Thomas: Who Nailed It / Who Failed It

NFL Draft Insider Dave-Te Thomas looks at who made the right choices, and the foolish ones, last weekend. Unique insight from a personnel pro who has worked with and for NFL decision-makers...

I usually like to wait a few days to fully digest the draft proceeding rather than make a rash judgment. I take into consideration the teams' needs, but also delve into the philosophy of each organization's brain trust.

No one can really get a good feel for their draft selections until at least three years down the road, giving these players time to adjust to life in the pro ranks. Whether I agree or disagree with their choice, they have to live with it. I just have to expound on my thoughts, whether logical or twisted. With that in mind and gazing into my crystal ball, here is a look at the Round One choices, along with what I feel that the team Should Have Done (where I totally disagree with their pick) or Could Have Done (another option available to them with that selection).

I hate those monikers like draft guru or draft expert, but in my best Brooklyn, New York, Italian-American style, "If I Wuz Da Boss" here is what I would have done if I was selecting on Draft Day and to whom I compare the player the team selected.

Who Went
Who Should've/Could've Been Taken
1. DETROIT
Matthew Stafford-QB
Georgia
Should Have Taken
Aaron Curry-OLB
Wake Forest
The Lions felt they needed to take the rifle-armed passer, but even though they gave him a huge contract, they must be wondering if his "pedestrian" career at Georgia will spell the second coming of Joey Harrington. Most felt that Curry was the "safest" bet in this draft. If Detroit would have gone this route, Curry more than likely would have played middle linebacker, flanked by Ernie Sims and newly acquired Julian Peterson, which would have given the Lions perhaps the best linebacker unit in the NFC.
Compares To     
JAY CUTLER-Chicago…Like Cutler, Stafford displays excellent arm strength. He is nimble moving around for a player his size, but is best throwing from the pocket than on the move. He could have used another year of college ball to work on improving his accuracy on underneath and crossing patterns and will never be a threat with his feet. He will get too confident in his superb arm strength, but he can make all the throws and when he steps up in the pocket, a team that loves the vertical passing game could get the same success that Atlanta and Baltimore experienced with their rookie quarterbacks in 2008.
2. SAINT LOUIS
Jason Smith-OT

Baylor
Could Have Taken
Mark Sanchez-QB

Southern California
After letting oft-injured Orlando Pace go, the Rams desperately needed to add a stud at left tackle. Enter Jason Smith, the best athlete in this draft. Still, it was tough to pass on QB Mark Sanchez, especially with Marc Bulger perhaps in his last year at the helm for the Rams. My only problem is where they are going to play Smith. I find it a bit illogical that they took the best left tackle in college football and will have him play on the right side for a year. Alex Barron, a bust to date, is in his final year with St. Louis, but rather than let the "Dead Man Walking" stay at right tackle until he bolts in 2010, they shift him to the left side, where he was penalized fifteen times and gave up eight sacks in 2007 and make Smith play out of position at right tackle. With that type of pretzel logic, they would have been better served grooming a franchise quarterback in Sanchez while Bulger takes a beaten behind this makeshift offensive line in 2009.
Compares To
ERIC STEINBACH-Cleveland
…Yes, Steinbach is an offensive guard, but both have the initial quickness and outstanding athleticism to excel in a zone blocking scheme as an interior lineman. Smith needs to add at least another 20 pounds of bulk to handle the rigors of playing left tackle at the next level. His lack of great footwork and need to improve his stance could be covered up better playing inside for a year or two. Remember, he is still a neophyte at the left tackle position (19 starts). Once his body matures, his athletic skills will make him a quality left tackle in the mold of another former college tight end, Jason Peters (Buffalo).
3. KANSAS CITY
Tyson Jackson-DE

Louisiana State
Should Have Taken
Aaron Curry-SOLB

Wake Forest
Maybe Scott Pioli will put a statue of Jackson in the locker room, as he at least got a bust here. There is one thing to commit to a scheme and another to fill a need. With Tank Tyler and Glen Dorsey, the team already had two linemen playing out of position in the new 3-4 defense. Now, they bring in another tackle type, coupling it by taking another run stuffer with their next pick in Purdue's Alex Magee. That leaves absolutely no one to get to the opposing quarterback, as KC had just ten sacks to show for their "genius" in letting Jared Allen bolt to the Vikings the previous year. With two aging linebackers in Mike Vrabel and Zach Thomas manning the left side, Curry would have brought much needed youth and the Chiefs could have hoped and prayed that Tamba Hali would finally live up to his first round pick at the left defensive end. Jackson will soon go down as one of the biggest busts in Chiefs history.
Compares To
MARCUS SPEARS-Dallas…Like his former teammate, Jackson shows flashes of brilliance to entice you, but you can see an overall lack of consistency in his game. He is probably a better fit as a defensive tackle, where his adequate burst and change of direction agility will not be exposed as much than when working on the edge. That versatility will likely make him more inviting to a team that will utilize a 3-4 alignment.
4. SEATTLE-Aaron Curry-SOLB
Wake Forest
Could Have Taken
Michael Crabtree-WR

