Breaking Down The Draft -- AFC

Looking back at the past three Drafts, there have been some very big hits and a number of significant misses . Here's a listing of how teams have done in the AFC.

The following is a list of the last three draft classes, broken down by division, of all AFC NFL teams.
For the NFC, (Click Here)


AFC EAST

 

BUFFALO BILLS

How the Bills have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 26

2008 starters: 9

2008 backups: 7

Other teams: 0

Out of NFL: 5

Injured reserve/PUP: 5

In a nutshell: The past three drafts have produced nine starters, including a haul of five in 2006. That draft was heavy on defense. Offensively, the team's future hinges on the continued development of two key picks in 2007: RB Marshawn Lynch and QB Trent Edwards. Lynch is now burdened by off-field problems. The 2008 class produced star kickoff return specialist and projected 2009 starting CB Leodis McKelvin. However, second- and third-round picks, WR James Hardy and DE Chris Ellis, failed to make serious impacts and Hardy is coming off ACL surgery.

Best pick: QB Trent Edwards, 2007 (3rd round, 92nd overall): Finding a player in the third round good enough to displace former first-round pick J.P. Losman was a stroke of good fortune. His steady play added needed stability to the position and he should keep on an upward track with better weapons around him.

Worst pick: DT John McCargo, 2006 (1st round, 26th overall): The Bills traded up to get the former North Carolina State standout who has been plagued by injuries and inconsistent play. Has not been able to beat out fifth-round pick Kyle Williams. Team tried unsuccessfully to trade him last year to Indianapolis when he failed his physical.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

How the Dolphins have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 25

2008 starters: 4

2008 backups: 10

Other teams: 7

Out of NFL: 3

Injured reserve/PUP: 1

In a nutshell: With three different regimes in the past three seasons, the current Bill Parcells-Jeff Ireland-Tony Sparano trio struck gold with Jake Long, Kendall Langford, Donald Thomas and potentially Chad Henne, while adding two more starters in a draft-day trade with Dallas in Akin Ayodele and Anthony Fasano.

The Cam Cameron-Randy Mueller tandem of 2007 is barely treading water as oft-criticized WR Ted Ginn Jr. is still trying to justify his ninth overall status. Only P Brandon Fields is a keeper as C Samson Satele and QB John Beck are barely hanging on to roster spots.

The Nick Saban-Mueller duo of 2006 has to be considered a bust with first-round DB Jason Allen still relegated to special teams, and underachieving second-round WR Derek Hagan now trying to catch on with the Giants.

Best pick: T Jake Long, 2008 (1st, first overall): Lived up to billing as potential cornerstone left tackle by making Pro Bowl his rookie season. Has filled the need at one of the most vital positions for years to come.

Worst pick: QB John Beck, 2007 (2nd round, 40th overall): Expected to be quarterback of the future, was thrown into the fray of 2007 nightmarish 1-15 season and regressed dramatically until dropping to clipboard holder.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

How the Patriots have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 26

Starters 5

Backups 5

Other teams: 8

Out of NFL: 4

Injured reserve/PUP: 4

In a nutshell: For all the talk of Bill Belichick's proficiency in the NFL draft over the years, his track record lately has been relatively mediocre.

The 2007 class wasn't bad; it was a complete disaster with two players still on the team. That is substandard especially with four players contributing on other teams: and three more out of the league.

The mild success of last year's class might help Belichick rebuild his reputation. LB Jerod Mayo appears to be a stud and CB Terrence Wheatley chipped in nicely before getting hurt. CB Jonathan Wilhite made a surprising leap into the starting lineup by the end of the year.

Best pick: LB Jerod Mayo, 2008 (1st round, 10th overall): It's still early, but Mayo was an absolute beast as a rookie in 2008. He played nearly every snap right from the start and looks to be the run-stopping force the Patriots need to replace the aging Tedy Bruschi.

