Breaking Down The Draft -- NFC

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 NFC.

The following is a list of the last three draft classes, broken down by division, of all 32 NFL teams. Here is the NFC List. To see the AFC (Click here)


NFC NORTH

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS

How the Packers have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 32

2008 starters: 7

2008 backups: 16

Other teams: 6

Out of NFL: 2

Injured reserve/PUP: 1

In a nutshell: Not counting the dividends realized last season with QB Aaron Rodgers and Pro Bowl S Nick Collins — the top two picks from his inaugural 2005 draft class — general manager Ted Thompson can be credited with only one surefire player in the last three drafts: WR Greg Jennings.

The jury still is out on LB A.J. Hawk, the 2006 first-round choice who will move inside in the team's new 3-4 defensive scheme, as well as WR James Jones and OL Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz.

Best pick: WR Greg Jennings, 2006 (2nd round, 52nd overall): The unheralded college player from Western Michigan has blossomed into an elite NFL wideout and is a high priority for the Packers to award a long-term deal before his contract expires after next season. Jennings supplanted Donald Driver as the team's No. 1 receiver in 2008 with 80 catches for 1,292 yards and nine touchdowns.

Worst pick: DT Justin Harrell, 2007 (1st round, 16th overall): Thompson's questionable top pick of Harrell two years ago is teetering on becoming an unequivocal bust. Various injuries have conspired to keep Harrell off the field for 19 of 32 regular-season games, and he has made only two starts.

CHICAGO BEARS

How the Bears have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 28

2008 starters: 7

2008 backups: 12

Other teams: 2

Out of NFL: 5

Injured reserve/PUP: 2

In a nutshell: Fortunately for general manager Jerry Angelo and the Bears, their second-day picks in 2007 might make up for some horrible choices earlier in that draft, when they busted with DE Dan Bazuin in the second round and LB Michael Okwo with their second third-round pick. But they got 16-game starters last season in 2007 fourth-round G Josh Beekman and fifth-round S Kevin Payne.

CB Corey Graham, another fifth-rounder form 2007, started nine games. The 2006 draft has produced WR/RS Devin Hester, injury-prone NT Dusty Dvoracek, nickel back Danieal Manning and rookie flash-in-the-pan DE Mark Anderson. In 2008, second-round RB Matt Forte was a godsend, but first-round OT Chris Williams was hurt on the second day of training camp and barely played.

Best pick: RB Matt Forte, 2008 (2nd round, 44th overall): Not only is he a workhorse ball-carrier, Forte is an effective pass catcher and a willing blocker.

Worst pick: DE Dan Bazuin, 2007 (2nd round, 62nd overall): Suffered a knee injury in his first minicamp and then reinjured it early in training camp, spent the year on injured reserve and wasn't much better the next year when he was cut in preseason.

DETROIT LIONS

How the Lions have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 24

2008 starters: 5

2008 backups: 9

Other teams: 2

Out of NFL: 5

Injured reserve/PUP: 3

In a nutshell: The last three years of the Matt Millen era were a little better than the first five. The Lions didn't strike out with top-10 picks Ernie Sims and Calvin Johnson as they did with Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers and Mike Williams.

But the Lions still struggled from the second round on. The Lions have drafted nine players in the second and third rounds since 2006, and five have contributed little: Brian Calhoun, Drew Stanton, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Jordon Dizon and Andre Fluellen.

Now that coach Rod Marinelli has been fired, some of the players drafted for the Tampa Two defense won't fit anymore. Jim Schwartz wants more size.

Best pick: WR Calvin Johnson, 2007 (1st round, 2nd overall): One of the few picks to live up to the hype. A playmaker and a cornerstone. Even though he tied for 20th in catches last year, he was fifth in receiving yards and tied for first in touchdowns.