Texas Tech
The Seahawks certainly found a gem in Curry, despite a glaring need at wide receiver and a potential chance of getting the quarterback of the future in Mark Sanchez. Curry steps right into the lineup to fill the pass rush vacancy created when Seattle traded Julian Peterson to Detroit during the off-season, but it came at the cost of the Seahawks cutting Leroy Hill to make room for Curry. With T.J. Houshmandzadeh ( or as I just call T.J.-Eye Chart) at one receiver position, Crabtree would have been a nice fit on the opposite side, moving Nate Burleson into the slot.
Compares To
DERRICK JOHNSON-Kansas City…Like the Chiefs finally realized with Johnson, hopefully, the NFL team that drafts Curry will do likewise and play him in the middle. He has very good athleticism making plays in front of him, but bites often on play action, lacks good depth playing in the zone and is a bit too stiff to generate the sideline-to-sideline range to make impact plays on the outside, where he struggles to stop the runner's forward momentum. He can clog the rush lanes when he stays low in his pads. Put him inside in a 3-4 alignment and he can be equally productive getting to the quarterback as he did in college. Play him on the outside and he will be exposed in a quick and deep passing game.
5. NEW YORK JETS
Mark Sanchez-QB

Southern California
Perfect Fit
 
(Jets acquired the No. 5 overall pick from Cleveland and former coach Eric Mangini for their first-round pick, No. 17 overall, their second-round pick this year, No. 52), and defensive end Kenyon Coleman, safety Abram Elam and quarterback Brett Ratliff). The Jets were determined to make a splash and after the Brett Favre debacle, look for Eli Manning to take a back seat to the new darling QB in New York City. Unlike the four teams listed above, the Jets not only made a bold move, but found a guy that outside of Cinderella and the glass slipper, could not have been a more perfect fit,
Compares To     
TRENT EDWARDS-Buffalo…Sanchez, like Edwards, is just starting to come into his own. He was groomed in a pro-style offense since his prep days and while he might lack the game experience of Matthew Stafford or the Georgia passer's incredible arm strength, he does show a lot of moxie on the field, along with good patience and excellent timing and touch. He needs to be in a strong vertical attack, as he is best when firing the ball deep, where he does a great job of anticipating his receivers before they come out of their breaks.
6. CINCINNATI
Andre Smith-OT

Alabama
Should Have Taken
Eugene Monroe-OT

Virginia
Marvin Lewis must have been a fan of the old rock group, Ten Years After. There is a line from an Alvin Lee song that reminds me of what Lewis tries to do every year by taking a bunch of bad character types – "I'd like to change the world, but I don't know what to do." Welcome to the Cincinnati draft war room, Alvin Lee. Smith looks good on film, when his head is in the game, but the more I see of his play, he is a better fit at guard than tackle. With tackle Stacy Andrews having bolted to Philadelphia and Levi Jones being told the team no longer wanted him back, it was a no-brainer that the Bengals would go for an offensive tackle in the draft, but to let Monroe's consistency and good character pass them by in favor of Smith?
Compares To     
LEONARD DAVIS-Dallas…Yes, Davis is at least two inches bigger, but both of their career paths could be more beneficial at offensive guard than at left tackle. Davis proved to be a better interior performer than when lined up on the outside. While Smith might be a good fit at right tackle, I would prefer him better at an interior position, feeling his lack of lateral range (especially moving to his left) is a big concern for a player that must protect the quarterback's blind side. To date, he has made a nice living vs. smaller opponents (average weight of his main blocking assignment over the last two years is 262.4 pounds, more than 80 pounds lighter than Smith), but in the NFL, he will face much bigger and much quicker defensive ends and I don't think his excellent straight-line explosiveness will compensate for his lateral mobility problems.
7. OAKLAND
Darrius Heyward-Bey-WR