Worst pick: WR Chad Jackson, 2006 (2nd round, 36th overall): So much for Belichick's relationship with Florida coach Urban Meyer. The Florida picks of late have been a major bust and Jackson is the poster boy for that failure. Injuries were a problem, but he displayed an alarming lack of maturity.

NEW YORK JETS

How the Jets have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 20

2008 starters: 4

2008 backups: 9

Other teams: 3

Out of NFL: 3

Injured reserve/PUP: 1

In a nutshell: The Jets have gleaned four cornerstone players in the last three years. They appear quite set at left tackle and center with a pair of 2006 first-round selections, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold, respectively. Ferguson matured in 2008 and had his best pro season, and Mangold fulfilled the promise of his terrific rookie campaign by making the Pro Bowl for the first time.

In 2007, they traded up in the first and second rounds to select CB Darrelle Revis and ILB David Harris, respectively. Revis was a Pro Bowler in 2008, while Harris figures to anchor the middle of the 3-4 for a long time.

But Kellen Clemens, a second-round selection in 2006, has yet to secure the starting quarterback position.

Best pick: RB/KR Leon Washington, 2006 (4th round, 117th overall): A lot of teams passed on the 5-8 Washington because of his lack of size, but he has proven to be a dynamic game-changer who is a threat to score from anywhere on the field.

Worst pick: LB Anthony Schlegel, 2006 (3rd round, 76th overall): The character-conscious Jets picked a good man in Schlegel, but wasn't nearly athletic enough to play linebacker at the pro level. A major reach that backfired.


AFC NORTH

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

How the Ravens have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 25

2008 starters: 6

2008 backups: 10

Other teams: 1

Out of NFL: 3

Injured reserve/PUP: 5

In a nutshell: The Ravens continued their strong tradition of hitting in the first round. They found one of the best run-stoppers in the league (DT Haloti Ngata in 2006). They got a rugged blocker who should start for the next 10 years on the offensive line (G Ben Grubbs in 2007). And they finally landed a quarterback of the future (Joe Flacco in 2008)

The weakness of the past three drafts has been after the first round. The Ravens have developed just three starters out of their 22 picks from the second to seventh rounds.

Best pick: DT Haloti Ngata, 2006 (1st round, 12th overall): Questioned for his work ethic when he was initially drafted, Ngata has become the cog of the Ravens' run defense. His strength and agility allows him to brush off double teams and make plays. Before the Ravens drafted him, they ranked ninth against the run. In three seasons with Ngata, they have ranked no lower than third.

Worst pick: CB David Pittman, 2006 (3rd round, 87th overall): He proved too soft to play for the Ravens. Injuries and inconsistent play led to his release before the start of the 2008 regular season. Pittman played a total of eight games, including one start.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

How the Bengals have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 26

2008 starters: 3

2008 backups: 7

Other teams: 3

Out of NFL: 6

Injured reserve/PUP: 7

In a nutshell: By the end of last year, it was hard trying to spot any of the Bengals' recent draft picks having much of an impact on the field. But with seven of those picks on injured reserve, it was that type of season. One of those selections was LB Keith Rivers, their first-round pick in 2008 who started the first seven games, but then missed the final nine on the injured list.

To a large extent, the Bengals have had their share of hits and misses. Only four of the team's nine picks from 2006 are still with the team, but three of them were starters last year at some point. The best success has come in the secondary, where three of coach Marvin Lewis' picks are starters.

Best pick: S Chinedum Ndukwe, 2007 (7th round, 253rd overall): A late-round pick who has emerged as a steal. He had 11 starts last year and tied for the team lead in sacks, the first member of the secondary to do that since 2000.

Worst pick: LB Ahmad Brooks, 2006 (3rd round supplemental): Was injury plagued for most of his two seasons in Cincinnati and struggled to break into the starting lineup.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

How the Browns have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 22

2008 starters: 7

2008 backups: 8

Other teams: 2

Out of NFL: 3

Injured reserve/PUP: 2

In a nutshell: Joe Thomas, the third overall pick of the 2007 draft, is a two-time Pro Bowl left tackle. After that there are plenty of questions about the Browns' three most recent drafts. The biggest focuses on QB Brady Quinn, another 2007 first-round choice. If Quinn establishes himself as a solid starter in 2009, the draft two years ago could turn into one of the most successful in decades, because it also produced starting CBs Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald.