Worst pick: QB Drew Stanton, 2007 (2nd round, 43rd overall): Right after Johnson, a deep threat, the Lions drafted a quarterback known for making plays with his legs. Stanton struggled with injuries and changes to his mechanics. He has practiced little and played even less.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

How the Vikings have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 19

2008 starters: 6

2008 backups: 8

Other teams: 4

Out of NFL: 1

Injured reserve/PUP: 0

In a nutshell: The Vikings did not get much immediate return from the 2008 draft if you look at their five selections. However, the fact the Vikings used three picks (a first and two third rounders) to obtain Pro Bowl DE Jared Allen from Kansas City has to be considered.

Allen finished fifth in the NFL with 14.5 sacks, providing the type of pass-rushing presence the Vikings needed. The Vikings' two previous first-round selections have panned out nicely with LB Chad Greenway and RB Adrian Peterson assuming key roles.

The 2006 draft has produced five starters but that is a bit misleading given that RT Ryan Cook and QB Tarvaris Jackson have been extremely up-and-down in their play.

Best pick: RB Adrian Peterson, 2007 (1st round, 7th overall): After slipping to Minnesota, mainly because teams were worried about his injury history, Peterson has established himself as one of the NFL's best running backs. He led the league in rushing this past season.

Worst pick: CB Marcus McCauley, 2007 (3rd round, 72nd overall): Played regularly as a rookie, but rarely got on the field last season and it's unclear if he fits into the team's plans. If McCauley does not establish himself in 2009, this will be a bad miss.


NFC EAST

 

DALLAS COWBOYS

How the Cowboys have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 22

2008 starters: 2

2008 backups: 14

Other teams: 5

Out of NFL: 1

Injured reserve/PUP: 0

In a nutshell: The Cowboys had a draft to remember in 2008 with five of the six picks playing key roles as rookies. Top pick Felix Jones is a future star at running back and DBs Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick might be starters in 2009 at cornerback and safety respectively. Fourth-round RB Tashard Choice also has a bright future.

The Cowboys have little to show from their efforts in 2006 and 2007, players who should be key contributors. Only four of the eight picks from 2006 remain with the team and none are close to a starting job. It's not much better with 2007, though the Cowboys got a gem with K Nick Folk.

Best pick: RB Felix Jones, 2008 (1st round, 22nd overall): Jones scored a touchdown in each of his first four games, giving the Cowboys and instant game-breaking threat before suffering a season ending injury. He will be a focal point of the offense in 2009, possibly starting ahead of Marion Barber.

Worst pick: LB Bobby Carpenter, 2006 (1st round, 18th overall): Carpenter came aboard as a personal pick of then-head coach Bill Parcells. He has yet to earn a starting job and has no prospects to do so.

NEW YORK GIANTS

How the Giants have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 22

2008 starters: 6

2008 backups: 12

Other teams: 0

Out of NFL: 2

Injured reserve/PUP: 2

The last three drafts were officially managed by two men, former GM Ernie Accorsi (2006) and Jerry Reese, his replacement.

However, it was Reese who made the final decisions (or near-final decisions) in 2006 and for several seasons prior, to which Accorsi readily agrees.

Reese's record has been just short of perfect. In 2007, he made eight selections and, amazingly, all earned roster spots. In the team's first playoff game against Tampa Bay, all eight actually played. Last year, with seven picks, five made the team and two others served on injured reserve or the practice squad.

Best pick: DE/LB Mathias Kiwanuka, 2006 (1st round, 32nd overall): The Giants moved down to the final spot in the first round to snare Kiwanuka. "You can never have enough pass-rushing defensive ends," said Accorsi as to why he took one with Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck on the roster. Kiwanuka has since proven he can play linebacker as well.

Worst pick: WR Sinorice Moss, 2006 (2nd round, 44th overall): Moss has had a problem staying healthy, and once that was overcome he discovered a new problem — not being able to hold sure-catch passes. He has been a disappointment, especially for someone taken so high.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

How the Eagles have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 26

2008 starters: 8

2008 backups: 10

Other teams: 4

Out of NFL: 3

Injured reserve/PUP: 1

In a nutshell: General manager Tom Heckert and coach Andy Reid have put together three solid drafts that already have produced eight starters for a team that went to the NFC Championship Game last season.

