Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Winners and losers of the 2009 NFL draft

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 “This draft is another cry for help by the Raiders as they keep taking players based on outdated theories about what works in the NFL,” he wrote.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

Sanchez ready to call New York home

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Richard Cato is blogging the NFL draft

Catching a late cross-country flight, the top pick of the New York Jets, Mark Sanchez, made a surprise appearance at Radio City Music Hall today for day 2 of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Taking a tour of the Jets facilities earlier in the day, the former USC quarterback was greeted with cheers as he took the stage wearing a Jets hat.

First round intrigue

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Richard Cato, blogging from the NFL draft, sums up the first round:

The Detroit Lions came to a record-setting agreement with top pick Matt Stafford late last night. So much for a surprise with the top pick. Luckily the rest of the first round made up for it. From the surprising slide of top wide receiver Michael Crabtree to trades to tough decisions, the first round had some interesting developments.

Following Stafford was Baylor tackle Jason Smith. Defensive End Ty Jackson moved into the top five with a selection by the Kansas City Chiefs which caused a slight slide effect. Linebacker Aaron Curry fell to Seattle at number four. This is a great pickup for the Seahawks.

Jets get their man

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Richard Cato is blogging from the NFL draft:

Following the retirement of Brett Farve, the Jets were in the market for a new franchise quarterback.  A timely trade with the Cleveland Browns solved that dillema and at the same time placated the Jets faithful.  Trading its first and second picks in addition to a few minor players, the Jets were able to claim USC standout Mark Sanchez with the 5th pick in the 2009 draft.  Sanchez had gained much attention in the days leading up to the draft.

Jets fans, famous for their limited patience with draft selections over the years, rejoiced as the news of a trade was made.  There was some speculation that they might have chosen Texas Tech stud receiver Michael Crabtree, but it was obvious that the crowd yearned for a quarterback.  Chants of “J-E-T-S” echoed through Radio City Music Hall.  Most fans were confident that they now have their quarterback of the future and a new face for the franchise. 

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