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Article:The Early Mock: Post-Draft Review

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Well, the draft is over. Days 1 and 2 have both passed; teams have sealed their own fates. Now, until the regular season begins, us football fanatics have little to talk about but whether or not the players our respective teams picked will do well or not. To help stir up some of this discussion, I've decided to publish some of my own post-draft observations in this article. Before the team-specific reviews, I want to first make a few general observations:

1. I'm not as bad at mock drafting as I thought

Aside from getting the first six picks correct and in order in the latest version of The Early Mock, I also correctly called the Bills', Panthers', and Cowboys' picks in the first round. I also projected Flacco to Baltimore (albeit in the second round). So, for a month before the draft, that's a solid mock. I'm not saying I'm a rocket scientist, but I've seen much worse mock drafts out there.

2. Joe Flacco? Seriously?

This might be the dumbest thing I've ever seen. Joe Flacco was not going to be taken between 18 and, say 25 or 26. Also, taking a late-first-round flyer on a quarterback didn't exactly work out the last time the Ravens tried it.

3. Derrick Harvey must feel pretty good about himself...

...now that the Jaguars traded more picks for him than the Vikings did for Jared Allen. Unbelievable. If the Jaguars wanted a defensive end that badly, why didn't they trade for Allen?

4. ESPN really sucks at covering the draft

I got a chance to watch some of NFL Network's coverage of the draft via their live, streaming video/audio on NFL.com. It is vastly superior to the coverage by ESPN, which I was forced to watch when my laptop ran out of battery. If all NFL Network coverage is that high in quality, I'm switching to DirecTV.

5. The Portrait of Mel Kiper?

He doesn't get older. Ever. But anyways, enough of that. Here's my team-by-team analysis of the draft

Arizona Cardinals: B+

Addressing their need at corner early with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was a good decision. Calais Campbell at DE is a strong pickup. Early Doucet at WR is a deceptively good move – it gives them insurance for Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald as well as a deep threat. However, they failed to meet a need at linebacker, which worries me.

Best Player: Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie

Best Value: Calais Campbell

Sleeper: Tim Hightower

Atlanta Falcons: C+

Selecting Matt Ryan was a poor decision because of his high potential to bust; there were less risky picks later in the draft. Trading up for Sam Baker was a smart move. I like Curtis Lofton a lot at linebacker. No addressing of their need at defensive line.

Best Player: Sam Baker

Best Value: Curtis Lofton

Sleeper: Chevis Jackson

Baltimore Ravens: B

The strategy of reaching for quarterbacks in the late first round has not worked for the Ravens in the past, and Joe Flacco is not an exception. Ray Rice is a good pickup with great value. Tavares Gooden should be a great insurance policy for Terrell Suggs. Good drafting after Round 1, but Flacco ruins this one for me.

Best Player: Ray Rice

Best Value: Tom Zbikowski

Sleeper: Justin Harper

Buffalo Bills: A-

The Bills addressed all major needs in this draft. Leodis McKelvin should do well and James Hardy was great value. The Chris Ellis pick in the third round was questionable, but he has upside. This was a good draft overall a good draft for the Bills, but nothing blew me away.

Best Player: Leodis McKelvin

Best Value: James Hardy

Sleeper: Xavier Omon

Carolina Panthers: B+

The Panthers failed to get a quarterback, but after trading up for Jeff Otah there were no good players left on the board at the position. Jonathan Stewart should work well with DeAngelo Williams. Otah will solidify the line. Charles Godfrey and Dan Conner are both excellent value. The Panther’s hopes are riding on Jake Delhomme; his ability to succeed will determine whether or not Carolina needed a quarterback here or not. Trading away next year’s first-rounder bumps this one down a bit.

Best Player: Jeff Otah

Best Value: Dan Connor

Sleeper: Gary Barnidge

Chicago Bears: D+

I’m confused by this draft. Chris Williams was an excellent choice, but why didn’t they take Mendenhall? Matt Forte in the second round is not going to seriously push Benson for time; Ray Rice was available. Later drafting was good, but no quarterbacks were taken, which is a huge mistake, especially with Brian Brohm and Chad Henne available at #44. It doesn’t matter how well you draft (in this case, mediocre), if your need for a quarterback isn’t met when it could have and should have been.