The 2006 draft gave the Browns starting LBs Kamerion Wimbley outside and D'Qwell Jackson inside. Wimbley has been nothing special since his rookie year in 2006. Jackson, the last two years, has not dominated. RB Jerome Harrison has proven he is a reliable backup to Jamal Lewis.

The 2008 draft was like a black hole last season.

Best pick: T Joe Thomas, 2007 (1st round, 3rd overall): The Browns passed on Adrian Peterson to draft an anchor at left tackle for the next 10 years. So far, so good.

Worst pick: WR Travis Wilson, 2006 (3rd round, 78th overall): Wilson wasn't always where he was supposed to be on his routes, so he was almost always on the inactive list until the Browns cut him in 2008.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

How the Steelers have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 24

2008 starters: 3

2008 backups: 8

Other teams: 2

Out of NFL: 8

Injured reserve/PUP: 3

In a nutshell: Pittsburgh's last three drafts have been top-heavy with an asterisk and thin throughout. They hit spectacularly on players such as WR Santonio Holmes and LB LaMarr Woodley, but failed to get much else after the top two picks. Their third rounds have been dreadful (Anthony Smith, Willie Reid, for example) and only three players were starters.

The Steelers have stressed the importance of high picks and used lower picks to move up. They did that to get Santonio Holmes in 2006 and again for P Daniel Sepulveda in 2007.

Best pick: LB LaMarr Woodley, 2007 (second round, 46th overall): They could have ignored the position in the second round because they drafted linebacker Lawrence Timmons in the first. But they wanted to beef up their corps and the big, strong Woodley has been a dominant rusher on the left outside. He had 11.5 sacks in 2008, then added five more in three post-season games.

Worst pick: TE Matt Spaeth, 2007 (third round, 77th overall): Needing help in both lines, the Steelers instead drafted a tight end who, at best, will remain a backup because of Heath Miller. Spaeth, a tall and poor blocker, has 22 catches in two seasons.


AFC SOUTH

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

How the Texans have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 21

2008 starters: 9

2008 backups: 6

Other teams: 2

Out of NFL: 2

Injured reserve/PUP: 2

In a nutshell: The Texans have fared far better in the past three years than they had in the previous drafts. They have drafted three players (Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans and Owen Daniels) who have already made trips to the Pro Bowl. In their previous four drafts combined, only Andre Johnson earned a Pro Bowl invitation.

The Texans still have a number of young players in these drafts that they hope continue to improve. RB Steve Slaton put together a great rookie season and seems to be a long-term fix for the problems the Texans have had at that position. S Dominique Barber will likely step into a starting role this season.

Best pick: DE Mario Williams, 2006 (1st round, 1st overall): Despite fans wanting the franchise to pick QB Vince Young or RB Reggie Bush, the Texans went with Williams, who has earned one trip to the Pro Bowl and looks to have a more promising career ahead of him than Bush and Young.

Worst pick: OT Charles Spencer (3rd round, 65th overall): In his second career start, Spencer suffered a career-threatening injury that prevented him from playing for two seasons. When he tried to make a comeback in 2008, the Texans had changed their system and Spencer was released.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

How the Colts have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 25

2008 starters: 10

2008 backups: 10

Other teams: 0

Out of NFL: 1

Injured reserve/PUP: 4

In a nutshell: The Colts have fared well in the draft the last three years. Indianapolis has been able to secure depth at needed positions while also coming up with enough quality starters to allow the franchise to continue its recent run of success.

RB Joseph Addai (2006), LB Freddy Keiaho (2006), S Antoine Bethea (2006), WR Anthony Gonzalez (2007), OT Tony Ugoh (2007), LB Clint Session (2007), DT Keyunta Dawson (2007), OG Mike Pollack (2008) and C Jamey Richard (2008) have earned starting jobs. Addai and Bethea both started in Super Bowl XLI.