Five of the eight starters out of those drafts were part of a defense that finished in the top five in the league in total defense, run defense, pass defense and points allowed last season, including middle LB Stewart Bradley and DT Brodrick Bunkley.

WR DeSean Jackson, a second-round pick last year, led the Eagles in receptions and receiving yards as a rookie. He and fellow rookie, S Quintin Demps, also were one of the league's best kick and punt return tandems.

Best pick: MLB Stewart Bradley, 2007 (3rd round, 87th overall): At 6-4, 255 pounds, Bradley is big and athletic and gives the Eagles the kind of physicality they haven't had in the middle since Jeremiah Trotter was in his prime.

Worst pick: T Winston Justice, 2006 (2nd round, 39th overall): The Eagles drafted Justice with the idea of him eventually replacing Tra Thomas as the starting left tackle. But he has given little indication that he is capable of being an NFL starter on either side of the line.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

How the Redskins have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 21

2008 starters: 4

2008 backups: 11

Other teams: 1

Out of NFL: 5

Injured reserve/PUP: 0

In a nutshell: Former coach Joe Gibbs, who ran the draft in 2006-07, used just two first-day picks but found starters in LB Rocky McIntosh (35th overall) and S LaRon Landry (sixth overall).

Executive vice president Vinny Cerrato's 2008 draft, his first in command since 2003, produced a late-round gem in seventh-round S Chris Horton, but the trio of second-round pass-catchers (Devin Thomas, Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly) combined for just 21 catches as rookies. Cerrato also whiffed by drafting a punter, something that usually fails.

Best pick: S Chris Horton, 2008 (seventh round, 249th overall): Named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after picking off two passes and recovering a fumble in his first start in place of the ill Reed Doughty, Horton soon wrested the job away. The former UCLA star was the last of Washington's 10 picks, but he led the Redskins in interceptions and was third in tackles.

Worst pick: P Durant Brooks, 2008 (sixth round, 168th overall): The nation's top punter at Georgia Tech, Brooks unseated incumbent Derrick Frost in a tight summer competition because of his bigger leg. However, Brooks had two early line drives taken back for touchdowns and was cut after six regular season games.


NFC SOUTH

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

How the Falcons have done in the drafts since 2006.

Total picks: 27

2008 starters: 6

2008 backups: 13

Other teams: 4

Out of NFL: 1

Injured reserve/PUP: 3

In a nutshell: The Falcons have found six starters over the last two drafts, but whiffed badly in 2007 when they made cornerback Jimmy Williams their top pick.

He spent last season out of football, but has recently signed with San Francisco.

They appear to have found their franchise quarterback, a middle linebacker and rebuilt the left side of their offensive line.

Best pick: QB Matt Ryan, 2008 (1st round, 3rd overall): He stepped right in after beating out Chris Redman and D.J. Shockley in the preseason. Ryan started all 16 games and had the Falcons within minutes of winning a division title as a rookie. He showed poise beyond his years and the ability to make all of the throws. The sky appears to be the limit.

Worst pick: CB Jimmy Williams, 2007 (2nd round, 37th overall): He spent most of his time in Atlanta playing on special teams. Was drafted as a cornerback, but struggled in man-to-man coverage. Was moved to safety in his second season and appeared to be coming along under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. But Williams fizzled out under another regime change and was released before the start of his third season and also was suspended by the league.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

How the Panthers have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 25

2008 starters: 6

2008 backups: 13

Other teams: 4

Out of NFL: 0

Injured reserve/PUP: 2

In a nutshell: The Panthers have experienced plenty of success over the past three years, finding six starters (RB DeAngelo Williams, TE Jeff King, LB Jon Beason, C Ryan Kalil, T Jeff Otah and S Charles Godfrey) and 13 backups, including three — CB Richard Marshall, RB Jonathan Stewart and DE Charles Johnson — that are likely to step into starting roles at some point.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney has made a point to build the core of his football team through the draft and he's succeeded.