Best Player: Chris Williams

Best Value: Earl Bennett

Sleeper: Kellen Davis

Cincinnati Bengals: B-

Keith Rivers is one of my favorite players in the draft and should have immediate impact at the position. Jerome Simpson seems like a somewhat random pick, but could do well in place of Chris Henry. Ryan Sims and Andre Caldwell are good picks. Why the Bengals would draft Jason Shirley, who is pending criminal charges, is beyond me.

Best Player: Keith Rivers

Best Value: Mario Urrutia

Sleeper: Jerome Simpson

Cleveland Browns: D

They did the best with what they could. Trading up for Brady Quinn looks dumb now, as they miss out on the first three rounds of the draft. Beau Bell should fit into the Browns’ defensive scheme. Martin Rucker is a good TE who should back up Kellen Winslow, Jr. Paul Hubbard impressed me in college but was hurt by a knee injury.

Best Player: Beau Bell

Best Value: Beau Bell

Sleeper: Paul Hubbard

Dallas Cowboys: B

Everyone’s mother knew that the Cowboys would take Felix Jones, and after Mendenhall and Chris Johnson were taken he may not have made it to #28. Mike Jenkins should be an excellent player at cornerback to match up with Terrence Newman. Martellus Bennett will fill the void created by Anthony Fasano. They did not draft a wide receiver, which is interesting.

Best Player: Mike Jenkins

Best Value: Felix Jones

Sleeper: Tashard Choice

Denver Broncos: C

Ryan Clady is an excellent replacement for Matt Lepsis and was the best player available. Let’s hope that Dewayne Robertson can get the job done on the defensive line, because they didn’t meet any need at defensive tackle during the draft. Eddie Royal is a weak pickup at best at wide receiver. Look for Ryan Torain to step in at runningback and rack up 1000 yards this year. Other than Clady, a very mediocre draft for the Broncos.

Best Player: Ryan Clady

Best Value: Ryan Clady

Sleeper: Ryan Torain

Detroit Lions: A

Gosder Cherilus will start immediately. Jordon Dizon was an impact player at Colorado but may have trouble transitioning to the next level. Cliff Avril was a solid pickup on the outside. Kevin Smith should fit the new offensive system well. This was a smart draft for the Lions that met many needs and brought in many solid players.

Best Player: Gosder Cherilus

Best Value: Cliff Avril

Sleeper: Kevin Smith

Green Bay Packers: A-

Jordy Nelson has huge upside at wide receiver. Brian Brohm should pressure Aaron Rodgers and I fully expect him to take his job away. Patrick Lee is a very good corner who has time to develop behind Charles Woodson and Al Harris. Another smart draft in the NFC North.

Best Player: Brian Brohm

Best Value: Patrick Lee

Sleeper: Jeremy Thompson

Houston Texans: C+

The Texans played this draft on the run, which is never a good thing. Duane Brown was a reach, but they seemed afraid that he would not be available later. Antwaun Molden is a good prospect but the Texans can’t wait for him to develop, and he is too raw to produce immediately. Steve Slaton should immediately succeed in the Texans’ offense. The late-round drafting is well above average.

Best Player: Duane Brown

Best Value: Xavier Adibi

Sleeper: Steve Slaton

Indianapolis Colts: B-

Trading in for Tony Ugoh looks brilliant now. Mike Pollak should provide depth on the line. Philip Wheeler will fit right into the Colts’ Cover 2. It kills me to see Mike Hart go to the Colts. The Colts built good depth but will gain few starters this year in the draft.

Best Player: Philip Wheeler

Best Value: Marcus Howard

Sleeper: Jacob Tamme

Jacksonville Jaguars: B-

Trading for Derrick Harvey was stupid, especially when they gave more up in the way of picks than the Vikings did for Jared Allen. However, their addressing of their DE need should give them a killer defensive line this year. This draft was risky but I think it should play out well for the Jags.

