Monday, April 27, 2009

Last I am going write about the draft I promise….

I am a self-admitted NFL Draft geek, and I may have gone a little overboard on the draft this year, but then again so did ESPN and Sports Illustrated as well. So I don’t feel too bad. It’s really the trend in recent years. More and more people are following the NFL off-season, so much so that when they actually start the games it’s a bit of an anti-climax.

That being said, I PROMISE this is the last I will mention the NFL draft until after the Super Bowl next year, but I would be remise if I did not add a few notes on the local teams and by far my favorite team to watch draft every year.

- The Giants get an A+ is my book. I saw that USA Today agrees with me, Peter King and Mel Kiper do not, but I believe the Giants had the best draft out of any team in the league this year. And maybe the second best draft I’ve seen in the last five or six years (Kansas City last year was best draft I have ever seen).

Let me first say that I graded the G-Men strictly on players drafted, and not on other moves unmade. I know many would criticize them for not making a trade for either Braylon Edwards or Anquan Boldin, while seemingly being a WR away from another Super Bowl run.

These people are not wrong. I wanted the Braylon Edwards deal to go down very badly myself(which it might still), but the A+ grade I give the Giants is based on the value for the selections they DID actually make.

I love Hakeem Nicks with the first round pick. In my draft, I thought he would be gone by the time the Giants picked, although I didn’t foresee Darius Heyward-Bey going so early (more on that later). I did disagree, however, with the ESPN draft “gurus” referring to him as a “big receiver”. Nicks is just under 6’1” and about 215 pounds. He projects more to fill the WR spot vacated by the departure of Amani Toomer. Ramses Barden, on the other hand, the 6’6” receiver from Cal Poly the G-Men got in round three is the one they hope to fill the void left by Plax. At the very least I think he has a chance to be a red zone threat much like Vincent Jackson in San Diego.

The advantage of being a good team is that you don’t have many needs to fill, therefore you can draft luxuries and draft for value. The Giants got great value in Virginia OLB Clint Sintim in the second round (a player who they almost looked to take with their first round pick). They also selected OL William Beatty from UConn later in that round, a player many thought was the best pass protector in the whole draft. I think he eventually replaces David Diehl at LT.

In the third round the Giants were able to land Travis Beckum a tight end from Wisconsin who actually was more productive in college than Jets first round pick of a year ago Dustin Keller. Beckum projects to be a similar sort of “stretch the field tight end” and possible red zone threat.

Mark my words on this one folks: Giant fans will LOVE Andre Brown. I watched a ton of ACC football over the past four years, and watched this man-child (6 feet 225 pounds) run behind a Swiss-cheese offensive line at NC State and still pick up major chunks of yards. Had he played on a good team he would have been a first round pick. He also catches the ball well out of the backfield, and will be the answer to losing Derrick Ward in free agency.

Terrific draft by a somewhat underrated front office. Good drafting pays dividends down the line. Kudos to GM Jerry Reese.

- The Jets get an incomplete grade as far as I’m concerned. I like the move to make a splash and get Mark Sanchez, but the Jets had many needs to fill in this draft and ended up with only 3 picks with which to do so.

To me moving up to take Sanchez was a much better move than staying put at the 17th pick and drafting the potentially comBUSTable (get it) Josh Freeman, even though they may have overpaid for the price to move up (1st round pick, 2nd round pick, Bret Ratliff, and Abram Elam).

If he is given the opportunity to get into camp early, play some in the preseason, and get at least some platoon duty this year, Sanchez has a good chance to be a ten year starter in NY and be the face of the franchise going forward. In fact, I would say he has just as good a chance, if not better, to succeed at the NFL level as Matthew Stafford.

That being said, the Jets had a some glaring needs in this draft that needed to be filled and were not. I understand Gang Gren had only two selections left after the Sanchez deal, but they very easily could have traded out of the first pick of the third round to accumulate more picks later in the draft to fill those holes. They could also have traded a player for picks as well. What I WOULD NOT have done was draft Shonn Greene, the running back out of Iowa with that pick.

I understand it was a good value selection…but a running back? Come on. The Jets two most solid positions coming into this draft were at Safety (Rhodes, Jim Leonhard, and Elam) and running back (the two-headed monster of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington…plus throw in the hammer with Jehuu Caulcrick). They HAD to get a wide receiver. Had to.

They needed someone play the wide receiver spot opposite Jericho Cotchery, who now with…Brad Smith or David Clowney on the other side…will have to deal with a double team AND extra safety help over the top on every play this season. Derrick Williams, Patrick Turner, Deon Butler, Ramses Bardenm, Juaquin Iglesias all went later in round three and would have been good pick-ups for the Jets at WR.

Sanchez better hope by the time he gets the starting nod that he is so good it doesn’t matter what guys he is throwing to.

-If the Raiders were country they would be Cuba. Honestly, at this point just like Cuba, Oakland will be an inhabitable, stable, and largely redeemable destination once its dictator ruler passes on. Sorry
Al Davis…but YOU ARE Castro.

(I beg you…if you ever do anything for yourself your whole life, do yourself a favor and click on the Al Davis link above. I’m not one for hyperbole, but it very well could be the single greatest picture in the history of the still photo. Seriously, have Al Davis and the
Crypt keeper ever been spotted in the same place at the same time before?)

I predicted back in mid-February (and in each successive mock draft since) that the Raiders would make an off the wall pick, and largely blow their first round selection. Picking a wide receiver with great timed speed (4.28 forty), but questionable hands and production at the college level (Darius Heyward-Bey) twenty spots too early, and ahead of Michael Crabtree does indeed qualify as “blowing the pick” …but it pales in comparison with their second round selection.

The single worst value selection in modern NFL Draft history (since the same Raiders took kicker Sebastian Janikowski in the first round in 2000) was made by the Raiders in round 2. They chose Safety Michael Mitchell out of the University of Ohio with the 47th overall selection.

This is a player that noted draft guru Mel Kiper had rated #71 overall……AMONG SAFETIES! The 71st rated safety!

To put the atrociousness of this pick even more into perspective, Mitchell had not been invited to NFL Scouting Combine, not invited to any All-Star games, and did not make the first, second, third team or honorable mention from the MAAC Conference. ESPN did/could not even prepare any tape or even a picture of him to be used during its draft broadcast. Sports Illustrated also was not able to locate a picture of him (even a day after the draft) and did not even bother to provide a draft grade on him

Later interviews would reveal that only one other team (the Chicago Bears) even had this player on their draft boards, and had him graded as a potential 7th round pick.

Once again another smart draft by the Raiders….little wonder they call this place the “Black Hole”.

By the way, we are only 363 days until the next NFL Draft.

Ok seriously…I’ll stop talking draft nonsense…starting….starting…..starting……

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