Nicks is expected to replace Plaxico Burress immediately, but Barden could emerge as the next Burress.
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The New York Giants had a great weekend; they really improved their team. In the first round, they took North Carolina WR Hakeem Nicks, who I believe will be the best WR from this year's draft class. Nicks is a consistent pass catcher who has reliable hands. He lacks elite speed, but is quick and makes plays downfield. He’s a tough runner after the catch and doesn’t go down easily. He’s a complete receiver. Nicks will give Eli Manning the receiver he needs now that Plaxico Burress is no longer with the Giants.
The Giants selected Virginia LB Clint Sintim in the second round. The selection of Sintim will bolster the Giants linebacker core, however, he’s a classic 3-4 linebacker; he played the “elephant” position in Virginia’s 3-4 defense. At the Senior Bowl, Sintim got a taste of a 4-3 defense and played well under the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff. Also in the second frame, the Giants drafted Connecticut OT William Beatty. An athletic left tackle who has to get stronger, Beatty has a chance to develop into a front-line starter. In a draft that featured premier talent at the OT position, Beatty was mentioned as a possible first round pick, so it was a great value for the Giants to get him with the 60th pick.
On Day Two, the Giants continued to add the best value on the board and, at the same time, address needs on their team. Cal Poly WR Ramses Barden had great value in the third round, and with his 6-foot-6, 229-pound frame, he could ease the loss of Burress, as he possesses similar characteristics. An intriguing selection also occurred in the third round in the form of 6-foot-3, 243-pound Travis Beckum. As a junior, Beckum caught 75 passes for 982 yards and six touchdowns, but he battled injuries this past season and only played in six games. If he were at full health this past season, Beckum would have received first round consideration. In the fourth round, the Giants stole NC State RB Andre Brown. Brown had a tremendous offseason and displayed outstanding speed, strength and blocking technique. The biggest concern surrounding Brown is his durability. He had a second round grade coming into this weekend, but teams were concerned about his left foot, which he had surgery on twice. In the fifth round, the Giants added Sam Houston State QB Rhett Bomar. A former Oklahoma recruit and a gunslinger with a lot of potential, Bomar had some off the field issues that caused his stock to drop. He’s a solid developmental quarterback that will create depth, and, if he progresses over the next couple of years, the Giants could parlay him for a quality draft pick.
Most Intriguing Draft
Maualuga dropped to the second round and it will benefit the Bengals.
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On paper, the Bengals had a very productive draft. But for this draft to be a success, the players they drafted have to perform up to their abilities. In the first round, the Bengals rolled the dice on talented but troubled Alabama OT Andre Smith. Prior to his debacle at the Scouting Combine, Smith was a consensus top-three pick in the draft, and, if he lives up to his potential, the Bengals have a future All-Pro tackle. As far as quality, the Bengals got great value in the second round with USC LB Rey Maualuga. Maualuga is a first round talent that slipped into the second round, because there are teams that believe he’s only a two-down linebacker. With Maualuga, the Bengals take another step forward in solidifying their front seven and are able to pair Maualuga with his former USC teammate Keith Rivers, who was Cincinnati’s first round pick (9th overall) in 2008.
On Day Two, the Bengals selected two players that have the potential to make an immediate impact next season. With their first pick in the third round, the Bengals drafted the pass rusher they need in Georgia Tech’s Michael Johnson. At 6-foot-7, 266 pounds, Johnson has the physical attributes and the talent to be a dominant force, but too often at the collegiate level Johnson never lived up to the hype. Some believe he will be a better pro than college player. With their second pick in the third round, Cincinnati got the pass catching TE they need in their offense with Missouri’s Chase Coffman. Coffman was unable to workout this offseason, because of the foot injury he suffered on the last offensive play in the Alamo Bowl. He’s an elite pass catcher and a solid blocker when he’s healthy and will become a favorite target of Carson Palmer.
