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Formerly a naturallystoned, badinfluence...
With another NFL draft in the books, here's my take on how the AFC teams fared this year:
Best pick: Wide receiver Demetrius Williams, Oregon. This pick is classic Ravens -- selecting the best available athlete regardless of position. Williams' lean build and durability issues led to his nose-dive on draft weekend, but the Ravens were glad to provide him with a parachute in the fourth round. With Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Clarence Moore and Devard Darling already in the stable, Baltimore does not need Williams to produce. However, if he can stay healthy and reach his full potential, Williams has the speed and hands to emerge as a vertical playmaker in the near future.
Worst pick: Cornerback David Pittman, Northwestern State. By no means was this a bad pick in the third round, but there were some better options. Pittman is a slightly overrated prospect and will need time to make the transition from the small-school level to the NFL. More polished prospects who were available include Penn State's Alan Zemaitis and Georgia's DeMario Minter.
Work to do: The Ravens were successful in their pursuit of defensive line help (Oregon NT Haloti Ngata, first round) and offensive line help (Oklahoma OC Chris Chester, second round), but they failed to make a serious dent at free safety. Georgia Tech's Dawan Landry, who was selected in the fifth round, projects as nothing more than a reserve safety and special-teams contributor. The team must do something between now and the start of the 2006 season to upgrade the safety spot opposite Ed Reed, as B.J. Ward simply will not get the job done.
Best pick: Cornerback Ashton Youboty, Ohio State. Youboty was a terrific find in the third round. After giving up some big plays and seemingly losing some of his confidence last season, Youboty's ability to handle the mental aspect of the cornerback position was questioned, and he fell as a result. In all reality, though, Youboty is a late-first round talent with the speed and athletic ability to eventually develop into the starting cornerback opposite Nate Clements if his technique improves and his confidence is restored.
Worst pick: Defensive tackle John McCargo, N.C. State. Taking Ohio State safety Donte Whitner eighth overall was a reach, but not nearly as big a reach as McCargo was with the 26th overall selection. Making matters worse was the Bills' decision to trade up from the second round, where McCargo likely would have fallen to them in the first place.
Work to do: Although Whitner and McCargo were reaches, at least they both fit positions of high priority for the Bills. The one area the Bills must still address, however, is offensive tackle. Brad Butler (Virginia) should provide depth as a fifth-round pick, but he is not projected as a starter. The problem is on the left side, where Mike Gandy lacks ideal athletic ability and has problems holding his own in pass protection. Cincinnati Bengals
Best pick: Johnathan Joseph, cornerback, South Carolina. The Bengals took advantage of a deep cornerback class by taking Joseph with the 24th overall pick. Joseph lacks ideal experience as a first-round prospect, but his combination of size, speed and natural athletic ability is outstanding. He should compete immediately with Keiwan Ratliff for playing time in the nickel and dime packages, and he ultimately should take over for Tory James as the starting right cornerback for the Bengals.
Worst pick: Frostee Rucker, defensive end, USC. Defensive end was definitely a need area, but Rucker was taken too high at No. 91 overall. Rucker has enough quickness and size to develop into an effective situational reserve, but he simply is not dominant in any one area. He lacks power to consistently hold his ground versus the run and isn't fast enough to develop into a legitimate threat as a situational edge rusher. The Bengals could have found a more explosive end prospect, including Victor Adeyanju (Indiana) or Ray Edwards (Purdue).
Work to do: The Bengals failed to improve their tight end situation via the draft. Matt Schobel signed with Philadelphia this offseason, which leaves Reggie Kelly as the starter and Tony Stewart as Kelly's backup. While both Kelly and Stewart block well, neither is a weapon in the passing game. Cincinnati needs an athletic tight end with enough speed to make some big catches down the middle of the field. At this point, though, it might be too late to find someone who fits that description.
