Mid-term NFC Draft GradesSaturday, April 26, 2008
These are mid-term grades. The final grades will be in by Sunday night.
The Cards didn't give in to trade inquires about Anquan Boldin and secured two players with exceptional upside in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at No. 16 and Calais Campbell at No. 50. Both players fit their scheme, although neither may have an instant impact.
Atlanta reached to fill needs with Matt Ryan at No. 3 and USC tackle Sam Baker at No. 21, surrendering two second-rounders to Washington to acquire Baker. They probably could've had him at No. 34. Oklahoma ILB Curtis Lofton was a strong pick.
The Panthers have to like what they came away with (Jonathan Stewart and Jeff Otah), but giving up a 2009 first-round pick, a second-rounder, and a fourth-rounder was a bit much. Still, these players are pretty close to sure things and will help immediately.
Matt Forte, who Chicago tabbed at No. 44, will probably replace Cedric Benson as a starter in 2008. Chris Williams shores up the blind side, although he needs to add strength. The Bears still need a quarterback.
In a small surprise, the Cowboys went with Felix Jones over Rashard Mendenhall at No. 22. They got an excellent cover corner in Mike Jenkins, but parted with two picks to move up three spots for him. Martellus Bennett should prove to be a more explosive backup for Jason Witten than Anthony Fasano.
The Lions moved down two spots in the first and still got their right tackle (Gosder Cherilus). But Tatum Bell is still their starting running back and that is a problem. Second-rounder Jordon Dizon has potential, but at 6'0/226 probably won't help against the run. The defensive line still stinks.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers used their usual best-player-available strategy with each pick, from No. 37 (Jordy Nelson) to No. 56 (Brian Brohm), and came away with a solid cornerback prospect (Auburn's Patrick Lee) at the end of the second round. GM Ted Thompson knows what he's doing.
The Vikings' first-round pick went towards Jared Allen. They sent their second- and fourth-round picks to Philadelphia to nab Tyrell Johnson at No. 43. Presumably, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is confident he can teach Johnson how to cover. They did get a fifth-rounder back in that deal.
New Orleans Saints
The price tag wasn't too much for New Orleans to move up three spots in the first round and grab a coveted defensive tackle (Sedrick Ellis). In a draft that has only two surefire studs at the position, that was a sound move. Tracy Porter of Indiana at No. 40 was a steal. No Lito Sheppard or Jeremy Shockey, though.
New York Giants
New York kept Jeremy Shockey and came away with two physical defensive backs – Terrell Thomas and Kenny Phillips. Phillips has great upside and could be an immediate starter. Thomas isn't a strong bet to be more than a nickel guy.
By trading out of the 19th spot, the Birds picked up a first-rounder in next year's draft. They also took an explosive first-round talent (DeSean Jackson) at No. 47 overall. Notre Dame DT Trevor Laws, who Philadelphia got 47th, has a motor that never stops running.
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners took two projects (Chilo Rachal and Kentwan Balmer) with their top picks. Rachal was a need pick after RG David Baas underwent surgery for a torn pectorals, but neither is a sure bet to be a solid starter. Both were boom-or-bust picks for a team that wasn't very good last year.
Seattle picked up fifth- and seventh-rounders from Dallas to move down three spots in the first round. There they grabbed DE Lawrence Jackson in a value move. TE John Carlson (at No. 38) is ready to start.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams got a good player and filled a need with Chris Long, but went against their draft board to get him. They then reached for Houston wideout Donnie Avery, a raw projected third-rounder who may not be ready to do more than return kicks, with the No. 33 overall pick. It doesn't get much worse.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Aqib Talib was a fine gamble at No. 20 overall, but the Bucs stretched for Appalachian State Dexter Jackson in a major way. Devin Thomas, the Michigan State wideout, should've been a strong consideration in place of Talib.
The Redskins secured three weapons for Jason Campbell – Fred Davis, Malcolm Kelly, and Devin Thomas. But really, how much is Davis going to help? They could've at least used a pick to help one of their thin lines.