In the fourth round, the Bengals upgraded their offensive line with a player who will anchor the line for the next 10 years in Arkansas C Jonathan Luigs. In the deepest center class in recent memory, it’s amazing that a player of Luigs’ ability was available in the fourth round. The decision not to bring back last year’s starting center Eric Ghiaciuc gives Luigs an opportunity to become the starter this season. The Bengals selected the first punter in the fifth round and they didn’t look too far to settle on him. Cincinnati’s Kevin Huber had a tremendous career with the Bearcats and averaged 45 yards per punt last season. Huber will compete with Kyle Larson for the starting job.
A few other notable selections for the Bengals were: Michigan CB Morgan Trent (6th Round), Abilene Christian RB Bernard Scott (6th Round) and Memphis DT Clinton McDonald (7th Round). Trent has a great frame, but he lacks elite speed and has to get stronger. Scott, who’s an older prospect at 25 years old, has a world of talent and rushed for 2,156 yards and 28 touchdowns this past season. He has a laundry list of off the field problems, and that’s a concern moving forward. McDonald is a versatile defensive lineman who can play inside and outside and provides depth upfront.
The Raiders chose Heyward-Bey over Crabtree and Maclin; it was the wrong choice.
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With the camera in the green room focused on Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made his way to the podium to announce the Oakland Raiders selection. It seemed as though Crabtree was destined for Oakland, until, “With the seventh pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select, Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR from Maryland.” Are you serious? Personally at that point I ripped up my mock draft and threw it away. I don’t know how the Raiders can justify that selection. Heyward-Bey is a talented athlete, but he’s far from a finished product. He has game breaking ability, but what good is elite speed when you can’t run precise routes? Al Davis has to get over this fascination with players who possess rare size and speed, because he does this every year, and the Raiders don’t have the track record to continue the trend. The Heyward-Bey selection wasn’t the only baffling move; in the second round the Raiders found a way to almost top their opening round blunder by drafting Ohio SS Michael Mitchell. Michael Mitchell, a second round pick? I could see Mitchell as a late round selection, but to select a hard-hitting safety who has questionable cover skills from a school like Ohio in the second round is a major reach.
On Day Two, the Raiders made another perplexing pick by selecting talented, but often injured Wisconsin DE Matt Shaughnessy. Another Al Davis type of pick, the 6-foot-5, 266-pound Shaughnessy has tremendous ability as a pass rusher, but he’s been inconsistent and injured over his career. Georgia Tech DE Michael Johnson went one pick ahead of Shaughnessy, and it would have been interesting to see if the Raiders would have selected Johnson if he was on the board. He’s also an Al Davis type of player. The Raiders then used three of their next four picks on players who were destined to be undrafted free agents: Oregon State DE Slade Norris (4th Round), Missouri DE Stryker Sulak (6th Round) and Iowa TE Brandon Myers (6th Round). The one selection that I viewed as a value pick for the Raiders was their first fourth round pick, Florida WR Louis Murphy. At 6-foot-2, 203 pounds, Murphy has nice size and possesses outstanding speed.
Besides it being a reach, another reason why I have a problem with the Heyward-Bey pick is because Murphy is the same exact player. If the Raiders selected Crabtree in the first round and then drafted Murphy, they would have a nice tandem to build their team around. But instead, they have two players (Heyward-Bey and Murphy) that can't run routes, possess inconsistent hands and will frustrate you rather than excite you.
Best First Round Pick
I think Mark Sanchez has the potential to be a star in the NFL, especially now that he’s in a large media market like New York. He’s the complete package and has a Head Coach in Rex Ryan who saw first hand last year in Baltimore how a rookie quarterback can impact a team in his first year. The reason why this is such a great pick for the Jets is because they have the offensive line to protect Sanchez if he’s the starter from Day One. In most cases, when a team drafts a quarterback in the top ten, they’re missing valuable pieces on offense that will make the transition from college to the pros as smooth as possible. The Jets don’t have to worry about that, because they’ve built one of the best offensive lines in football, and with Sanchez’s ability to pick apart a defense, he should have instant success in New York.