Best pick: Travis Wilson, wide receiver, Oklahoma. Defensive end/outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (Florida State, first round) and inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (Maryland, second round) were good picks in the first two rounds, as were inside linebacker Leon Williams (Miami) and cornerback DeMario Minter (Gerogia) in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively. The Browns' best overall value, however, came in the third round when they disregarded needs and went with the best available athlete in Wilson. In my opinion, Wilson is one of the most underrated prospects in this year's class because he battled a foot injury for most of his senior season in 2005. Wilson has the size, speed and hands to eventually develop into a fine No. 2 starter opposite Braylon Edwards.
Worst pick: Isaac Sowells, offensive tackle, Indiana. The Browns could have addressed other positions in the fourth round. More importantly, there were many better offensive line prospects still on the board when the Browns selected Sowells. While Sowells possesses good size and adequate strength, he lacks the size and athleticism to hold up on an island as an offensive tackle in the NFL. I'm also not convinced that Sowells will develop into anything more than a backup interior offensive lineman for the Browns.
Work to do: The Browns were fortunate that Stanford defensive tackle Babatunde Oshinowo fell to them in the sixth round, but he cannot be expected to emerge as the long-term replacement for Ted Washington at the all-important nose tackle position in their 3-4 defense. So Cleveland still lacks ideal talent and depth along its defensive front. The team also failed to draft a cornerback before the fifth round (Minter) or a safety before the seventh round (Virginia Tech's Justin Hamilton), which are two position they are thin at.
Best pick: Wide receiver Javon Walker, Packers. Trading for Walker was the smartest move the Broncos made during draft weekend. In Walker, the Broncos get a known commodity at wide receiver. Walker should bounce back after an injury-riddled 2005 season and is the type of consistent weapon Denver has been missing for years opposite Rod Smith. Ashley Lelie could be a good vertical threat as a third option out of the slot, but there's also a chance the disgruntled receiver could be playing in a different uniform next season.
Worst pick: Wide receiver Domenik Hixon, Akron. Hixon was a bit of a reach in the fourth round with the 130th pick, but the even bigger problem I have with this pick is that the Broncos selected receiver Brandon Marshall (Central Florida) 11 picks earlier (119th pick) and traded for Walker. Hixon can help in the return game, but the Broncos could have used this pick on a running back such as P.J. Daniels (Georgia Tech) or a defensive tackle such as Orien Harris (Miami-Fla.).
Work to do: When you add Walker to the mix, it's safe to say the Broncos had a successful 2006 draft. They addressed pressing needs at wide receiver (Walker, Marshall and Hixon), tight end (Tony Scheffler, Western Michigan, second round) and defensive end (Elvis Dumervil, Louisville, fourth round), while also taking care of the future of the quarterback position (Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt, first round). However, the area of need the Broncos overlooked was running back. Unless the team makes an unforeseen move in the next few months, it will rely on the one-two punch of Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne in 2006. The Broncos were unable to improve the depth problem at defensive tackle, as well.
Best pick: Offensive tackle Eric Winston, Miami-Fla. After two years of ignoring offensive line needs on Day 1, the Texans hit the jackpot with Winston and Pittsburgh OG Charles Spencer in the third round of the 2006 draft. Winston slipped due to concerns regarding his 2004 knee injury, but if he returns to form, the Texans may finally have the left tackle they've been searching for since Tony Boselli's premature retirement.
Worst pick: Mario Williams, DE, N.C. State. Williams is cheaper and fits a much bigger position of need, but passing on USC running back Reggie Bush with the No. 1 overall selection was a mistake that the Texans might never live down.
Work to do: The mistake of selecting Williams over Bush aside, the Texans wound up with an excellent 2006 draft class. As the team transitions to a four-man front this season, Williams fits a huge need at defensive end, and second-round pick DeMeco Ryans (Alabama) could quickly emerge as a starter at weakside linebacker. The team also did an excellent job of addressing needs along the offensive line (Spencer and Winston) and at tight end (Wisconsin's Owen Daniels, fourth round) with the next three selections. If there was one area Houston failed to address, though, it was cornerback. Dunta Robinson and Phillip Buchanon form a talented starting tandem, but Buchanon is coming off a season-ending ankle injury and there isn't great depth here.
