GRADING THE NFL DRAFT

I always laugh on ESPN when they say this draft will take a few years before we actually know who the winners and loser are. Then, Kiper and McShay make there snap grades based on nothing but there opinion and fire up there early 2011 mock draft. So, let’s do the sane thing and look back at the 2005 draft.

First Round

San Francisco 49ers: The 9ers picked Alex Smith(1) and showed why the first pick in an always unenviable position. Smith inked a six year 49 million dollar contract, and has really not produced at all to that level. On his Career, he has a 55% completion percentage and 37 TDs/43 Ints, although he was better last season.

Miami Dolphins: Taking a running back early has seemed to fall out of favor the past couple years and Ronnie Brown(2) could be a reason why. When healthy, Brown was good averaging over 4 yards per carry every year with the Dolphins and leading a nice wildcat attack. However, he missed significant time in 2009 and 2007, which cut into his production.

Cleveland Browns: There’s definitely a reason why some teams continue to play terribly. Taking Braylon Edwards third and paying him a reported 20 million guaranteed over 5 years is one of those reasons. Not only is Edwards no longer on the team, he was ranked 48th, 77th(below replacement), 24th, and 64th, respectively, in FO’s DYAR for wide recievers the last four years. Not exactly top pick production there.

Chicago Bears: Cedric Benson(4) ended up starting only 12 games for the Bears and never rushing for more than 700 yards in a season. He did rush for over 1200 yards last season, but it’s hard to give the Bears credit for that when it came for another team.

Tampa Bay: Maybe this year’s class was heavy at different positions, but I’d like to hope the prevailing wisdom is drifting away from taking the flashy skill players in the top-5. Cadillac Williams was the 3rd RB along with a WR and QB taken in the top-5. Williams has struggled with injuries, and really hasn’t been that productive when on the field, so its hard to say this was worth it. This is the danger of picking a RB so high, it seems like these guys are a dime a dozen if you have good parts around them, so why pay them a ton of money on a crapshoot?

Tennessee: PacMan Jones.

Minnesota Vikings: It’s safe to say that I would be screaming at my TV that no lineman had been taken yet as the Vikings selected Troy Williamson. I have a hunch will see some good bargains at O-line later. Williamson maxed out at 37 catches in 2006 and never had more than 500 yards recieving for the Vikings. He is currently on the Jaguars, though he only played in 2 games last year.

Arizona Cardinals: Antrel Rolle(8) has been a solid contributor to the Arizona defense, playing in at least 15 games since after his rookie season. Arizona has only had a mediocre to bad pass defense in that time, but Rolle does have 12 career interceptions.

Washington Redskins: As you can see from the top-7 picks, it’s easy to do worse than take a solid contributor like Carlos Rogers (9) early in the draft. Though he’s never really been anything special, and probably not as good as Rolle, he did start a majority of the games for the Redskins the past two years, which isn’t awful.

Detroit Lions: Mike Williams (10). I want to go back and scream at this draft, SOMEONE TAKE A LINEMAN!!! Williams has just 41 more career catches(44) than teams he’s been on(3). On the brightside, this is part of the lineage that led to 0-16, Matt Stafford and Ndamakong Suh.

Dallas Cowboys: Demarcus Ware(11). Hey, look, someone listened. Ware has probably been the strongest contributor of the first 11, as he only missed 1 start and has played in all games throughout his 5 year career with 64.5 sacks. Dallas’ defensive line has basically been average for the past 3 years, but there is something to be said for a 5 year contributor for 36 million less than Alex Smith.

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers selected Sean Merriman(12) as part of there deal with Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers. Merriman has been less productive in his career than Ware, but he also missed a season due to injury and has been a solid part of the Chargers defense. Can’t argue with that at 12.

New Orleans Saints: Finally, a offensive lineman as the Saints took Jamaal Brown 13th. Brown did not play at all last year because of injuries, but started 15 games three times before 2009 and made two pro bowls. I hate to make judgments after 13 picks, but this draft pretty much shows you why there were no QBs, RBs or WRs taken nearly as high this year. The ROI on the lineman was so much higher to this point.

Carolina Panthers: Thomas Davis(14) played safety at Georgia, but moved to outside linebacker in the NFL. An injury forced him to miss 9 games last year, but other than that he has been a regular in the Carolina lineup.

Kansas City Chiefs: Derrick Johnson(15). Johnson played in most of the Chiefs games from 2005-2009, but his role declined last year as the Chiefs moved to a 3-4. I guess they could have done worse here, but it’s not like Johnson has been anything special.