Maryland
Should Have Taken
Michael Crabtree-WR

Texas Tech
When the Raiders made this ridiculous selection, I sort of sounded like Scooby Do when I blurted out "Huuuh?" What was Al Davis thinking? Did he feel that he needed the Combine's Fastest Man to chase down the tennis balls falling off the side of Davis' walker? There is a thing they say about being a genius and being totally nuts, that there is a fine line separating a person from each, but this pick will definitely see old Al in desperate need for new meds. It's pretty certain that Davis wanted to add a quality receiver, but Heyward-Bey drops more passes than he catches. Anybody ever see that Scott Bakula movie, "Necessary Roughness?" Do you remember the receiver in that movie with blazing speed, whose only reception came when the ball stuck in his helmet? Well, Heyward-Bay is going to be auditioning for that potential sequel. Robert Gallery, Fabian Washington, JaMarcus Russell, Michael Huff – all Al Davis "specialties" in the first round in recent drafts makes you wonder if Davis is purposely trying to keep the Raiders in the trash heap.
Compares To
ASHLEY LELIE-Oakland…Heyward-Bey has exceptional quickness, but there is a lot of inconsistency in his play. Yes, he is a dangerous deep threat, but you have to question his courage going for the ball in traffic. He has natural hands, but tends to hear the defender's feet too much, double-clutching too often when working in tight areas. He became the Combine darling, but appears to be more of an athlete than football player. Those types are more bust than boom, but look for him to be drafted much earlier based on his athleticism than production.
8. JACKSONVILLE
Eugene Monroe-OT

Virginia
Could Have Taken
B.J. Raji-DT
-Boston College
Should Have Taken
Michael Crabtree-WR
-Texas Tech
Everyone on the planet figured that the Jaguars would take Raji to bring some "umph" to the defensive line, but no one expected Monroe to slide down this far. Despite heaping a big contract to Tre' Thomas to play left tackle, Thomas is pushing 35 and is a bit long in the tooth. What makes this pick even more puzzling is what the Jags did in the next round, when they took another left tackle in Arizona's Eben Britton. Jacksonville must have figured it was "safety in numbers." While Raji would have been the choice by the media, one look at their mediocre receiving unit makes Crabtree a better option for a stagnant offense that will rely on aging Torry Holt and Dennis Northcutt as the team's only option to stretch the field so the defense won't stack the box to neutralize tailback Maurice Jones-Drew. Don't get me wrong, Monroe is a great pick-up, but with Thomas already here and then to take Britton in the second round, that's a lot of money the Jaguars will be spending on offensive tackles.
Compares To
WALTER JONES-Seattle…Both players are blessed with excellent athletic agility, along with the quick feet to mirror even the speedy edge rushers. Monroe is a solid run blocker that plays on his feet with very good balance and body control. He has the strength to gain position when working in-line and does a very good job of creating and widening rush lanes. He is capable of staying on his feet and sustaining his blocks, using his hand strength well to lock on and control his man. He competes until the whistle and plays with good aggression. His field vision and awareness are evident by his ability to pick up line games and blitzes in an instant. His body control lets him readjust and deliver crunching blocks in the second level. With his fluid body flexibility, he has no problems sinking his hips and anchoring to protect the pocket. By remaining healthy as a senior, he has the athletic ability and pedigree to be the first offensive lineman taken in the 2009 NFL Draft. 
9. GREEN BAY
B.J. Raji-DT/NG

Boston College
Should Have Taken
Brian Orakpo-DE

Texas
Raji struggled playing nose guard at Boston College, a position that was better manned by Ron Brace. He was more comfortable at the under-tackle position and just does not seem to ber the right fit for a 3-4 alignment. His work ethic is questionable and with the Pack in desperate need of a pass rusher, Raji's total of 105 tackles in 49 games fail to excite. The team has too many 4-3 defensive tackle types lined up at the end positions in the new 4-3 scheme, and a quality pass rusher was a much more pressing need, especially with Ryan Pickett capable of handling gap assignments for Green Bay as their present nose guard.
Compares To
SHAUN ROGERS-Cleveland…Rogers is about three inches bigger than Raji, but both have the awesome ability to change the tide of a game on the field, but then, frustrate the coaches by their lack of work ethic away from it. Raji has a good senior campaign, but it was not earth-shattering. You have to look at the whole picture here. Is your team going to get a player motivated and hungry to prove his doubters right, or a player his former coaching staff had to constantly monitor and called him the "laziest" player on the team. That's a lot of money to gamble on someone that can either dominate for you or get a general manager fired.
10. SAN FRANCISCO
Michael Crabtree-WR