Best pick: Running back Joseph Addai, LSU. Using the 30th overall pick on Addai was the Colts' best option. Addai has a history of durability issues and was never the premier back for an entire season at LSU. However, he showed flashes of brilliance early in the 2005 season, when he rushed for 642 yards as the starter for the first six games. Addai has big shoes to fill, stepping in for the departed Edgerrin James (Cardinals), but at least he possesses the size, speed and versatility to fit well in the Colts' offensive scheme.
Worst pick: Cornerback Tim Jennings, Georgia. Jennings is a quick, athletic and experienced cover corner who should be able to contribute in sub packages on defense as a rookie. However, his upside is somewhat limited by his poor size (5-foot-8, 188 pounds) and he's never been a huge playmaker. Jennings was a bit of a reach in the second round. The Colts had a chance to select OLB Jon Alston (Stanford), who would have addressed a more pressing need.
Work to do: The Colts took care of their biggest hole with the selection of Addai late in the first round. They also improved their secondary depth with Jennings in Round 2. However, they did not solve the problem at outside linebacker. Cato June returns on the right side, but it's unclear who will start opposite him because David Thornton signed with the Titans and Gilbert Gardner hasn't progressed as hoped. While third-round pick OLB Freddie Keiaho (San Diego State) is a good fit athletically, he lacks ideal instincts and has a history of durability problems. Keiaho cannot be expected to start in the near future.
Best pick: Outside linebacker Clint Ingram, Oklahoma. Ingram is an underrated prospect and a good find for the Jaguars in the third round. The Jags targeted Ingram because he possesses the size to fill their void at the strong-side linebacker position, and it was wise for them to move up 11 spots to secure him with the 80th overall selection.
Worst pick: Tight end Marcedes Lewis, UCLA. For a team that typically selects the best player available, Jacksonville focused on filling needs with each of its first four selections. Lewis wasn't a huge reach with pick No. 28, but other players offered better value, including Alabama OLB DeMeco Ryans. Had they gone in a different direction with the first pick, the Jaguars still could have upgraded the tight end position in the next round with a player such as Western Michigan's Tony Scheffler or Georgia's Leonard Pope.
Work to do: The Jaguars' 2006 draft can be considered decent but unspectacular. They did a fine job of addressing needs with their first three picks. However, Jacksonville failed to draft a defensive end prior to the fifth round and did nothing to improve the depth issue at offensive guard.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best pick: Quarterback Brodie Croyle, Alabama. The Chiefs could have addressed other areas of need in the third round but wisely chose the better value in Croyle, who will be groomed as the eventual replacement for 35-year-old Trent Green.
Worst pick: Safety Bernard Pollard, Purdue. Pollard was a bit of a reach for the Chiefs in the second round. He is a versatile safety with enough upside to potentially develop into a starter, but he lacks ideal range in coverage and had some issues taking orders from coaches in college. Furthermore, the Chiefs had much bigger needs at wide receiver and cornerback that were ignored until the second day of the draft.
Work to do: Surprisingly, the Chiefs waited until Day 2 to address pressing needs at wide receiver and cornerback. They could have selected Ohio State WR Santonio Holmes in the first round and Fresno State DC Richard Marshall in the second round. Instead, Kansas City went with Penn State DE Tamba Hali (first round), Pollard and Croyle with its first three selections. As a result, the Chiefs still have a gaping hole at the cornerback spot opposite Patrick Surtain and a noticeable lack of playmaking ability and depth at wide receiver.
Best pick: Defensive tackle Rodrique Wright, Texas. Wright was already sliding because he underachieved throughout his career at Texas, but a torn rotator cuff is the bigger reason he slipped all the way to the seventh round. Despite the obvious concerns, Wright was a steal with the 226th overall pick. If his rehabilitation is successful and Nick Saban can light a fire under him, Wright could become one of the best values of the 2006 draft.
