65 Observations about the 2009 NFL Draft

I’m going to channel my inner Peter King and dole out a crap load of quick-hit thoughts on last weekend’s NFL draft, which by the way, was one of the more unpredictable drafts I have ever witnessed.

Below are 65 observations from the 2009 NFL Draft. Why 65? I don’t know – don’t worry about it. Originally I came up with 62, but I know that some people freak out when things aren’t in round numbers, so I added three more. But the number 65 means nothing, so don’t waste time searching for its meaning.

Obviously these are all my opinions and feel free to debate them. But before you do, I already know that it supposedly takes three seasons to fully grade a draft and that no prospect is a sure thing. Again, I’m projecting here – so lighten up and let’s strike up some good debates.

1. Outside of the fact that he’s now a millionaire and could buy a small country, I kind of feel bad for Matthew Stafford. You know some halfwit fan or media member can’t wait to utter the comment, “For $72 million, he should have made that pass.” I hate the fact that money plays such a huge role in sports because when you get down to it, completing a pass, making a catch or kicking a field goal has nothing to do with how many zeros are on your paycheck.

2. I know I’m not saying anything new here, but the rookie salary structure is a joke. When teams don’t even want a top 5 pick anymore because of the financial burden that comes with it, there’s a huge problem.

3. The kid could turn out to be the next Ryan Leaf on the field, but Lion fans have to at least take comfort in the fact that Matthew Stafford is saying all the right things at this point. He did an interview with the NFL Network on Sunday and he talked about how he wants to be a starter right away, but also wants to learn and be patient in his development. From all accounts, he looks like he has a great head on his shoulders.

4. If Tyson Jackson turns out to be the next Richard Seymour like Chiefs’ GM Scott Pioli believes, then nobody is going to remember (or care) that he was taken with the third overall pick in a weak draft class.

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NFL Draft: 5 Second Day Steals

What constitutes a second day steal in the NFL draft? Well, opinion of the evaluator above all else, I guess. But if a player was projected to be taken higher than he was, then that plays into the notion that a team got somewhat of a steal for that selection. Below are five players that were selected on Day 2 of this weekend’s draft that I thought were decent steals.

1. Carolina Panthers No. 163, Round 5: Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma
I was flat out flabbergasted that Robinson fell to the fifth round. Not that this holds much water because I’m not a scout, but I projected Robinson to go to the Steelers with the last pick in the first round in each of my three mock drafts. He was arguably the best guard prospect in the draft and instead of being a first day lock, he fell all the way to No. 163 for reasons unbeknownst to me. He has the talent to be a future starter and maybe sliding this far will motivate him to succeed.

2. Chicago Bears No. 119, Round 4: D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
The only reason Moore slipped to the fourth round is because of his size (5’8”, 192 pounds) – or lack thereof. If he were two inches taller and 10 pounds heavier, he would have been a second round pick and maybe the fourth corner taken overall in this draft. Moore has tremendous athleticism, good speed and is an aggressive player. Nathan Vasher has struggled the past two seasons for the Bears and I wouldn’t be surprised if Moore challenges for the starting cornerback job opposite Peanut Tillman in training camp. If he doesn’t start, he’ll certainly see some time in nickel packages as a rookie.

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NFL Draft: 5 First Round Values

I hate the word “value” on draft day because essentially, all it means is that a team chose a player later than he was projected to go. But who projects where these players are supposed to be selected? The media – not the teams. So is it fair to talk about “value” when we don’t know where these teams have these players rated? And value means absolutely nothing if the player doesn’t pan out.

That said, below are the five teams who I felt got tremendous values out of their first round picks. These players should have gone much higher based on their talent and potential, yet for whatever reason (i.e. Al Davis took Darrius Heyward-Bey), they slipped. Will they pan out? We won’t know for a while, but nevertheless these teams made out well on Day 1.