Best First Round Surprise
As much as I believe Darrius Heyward-Bey was the wrong selection for the Oakland Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs reaching for LSU DE Tyson Jackson was a surprise. I thought the Chiefs would trade back in the first round, pick up extra draft picks and select the best defenders on the board with those selections. But after failing to move back, they decided to take the player they coveted the most. The vision is that Jackson can be a Richard Seymour type of player in the Chiefs new 3-4 scheme. Also, reuniting Jackson with his former LSU teammate Glenn Dorsey, who was the 5th pick overall in 2008, was an intriguing thought to the front office. Jackson had his best season at LSU as a sophomore (10 sacks) playing next to Dorsey.
Best First Round Value Pick
Maclin fell in the first round and the Eagles made a move to get him.
AP Photo/H Rumph Jr
The stars aligned for the Philadelphia Eagles when the Oakland Raiders selected Darrius Heyward-Bey, because it allowed Jeremy Maclin to fall in the draft. Maclin was considered to be a top-ten talent, which is why the selection was so masterful. The Eagles traded up from No. 21 to 19 with the Cleveland Browns, who had already made two moves back in the draft, and it allowed them to secure the Missouri game breaker. At 6-foot, 198 pounds, Maclin brings speed and strength to an offense that already has Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis. The potential impact Maclin can have from the start is exciting, and, with all of the other moves Philadelphia made this offseason, the Eagles are one of the favorites in the NFC to make it to the Super Bowl.
Best Second Round Pick
It’s hard to believe that a player with Everette Brown’s potential, who I consistently had projected as a top-20 pick, could fall into the second round. But in a draft filled with hybrid defenders, teams that run a 3-4 defense were concerned about Brown’s ability to drop back and play OLB. The hybrids were very popular in the first round, and that allowed Brown to fall into the second round. But the Carolina Panthers, who didn’t have a first round pick this year, saw the first round value in Brown and traded their first round pick in 2010 to select him. With Julius Peppers’ future uncertain in Carolina, the selection of Brown makes sense and could make Peppers expendable.
Worst Second Round Pick
Michael Mitchell, S, Ohio (Oakland Raiders)
When you select a player that wasn’t even ranked on many draft boards, that’s considered to be a reach. And to select that player on the first day of the draft is insane. Michael Mitchell may have great measurables and some potential, but drafting him ahead of Missouri’s William Moore is the kind of move that sets back a franchise for years.
Best Third Round Pick
Ramses Barden, WR, Cal Poly (New York Giants)
The selection of Ramses Barden is great for the Giants because it gives them a big, physical receiver who could eventually play a similar role to the one Plaxico Burress had in the offense. At 6-foot-6, 229 pounds, Barden has great measurables and the ability to be an outstanding redzone threat. Barden is the type of receiver who will be successful in the NFC East, and Eli Manning will have a lot of fun throwing his signature fade route to him.
Worst Third Round Pick
Derek Cox, CB, William & Mary (Jacksonville Jaguars)
This pick rivals the Raiders selection of Michael Mitchell. Derek Cox was nowhere to be found on any draft rankings and, for the Jaguars to select him in the third round over some really good corners is baffling. He has good size and cover skills, but coming from Division I-AA is going to be a transition.
Best Fourth Round Pick
After a solid offseason, Brown was supposed to be a second rounder, but fell to the fourth round.
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Andre Brown, RB, NC State (New York Giants)
Again, the Giants did an excellent job in the draft. They got value in every round and the selection of Andre Brown in the fourth round was a great move. The Giants didn’t resign Derrick Ward, and they needed a tough runner to fill the vacancy. Brown has had injury problems in the past, but when healthy, he’s a productive runner. At the Senior Bowl, Brown was the best running back on the field and was consistent all week at practice and during the game. He’s a strong runner between the tackles, catches the ball nicely out of the backfield and demonstrates solid blocking technique. The Giants stole Brown.
Worst Fourth Round Pick
This wasn’t a bad pick, but a bit of a reach. I thought there were better receivers on the board than Brian Hartline. Hartline has good size, but he’s nothing more than a possession receiver. I thought Florida’s Louis Murphy or Rice’s Jarett Dillard were better options for the Dolphins at the time.