Houston Texans: Houston swapped spots with NO in this draft and ended up taking DT Travis Johnson(16). Johnson was a regular in the Texans lineup before being traded to San Diego in 2009. The Texan’s defensive line was not very good during that time, but I guess he was a not quite the black hole that other teams picked.

Cincinnati Bengals: A little bad luck here as David Pollack(17) suffered a major neck injury and is no longer in the NFL. Pollack did okay as a rookie, but never really got the chance to show how good or bad he could be due to the injury.

Minnesota Vikings: Erasmus James(18) has to be considered a bust. He has 5 career sacks and is out of the league. He played in 15 games his rookie year, but only 13 since.

St. Louis Rams: Alex Barron(19) has played in 60 career games for the Rams in 5 years. He hasn’t exactly been a pro-bowler and the Rams have ranked between below-average and average on the line by FO’s rankings, but again there is something to be said for showing up for 5 years.

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys took their second defensive lineman of the first round at 20 with Marcus Spears. Spears has had nowhere near the success that DeMarcus Ware has had in the NFL, and the Cowboys defensive line has never been great by FO’s rankings, but it’s not like this is a total whiff. He’s played in all 16 games in 5 years.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Taking Matt Jones(21) seemed like a poor idea then. He never played WR in college and in fairness to him, didn’t play it much in the pros. His best year he had 65 catches for over 700 yards, but was out of the NFL last year and now on the Bengals rosters.

Baltimore Ravens: It’s like people went a little WR crazy in this draft and the Ravens wanted a WR and had to grab him early with Mark Clayton (22). Clayton had a strong year in 2006, and remains an active contributor to the Ravens, but he’s not exactly a star.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders took Fabian Washington(23) . Washington has started 22/22 games he’s played in the last two years…for the Ravens. He gave Oakland 2 solid years and had 5 interceptions there, but he seems to be nothing special.

Green Bay Packers: Remember when Aaron Rodgers(24) sat in the waiting room forever to fall to the Packers? That was 2005. You have to remember when judging this Rodgers did take 3 years on the bench to develop, but has been a top-10 QB with a 63% career completion percentage and 59/21 TD/INT rate. All this for only 5.4 guaranteed up front.

Washington Redskins: It’s hard to crucify the Redskins for taking Jason Campbell(25) here. Campbell turned into an average QB, for a lot less money than Alex Smith. If the Redskins made a mistake, it was giving up on him too early when they clearly had other holes that affected his performance.

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks completed my favorite draft move when the traded down(with Oakland) and took center Chris Spencer(26). Spencer has been a starter for a generally weak unit when healthy.

Atlanta Falcons: Roddy White(27) might have gone too high as a WR, but based on what went before him, this shapes up as a pretty good pick. White has three consecutive 1000+ yard receiving seasons.

San Diego Chargers: Luis Castillo(28). The Chargers and Cowboys appeared to be ahead of the curve here taking multiple lineman in round 1 and having a lot of success in the following years. He had 7 sacks from the DT position in 2006 and has since declined but remained a regular in the lineup when healthy.

Indianapolis Colts: Marlin Jackson(29). Jackson has had injury problems, but had a few good years. Now on the Eagles rosters.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Heath Miller (30). Miller hasn’t given the Steelers a ton of production never getting over 800 receiving yards in a season. That being said, he has played a significant amount and remains around the 10th best tight end in the league according to FO.

Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Patterson(31) has started all but one game on and Eagles defensive line that Football Outsiders has ranked near the top-10 in each of the last 3 years. Not a surprise that a team like the Eagles that has remained a winning team gets production from the top of their draft.

New England Patriots: Taking Logan Mankins(32) was a great pick by Bill Belicheck. He has started all 80 games on the Patriots O-line and he’s been to the pro-bowl twice. Since 2007, the New England offensive line has never been worse than 5th on FO. This kind of production from basically a second rounder is definitely a success for the Patriots.

Ranking the First Round Top-5
1. Logan Mankins(Patriots)
2. Aaron Rodgers(Packers)
3. DeMarcus Ware(Cowboys)
4. Jamaal Brown(New Orleans)
5. Sean Merriman(San Diego)

Ranking the First Round bottom-5
5. PacMan Jones(Tennessee)
4. Matt Jones(Jacksonville)
3. Braylon Edwards(Cleveland)
2. Alex Smith(San Francisco)
1. Mike Williams(Detroit)

The Patriots were the undoubted winners of this draft, grabbing two starting OL on their undefeated squad and Matt Cassel in the seventh round who turned into a solid QB for them and much more valuable in a trade to KC.

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