can kick the ball far and the Ravens need a punter, so, solid fit. Finally, Derrick Martin and Ryan LaCasse are both boom or bust picks, but they went far lower than their physical gifts should have slotted them, especially considering neither is a character risk.
Worst Pick: Chris Chester, C, Oklahoma. I had Chester around this area (maybe even higher) in my mock draft, but I didn't think he deserved to go this high at all. There's a lot to like about him - he's extremely fast and quick, he's smart and he plays hard, but he lacks the strength right now to keep up with NFL defensive tackles. In a zone blocking scheme like Denver's, or as a player like Kevin Mawae (well, a so-poor-he's-homeless Kevin Mawae), Chester could excel. In Baltimore, however, they have three power backs ('8-Ball' Jamal Lewis, Mike Anderson and now PJ Daniels), and so Chester doesn't seem to fit. I prefer Jason Brown as a prospect to Chester, so I don't know what the Ravens were going for with this pick. Also, I'm backtracking on Haloti Ngata. I was dying for the guy to become a Cleveland Brown, but I had already made my decision on him after watching a few of his sophomore year games. Throughout the broadcast, the analysts constantly questioned him, and it lead me to get a tape of USC/Oregon and Oklahoma/Oregon to evaluate Ngata again. What I saw in his junior year was immensely different - he played high, he took plays off and didn't attack the ball. If the Ngata I saw last year shows up, it's a bad pick, but he can still be an effective player. I tend to think that with the conditioning coaching he'll receive, it will help him stay fresh longer. In addition, in the NFL, players tend to play less in games because of better talent around them, so I tend to think Ngata could be a better NFL player than a better college player. But he's definitely a risk. Dawan Landry is a slow safety who didn't do a whole lot at Georgia Tech, and Quinn Sypniewski is the guy you feel for, the guy who played behind Captain Studly, Joe Klopfenstein, for his career at Colorado. He's a willing blocker (he looks like a mountain man hobo, so I guess he kind of has to be). He could end up being as strong a blocker as recently departed TE Darnell Dinkins, but I don't think anybody expect Sypniewski to even be drafted, so the 5th round is a wee bit high.
Overall: There's a lot of question in the Ravens draft. It's hard to judge ANY draft right after it happens, but they have a lot of boom or bust type players. Their first two picks, for example, could easily turn in to Pro Bowl performers, but they could just as easily bust terribly. Honestly, very few of their picks are guys that provide very little risk, instead, they're players with issues, but great physical gifts. I don't necessarily know how to grade the draft. It could easily turn into an A, it could easily turn into an F.. so I guess it's going to be somewhere in between. Final Grade: C+
Best Pick: Johnathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina. Joseph is a guy who rightfully could have gone much higher. He's one of the fastest DBs in the draft, and he's got decent size for a corner. At South Carolina, he played in one of the nation's best defensive backfields and still stood out. While he's going to need to put on weight to help his press coverage, Joseph will play immediately as the nickel back, and move on to be a strong starter after Tory James relinquishes his spot. I'm not as high on Andrew Whitworth as the Bengals, but he's intelligent, has decent potential and fills a need. He'll never be as good as Willie Anderson at RT, but he's also not going to be the weak link of the line by any means. Well.. if he is, that's going to be a damn fine line. I liked Domata Peko in college as a Spartan. He's athletic enough to be a decent penetrator, and he's strong enough to help the run defense. He needs a lot of work on technique, but he will eventually be a very strong part of a defensive line rotation. I don't know a ton about either of their late day two WR picks, as they were non-existent when I watched both teams play, but it's hard to argue with the Bengals' current regime's ability to pick WRs.
Worst Pick: Frostee Rucker, DE, USC. Rucker is a good player, but he has too many questions to go on the first day. For one, although he's listed at just under 267, that's at least 15 pounds more than he played at while a Trojan. His pass rush ability is undeniable, but he's very poor against the run, even in comparison to other guys his size. He also has multiple character concerns, and I just don't think you can count on him for anything beyond third and long. I wasn't too keen on their pick of AJ Nicholson, either. I know Marvin Lewis is a great coach, but one issue they've had is the guys they select with character concerns seem to come back to bite them. One only needs to look to Chris Henry and Odell Thurman for last year's example. Nicholson has early first day talent.. he's quick for his size and a solid tackler. He'll need work early on reading defenses, but he has the potential to develop into a strong starter, but the baggage is too big to ignore. The early rumor I heard was they're keeping Reggie McNeal at QB, and if there's one QB/WR prospect in the draft that I thought should move to WR, it was him. He looked fantastic in a WR role at the Senior Bowl, he's got soft hands and great speed.