Worst pick: Cornerback Jason Allen, Tennessee. Allen possesses an outstanding combination of size, speed and athletic ability. He also is a versatile defensive back with experience at both the safety and cornerback positions. However, Allen projects to be a better fit at safety in the NFL and also comes with durability issues after suffering a season-ending hip injury in 2005. Nevertheless, Allen was too much of a reach for the Dolphins with the 16th overall pick.
Work to do: When evaluating the Dolphins' 2006 draft, it must be taken into account that QB Daunte Culpepper was traded for their second-round pick. With that in mind, Miami was able to address significant needs at safety (Allen), quarterback (Culpepper) and wide receiver (Arizona State's Derek Hagan, third round) with its three first-day selections. As it stands right now, the team doesn't have any glaring needs, so long as it gets production from Allen and Hagan as rookies. The biggest priority left on the Dolphins' list is to secure QB Joey Harrington (Lions) as insurance behind Culpepper. Virginia Tech QB Marcus Vick accepted an invitation to camp to compete with Cleo Lemon and Brock Berlin for the No. 3 quarterback job.
New England Patriots
Best pick: Wide receiver Chad Jackson, Florida. RB Laurence Maroney (Minnesota, first round) warrants some consideration, but Jackson gets the slight edge because he was such a tremendous value in the second round. The Patriots need help at wide receiver after losing David Givens (Titans), Andre Davis (Bills) and Tim Dwight (Jets) in free agency.
Worst pick: Tight end/Fullback Garret Mills, Tulsa. This is a tough call because Mills was a good value in the fourth round and fits the Patriots' mold as a versatile H-back who can catch and block. However, after selecting a similar player a round earlier in David Thomas (Texas), the Patriots could have used this pick to address need areas such as linebacker and cornerback.
Work to do: The Patriots' 2006 draft was loaded with value and their first two selections (Maroney and Jackson) also helped fill voids. Unfortunately, the team failed to find help at linebacker and cornerback, considered two of New England's three most pressing positions of need. Signing Eric Warfield prior to the draft helped, but Ty Law could also be in the mix at cornerback. The Patriots will continue to shuffle their linebackers to find the right combination. They are also hoping for more production from youngster Tully Banta-Cain at outside linebacker.
New York Jets
Best pick: Kellen Clemens, QB, Oregon. After choosing D'Brickashaw Ferguson (Virginia) over QB Matt Leinart (USC) with the fourth overall selection, the Jets knew they had to deliver a quarterback at some point. They moved twice in the second round before getting Clemens at the right value. Clemens is coming off a season-ending leg injury in 2005, but he was having a monster senior campaign up to that point. His improved decision-making, strong arm and above-average mobility make Clemens a legitimate candidate to emerge as the Jets' future franchise quarterback.
Worst pick: Anthony Schlegel, ILB, Ohio State. The Jets completely overvalued Schlegel (third round) as a prospect. They need depth at inside linebacker as they continue to transition to more 3-4 defensive packages, but Schlegel was not worth the Day 1 pick. In my opinion, Schlegel is too stiff and slow to ever develop into more than a backup inside linebacker and special-teams contributor.
Work to do: The Jets upgraded their offensive line and found a future starting quarterback with three picks in the first two rounds. However, they were unable to address the need at running back until the fourth round. The Jets were fortunate to get such a great value in RB Leon Washington (Florida State, fourth round), but he has too many durability issues and question marks to be considered the heir apparent to Curtis Martin. The Jets also exited the draft with depth issues at outside linebacker and nose tackle.
Best pick: Michael Huff, DB, Texas. Drafting a safety in the top 10 is always a risky proposition, but Huff is the type of impact playmaker the Raiders need on defense. His versatility will give coordinator Rob Ryan options that he hasn't had the luxury of working with since taking the job three years ago.
Worst pick: Paul McQuistan, OT, Weber State. McQuistan was a decent value in the third round, but he's a developmental prospect at a position that the Raiders would have been better served addressing on the second day. Better uses of this pick would have included DT Dusty Dvoracek (Oaklahoma) or ILB Gerris Wilkinson (Georgia Tech).