Best pick: S Antoine Bethea, 2006 (6th round, 207th overall): The addition of Bethea gave the Colts defense a safety that could cover sideline-to-sideline. He moved into the starting lineup at as a rookie, replacing an injured Mike Doss in training camp, and has never given up the spot.

Worst pick: CB Dante Hughes, 2007 (3rd round, 95th overall): Saying Hughes is the worst pick since 2006 may be a bit of a stretch. But the former University of California cornerback has not progressed as quickly as many thought he would. He has yet to live up to the expectations that his high draft position would have suggested.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

How the Jaguars have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 22

2008 starters: 7

2008 backups: 7

Other teams: 2

Out of NFL: 4

Injured reserve/PUP: 2

In a nutshell: The past three years, the Jaguars' second-round draft pick has proven to be as valuable or of more value than the first. RB Maurice Jones-Drew and LB Justin Durant were both second-round choices and both are now key members of their respective units.

As a whole, the Jaguars have been no better than average. In 2006, only three of the six players are starters. Of the 11 picks in 2007, the first two picks along with fourth rounder, P Adam Podlesh, are now regulars with just three of the remaining eight picks contributing on a regular basis. The 2008 class was small with five players, with only DE Derrick Harvey making a significant impact last year.

Best pick: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, 2006 (2nd round, 60th overall): Was considered a gamble at the time, but has proven to be a wise choice. He was brought in to spell Fred Taylor and now has shown enough talent that the club released Taylor and gave him the starting job.

Worst pick: DE Brian Smith, 2007 (4th round, 113th overall): Jaguars knew he was injured but picked him anyway. Was placed on PUP for 2007 season and waived during summer of 2008, never getting in a game for the club.

TENNESSEE TITANS

How the Titans have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 27

2008 starters: 4

2008 backups: 14

Other teams: 2

Out of NFL: 6

Injured reserve/PUP: 1

In a nutshell: Remember former baseball slugger Dave Kingman? When he hit the ball, he often connected for a home run. But more often that not, Kingman swung and missed.

That's sort of the way the Titans' drafts have gone the past three seasons. They have knocked it out of the park with choices like Chris Johnson, Michael Griffin and 2006 seventh-round steal Cortland Finnegan.

Just as often, they have had their share of bad misses like their 2007 back-to-back picks Chris Henry and Paul Williams in the second and third rounds. Also, half their 10 picks from 2006 are no longer on the roster at all.

Best pick: CB Cortland Finnegan, 2006 (7th round, 215th overall): It's hard to argue the value of this pick. Finnegan, a college safety at Samford, has turned into an All-Pro cornerback in just three years in the league.

Worst pick: RB Chris Henry (2nd round, 50th overall): In 2008, Henry was a healthy scratch for the first 15 games and got one carry for three yards in the preseason-like regular-season finale. The positive about the Henry pick is his failure forced the Titans to spend a first-round pick last year on another running back: Chris Johnson.


AFC WEST

 

DENVER BRONCOS

How the Broncos have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 20

2008 starters: 10

2008 backups: 6

Other teams: 1

Out of NFL: 1

Injured reserve/PUP: 2

In a nutshell: The 2006 and 2008 drafts have provided the foundation for the Broncos' franchise. In 2006, Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler and Elvis Dumervil were the top four picks. All of them have been productive players since very early in their careers.

The 2007 draft hasn't been as successful yet, but the 2008 draft provided some immediate results. T Ryan Clady and WR Eddie Royal were each among the top rookies in the NFL, and other players contributed right away.

Best pick: WR Brandon Marshall (4th round, 119th overall): Off-field issues aside, Marshall was an absolute steal on the second day of the 2006 draft. He has had back-to-back 100-catch seasons and was a starter for the AFC's Pro-Bowl team last season. He has fantastic ability after the catch and should continue to improve if he can stay out of trouble.

