Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Winners and losers of the 2009 NFL draft

Top NFL prospects stand together on stage before the start 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 “This draft is another cry for help by the Raiders as they keep taking players based on outdated theories about what works in the NFL,” he wrote.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.

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