Draft winners...and losers

Draft winners...and losers

In what could have been one of the craziest and most unpredictable drafts ever, the seven rounds of the 2003 draft are finally over in near record time. Though still very early and only on paper, here's a quick synopsis of the winners and losers from this year's selection meeting.

Winners
Detroit - The Lions combined value and need throughout all seven rounds. Charles Rogers adds speed and an immediate scoring threat to an offense lacking skill position players, while Boss Bailey is a replacement for the departed Chris Claiborne. There other second round choice, Corey Redding, adds another talented body to the defensive front. During the second day they came away with bargains like Artose Pinner, Terrence Holt, Ben Johnson and added productive pass catcher David Kircus. All in all, the Lions upgraded their franchise on draft weekend.

Baltimore - You can look at this a number of ways, but initially Baltimore may have gotten the bargain of the draft in Terrell Suggs with the tenth choice. Then they used next year's first round choice to get their quarterback of the future, 12 months early, selecting Kyle Boller in a trade with New England. The Ravens late round selections were full of value picks, such as defensive lineman Jarrett Johnson and offensive tackle Tony Pashos, who fill needs and will compete for starting jobs this summer.

Cincinnati - Palmer is not a sure thing and may not even be the best player in the draft, but considering the way Mike Brown and the Bengals do business, having their first selection signed a week before the draft rather than a week after the season starts is a step in the right direction. Add in Eric Steinbach, who can play several positions on the line and the potential of receiver Kelley Washington, the Bengal offense looks set.

Jacksonville - They chose their quarterback of the future and a player many anointed as the first pick of the draft last September with the eighth selection. Then the Jaguars came back in round two choosing Rashean Mathis, a secondary prospect who offers the defense a terrific pass covering centerfield or possible cornerback. Vince Manuawai was an excellent value in round three and is a dominant run blocker who can protect the passer. The team got stronger on day two as LaBrandon Toefield and George Wrighster both offer a good amount of upside, while Marcus Ogden, Jonathan's little brother, could be a hidden gem.

Tennessee - Andre Woolfolk was a good value in round one for a team that needs help in the secondary, as was running back Chris Brown in the third frame as father time is ticking on Eddie George. Tyrone Calico is a solid developmental prospect and big play receiver. Day two picks, which included defensive tackle Rein Long, safety Donnie Nickey and offensive lineman Todd Williams, were also good values. Certainly, this is another solid draft for Floyd Reese.

Minnesota - They may not know how to use the clock or understand the rules, but the Vikings did an admirable job of selecting players this weekend. Defensive lineman Kevin Williams and linebacker EJ Henderson are terrific additions to a defense that had difficulty stopping the run. Receiver Nate Burleson has a reliable pair of hands that can help take the pressure off of Randy Moss. Factor in middle and late round picks Onterio Smith, Eddie Johnson, as well as Mike Nattiel, and the Vikings come away from this draft with starters and depth.

Philadelphia -The Eagles traded a second round choice for the opportunity to move into the middle of round on and select Jerome McDougle, a relentless pass rusher who should immediately slide into the spot vacated by Hugh Douglas. They then picked up the player they coveted, tight end LJ Smith, during the second round and another pair of reliable hands in receiver Billy McMullen. Factor in terrific values such as defensive end Jamaal Green and offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges during the second day, and this team, which was one game away from last year's Super Bowl, had a terrific weekend.

St. Louis - The Rams are a psychotic franchise come April; they have terrific drafts one year then leave you scratching your head the following April. This weekend's version was of the good variety. Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy was a terrific value and a dominant lineman, if he plays to his uppermost level. Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald are both speed receivers perfectly suited for the Rams offense. While outside linebacker Shurron Pierson has great long term potential.

Losers
New York Jets - The Jets gave away three picks in order to assure they'd get the man atop of their board, defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, and they deserve credit for that. Unfortunately, they fell asleep at the wheel the remainder of the weekend and constantly reached for prospects two rounds earlier than most projected they'd be drafted.

Miami - The Dolphins had three prime needs coming into the draft, but may have only filled one. Wade Smith upgrades the talent at several offensive line positions and, except for one other player (Tim Provost), the rest of the draft is characterized by players who more than likely would've ended up as free agents had the Dolphins not selected them.

Indianapolis - You wouldn't think the Colts needed help on defense looking at their draft. Taking Mike Doss in round two was good value but there were several solid defensive prospects throughout the seven rounds they passed up.

Carolina - The Panthers reached for need all through the draft rather than taking the best player available; hence they leave this weekend with a lot of mediocre prospects.

Cleveland - They drafted center Jeff Faine much too early, especially when several top tackles were still available to them. Third round pick, safety Cris Crocker, was on nobody's draft board. Day two brought good value, but only if the players selected overcome injuries.

San Diego - The Chargers needed both offensive and defensive linemen, as well as receivers, yet take three defensive backs, two who are projects. The Chargers selected offensive tackle Courtney Van Buren three rounds too early.



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