I started going through each team's Day 1. Right off the bat, I was struck how wonderfully deep this draft is. There are at least a dozen third round steals, but that's not as a result of second round misses. The Minnesota Vikings picked DE Will Smith, LB Dontarrius Thomas, and OG Sean Locklear. I didn't know much about Locklear, but I found out that he could easily be a high second rounder.
I should have just kept WR Lee Evans in Wisconsin.
Most NFL teams seem to understand this. There's great value to be had in the draft if you don't get too hung up on need.
In that vein, no matter whom the New England Patriots draft, they will have an "A" day. The Pats own 4 of the first 65 picks and grab bag of RB Kevin Jones, OG Chris Snee (who probably would project as a center), DE Antwaan Odom, LB Teddy Lehman, and WR Johnnie Morant.
Hard to go wrong, unless you take Sanders at the end of the first.
On the other end of the spectrum are the draft hapless Washington Redskins. They get one pick. I wasn't overwhelmed with DT Vince Wilfork, the scouting word on him is that he's only good for about 15 to 20 plays per game. But which player would salvage the solo pick on what may be the deepest Day 1 overall in draft history?
Unfortunately for the Redskins, S Sean Taylor was already off the board. Would they dare take the skyrocketing CB DeAngelo Hall? I look at Hall and see a lot of similarities with the recently departed Champ Bailey.
I thought the San Diego Chargers had a good day with QB Eli Manning, OT Vernon Carey and DT Tim Anderson. Unfortunately, that's not nearly enough for this team in 2004. I don't think they can afford to take Manning, Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger. The Chargers need a top 10 defensive end, offensive tackle and wide receiver. The Chargers aren't fooling anyone. They need to trade down, desperately.
In the NFC, I'd have to say my favorite draft was that of the New Orleans Saints. They hit the mother load in terms of talent AND need. I'd bet the front office would be thrilled with LB Jonathan Vilma, CB Ricardo Colclough, DT Igor Olshansky, and perhaps the steal of the third round, S Sean Jones.
Switching over to the AFC, I'm fond of the players picked for the Kansas City Chiefs, but I was astounded at the value that the New York Jets squeezed out of just a pick in the first and one in third. DT Tommie Harris is a top 5 pick on some boards and CB Keith Smith is a great third round prize. As per Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, keep an eye out for CB Chris Thompson of Nicholls State, who is a tall corner that would be a similar value in the third round as Smith.
Of course, the most heavily scrutinized picks were those of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I bet there a number of people who now would welcome the first round pick of CB Dunta Robinson. This mock draft pick may even prove to be quite accurate. After Robinson, the Steelers did get a tackle, Adrian Jones. I'm not familiar with Jones, but he did start shooting up some draft boards right after this mock. In round 3, Pittsburgh made a draft coup by grabbing OG Justin Smiley. Like Locklear, Smiley is a firm round 2 value.
This mock draft does a good job of revealing that the value cluster for offensive tackles is really in round 3, but round 2 looks like a good time to take a guard, particularly if you are looking to convert that player into a center.
At least for the Steelers, I think this mock has excellent predictive value.
As for the not so stellar drafts, I need only refer you to my inadequate collection for the Green Bay Packers.