Work to do: The Raiders passed on USC QB Matt Leinart with the seventh pick, which means Aaron Brooks is the present and Andrew Walter is the future of their quarterback position. Oakland did address needs at safety and outside linebacker (Thomas Howard, UTEP, second round) with its top two selections, but big problems still exist along the defensive front. Derrick Burgess is a good starter at right defensive end, but there is no depth behind aging DEs Bobby Hamilton and Lance Johnstone. Even bigger issues exist inside, where RDT Warren Sapp is over the hill and Tommy Kelly is in over his head as the projected starting nose tackle.
Best pick: Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, Ohio State. Moving up seven picks in the first round for Holmes was an aggressive and wise decision for the Steelers. Holmes should represent an upgrade over Cedrick Wilson at the No. 2 receiver spot and can compete with third-round pick Willie Reid for the opportunity to replace Antwaan Randle El in the return game.
Worst pick: Offensive tackle Willie Colon, Hofstra. The Steelers did an excellent job overall, but Colon was a bit of a reach in the fourth round. The team could have gone after a running back such as P.J. Daniels (Georgia Tech) with this pick, rather than waiting until the seventh round to draft Cedric Humes (Virginia Tech).
Work to do: The defending Super Bowl champions were able to patch the few holes that did exist on their roster with the first-day additions of Holmes, DS Anthony Smith (Syracuse, third round) and WR/RS Willie Reid (Florida State, third round). They also used three second-day picks on offensive linemen who project as interior players (guard and center) in the NFL. The one surprise is that Pittsburgh failed to legitimately improve its depth at running back by waiting until the seventh round to draft Humes.
San Diego Chargers
Best pick: Offensive tackle Marcus McNeill, Auburn. McNeill fell to the second round because of concerns regarding his back (spinal stenosis), but he was a steal for the Chargers at that point. McNeill has played through the injury for years now and has the size, technique and experience to immediately push Shane Olivea for the starting right tackle job.
Worst pick: Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson. Whitehurst was a fine value in the third round and will ultimately develop into a good backup behind starter Philip Rivers. However, the Chargers could have put this pick to better use by selecting a wide receiver such as Arizona State's Derek Hagan.
Work to do: As mentioned, wide receiver is the one position the Chargers failed to upgrade in this year's draft. Keenan McCardell is a very good starter, but he is aging, and neither Eric Parker nor Rashaun Woods can be considered a solid No. 2 starter at the position. If the Chargers believed wide receiver was not a position of need heading into the 2006 draft, they vastly overrated their existing personnel.
Best pick: Running back LenDale White, USC. A hamstring injury and concerns regarding weight and conditioning were the reasons White slipped into the second round. Despite these issues, White is still a first-round talent. The Titans have a coach in offensive coordinator Norm Chow who has experience dealing with White, and they also have two injury-prone running backs (Chris Brown and Travis Henry) for whom White can provide insurance early in his career. If White stays motivated, he can become a terrific backfield mate with quarterback and first-round pick Vince Young (Texas) for many years.
Worst pick: Safety Calvin Lowry, Penn State. Lowry was a reach in the fourth round, especially for a team that already has Chris Hope, Lamont Thompson, Vincent Fuller and Donnie Nickey at the position.
Work to do: With Young and White, the Titans have to be excited about the future of their offensive backfield. However, the team failed to address some significant positions of need (offensive tackle and cornerback). The Titans are expected to move Michael Roos over to left tackle to replace Brad Hopkins, but it's unclear who will start opposite him. Jacob Bell, David Stewart and Daniel Loper are the three unattractive candidates. The cornerback situation isn't as dire, but question marks exist with all three of the top candidates (Pacman Jones, Andre Woolfolk and Reynaldo Hill) competing for time.
Thanks but you need to remove that video...
* Most Humorous Poster Nominee (2004, 2005, 2010)
* Off Topic Post of the Year Winner (2009)
* Off Topic Thread of the Year Nominee (2010)
Formerly a naturallystoned, badinfluence...