Best Player: Derrick Harvey

Best Value: Quentin Groves

Sleeper: Chauncey Washington

Kansas City Chiefs: A++

The Chiefs made out like bandits in this draft. Glenn Dorsey, Branden Albert, Brandon Flowers, Jamaal Charles, and DaJuan Morgan should all contribute immediately and effectively. Brad Cottam has tremendous upside at TE and Brian Johnston could show up at training camp with a bang. Brodie Croyle has no excuse not to succeed now; some will question the Chiefs for not checking their options at QB, but they need to give their young guy a chance.

Best Player: Glenn Dorsey

Best Value: Jamaal Charles

Sleeper: Brian Johnston

Miami Dolphins: A-

Jake Long is the best player in the draft. Phillip Merling is excellent value at the beginning of the second round. As a Patriots fan, it kills me to see Chad Henne go to the Dolphins, where he should succeed. Shawn Murphy could push for a starting spot at OT as well.

Best Player: Jake Long

Best Value: Phillip Merling

Sleeper: Shawn Murphy

Minnesota Vikings: B

Jared Allen will hopefully be a good use of draft picks for the Vikings; he counts just as much as anyone else towards their draft. Tyrell Johnson should contribute immediately at safety. John David Booty will push Tarvaris Jackson at QB, but why didn’t the Vikings take a QB earlier?

Best Player: Jared Allen

Best Value: John David Booty

Sleeper: Jaymar Johnson

New England Patriots: A

Jerod Mayo is a smart linebacker who will do well in the Patriots system. Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite should bring competition at the cornerback spot. Shawn Crable and Bo Ruud should compete immediately at OLB. Matt Slater will contribute immediately on special teams. As a Patriots fan, I am very satisfied with this draft. Call me a homer with the grade if you want, I won’t be insulted.

Best Player: Jerod Mayo

Best Value: Kevin O’Connell

Sleeper: Matt Slater

New Orleans Saints: A

Sedrick Ellis fills a glaring hole in New Orleans’ defensive. Tracy Porter should start immediately at cornerback. DeMario Pressly and Carl Nicks will push for starting spots. Watch out for Adrian Arrington at WR. This was a smart, strong draft for the Saints which should immediately improve their defensive on all levels, especially with the offseason acquisition of Jonathan Vilma.

Best Player: Sedrick Ellis

Best Value: Carl Nicks

Sleeper: Adrian Arrington

New York Giants: B-

Where are the linebackers? Despite both starting outside linebackers leaving in free agency, the Giants decided to meet other needs. They picked up Kenny Phillips at safety, who should do very well. Mario Manningham is a skilled athlete but is not impressing me so far as a professional athlete. Jonathan Goff and Andre’ Woodson are good pickups in the later rounds.

Best Player: Kenny Phillips

Best Value: Mario Manningham

Sleeper: Jonathan Goff

New York Jets: C+

Vernon Gholston is a good player but threatens to be a workout warrior. Dustin Keller could produce but the trade-up seemed like overkill – then again, I could rue those words in a few years, as he has good upside. Erik Ainge could push Kellen Clemens a bit. This draft appears somewhat run-of-the-mill for the Jets, who seem more focused on picking up a Dallas Clark to threaten the Patriots than actually making smart drafting decisions to help their team.

Best Player: Dustin Keller

Best Value: Erik Ainge

Sleeper: Marcus Henry

Oakland Raiders: B

I was shocked not to see their needs at DL properly addressed. Darren McFadden was the obvious choice – he should provide immediate juice on offense. Tyvon Branch should do extremely well for a fourth-round pick, as he has the skills to succeed. Arman Shields has a lot of upside. This draft, predictably, seems this-year oriented and shows little foresight into the future. Expect some parts of the defense to continue to be a problem this year for the Raiders.