Texas Tech
Perfect Fit
 
The 49ers needed help at outside linebacker and offensive tackle first, but they, like most others, never figured that Crabtree would still be on the board when it came their time to pick. They might like to thank Cleveland for "dogging" Crabtree after his visit to their complex. With aging Isaac Bruce serving as his mentor and a no-nonsense coach like Mike Singletary running a tight ship, any "diva" inside of Crabtree will soon disappear.
Compares To     
ANQUAN BOLDIN-Arizona…Like Boldin, Crabtree is a bit of a long strider, but has good field savvy to gain separation. He is a bit slower in his release than one would like, but uses his body well to break tackles. He is used mostly on slants, but has the ability to gain lots of real estate after the catch. His recent foot surgery is going to be a concern, but without that problem, is there any doubt that he would have been the best draft prospect in 2009?
11. BUFFALO
Aaron Maybin-DE

Penn State
Should Have Taken
Brian Orakpo-DE/OLB

Texas
Maybin is a one-year wonder at Penn State and has a lot of Courtney Brown in his game. The Bills needed an offensive tackle much more than a situational pass rusher. If they wanted an every down type of defensive end Texas' Brian Orakpo, while also showing a lot of inconsistency, has proven to be a more capable four-down lineman that Maybin. Logic says they should have just traded down and gone for Michael Oher-Mississippi to fill the huge hole created their trade of Jason Peters to the Eagles.
Compares To
PARRYS HARALSON-San Francisco…Maybin could eventually develop into another Chad Brown (ex-Seattle) type of pass rusher at the next level, but the NFL's love for pass rushers, rather than looking at the "complete" picture has spelled doom and gloom for a lot of teams taking tweeners early in the draft. Houston had a similar early round bust in Jason Babin and Buffalo Bills fans still regret them taking Corey Moore a few years back, both undersized defensive ends that failed to adjust to life as an outside linebacker. Could Maybin be the next flash in the pan? If used strictly as an edge rusher, he brings good value, but that is not the hefty price you pay a first rounder to only do. Like in most Perry Mason cases, the jury is still out on this guy.
12. DENVER
Knowshon Moreno-TB

Georgia
Could Have Taken
Josh Freeman-QB

Kansas State
It's hard to knock the Broncos for taking Moreno, but they have five tailbacks on their roster, including three new incoming veterans. That quantity can't match the quality that Moreno brings to the table, though. With a questionable quarterback picture, the new staff could have molded Freeman into an NFL passer. Still, Moreno's presence in the backfield will get the ground game moving and take pressure off whoever ends up quarterbacking this rag-tag team
Compares To     
JOSEPH ADDAI-Indianapolis…Like Addai, Moreno might lack blazing speed, but he is a physical inside runner whose field vision, redirection agility and leg drive allows him to break tackles and get positive yardage up the gut. He is not much of a dancer in the backfield and shows good route running skills and hands to be an every down back. Like Addai and Buffalo's Marshawn Lynch, his best asset is his ability to handle a variety of running back roles, rather than be limited as a specialist.
13. WASHINGTON
Brian Orakpo-DE

Texas
Perfect Fit
 
The Redskins tried desperately to trade up to take QB Mark Sanchez, but with 35-year old ends in Philip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn on the roster, an infusion of youth and speed were greatly needed up front. There are a lot of holes in Orakpo's game, durability concerns also enter the picture, but with limited talent at the defensive end position in 2009, the Longhorn becomes an instant starter. Besides, everyone figured Orakpo to be gone by the time the Redskins picked, but hopefully, they will not try to convert the Texas standout to outside linebacker.
Compares To
LEONARD LITTLE-St. Louis…Don't get fooled by all the awards he won in 2008, as Texas did a great job of publicizing him with "padded" statistics (they claimed he recorded 30 pressures in 2008, but the NCAA recognized just 15; his profile reports 62 pressures for his career, but verified totals are 36). Still, he is a quality edge rusher that some teams are looking at as a potential linebacker, but I don't think he has the range to play there. Use him as a rush end, much like the Rams do with Little, and he will get a good piece of the quarterback. Put him in a stand up position and watch him struggle like former Houston Texans bust, Jason Babin.
14. NEW ORLEANS
Malcolm Jenkins-CB/FS

