NFC Draft Review

Some teams in the NFC had really good drafts. Some, well, not so good. Here is Jim Sabo's take on each team's draft with grade included:

NFC East

NY Giants – We liked the idea that the Giants traded down in round one and collected extra picks. We like the player they took when their turn came up, DE Mathias Kiwanuka. But we weren't crazy about the position. We thought there were other holes to fill rather than drafting a DE, which is their strongest position. Kiwi has pass rush potential, but he needs to get a lot stronger before he can become a valid NFL DE. They traded up in round two for WR Sinorice Moss. We can see what they were trying to do, adding another downfield threat for Eli Manning. His size could be a concern. LB Gerris Wilkinson looks like good value in round three. He adds depth and versatility. We liked the pick of DT Barry Cofield. He is athletic and they needed to replace Kendrick Clancy. OT Guy Whimper may be the steal of the draft. He is very inexperienced but he has great athletic tools to work with. He eventually could be the replacement for Luke Petitgout they desperately need. S Charlie Peprah is a smart guy who will hit, but we see him initially as a special teams player. CB Gerrick McPhearson has great speed and is worth a 7th round gamble. Grade: B

Dallas – Make no mistake, this was a Bill Parcells draft, especially at the top. LB Bobby Carpenter is the son of former Giants RB Rob Carpenter. Parcells loved his toughness and hard running style. Bobby is a chip off the old block. In TE Anthony Fasano, Parcells thinks he has the next Mark Bavaro. That remains to be seen. The rest of the draft fell off with S Pat Watkins being the best of the rest. They hope he will fill a need position next to Roy Williams. WR Skyler Green was drafted as a kick returner. They didn't get any help for their offensive line until very late when they took OT Pat McQuistan and OG E.J. Whitley; both are marginal prospects. Grade B-

Philadelphia – The Eagles fell behind the rest of the NFC East in the offseason, but did a good job of recovering through the draft. They desperately needed and wanted one of the two top DTs, Brodrick Bunkley or Haloti Ngata. They got Bunkley. They could have easily taken OT Winston Justice in round one, but he fell to them in round two. The Eagles are good at planned obsolescence. A few years ago they drafted replacements for Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent. Now Justice will be groomed to take over for Jon Runyan or Tra Thomas. They got a steal in round three with LB Chris Gocong. He's a small school player with a high ceiling. Road grader G Max Jean-Gilles is a power player who will eventually help their running game. WR Jeremy Bloom will be an immediate help on special teams as a return specialist. Grade B+

Washington – The Redskins held their "draft" in March by signing several free agents like Adam Archuleta, Antwaan Randle-El, Andre Carter and Christian Fauria and trading for Brandon Lloyd. Their active trading left them with only one second round pick with their next pick not coming until round five. In round two, they took LB Rocky McIntosh. He will compete for the opening at weakside LB. He's athletic and he has a chance to eventually become a starter. This could be a one-player draft, as the rest of their picks will have difficulty making the team. They improved their team in the offseason, but a lot will be riding on an aging and brittle QB Mark Brunell and their hope for the future, Jason Campbell. Like several other teams, they improved the supporting cast, but the record may not show it if the QBs do not play as expected. Grade: D+

NFC North

Chicago – The Bears rode a very young and strong defense to the playoffs, which created a surprise when their first 5 picks were all defensive players. Strangely, they did not address TE, which was a strong position in the draft and a big weakness of the team. They wanted to trade out of the first round and they did when they found a willing partner in Buffalo. They then took S Danieal Manning, a sleeper pick with good athletic ability. Devin Hester, a player without a position and a return specialist, looks like a reach in round two. Two picks we liked were DT Dusty Dvoracek in round three and DE Mark Anderson in round five. If Dvoracek can conquer his off-field problems he will be a steal. Grade: D+

Detroit – For the first time in four years the Lions did not select a WR in round one. Perhaps Matt Millen is getting the hang of this draft thing, after all. This could be their best draft in many years. Their first pick, LB Ernie Sims, was a bit of a reach in our opinion. He's small and he has had concussion problems in his college career. He is a fine player and a real hitter, but he is a risk. They made some really good value picks throughout. S Daniel Bullocks, RB Brian Calhoun, OT Jonathan Scott and G Fred Matua all look like good picks. Calhoun could be the third down, change of pace back they need. Grade: B+

Green Bay – The Packers had plenty of needs and they did a good job of bringing players into their system. With 12 choices they tried to fill holes throughout their roster. LB A.J. Hawk was one of the blue chip players in the draft and he should have an immediate impact. OT Daryn Colledge is an unheralded choice that will perhaps allow them to eventually move Mark Tauscher to G. WR Greg Jennings was one of our favorite players in the draft. He will help replace Javon Walker. LB Abdul Hodge, G Jason Spitz, WR Cory Rodgers, CB Will Blackmon and QB Ingle Martin were all quality value picks. Grade: A