Best Player: Darren McFadden

Best Value: Tyvon Branch

Sleeper: Arman Shields

Philadelphia Eagles: A

The Eagles met their major needs in this draft, with their one weakness being an obvious developmental backup at OT. Trevor Laws should anchor the Eagles’ defensive front. DeSean Jackson is exactly the type of playmaker that Donovan McNabb needs to succeed. Jack Ikegwuonu could play very well in 2008, but will probably be on IR this year. Late round drafting was strong overall. A strong draft for the Eagles, with the acquisition of the Panthers’ first-round pick next year a crowning achievement.

Best Player: Trevor Laws

Best Value: DeSean Jackon

Sleeper: Jack Ikegwuonu

Pittsburgh Steelers: B+

Rashard Mendenhall fell to the point where the Steelers couldn’t not take him; he should be a great fit for their offense. Limas Sweed should be a good, tall target for Big Ben. The failure to address a need at offensive tackle to replace Alan Faneca should be noted, but Tony Hills could have the skills to replace him. Very good late-round drafting.

Best Player: Rashard Mendenhall

Best Value: Limas Sweed

Sleeper: Dennis Dixon

San Diego Chargers: A Antoine Cason and Antonio Cromartie make a deadly duo at CB and should dominate for years to come. Jacob Hester is a clutch player who should fit very well in the Chargers’ offense. DeJuan Tribble was a late-round value for the Chargers. The draft filled needs, which were few and far between, and will improve the team greatly.

Best Player: Antoine Cason

Best Value: DeJuan Tribble

Sleeper: Jacob Hester

San Francisco 49ers: C+

Kentwan Balmer should be a good 3-4 DE for the 49ers and an adequate replacement for Bryant Young. Chilo Rachal is one of many guards drafted by the 49ers in recent years – will he stick? Reggie Smith is a jack-of-all-trades who may not have one good position. A need at wide receiver was not met. Many questionable players in this draft. I don’t know if they will all pan out.

Best Player: Kentwan Balmer

Best Value: Chilo Rachal

Sleeper: Josh Morgan

Seattle Seahawks: B-

Lawrence Jackson should contribute immediately at defensive end. John Carlson was a surprise but can contribute in the passing game. Owen Schmitt looks to be a good fullback in the style of Mack Strong. Drafting a long snapper in the sixth round is questionable, but maybe he’s just that good.

Best Player: Lawrence Jackson

Best Value: Owen Schmitt

Sleeper: Justin Forsett

St. Louis Rams: A

Chris Long should be extremely successful in the Rams 4-3 front and will work with [[Adam Carriker[[ to terrorize offensive lines this year. Donnie Avery was very questionable as the second pick of the second round, but Greco, King, and Schuening stand out as very good pickups. A good draft for the Rams that met most of its potential.

Best Player: Chris Long

Best Value: Justin King

Sleeper: Roy Schuening

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B-

Aqib Talib should step in adequately for Brian Kelly, who departed in free agency. Dexter Jackson could be this year’s Devin Hester and more. Jeremy Zuttah, Dre Moore, and Josh Johnson are good pickups in the middle of the draft, but there was no need for a quarterback with 6 already on the roster. A good, but not great, draft for the Bucs.

Best Player: Dexter Jackson

Best Value: Dre Moore

Sleeper: Cory Boyd

Tennessee Titans: D+

Chris Johnson should succeed highly at the next level, but I did not expect him to go in the first round. Jason Jones will have trouble succeeding at the next level, even with the many opportunities he will have one-on-one with Vandenbosch and Haynesworth also on the line. The rest of the drafting is also weak. Chris Johnston will contribute, but this is an extremely poor draft for the Titans, especially considering that they did not draft any strong contenders at WR for Vince Young.

Best Player: Chris Johnson

Best Value: Stanford Keglar

Sleeper: Lavelle Hawkins

Washington Redskins: A+

With relatively poor drafting position, the Redskins did shockingly well. Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly will realistically produce at least one good receiver for Jason Campbell. Fred Davis should be another good target at TE. The Redskins loaded up on sleeper prospects in the later rounds, and the selected small-school players should bring depth to the team along with enormous upside. The Redskins front office finally figured out what the hell they were doing.

Best Player: Devin Thomas

Best Value: Malcolm Kelly

Sleeper: Colt Brennan


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