Ohio State
Could Have Taken
Chris Wells-TB

Ohio State
With a gaping hole at free safety, the Saints selected the best safety prospect in the draft, corner-back Malcolm Jenkins. The Charles Woodson clone should become an immediate starter. Having let Deuce McAllister go, a power runner to team with Reggie Bush would have been a nice fit and the Saints more than likely would have bypassed on Jenkins, if Knowshon Moreno was still available. Look for Jenkins to take over field cornerback duties for a year, while the team squeezes whatever is left out of recent pick-up, Darren Sharper, at the free safety spot he is keeping warm for the OSU product.
Compares To
CHARLES WOODSON-Green Bay…The "rage" over smallish, finesse style cornerbacks is quickly passing in the NFL. With receivers the size of Brandon Marshall, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and others, defenses realize that stopping those big men has to come from a big cornerback. When analyzing the talent at this position, it is Jenkins and the rest of the class. He may not be flashy, might not get to too many interceptions, but he knows how to make sure that receiver is cautious coming into his territory. He will eventually be a better fit at free safety, but for at least a year or two, the Saints get some nice production at cornerback from him.
15. HOUSTON
Brian Cushing-OLB

Southern California
Could Have Taken
Chris Wells-TB

Ohio State
The Texans were linked to Clay Matthews by most of the media, but opted for the more physical and experienced Southern Cal linebacker. With Cato June on the weak-side, look for Cushing to replace Zach Diles on the strong-side. They could have used a big back to team with Steve Slaton at tailback, but the young defense needed some more studs, if the Texans are ever going to be able to drop their perennial mediocre tag. Cushing has had injury issues, so the team played it safe and took vastly underrated Connor Barwin in case the USC product turns into another Jason Babin.
Compares To
CHAD GREENWAY-Minnesota…Like Greenway, Cushing is quick to read and react to the play, having a good feel for blocking schemes and the take-off speed to beat offensive tackles up field. He has enough acceleration to turn the corner, but is best when he slips through the gaps uncontested, as he is quick to fill the inside rush lanes. He stays low in his pads and attacks with good leg drive to neutralize the lead blockers when attempting to fill the run lanes. There are big concerns about his durability, but when healthy, he might not be spectacular, but is consistent.
16. SAN DIEGO
Larry English-DE/OLB

Northern Illinois
Should Have Taken
Michael Oher-OT

Mississippi
English is strictly a situational pass rusher and you don't invest this type of money in a player that will be on the field a quarter of the time. The Chargers could use a big blocker upfront like Oher or could have gone for a running back like Donald Brown, as LT has been pretty banged up recently. English has great speed off the edge, but his pass drop technique is horrible, as I doubt if he can make the conversion to linebacker. Simply put, he's no Shawne Merriman, or for that matter, he's no Shaun Phillips, either. San Diego's biggest need was at strong safety, but no talent in this draft at that position was even worth a third round pick.
Compares To
ANTHONY SPENCER-Dallas…I am not convinced that English can become the "next Shawne Merriman," as some draft experts claim he will be. As a pass rusher, he shows great tenacity, but that seems to be the only consistent aspect of his game. There are too many contests where he can only be found on the side of a milk carton (gets lost too much in trash, see 2008 Eastern Michigan, Miami of Ohio, Bowling Green and Navy games). As an athlete, you have to be impressed with his power, but one look at his clocked speed makes you be concerned that he won't be able to drop back and handle speedy slot receivers outside the short area.
17. TAMPA BAY
Josh Freeman-QB

Kansas State
Should Have Taken
Peria Jerry-DT

Mississippi
(From Browns through Jets for Mark Sanchez). Maybe Jon Gruden was hiding out in the Bucs' war room, as they followed the same ridiculous patterns of piling up quarterbacks. They also caused a bit of a problem in the locker room even before Freeman put on the teal uniform. In the KSU passer's first interview after being taken, he told the media that the Bucs' recent signing of Byron Leftwich was a "smokescreen" to throw off teams of Tampa Bay's interest in Freeman. Promised the starting job when he signed, Leftwich was not too pleased about the front office being less than truthful with him. The Bucs now come into camp with five quarterbacks, having kept four last year. The Bucs were in desperate need of a defensive line plugger who could wreak havoc in the backfield instead of adding another arm to an already crowded quarterback picture.
Compares To
JASON CAMPBELL-Washington…Freeman is a bit bigger and packs more bulk, as some have compared him to Daunte Culpepper, but with his mobility and running skills, he is more like Campbell. Both came from programs that really did not highlight their athletic talents, but like Campbell, a team will have to show patience. He has a great arm that can rival Matthew Stafford's but has to work on his delivery and release, as neither is awe-inspiring. With such a weak draft class at this position, he could be the third quarterback to hear his name called in the first round.
18. DENVER
Robert Ayers-DE