Minnesota – The Vikings continue to be Team Turmoil, as they fired their newly hired GM, Fran Foley, shortly after the draft. With Daunte Culpepper traded to Miami, they needed to address quarterback, as Brad Johnson will be 38 when the season opens. In round two they took Tarvaris Jackson, a QB with ability and a good arm, but he is also very raw and it will take time before he is ready to play, if ever. They were also another team that needed to address their defense. Their first round pick, Chad Greenway, was one of the top LBs in the draft and he should start immediately. The rest of their draft was filled with as many suspects as prospects. CB Cedric Griffin is the best of the group. Grade: D+

NFC South

Atlanta – They could have traded Matt Schaub on draft day, but wisely held off. With no first round pick, they were fortunate to have CB/S Jimmy Williams fall to them. He's big and athletic, but personality issues caused him to fall. RB Jerious Norwood looks like a sleeper and he could be valuable if the rumored trade of T.J. Duckett takes place. OT Quinn Ojinnaka is a right tackle project. QB D.J. Shockley will fight for a roster spot. Grade: C

Carolina –With solid coaching from John Fox, and the addition of a strong draft from top to bottom, this is a team that is well stocked to remain as a contender. RB DeAngelo Williams has star potential, and he provides excellent insurance for the brittle DeShaun Foster. CB Richard Marshall will replace Ricky Manning in an excellent secondary. LB James Anderson helps fill a hole at that spot. OT Rashad Butler, S Nate Salley, TE Jeff King, G Will Montgomery and DE Stanley McClover are all good value picks for where they were selected. Grade: A

New Orleans – How happy were they when RB Reggie Bush fell right into their lap? They had to be ecstatic and with good reason. The team and the area both need his star power. He will be a difference maker. The rest of their draft was rather nondescript. S Roman Harper may have been a bit high. Two picks we liked were WR Mike Hass in round six and OT Zack Strief in round seven. Hass has the ability to be a fine possession receiver and Strief is a raw talent to work with. Bush makes this draft. Grade: B

Tampa Bay – The Bucs entered the draft wanting to improve their offensive line and with their first two picks, G Davin Joseph and OT Jeremy Trueblood, they did just that. Joseph is an underrated player who had an excellent week at the Senior Bowl. Trueblood is more of a project, but he has ability. We liked their third round pick WR Maurice Stovall. He is an improving player and good value in round three. CB Alan Zemaitis in round four is a perfect pick for their cover-2 defense. Bruce Gradkowski is an interesting QB selection in round six. They have a lot of young QBs, but he is worthy of development. Grade: B-

NFC West

Arizona – This is not the Cardinals of old; they appear to be serious about winning. The Cards filled a major hole in their roster when they drafted Matt Leinart as their QB of the future. With stars like Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Edgerrin James, a QB who could quickly become better than Kurt Warner was needed. Now they just need to fix their O-line. Leinart's Southern Cal teammate, G Deuce Lutui, should help the upgrade. Vernon Pope has a chance to become their starting TE. DT Gabe Watson was a steal in round four if they are able to motivate him. DT Jonathan Lewis is the best of the rest. Grade: A-

St. Louis – The most serious need the Rams had on offense was at TE; the rest of their needs were on defense. They did a good job addressing needs with two TEs, Joe Klopfenstein and Dominique Byrd and CB Tye Hill, DT Claude Wroten and LB Jon Alston. A draft day trade sent Brandon Manumaleuna to the Chargers. Klopfenstein and Byrd will become their TEs and they complement each other well. Hill is a great pick. He could be the best pure corner in the draft with great speed and coverage ability. Wroten is a first round talent with serious off-field problems. He is a gamble but he could pay off. Alston is an underrated weakside LB. Grade A-

San Francisco – The 49ers have many holes to fill and this draft could be the answer to many of them. TE Vernon Davis in round one was an excellent pick. He was the star of the Combine and he should give second year QB Alex Smith a big downfield target. He should have an immediate impact. LB Manny Lawson also excelled at the Combine and he will be asked to fill the shoes of Julian Peterson. He has the athletic ability to do it. WR Brandon Williams is an unheralded player but he can make it. Michael Robinson will try to make the conversion to RB. LB Parys Haralson could wind up playing opposite Lawson. WR Delanie Walker is a sleeper pick. He has great size and ability. Grade A-

Seattle – Picking next to last in the first round, the Super Bowl Seahawks had few holes to fill. CB Kelly Jennings was one of our top-rated corners. He will help replace Andre Dyson and he should eventually start opposite Marcus Trufant. DE Darryl Tapp has ability and he should help their already strong pass rush from the outside. They have a huge hole to fill at left guard created when Steve Hutchinson left for the Vikings. Rob Sims will be groomed to take his place. FB David Kirtman should eventually replace their Pro Bowl FB Mack Strong. Grade C

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