Worst pick: DE Jarvis Moss, 2007 (1st round, 17th overall): Denver traded up to get Moss to rush the quarterback, but he has only 3.5 sacks in two seasons. Fellow 2007 draftee Tim Crowder, a second-round pick, also hasn't made an impact at defensive end, but Moss' lofty draft status makes him a bit more disappointing.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

How the Chiefs have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 26

2008 starters: 11

2008 backups: 11

Other teams: 1

Out of league 3

In a nutshell: Though the Chiefs continue to get a considerable amount of playing time from their 26 draft picks of the past three seasons, the quality of that play is reflected in Kansas City's 6-26 record the last two years.

Determined to get younger through the draft as opposed to improving through free agency or trades, Kansas City in the three years of the Herm Edwards reign made 23 of their 26 draft picks starters or heavy contributors.

But merely putting draft picks into the lineup can hardly be a true reflection of the quality of a team's draft. In time, perhaps, those players will become winners as opposed to mere participants. But neither Edwards nor club president Carl Peterson will be around to see it as the Scott Pioli/Todd Haley team takes on the rebuilding process started by their vanquished predecessors.

Best pick: T Branden Albert, 2008 (1st round, 15th overall): Was an immediate starter at left tackle, a position he didn't play in college, and showed he can play there for years to come.

Worst pick: K Justin Medlock, 2007 (5th round, 160th overall): Lasted only one game, the season opener, before losing his confidence and disappearing from league.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

How the Raiders have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 23

2008 starters: 7

2008 backups: 6

Other teams: 4

Out of NFL: 1

Injured reserve/PUP: 5

In a nutshell: The Raiders' future largely depends on quarterback JaMarcus Russell, No. 1 overall in 2007, and Darren McFadden, No. 4 overall in 2008. Russell showed promise in the last quarter of his second season; McFadden's rookie year was a disappointment due to injury.

The emergence of tackle Mario Henderson and Johnnie Lee Higgins late last season (both were third-rounders in 2007), plus the promise of Michael Bush (fourth rounder in 2007) brightens the Raiders' outlook.

Thomas Howard, second-round pick in 2006, could be the only contributor in that class.

Best pick: RB Michael Bush, 2007 (4th round, 100th overall): Because of a broken leg in his final college season, a first-round value was available at No. 100. Now healthy, Bush gives the Raiders a power back to go along with McFadden for a promising 1-2 punch.

Worst pick: S Michael Huff, 2006 (1st round, 7th overall): Too small for an in-the-box strong safety, Huff was supposed to blossom at free safety in his third year. Instead, he missed tackles, rarely made plays and eventually lost his job to Hiram Eugene, a street free agent. Huff is no lock to make the 53-man roster in 2009.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

How the Chargers have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 20

2008 starters: 6

2008 backups: 3

Other teams: 1

Out of NFL: 8

Injured reserve/PUP: 2

In a nutshell: The Chargers' last three drafts are a mixed bag, with most of the success coming from their 2006 haul.

It was that spring the Chargers snagged five of the six starters they've accumulated over that span.

But the last two exercises haven't been as keen. In 2007, the Chargers went with WR Craig Davis and he wasn't much his rookie year and then hurt most of his second. The Chargers did get a starting safety in Eric Weddle, but they had to surrender four draft picks to do it.

Last year's draft brought in nickel back Antoine Cason and RB/FB Jacob Hester. While the team is pleased with Cason, the price paid for Hester — two picks, including a second-rounder this year — seems a bit steep.

Best pick: LT Marcus McNeill, 2006 (2nd round, 50th overall): Philip Rivers doesn't become one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league without McNeill, a two-time Pro Bowler, protecting his blind side.

Worst pick: WR Craig Davis, 2007 (1st round, 30th overall): The knock on Davis coming out of LSU was that he had trouble staying on the field. Even when he does play, the Chargers aren't pleased with his inconsistency. He ended last season on injured reserve.


SEE THE NFC

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Hot Topic: Who should the Patriots Take?

 

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. Material from The Sports Xchange was used in this report.

 

 


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