Tennessee
Should Have Taken
Evander Hood-NG/DT

Missouri
(From Bears in QB Jay Cutler trade). Actually, Tampa Bay mucked up Denver's plan, as they thought the Leftwich signing would leave Josh Freeman sitting here when the Broncos came up to pick again. Denver swears that Ayers has finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel, but he was a bad character type earlier in his career and while he had a decent season in 2008, I'm not ready to reserve a seat in Canton for this overrated talent anytime soon. The Broncos are desperate for defensive line help, but while they have mediocre talent at end, the interior spots are even worse and a quality tackle/nose guard was a much bigger need.
Compares To
MARK ANDERSON-Chicago…Ayers might be the rising star at this position, or 2008 could have just been an aberration. He has three so-so years and even in 2008, it was not until the second half that he started living up to his high school headlines. He might not have the suddenness to play the edge in NFL, but might be a decent fit as an under-tackle.
19. PHILADELPHIA
Jeremy Maclin-WR

Missouri
Should Have Taken
Donald Brown-TB

Connecticut
(From Browns through Bucs). No knock on Maclin, but with DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis already on board, the Eagles have those small, speedy receivers to stretch the field. The offense stalls without Brian Westbrook in the lineup and that high mileage "race car" is starting to break down. Brown would have been the perfect solution if Westbrook broke down again. Maclin will excite, but there are just too many of the same kind of receiver already on the roster.
Compares To     
STEVE BREASTON-Arizona…It is hard to find one NFL player that Maclin is similar to. He has the receiving skills of former Rams standout Torry Holt, but as a slot receiver and returner, also draws comparisons to Steve Breaston, even though he is a bit bigger and stronger. He still needs to refine his route running, but much like Carolina's Steven Smith, once he gets that ball in his hands, he becomes the most dangerous weapon on the field.
20. DETROIT
Brandon Pettigrew-TE

Oklahoma State
Should Have Taken
Rey Maualuga-MLB

Southern California
(Detroit acquired pick and third-and sixth-round picks from Dallas for WR Roy Williams and seventh-round pick, Oct. 14, 2008). The Lions had a pressing need for a middle linebacker to put between Julian Peterson and Eric Sims, with the USC product a Tazmanian Devil on the football field a much better solution to Pettigrew. The tight end is "old school," but has also failed to live up to his athletic ability. They could have gone for a tight end later in the draft, like Chase Coffman or Travis Beckum.
Compares To     
JIMMY KLEINSASSER-Minnesota…Pettigrew towers over Kleinsasser, but both are regarded as outstanding blockers with underrated short area receiving skills. The OSU product does not have the speed to rank with the elite pass catchers, but few show the power blocking skills that he brings to the table. He has also shown he is a good chain mover in the short yardage passing game. He will never be a Tony Gonzalez-type of receiver, but will bring some value catching underneath. But, his true value lies in the hardware he brings blocking for the ground game.
21. CLEVELAND
Alex Mack-OC

California
Could Have Taken
Connor Barwin-OLB/DE

Cincinnati
(From Eagles). New GM George Kokinis did his best Monty Hall and traded down several times from the fifth spot, picking up extra second day picks along the way. While Mack is a big upgrade over incumbent Hank Fraley, they have not had much luck with early round centers in the past. They desperately needed some pass rush talent, especially at outside linebacker and could have used a second round pick on any of four centers regarded as potential starters from this draft class.
Compares To
JAKE GROVE-Oakland…Mack is a bit taller, but both play with good aggression (some-times too much). The Cal center struggled with power moves as a junior, but a dedicated training program saw him greatly improve his power base in 2008. He proved at the Senior Bowl that he has no problems mixing it up in the trenches and even though some question his long distance quickness, he was quite effective on short traps and pulls when lining up at left guard at that game's scrimmages. There are still some areas of his game that needs refinement (better hand punch and balance in the open, along with improving his change of direction skills), but it should come down to him and Oregon's Max Unger to see which of these two Pac-10 Conference standouts is the first center taken in the 2009 NFL Draft.
22. MINNESOTA
Percy Harvin-WR

Florida
Perfect Fit
 
Harvin was the man that the team coveted and even spend considerable time with him prior to the draft to insure that his off-field troubles were a thing of the past. They also pulled the wool out from New England, who had intended to take Harvin, if he was there with the 23rd pick. The Pats almost pulled off a deal with Cleveland at #21 to get Harvin, but felt he would slide. When that failed to happen, New England traded their #23 choice to Baltimore and #26 choice to Green Bay.
Compares To     
ERIC METCALF-ex-San Diego/Cleveland…It is hard to find a present day comparison to Harvin among present NFL players. Some compare him to the Saints' Reggie Bush, but he is not really much of a returner and is a better big play threat than the New Orleans multi-purpose back. Harvin has the vision and moxie that Metcalf showed, as both are fearless going for the ball. He might not be the greatest route runner, especially getting tio the deep ball, but on bubble and slip screens, he is a fan favorite, as he can turn those short throws into big gains better than any other player in this draft.
23. BALTIMORE
Michael Oher-OT