Overall: The Bengals didn't have a spectacular draft, but they added some guys that can help them at positions they could use it (CB, DT) and a guy, in Whitworth, who provides insurance considering most of their line are free agents after this year. I don't necessarily think they had a knockout draft, but it was a solid one. I do penalize them a little bit for the character concerns they were willing to take on. As good as Odell Thurman and Chris Henry are, I do think their issues affected the team, and I worry that Rucker and Nicholson will do the same. Final Grade: B-
Best Pick (Tie): D'Qwell Jackson, LB, Maryland and Babatunde Oshinowo, NT, Stanford. I really love both these picks. For one, it's hard to predict how players will make a transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4, but Stanford and Maryland are half of the schools that regularly play in one (along with, I believe, Virginia and Texas Tech). As a result, these guys have played in a 3-4, and while some adjustment is necessary, they know the system and they project well there. Jackson is a beast, simple and plain. While he isn't quite a classic plugger, he reads and reacts like a veteran and loves to hit. Many consider him undersized for a 3-4 ILB, which he is, but it's hard to doubt his heart. He should start from day one. Babatunde (love that name) was projected as a second or third rounder before draft day. It's not hard to see why he fell - he's strictly a 3-4 NT, and most teams running the 3-4 have their NT, but there's no way he should have dropped this low. He's a player with a lot of heart and aggression, but he doesn't have the physical gifts of Ngata. He's probably the anti-Ngata, in that respect, and he reminds me a lot of Chargers NT Jamal Williams. He won't be expected to start this year, but he's definitely the NT of the future. I'm a little borderline on Kamerion Wimbley. The Browns thought that he'd make a great transition from 4-3 DE to 3-4 LB, and it's possible, considering his game speed and change of direction skills are off the charts for a DE. I don't know enough about him to predict accurately whether he can make the jump, but he'll provide a pass rush that the Browns need immediately, so I like the pick, for the most part, especially considering that #12 turned into Wimbley and Oshinowo. I'm a fan of the Browns third rounder, Travis Wilson. His junior year, catching passes from Jason White, he looked like a star - he had more receiving TDs than future NFL players Mark Clayton and Mark Bradley, even as the 3rd WR, and his size/speed ratio is quite nice. Last year, he had a foot injury, and a terrible passing game, 'lead' by Rhett Bomar. Some services had wilson as the third highest rated receiver, behind Jackson and Holmes, and he's definitely got soft hands and a big body, so he'll help early.
Later on, the Browns did some major damage. Both of their fifth round picks were steals. Harrison doesn't have the speed or bulk to be a superstar, but he's a hard runner with good moves, vision and soft hands. He'll be a fine third down back and a great change of pace. Minter was unanimously projected as a first day pick. He's a solid hitter with good size and speed who can step in immediately and play in a nickel role, and he won't be expected to be more than a dime back in Cleveland, at first. He's a potential starter in a few years. Lawrence Vickers, the fullback from Colorado, is a beast. The Buffs renamed the tailback position 'V-Back' in his honor, and he'll provide great contrast in Cleveland with incumbent Terrelle Smith. Smith is a punishing blocker, but Vickers has great hands, speed and bulk and should be good for a couple of TDs a year and a ton of short yardage carries.
Worst Pick: Leon Williams, LB, Miami. Williams was a big-time recruit at Miami who was never a full-time starter. He's been known as an underachiever, a coach-killer and a bust. No doubt, he has all the physical tools (sub 4.5 40, 250 lbs), but his mental makeup just isn't quite there. The Browns REALLY needed ILB help, and he won't be expected to provide anything but depth, but he doesn't have a great attitude and may have been a reach. Their other 4th round pick, Isaac Sowells, could develop into a solid guard, but he also may have been a reach. He's not known for his aggression, something makes a good offensive lineman a great one.
Overall: I admit to being biased, but until last year, I ALWAYS hated the Browns drafts. I thought they did a poor job, often becoming enamored with potential and ignoring things like intelligence, character and injury history. No longer - the Browns, under Phil Savage, have developed into a team who can play the game. Final Grade: A
Best Pick: Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State. Am I a homer? No. If you look at my AFC East draft report, I named Anthony Schlegel the worst pick of the Jets draft, and I'll be naming another Buckeye the worst pick later on. I calls 'em like I sees 'em, and I see Holmes as a deadly weapon already. He runs great routes, he has excellent hands (and has gotten over his early fumble problem) and great speed and quickness. Holmes should make an instant impact across from Hines Ward. I really liked their third round pick, Anthony Smith, of Syracuse. Smith is not particularly big or fast, but he's the anti-Chris Hope, intelligent and instinctual. He'll grow into a strong performer across from Troy Polamalu. Orien Harris is another guy I thought was a bit underrated. He had motor issues early in his career, but a closer look shows that each year, he improved in conditioning and effort, a by-product of getting into better shape. He'll be a strong 3-4 end very soon. Cedric Humes, the back out of Virginia Tech, was targeted as a guy who could put on 15-20 pounds and not lose too much speed, possibly filling a Jerome Bettis type role, in a few years. Charles Davis always impressed me at Purdue. I'm not sure he's going to be an NFL star, but the Steelers could have done a lot worse.
Worst Pick: Omar Jacobs, QB, Bowling Green. I must preface this by saying that I'm a big Omar Jacobs fan and I thought he should have gone first day, but I don't like his fit in Pittsburgh. Jacobs is a guy with a lot of potential, but he needs to play to work through his issues. In Pittsburgh, he could eventually develop into one of the league's best backup QBs, but I don't think he's the type of guy who will benefit from sitting for a long time. He isn't the type of QB who can come in and play for a series or a game or two when the regular QB is hurt, so that makes him a bad fit as a backup in Pittsburgh, I think. I'm not super keen on Willie Reid - I think he'll do what the Steelers need of him (slot receiver and punt returner), but those guys are a dime a dozen. I don't know enough about Willie Colon or Marvin Philip to grade the picks accurately.
Overall: The Steelers had a fine, nondescript draft that will help. They filled their major holes, drafted some strong developmental guys and some good, solid players. I'm shocked, with all their LBs getting older and some headed for free agency soon, they didn't take a guy, but they have a good enough track history even with UDFAs that I won't question them too much. In fact, as much as I hate to say it, they get the benefit of the doubt more than any other team, at this point. Final Grade: B