2007 NFL Draft: Team Grades (Part I)  

Posted by Walter

AFC East

Miami Dolphins: F
Best Pick - Abraham Wright, 7th Round
Worst Pick - Ted Ginn, 1st Round

Looking at the 2007 Miami draft class, the only word that comes to mind is disaster. The Fins passed on Brady Quinn at #9, only to draft a wideout who has an injured foot and can't run anything except vertical routes. Then, they reached for a QB in round 2 when they drafted John Beck about 20 picks too early. While we here at the323 won't kill them for passing on the overrated Quinn, we will kill them for using that pick on the overrated Ginn, especially when they don't have a QB to throw him the ball. Oh, and their best offensive player is a wide receiver. And they let Wes Welker go, who is an undersized return man who will be paid significantly less than Ginn. Seriously, ugh.

Buffalo Bills: B-
Best Pick - Trent Edwards, 3rd Round
Worst Pick - Marshawn Lynch, 1st Round

Aside from blowing the #12 pick in the draft on Lynch, Buffalo actually did a great job. Marv Levy and Co. were able to grab Paul Poszlusny, a sure fire starter, in round 2, and a top flight developmental quarterback (Trent Edwards) in round 3. Moreover, the Bills picked up several 323 favorites in Dwayne Wright, John Wendling and Derek Shouman in the late rounds. Each of those guys should make the roster, and could develop into all around solid playmakers. On the other hand, with #12, you HAVE to get a top quality player, Lynch is not. The depth of this draft class is its' saving grace.

New York Jets: B
Best Pick - David Harris, 2nd Round
Worst Pick - Chansi Stuckey, 7th Round

Give the Jets credit for moving up in round 1 to grab a cornerback, only thing is they drafted the wrong one. Darrell Revis is a nice player, but his lack of speed and quickness will severely limit what Eric Mangini can do with him. While he is similar to Ty Law, remember that Law struggled for years in man coverage before he got the right personnel around him. David Harris was a great second round choice, but Jacob Bender and Chansi Stuckey are uninspiring late round picks at best.

New England Patriots: B+
Best Pick - Brandon Meriweather (if he behaves), 1st Round
Worst Pick - Mike Richardson, 6th Round

You can't evaluate the Patriots draft without including Randy Moss and the first round pick in 2008 they picked up from San Fran. When all that is considered, you have to be impressed with what Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli did. Sitting at #28 with few intriguing prospects on the board, the Pats were able to trade that pick to SF for a 2008 first rounder (almost certain to be higher than 28) and a fourth round pick (that they turned into Randy Moss). Talk about getting something for nothing, you have to be impressed with that transaction. Regarding the players the Pats actually chose, it is somewhat of a mixed bag. Meriweather should be a keeper (if he behaves himself), but aside from Kareem Brown, Clint Oldenburg, Justin Rogers, and Oscar Lua, I wouldn't expect many of the draft choices to earn a roster spot on this veteran laden team. They had enough picks to move up more and go for quality over quantity.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: B-
Best Pick - Troy Smith, 5th Round
Worst Pick - Yamon Figures, 3rd Round

Overall an interesting haul for the Ravens. They have to be given credit for strengthening their offensive line with studs like Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda, but the team really didn't address their most glaring need that was explosive playmakers on offense. Figures should be almost exclusively a kick returner, and while I love Troy Smith he isn't going to help this offense at all until he supplants Steve McNair (sometime next year).

Cincinnati Bengals: B-
Best Pick - Leon Hall, 1st Round
Worst Pick - Kenny Irons, 2nd Round

There are things to like about the Bengals draft class, and things not to like. The major thing to like is Leon Hall, who was an absolute steal where they got him in round 1 and should start from day one. What's not to like, is that after Hall the Bengals really didn't draft to their needs. Kenny Irons is a nice player, but his lack of speed limits what he can do, and with Rudi Johnson and Chris Perry already on the roster, we have to wonder what his role is going to be. It's good value, but it's not a bargain if it doesn't fit. In all, other than a gimme pick with Hall, Cincy didn't impress with a single other selection.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B
Best Pick - Daniel Sepulveda, 4th Round
Worst Pick - Lawrence Timmons, 1st Round

Overall, the Steelers really did get some nice players in this draft. Timmons could develop into a starter, ditto for guys like Lamar Woodley and Matt Spaeth. What really held Pittsburgh back, though, was how far they reached for some of these guys. Woodley is the perfect example. He is a great fit as a Joey Porter type in Pittsburgh, but they reached all the way to the middle of round 2 to get him. Same for Spaeth, who is a great fit as a Tuman/Bruener type but was probably overdrafted a bit in round 3. Sepulveda may only be a punter, but he has a monster leg and will impact the 2007 Steelers more than any other pick. That said, considering Timmons is their "worst" pick, they generally did a good job, and didn't make too many mistakes.

Cleveland Browns: C+
Best Pick - Brady Quinn, 1st Round
Worst Pick - Brady Quinn, 1st Round

Here's the bottom line, the Browns entire draft comes down to how Quinn performs. If he turns into a stud, then the Browns locked up their starting QB and left tackle for the next 10 years. No price is too high to pay for that. If Quinn stinks up the joint (which we think he will), then the Browns will regret giving up what will probably be a high first round pick in 2008 to get him. Someone was going to pay a heavy ransom to nab the Golden QB, but it's obviously a gamble. Given what we know about Quinn, we can't support Cleveland's decision to bet the franchise on the kid from South Bend.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts
: B+
Best Pick - Tony Ugoh, 2nd Round
Worst Pick - Anthony Gonzalez, 1st Round

The B+ is really misleading. Personally I love what the Colts did in this draft. Frazier, on the other hand, believes that a team that lost as much as they did on defense shouldn't have spent their first round pick on a slot receiver. Hard to argue with that logic so the point is well taken. Regardless, Gonzalez should be a great fit with the Colts, and Bill Polian was able to pick up three potential starters on the first day in Tony Ugoh, Daymeoin Hughes (who is a great fit in the Colts cover 2 scheme) and Quinn Pitcock. Guys like Clint Session (4th) and Roy Hall (5th) were also great value.