Mississippi
Perfect Fit
 
(From Patriots). Baltimore was another team that coveted Percy Harvin, but when he was gone, they decided that Oher would learn well under Willie Anderson for a year at right tackle before joining left tackle Jered Gaither as the Ravens' future bookend tackles.
Compares To
CHRIS WILLIAMS-Chicago…Like Williams, Oher is a fine athlete that has yet to mature physically. With teams looking for more mobility at left tackle, he could eventually be a nice fit, but for now, he needs to add more bulk to his frame to handle the more physical NFL linemen at that position. He is still a neophyte at the tackle position, with just three years of experience and I worry that he might not have the natural intelligence to digest a complicated playbook. Athletically, he is a fine specimen, but it will take patient coaching to help him unearth his potential.
24. ATLANTA
Peria Jerry-DT

Mississippi
Could Have Taken
Clay Matthews-OLB

Southern California
The Falcons had a more pressing need at right outside linebacker and either Matthews or Cincinnati's Connor Barwin would have filled that need. But, Jerry joins a formidable interior line rotation of Jonathan Babineaux and Kindall Morehead, but the Falcons failed to address what they needed the most.
Compares To     
ANTHONY McFARLAND-ex-Indianapolis…Like McFarland, Jerry is an undersized defensive tackle with a high motor. His versatility (can play zero, two- or three-tech), initial burst and active hands made him the most disruptive force in the SEC in 2008. While he did not do it in the past, Jerry showed marked improvement reading blocks, feeling pressure and redirecting to the play. He has become a force from the off-side and became a challenge for offensive linemen as he showed a more physical nature in his play. He won't maul a lineman, but has developed capable hands (wax on, wax off moves) with a quick swim to gain penetration. Still, like McFarland, injuries and durability issues are a concern.
25. MIAMI
Vontae Davis-CB

Illinois
Should Have Taken
Connor Barwin-OLB/DE

Cincinnati
Davis has incredible talent and plays the run well, but he marches to a different drummer and seems to play at his own pace, frustrating the coaching staff frequently in 2008. He needs to show a better team concept on the field and even though the Dolphins signed Eric Green away from Arizona, another cornerback was needed, just not this soon, as many felt Davis would still be there in the second round.
Compares To
RON BARTELL-St. Louis…Davis packs a good punch as a tackler, but plays out of control too much. He is a bit of a river gambler going for the ball, but shows good hands and timing to disrupt the pass before the receiver can settle under it. He needs to play with better control and based on the average year he had in 2008, he could have used another year in school to improve his draft stock, which has been sliding a bit ever since his standout freshman season. But, once/if he matures, he could rank with the league elite.
26. GREEN BAY
Clay Matthews-OLB

Southern California
Should Have Taken
Eben Britton-OT

Arizona
(From Patriots though Ravens). Matthews is the poster child for the word – potential. The problem is, he's never been consistent or highly productive. With issues on the once formidable offensive line, the Pack needed to address this issue early and Britton is versatile enough to play either tackle spot.
Compares To
MARCUS WASHINGTON-ex Washington…Matthews knows how to use his quickness to slip past and avoid blocks in order to get to the ball and clog the inside rush lanes. He has the balance and body control to run clean and take proper angles to the ball when working in space. He is a solid wrap-up tackler with enough power to drag ball carriers down. He is not big enough to prevent NFL linemen from engulfing him as a defensive end, but as a linebacker, he could develop into a solid blitzer. He has the hand strength to get a decent push off the ball and works hard to play off blocks to get to the quarterback. When working off the edge, he can surprise a lethargic offensive lineman with his ability to explode past the opponent and has more than enough speed to close, making him a nice fit for strong-side linebacker.
27. INDIANAPOLIS
Donald Brown-TB

Connecticut
Could Have Taken
Hakeem Nicks-WR

North Carolina
Having cut Marvin Harrison, the Colts could have used more help at wide receiver than tailback, but after Joseph Addai was hurt last year and with Dominic Rhodes bolting via free agency, getting a back to team with Addai makes total sense, as the offense struggled without a strong running game last season.
Compares To
TIKI BARBER-ex-New York Giants…Brown has done everything he could to pattern his game after Barber's. Neither were known as power backs, but both had the leg drive to break tackles. Brown has excellent balance and runs with that low center of gravity to get good yardage slipping through the second level. He runs with good body lean and even though the Connecticut system did not throw to their backs much, he could be a nice safety valve target coming out of the backfield.
28. BUFFALO
Eric Wood-OC

