Photo courtesy Arrowhead Pride.
The 2010 NFL Draft was a thrill to see in its new format. Having the first round in primetime on Thursday was a ratings boon for the NFL and invigorates the fanbase. As some have pointed out, the second round picks now have more value to them as well, due to the extra time between rounds.
There are some teams that have an uncanny ability to draft well year after year. Baltimore and New England did just that this year, with Baltimore gaining 1st-round caliber talent in Texas DE Sergio Kindle and Alabama DT Terrence Cody. New England addressed most of its needs, traded like crazy in order to obtain more picks now and in future drafts, and still managed to come up with several potential studs. TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will give the Pats a good two-tight end set, since they use several multiple-TE formations. Other buzzworthy picks include receiver Taylor Price and linebacker Brandon Spikes.
Many teams this draft seemed to get a B grade from the draft prognosticators, but there were more than a few who had a good draft. Detroit and the aforementioned Ravens and Patriots had pretty good drafts, but here are my 5 teams that had a draft that really stands out:
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs grabbed Oklahoma standout DT Gerald McCoy and UCLA DT Brian Price with their first two picks. Price was outstanding as a Bruin and helped make that unit one of the best in the Pac-10. WR Arrelious Benn was one of the most coveted receivers in the draft and CB Myron Lewis helps upgrade the secondary after the defensive front got all the attention in the first two rounds. The Bucs had one of the worst punting units last year and upgraded with Brent Bowden.
New Browns QB Colt McCoy. Photo courtesy ColtMcCoyFans.org.
4) Cleveland Browns
The Browns made a heck of a gamble and it worked perfectly. Had it not worked, they wouldn't have been on this list. Their first three picks were all good picks, except for the fact that none of them were a quarterback. They upgraded at cornerback, running back, and safety, betting that Colt McCoy or Jimmy Clausen would be available in later rounds. Sure enough, Colt McCoy, the Texas QB, was available for the taking in the third round. Sixth-round pick Carlton Mitchell is an intriguing possibility considering the talent rating at such a late round (NFL.com had him at a 7.1).
3) Oakland Raiders
In recent years, the Raiders could be counted on for having at least one "huh?" moment in the draft. This year, the Silver & Black made some great picks, starting with Rolando McClain at linebacker. Bruce Campbell, the Maryland OT that some thought was going first-round, was available in the 4th. And to top it off, the Raiders upgraded their QB situation by trading for displaced Redskins QB Jason Campbell. I don't think they're playoff ready, but they certainly took a few steps towards that goal in this draft.
2) San Francisco 49ers
The Niners gave Arizona a run for its money in the NFC West this year, and with this draft class, may very well be the favorite. With first-round offensive line picks Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, the running game will be even more of a problem for opposing defenses. I'm not quite sure if San Fran has addressed its receiver needs, but it's clear they want to pound the ball inside to win. The 49ers got USC standout Taylor Mays, who had a few words for his former coach, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Speaking of which...
Golden Tate, left, is now with the Seahawks. Photo courtesy the NY Times.
1) Seattle Seahawks
Hands down, the winner of the draft. Considering the Seahawks had a ton of needs, they did an outstanding job. The 'Hawks got a stud offensive tackle in Russell Okung to protect QB Matt Hasselbeck's blind side and safety Earl Thomas in the first round. Most would grade that well enough alone, but Seattle also got WR Golden Tate and upgraded their defensive front. Even Anthony McCoy, the USC TE who had off-field issues (tested positive for pot at the combine), could be a good pick given his college coach was Carroll. Then to top it off, they got RB's LenDale White, a former USC Trojan, and the Jets' Leon Washington. This team will be very interesting to watch in 2010.
As with any draft, there are always a few teams that, on paper, probably wish for a do-over. Some teams were hampered by trades that stripped picks (Chicago, Washington) while others just plain made some bad calls. Here are 3 teams that left me scratching my head:
3) Buffalo Bills
The Bills have lots of holes to fill, none more so than quarterback and offensive line. They waited until the 5th round to address the OL and the 7th round for QB. By that time, the premiere talent that can make a difference is gone and the QB they did pick up, Troy's Levi Brown is projected to be a backup at best. They did pick up some help on defense, but the fanbase has been disillusioned for some time and the Bills are often rumored as a team on the move to a different city. Stacking the backfield with C.J. Spiller, Marshawn Lynch, and Fred Jackson won't help make the team exciting like a solid quarterback would.
New Broncos QB Tim Tebow. Photo courtesy the Miami Herald.
2) Denver Broncos
This draft will go down as one of the Broncos' best...or absolute worst. They have some serious needs and this draft, at least on paper, didn't seem to address that much. First-round receiver Demaryius Thomas could be a star, but that's a few years off. Dez Bryant would have been a safer choice (drafted shortly after Thomas by Dallas), despite his off-field issues. I really like Tim Tebow, one of my favorite college players in recent memory, but I don't think he fits a need for Denver, nor do I think Denver fits him. He's third on the depth chart to start and considering the price it took to get him, Denver may regret the cost. Coach Josh McDaniels stresses high-character, but then goes and drafts CB Perrish Cox, who teams were skittish about drafting because of "character concerns". In short, it seems like the Broncos need a very clear direction for their team, and that's something a draft can't provide.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars
I generally don't vouch for the idea of grabbing players for the sake of selling tickets, but if there ever was an exception, Jacksonville is it. Jacksonville had the most TV blackouts last year because they didn't sell enough tickets for their home games. Like Buffalo, the fan base has been disinterested for some time and the player they draft with the 10th overall pick is Tyson Alualu? It's not that Alualu won't be a great player, but with that high of a pick, there's a certain amount of pressure and expectation involved. Plus, other higher-rated players were available and if the Jaguars wanted Alualu, they could have traded down and get more picks to fill places of need. Their defensive line needed help, but did it require four of the Jags' six picks when the linebacker, safety, and quarterback positions needed help?
And that wraps up the FTRS 2010 NFL Draft coverage. The meaningless preseason will be here before you know it.