Best pick: LB Jon Beason 2007 (1st round, 25th overall): The beauty of this pick is the Panthers actually traded down 11 spots in the first round and still picked up Beason at No. 25. In just his second season, he was named All-Pro and went to the Pro Bowl. He's led the Panthers in tackles in both of his first two seasons.

Worst pick: WR Dwayne Jarrett 2007 (2nd round, 45th overall): So far Jarrett has been a disappointment. He continues to be inactive on game day almost as much as he suits up. The Panthers keep talking about how much Jarrett has improved but we've yet to see it on a consistent basis on game day.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

How the Saints have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 21

2008 starters: 6

2008 backups: 6

Other teams: 4

Out of NFL: 2

Injured reserve/PUP: 3

In a nutshell: The Saints have been up and down with the three drafts they've had since Sean Payton became the head coach in Jan. 2006.

They started with a bang in 2006, netting four starters — including three who immediately cracked the lineup — and another backup who's on the cusp of becoming a starter.

Their 2007 draft, however, did not yield a starter unless you count third-round draft pick Andy Alleman, who started for the Miami Dolphins last season after the Saints cut him.

The 2008 draft was better considering their top two picks — defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis and cornerback Tracy Porter — won starting jobs in training camp and left guard Carl Nicks started the final 13 games.

Best pick: WR Marques Colston, 2006 (7th round, 252nd overall): Colston has been a real jewel — catching 215 balls for 3,000 yards and 24 TDs. He's put up those gaudy numbers despite missing seven games with injuries, including five last year with torn ligaments in his thumb.

Worst pick: RB Antonio Pittman, 2007 (4th round, 107th overall): The Saints traded up in the fourth round to get Pittman. But he was beaten out by undrafted free agent Pierre Thomas and was cut late in preseason.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

How the Bucs have done in the draft since 2006.

Total picks: 31

2008 starters: 5

2008 backups: 10

Other teams: 10

Out of NFL: 6

Injured reserve/PUP: 0

In a nutshell: The Bucs' biggest success in the draft since 2006 has been rebuilding their offensive line. Tampa Bay began by drafting G Davin Joseph in the first round and T Jeremy Trueblood in the second round of 2006. The next year, the Bucs used a second-round pick on G Arron Sears. Even Rutgers' Jeremy Zuttah, a fourth-rounder in 2008, has proven to be a possible future starter.

Unfortunately, the Bucs haven't fared as well with the skill positions. WR Dexter Jackson, a second-rounder from Appalachian State, was a reach to say the least. WR Maurice Stovall has yet to fulfill his potential. And the Bucs' used lower-round picks for trades of backup quarterbacks like Tim Rattay and Jake Plummer, who retired rather than report.

Best pick: Davin Joseph, 2006 (1st round, 23rd overall): Despite knee and foot injuries that sidelined line at the start of two seasons, he has developed into a devastating run blocker. Last season, Joseph was named to his first Pro Bowl.

Worst pick: Dexter Jackson, WR, 2008 (2nd round, 58th overall): The Bucs chose him as a kick returner, but he hadn't returned kickoffs in college and failed miserably at it. He was inactive most of the season.


NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

How the Cardinals have done in the draft since 2006

Total picks: 19

2008 starters: 5

2008 backups: 9

Other teams: 3

Out of NFL: 2

Injured reserve/PUP: 0

In a nutshell: It's hard to rate the 2006 draft, given that QB Matt Leinart, the 10th overall pick, hasn't played much. The two guys taken after him, G Deuce Lutui and TE Leonard Pope, have been regular starters.

The 2007 draft hasn't been productive so far. RT Levi Brown, the fifth overall pick, has been average at best. The second-round pick, NT Alan Branch, has been a bust. WR Steve Breaston, the fifth-rounder was a real steal, however.

The 2008 draft produced CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the first round, while RB Tim Hightower was a great pick in the fifth round.

Best pick: WR Steve Breaston, 2007 (5th round, 142nd overall): Breaston's ability to return punts and kicks made him a worthwhile pick. He showed great desire to improve as a receiver and gained over 1,000 yards in his second season.