Louisville
Should Have Taken
Eben Britton-OT

Arizona
(Philadelphia acquired pick and second- and fourth-round picks in 2008 from Carolina for first-round pick in 2008, April 26, 2008; Buffalo acquired pick, fourth-round pick and sixth-round pick in 2010 from Philadelphia for OT Jason Peters, April 20, 2009). This pick traveled through several teams before Buffalo decided to go for Woods. The problem is, they could have still found him around in the second round and having traded away Jason Peters, a quality left tackle still on board this late in the draft would have made much more sense.
Compares To
ERIC MANGOLD-New York Jets…Both centers are savvy blockers who might lack the devastating hand punch to shock and opponent, but both play with good mirror ability and urgency. Wood is alert to twists and games and while he is stiff in his hips, he does fire off the snap quickly to attack his opponent. He needs to develop better leg strength and a hand punch to do a better job of matching up with physical nose guards, but he does show good slide agility to mirror and does a nice job of keeping his head on a swivel to excel on short pulls and screens.
29. NEW YORK GIANTS
Hakeem Nicks-WR

North Carolina
Should Have Taken
Brian Robiskie-WR

Ohio State
It was a no-brainer that the Giants would go for a receiver, but many thought they would package this pick to ship with a veteran or two to Cleveland for Braylon Edwards. Nicks was the top-rated receiver still left on their draft board, but I'm concerned about the weight he put on after the season. He's quicker than Robiskie, but lacks the natural hands the OSU product possesses.
Compares To     
RODDY WHITE-Atlanta…Actually, Hicks looks more like a smaller version of Keyshawn Johnson. He has very good power and runs precise routes, displaying some of the best hands in this draft. He won't beat a corner-back on deep patterns using pure speed, but he's a savvy route runner who is also light on his feet for a player his size.
30. TENNESSEE
Kenny Britt-WR

Rutgers
Could Have Taken
Rey Maualuga-MLB

Southern California
Even with Justin Gage already in the fold and signing Nate Washington away from Pittsburgh, the Titans were intent on improving their feeble receiving unit. Britt is a big pass catcher in the Kevin Tyson mold, but has a lot of "Terrell Owens" attitude that will need to be rectified before he turns into a cancer in the locker room. If Britt was already gone, the team would have drawn attention to the linebackers still left on the draft board.
Compares To     
LIMAS SWEED-Pittsburgh…Like Sweed, Britt is a big target that might lack great speed, but is a good route runner with the elevation and extension to get to most of the throws at their high point. He is best gaining real estate after the catch rather than trying to simply out-run his man. He shows excellent balance and body control in his routes and knows he has to be physical in order to gain separation. But, he has that air of arrogance to him that will probably need a veteran to take him under wing. If he plays with that attitude at the next level, he won't have too many friends in the locker room and there are enough receivers handing out headaches in the NFL already.
31. ARIZONA
Chris Wells-RB

Ohio State
Could Have Taken
LeSean McCoy-TB

Pittsburgh
The Cardinals are in the process of dumping Edgerrin James, but were thought to have had eyes for Connecticut's Donald Brown. They never figured that Wells would slide down this far, but concerns about his durability pushed him to the Cards on draft day.
Compares To
LARRY JOHNSON-Kansas City…Like Johnson, Wells is a power-oriented runner with a great stiff-arm, but all that pounding does come with a price – serious concerns about his durability. He has the hard-driving running style of Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, but is not as well-rounded or plays with that steady "fire in the belly" that the best running back in the NFL displays. There are a lot of holes in Well's game, but for a team needing someone to punch the ball up the gut, he will be the best they will find in this draft.
32 .PITTSBURGH
Evander Hood-DT

Missouri
Perfect Fit
 
Word is that if Hood was unavailable that Pittsburgh would have traded this pick to Dallas. They feel that their defensive line is aging and Hood brings toughness and versatility to the middle of the line. Look for Hood to groom behind Brett Keisel at right defensive end, the Steelers' weakest spot on their front wall.
Compares To
JASON FERGUSON-Miami…Like Ferguson, Hood plays well when lined up over the center's head. He needs to learn how to keep his pads down, as he has this nasty habit of popping up at the snap, leaving his chest exposed for the physical block. He has good lateral agility and uses his hand jolt effectively to push the blocker back, redirect and shoot the gaps. When he moves down the line, he is quick to pick up schemes and plays with urgency to prevent the ball carrier from turning the corner. He will often face multiple blockers and would be more effective shedding them, if he can improve his pad level.

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