1. San Francisco 49ers No. 10: Michael Crabtree, WR
For the Niners to land one of the best prospects in the draft at No. 10 was impressive. Teams were scared off by Crabtree’s offseason foot surgery and lack of top end speed, but the foot is healed and top end speed doesn’t hold as much water in the NFL as it does in college football because everyone is fast in the pros. Go back and watch games of Crabtree at Texas Tech; he catches the ball away from his body, he uses his body well and he performs in the clutch. I know Heyward-Bey has a ton of speed and could turn out to be a great deep threat, but Crabtree is the real deal and the total package. Word is that Crabtree had a very “diva” attitude on visits to Cleveland and St. Louis, but if there’s one head coach in the league who could humble the young wideout, it’s Mike Singletary.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars No. 8: Eugene Monroe, OT
Monroe doesn’t have the athleticism of Baylor’s Jason Smith or the overall natural talent of Alabama’s Andre Smith, but he’s solid across the board. He does have some durability concerns and while he doesn’t excel at one fact of the game, he’s a steady pass blocker and a mauler in the running game. He was also considered one of the safest prospects in the draft and considering he could have went anywhere in the top 4 picks, the Jags got a steal at No. 8. He’ll likely start at left tackle as a rookie and immediately upgrade a Jacksonville offensive line that was decimated by injuries last year.

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NFL Draft: 5 Questionable Day 1 Decisions

It’s unfair to criticize a team for reaching on a prospect or making a trade (or two) on draft day because obviously nobody has a crystal ball to see how those moves will inevitably pan out. But it’s hard not to question some of the decisions that teams made during the first two rounds of the draft on Saturday. Below I’ve compiled five questionable decisions from Day 1 of the NFL draft.

1 and 2. Broncos trade their 2010 first round selection to the Seahawks for their second round pick (37th overall); Panthers trade their 2010 first round selection to the 49ers for their second round pick (43rd overall)
I have no qualms with the two prospects that the Broncos and Panthers traded for. Denver got arguably the most underrated cornerback in the draft in Alphonso Smith, while Carolina landed a player in Everrette Brown who many believed would go in the top 15. But it’s hard to fathom why both of these teams would give up first rounders in next year’s draft, to trade up in what some are considering the worst draft in some time. Granted, it’s hard to speculate whether or not this draft will be turn out to be horrible or if next year’s draft will be strong. But there’s a good chance that Denver and Carolina could each be picking in the top 15 or 20 picks again next year and to give up those picks for two second round prospects is highly questionable. What happens if either of these teams implodes next year and the picks they gave up turn out to be top 5 or top 10 selections? That’s just too much of a risk in my opinion.

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NFL Draft: 5 Day 1 Winners

It’s absolutely ridiculous to claim that a team “won” on draft day when none of the players have even played one down in the NFL yet. But it is fair to debate which teams made quality decisions on draft day (i.e. trades, overall maneuvering, etc.), and below are five franchises that I thought made out well after the first two rounds.

1. Cleveland Browns
Alex Mack, C (21); Brian Robiskie, WR (36); Mohamed Massaquoi, WR (50); David Veikune, DE (52)
The Browns became one of the day one draft winners the moment they were able to trade out of the No. 5 pick, because there wasn’t a prospect at that spot that Cleveland loved and they saved a ton of money getting out of the top 5. So they were able to make a deal with the Jets and landed the 17th and 52nd picks, as well as three players (Kenyon Coleman, Brett Ratliff and Abram Elam) that used to play for Eric Mangini in New York. The underrated Elam is the best of the group and should start at strong safety after the team decided to not re-sign Sean Jones. After the deal with the Jets, the Browns made yet another move, trading the 17th overall pick to Tampa Bay for the 19th and 191st selections. Still not satisfied, the Browns again traded back, this time dealing the 19th pick to Philadelphia for the 21st and 195th selections. When they finally did select a player at No. 21, they got the best center prospect in the draft in Mack, who joins a solid offensive line that already features Eric Steinbach and Joe Thomas. Although I was surprised that they passed on OLB Everrette Brown early in the second, they got a polished receiver in Brian Robiskie and then eventually filled their linebacker need with Veikune, who is raw but has good upside. Massaquoi was a bit of a surprise, especially considering the Robiskie selection earlier in the round, but it’s hard to criticize what Mangini and new GM George Kokinis did on the first day. It also must be noted how well the Browns played everything before the draft, keeping things close to the vest and not tipping their hand. Obviously that trade with the Jets for the No. 5 pick had to be in the works for a while given the players involved.

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