Tennessee Titans: D-
Best Pick - Antonio Johnson, 5th Round
Worst Pick - Chris Henry, 2nd Round

A total train wreck. The Titans went into the draft desperately needing to do two things: replace Pacman Jones' presence in the secondary, and give VY some dynamic young weapons to work with. In our view, they accomplished neither. Mike Griffin is a decent player, but what they really needed was a lockdown corner, in the mold of Pacman. Well wouldn't you know that Chris Houston was staring right at them at #19 and they passed. To make matters worse, the Titans reached on Chris Henry in round two, buying that he is the player who blazed the 40 at the combine, and not the guy who couldn't crack 600 yards in three seasons at Arizona. The Titans did use some later picks on wideouts for VY (a 3rd on Paul Williams, a 4th on Chris Davis, and a 6th on Joel Filani), but didn't they already try and fail with this plan?

Jacksonville Jaguars: C+
Best Pick - Adam Podlesh, 4th Round
Worst Pick - Mike Walker, 3rd Round

A solid, if uninspiring, effort from Jacksonville. Reggie Nelson fills a need, but he is one of those guys who only started one year in college (think Brod Bunkley) so there is a major bust factor. Gotta love the pick of Jason Durant in round 2, but aside from Podlesh in 4 the rest of the draft was mediocre and most of those guys will probably end up being cut. Most of all, though, is the lack of offensive linemen chosen. Keeping Leftwich on the field has been a major problem for the Jags, and it doesn't appear that they addressed this at all. They didn't draft poorly, it's just hard to see where they really got better.

Houston Texans: C
Best Pick - Amobi Okoye, 1st Round
Worst Pick - Mario Williams, 1st Round (2006)

It just goes from bad to worse for the Texans. After absolutely blowing the draft last year, the Texans cut David Carr, overpaid for his replacement, and signed Ahman Green despite the giant fork sticking out of his back. You think the Texans regret passing on VY and sticking with Carr another season? More than that, you think they regret overpaying for Matt Schaub when Brady Quinn fell right into their laps? Either way, it's not their fault that Arizona reached and took the guy they really needed (Levi Brown), and they made a nice pick with Amobi Okoye. Still, I cannot help but think that this franchise would have been in a MUCH better position to improve if they had take VY or Bush last season. Frankly, other than Okoye, their draft was entirely underwhelming. Getting offensive line help in the 5th and 6th rounds seems a little late for a team that has given up a record number of sacks over the past several seasons.

3 comments

Clarett's Syndrome   says 3:47 PM

That seems to be a fair draft grade for my Bengals. What do you guys think of Ahmad Brooks?

Since I'm reading Moneyball, I've been thinking about team management a lot. Do you two think that there are any NFL or college programs that are run at a much higher level than all the others? Obviously the Patriots have been good for years, but part of that has to be the luck of Tom Brady's rise. The Steelers, the Broncos, even the Packers until the last few years, have all won so much in the last 10-12 years. What do you think the keys are? And do you think the key in football is just the head coach, his recruiting and his program?

As a former Hoo (UVA), I have a soft spot for Ahmad Brooks. He really is a gifted athlete, and there is no reason he shouldn't excel at the position.

That said, he has been a constant disappointment, failed to qualify for Virginia for a year, and then basically was forced to bail out when his attitude and off-field issues were threatening his chance to play college ball.

I think Brooks is worth taking a good, hard look at, and giving him every chance to succeed. He was a first round talent taken with a 3d round supplemental pick, so I liked the move, and we'll see if it pays off.

As for your other question, wow, it's a doozy. The short answer is: yes, some teams are simply run better than others, at both the college and pro level. That being said, we're going to have to take this one back to the lab for awhile.

As for me, I'm not a huge fan of Brooks. I think he is a supremely talented player who got by for years without having to work, and it's finally catching up to him. Not so sure he is ever going to be a top NFL middle backer, and more importantly he will never embody the type of leadership abilities that super bowl teams need out of that position.

As for your second question, it is a doozy, and perhaps worth its own feature. Still, that said I will give a short answer. In terms of managing a football team the most important thing is having a head coach and general manager who work well together. The way to succeed in the NFL is have your personnel people draft and sign players who fit into what the head coach wants to do. The model for this has to be the Pittsburgh Steelers (yes, that's right, not the NE Patriots). For the entire decade of the 90's the Steelers were impervious to free agency because they drafted so well and were able to find players in all round of the draft to replace the guys they lost. When an all pro like Chad Brown decided to bolt for the money, the Steelers had a ready replacement in Joey Porter (a 3rd round pick).

The Steelers were the model for building a team. If you draft well in the late rounds and can develop those guys to replace starters when they leave, you don't have to waste first round picks doing so. Both me and Frazier always kill teams for letting a player go in free agency and then using their first round pick to replace them (see Buffalo Bills). If you do that you never get any better. BUT, if you let a veteran player go via free agency, and you have a 3rd round pick like Joey Porter who you've been developing and is ready to step in without losing a step, then you can use that first round pick to improve your team.

I think your question is a great one, and I would love to elaborate more on this theory at a later date.

Thanks for reading and keep those questions coming.

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