Best Fifth Round Pick
Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina (Green Bay Packers)
I know there are off the field concerns surrounding Jamon Meredith, but as far as a tackle that has the measurables, experience and versatility to be successful at the next level; he may be one of the best in this year’s class. Meredith started 38 games at South Carolina, including eight at right guard, 11 at right tackle and 19 at left tackle. This was a tremendous pick by the Packers, who desperately needed depth at OT with Chad Clifton getting older and the future of Mark Tauscher uncertain.
Worst Fifth Round Pick
The selection of Cody Glenn was mystifying. He’s a former running back who switched to OLB this past season. He’s been injured during his career and had limited production last year, before being suspended for violating team rules. The Redskins needed help at linebacker, and I’m sure they would have selected Ohio State’s Marcus Freeman if he were available. But passing on Jamon Meredith, who would have added depth on the Redskins offensive line, and reaching for a player that has character and injury concerns doesn’t make sense.
Best Sixth Round Pick
This was an outstanding pick by the Browns. Grabbing James Davis was smart and it gives Cleveland a solid running back that they can eventually turn their running game over to, especially since Jamal Lewis is getting a little older and his production dipped last season. The misconception is that Davis has a lot of tread on his wheels, because he’s a big back. But the fact that he never had over 214 carries in a season and shared time with C.J. Spiller over the last few seasons makes Davis fresh, and he could have an instant impact.
Worst Sixth Round Pick
Quinten Lawrence, WR, McNeese State (Kansas City Chiefs)
It’s hard to say that a guy was a bad pick this late in the draft, because you’re trying to identify diamonds in the rough. But Quinten Lawrence is a one-dimensional, small school wide receiver, who missed most of his senior year with a leg injury. He’s undersized, lacks strength and always looks to get deep; not a good route runner. Washington State WR Brandon Gibson was a better option for the Chiefs in the sixth round.
Best Seventh Round Pick
As far as talent taken in the seventh round, Liberty RB Rashad Jennings was the best pure talent. But as far as fit and quality of player, A.Q. Shipley fits like a glove in Pittsburgh. Shipley was expected to go a few rounds earlier, but with him falling to the Steelers, a team that’s looking for depth on the offensive line, he has a chance to make the team as a backup.
Mid Round Gem
Dillard will learn from one of the games best WRs in Torry Holt and has a chance to be special.
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Jarett Dillard, WR, Rice (Jacksonville Jaguars)
In the fifth round, the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted one of the most underrated wide receivers in the entire draft, Jarett Dillard. Dillard had a prolific career at Rice, and this past season he caught 87 passes for 1,310 yards and led the nation with 20 touchdowns. At 5-foot-10, 191 pounds, Dillard is likely to be a slot receiver for the Jaguars, but can split out wide in certain formations. He will have a great mentor in Torry Holt and has an opportunity to be a major contributor this season.
An intriguing quarterback with prototypical size and tremendous upside, Mike Teel has a chance to develop into a very good NFL starter. He’s had an up-and-down college career, but when he’s doing well, there are not many quarterbacks better than him. After almost being benched for a slow start to his senior year, Teel rebounded and finished the season on a positive note, throwing 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions over the last eight games of the season. In Seattle, Teel will have an opportunity to learn from Matt Hasselbeck and get comfortable in an offense that fits his strengths.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Liberty (Jacksonville Jaguars)
A player that was thought of as a potential second round pick, but ultimately fell into the seventh round, Rashad Jennings experienced something you never wish on anyone. At 6-foot-1, 231 pounds, Jennings is a physical back that has good speed and agility. He performed well at the Senior Bowl, but failed to impress in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. Although, he ran faster at his Pro Day, and it was believed he regained his second round status. The cause of his fall still remains a mystery; there has to be more to it than just the level of competition he faced at Liberty.
Undrafted Free Agent to NFL Starter
A former Boston College recruit, Joseph transferred from BC after his freshman year and has shined at Florida Atlantic ever since. The 6-foot-1, 242-pound tackling machine is an instinctive linebacker, who diagnoses the action very well and attacks the line of scrimmage. This past season, Joseph had 154 tackles, nine for a loss and half of a sack. Joseph was projected to be a mid-to-late round draft pick, but teams were concerned with his speed and the fact that he may only be a two-down linebacker. He agreed to terms with the Oakland Raiders and will compete for a roster spot.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.