Worst pick: NT Alan Branch, 2007 (2nd round, 33rd overall): Branch narrowly beats out LB Buster Davis, taken in the third round the same year. Branch gets the dubious distinction because the club gave up a fourth-round pick to move up to take him. Branch has been overweight in both seasons and needs to find some motivation or he's going to be shown the door.

ST. LOUIS RAMS

How the Rams have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 26

2008 starters: 5

2008 backups: 8

Other teams: 1

Out of NFL: 7

Injured reserve/PUP: 5

In a nutshell: It's easy to see where the downfall began to a team that won only five total games in the last two seasons. None of the team's third-round picks in 2006 — DT Claude Wroten, LB Jon Alston and TE Dominique Byrd — are on the roster, and Wroten and Byrd didn't play anywhere in 2008. That year's second-round pick, TE Joe Klopfenstein, has been a disappointment.

In 2007, evaluators were mistaken in believing second-round pick Brian Leonard could be a high-level backup to RB Steven Jackson. The 2008 draft appears better, thanks to the addition of Billy Devaney, who is now the team's new general manager.

Best pick: WR Donnie Avery, 2008 (2nd round, 33rd overall): Avery was the first receiver selected in last year's draft, raising some eyebrows. But he proved to be capable of making big plays, and now just have to work on consistency running precise routes.

Worst pick: DT Claude Wroten, 2006 (3rd round, 68th overall): The Rams ignored all the danger signs regarding Wroten's off-field issues, figuring they were getting a first-round talent with a third-round choice. But he was suspended for four games in 2007, and is currently on a year-long league suspension for substance abuse issues.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

How the 49ers have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 24

2008 starters: 7

2008 backups: 11

Other teams: 1

Out of NFL: 4

Injured reserve/PUP: 1

In a nutshell: It seems as if the 49ers' scouting department and the coaching staff have not always been on the same page.

In 2006, the 49ers selected TE Vernon Davis (No. 6) and OLB Manny Lawson (No. 22) in the first round. But Davis has been used as more of a blocker than a target in the passing game, and Lawson comes off the field instead of being given a chance to show his pass-rush skills — the reason he was chosen in the first round.

Best pick: LB Patrick Willis, 2007 (1st round, 11th overall): A large section of the team's fan base thought the 49ers should select DL Adam Carriker. But 49ers coached Willis in the Senior Bowl, and GM Scot McCloughan was adamant Willis could become a superstar. In two seasons, Willis has twice made the Pro Bowl.

Worst pick: WR Brandon Williams, 2006 (3rd round, 84th overall): The 49ers made a major reach with a "need" pick. Williams was chosen as much for his return skills as his play as a receiver. The 175-pounder did not catch a pass and he averaged 6.6 yards on punt returns before the 49ers released him after his 16th game with the club.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

How the Seahawks have done in the draft since 2006:

Total picks: 21

2008 starters: 6

2008 backups: 12

Other teams: 2

Out of NFL: 0

Injured reserve/PUP: 1

In a nutshell: The Seahawks have had mixed success in the draft over the past three seasons.

Seattle's 2007 draft class netted two starters so far and several contributors. Brandon Mebane, a third-round pick, is developing into one of the better defensive tackles in the game. Josh Wilson, a second rounder, broke into the starting lineup in his second year and has shown promise as a cover corner for Seattle. TE John Carlson, a 2008 second-round selection, fit in nicely into Seattle's West Coast offense.

DE Lawrence Jackson, a first-round selection in 2008, was slowed by a foot injury in his rookie season and is looking to prove he can be a key contributor for Seattle in 2009.

Best pick: DT Brandon Mebane, 2007 (3rd round, 85th overall): Started since his rookie season and will be switched to the more valuable role of a pass rusher inside because of his quick development as a disrupting force inside.

Worst pick: CB Kelly Jennings, 2006 (1st round, 31th overall): Has speed, but because of his smallish frame cannot stand up in coverage against bigger receivers. Lost confidence as the 2008 season wore on, and is now a backup behind Josh Wilson.


SEE THE AFC

MORE:
Draft Talk
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.

 


Patriots Insider Top Stories