Winners and losers of the 2009 NFL draft
Most football experts will tell you that it takes three full years to evaluate an NFL draft class, but don’t tell that to the media, who are only too happy to provide the instant gratification of a thumbs up or down analysis after less than 72 hours.
Draft guru Mel Kiper of ESPN gave the Green Bay Packers his highest grade, an A, based primarily on their top two picks of defensive tackle B.J. Raji and outside linebacker Clay Matthews. While the Oakland Raiders, who selected the speedy, but unpolished wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bay with the seventh overall pick and the Dallas Cowboys, who didn’t have a pick until the third round after trading away earlier selections, both received the lowest mark of D.
Yahoo! Sports columnist Jason Cole broke down the AFC and really liked what the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens accomplished on the weekend and was completely befuddled by the Raiders. “This draft is another cry for help by the Raiders as they keep taking players based on outdated theories about what works in the NFL,” he wrote. But fellow Yahoo! Sports writer Charles Robinson agreed with Kiper, saying the Packers addressed almost all of the teams needs.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com absolutely loved what the Philadelphia Eagles did, giving them an A+, but it wasn’t just for the players they drafted. When Jeremy Maclin, widely considered the second best receiver in the draft, fell all the way to the 19th pick, the Eagles pounced moving up two spots to grab him. They also traded five draft picks for Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters and cornerback Ellis Hobbs.
Not everyone handed out letters but that didn’t make them hold back their views. Peter King of Sports Illustrated really liked the drafts of Baltimore — “First two picks were gems for a team that rarely blows the high picks. Cincinnati, Hard to knock this draft. Impossible, quite frankly. Might be the most starry top four since Hunley-Koch-Blados-Esiason of 1984″ — and Philadelphia: “Now, no one knows if Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy are going to be players. But getting them at 19 and 53, respectively, constitutes the best value picking of any team on day one of the draft.”
Whose draft did King dislike? Dallas. “Who knows these guys? Sounds like a special-teams jamboree in San Antonio this summer and the New York Giants, Sorry. I still can’t figure why, with five picks in the top three rounds, they didn’t go get Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards,” he said.
The biggest story of the weekend, the New York Jets trading three players and two picks for the right to select USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, was fairly well received by most media outlets. But if Sanchez isn’t leading the Jets’ Super Bowl charge within the next three years, all of that could change.
Right now, though, only the Raiders appear to be wrong.