With each draft, teams leave their war rooms expecting an immediate impact from their new players. But the reality is that if more than a couple of rookies make any impact immediately, it has been a successful draft. Last year at this time, all 32 teams were touting their prospects as being difference-makers. A year later, the grades may not be the same.
Arizona – First-round pick Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie became a starter at midseason and looked great, but the only other contributor was fifth-round pick Tim Hightower.
Atlanta – The Falcons got two starters in QB Matt Ryan and MLB Curtis Lofton and injuries are all that kept OT Sam Baker from being a full-time starter.
Baltimore – The draft will be remembered for Joe Flacco, which is a good thing. The other nine Ravens rookies combined to start just four games – all of them by RB Ray Rice.
Buffalo – Five rookies started at least one game, but nobody started more than six. CB Leodis McKelvin may be the only true keeper of the bunch.
Carolina – The top three picks all hit big. Jonathan Stewart rushed for 1,000 yards, OT Jeff Otah dominated on the right side and safety Charles Godfrey started all 16 games, giving the Panthers some deserved kudos.
Chicago – First-round offensive tackle Chris Williams had back issues and didn't start a game. The only player who saw the field as a starter was second-rounder Matt Forte, who saved what could have been a hideous draft.
Cincinnati – The top five picks all started at least one game, but only LB Keith Rivers and DT Pat Sims made a difference. And neither of them started more than seven games.
Cleveland – The Browns didn't have a pick until the fourth round, so their disaster comes with an excuse.
Dallas – Five of their six picks made an impact, but only TE Martellus Bennett started more than three games. However, Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins still look like good picks and Tashard Choice has a future, even if as a backup.
Denver – Only two players were full-time starters, but both made big contributions – OT Ryan Clady and WR Eddie Royal.
Detroit – The jury is still out on guys like Gosder Cherilus and Kevin Smith, but second-rounder Jordon Dizon was an unqualified rookie bust.
Green Bay – The Packers' nine draft picks combined to start just eight games and none of them had more than a minor impact, with Brian Brohm looking like a complete bust from the second round.
Houston – The Texans continue to build through the draft and 2008 was no exception. They got full-time starters in OT Duane Brown and RB Steve Slayton and CB Antwuan Molden was a critical special teams contributor.
Indianapolis – The Colts got two starters for their injured O-line in the draft – guard Mike Pollack with their first pick and G-C Jamey Richard, who started seven games, with their seventh-round selection.
Jacksonville – The Jags only had five picks and neither of the two players they hoped would be defensive end studs – Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves – made any significant impact.
Kansas City – Thanks to the trade with the Vikings, the Chiefs had 12 picks. Of those, six started multiple games and four started 12 or more – DT Glenn Dorsey, OT Branden Albert, CB Brandon Flowers and CB Brandon Carr. Surprisingly, the least production came from the top pick (Dorsey).
Miami – OT Jake Long lived up to his hype as the top pick, but the Dolphins also found a starter in Kendall Langford in the third round and what they believe will be their QB of the future in Chad Henne. If they and second-round DE Phillip Merling live up to expectations, this will be a very strong draft class.
Minnesota – Because of the Jared Allen trade, the Vikings had just one pick in the first three rounds. But, they were happy with the progress of Tyrell Johnson and believe they have their center of the future in sixth-rounder John Sullivan.
New England – LB Jerod Mayo was all the Pats hoped for, but they didn't get another major contributor with any of their other six picks.
New Orleans – They had only six picks (and two in the first four rounds), but got production. DT Sedrick Ellis and guard Carl Nicks each started 13 games and played well and CB Tracy Porter won the starting job in training camp but broke his wrist in Week 5.
New York Giants – The seven Giants draft picks combined to start just seven games, but they like what the see in D-backs Kenny Phillips and Terrell Thomas.
New York Jets – The big whiff last year was Vernon Gholston, a can't-miss pick who missed big time. They had better luck with TE Dustin Keller and fourth-round CB Dwight Lowery, who each became starters and regular contributors.
Oakland – The Raiders got more starts out of seventh-round WR Chaz Schilens than top pick Darren McFadden. That says enough.
Philadelphia – The Eagles had 10 draft picks, but only one of them starting a game – wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who led the team in receiving yards.
Pittsburgh – They won a title, but no thanks to their rookie class. RB Rashard Mendenhall missed almost the entire season and Limas Sweed was a bum. Their seven picks combined to play in just 21 games and start just one.
St. Louis – The Rams got a couple of full-time starters in OT Chris Long and WR Donnie Avery. Both are expected to remain starters for years to come.
San Diego – The Chargers only had five picks and, despite getting only five starts out of CB Antoine Cason and FB Jacob Hester, they like both of them.
San Francisco – DE Kentwan Balmer did little and their draft class combined for just seven starts – six from guard Chilo Rachal.
Seattle – Only two rookies made contributions, but they were pretty big. DE Lawrence Jackson started 14 games and TE John Carlson became the first rookie since Steve Largent in their expansion season to lead the team in receptions and receiving yards.
Tampa Bay – For the most part, a complete bust, but hopes remain high for CB Aqib Talib, who got two starts – three less than third-round guard Jerry Zuttah. Their other five picks combined to suit up for just eight games.
Tennessee – Some scoffed at taking Chris Johnson in the first round, but he became an immediate impact player. DT Jason Jones didn't bring too much to the table, but with Albert Haynesworth gone, he may have been a very wise pick in the second round.
Washington – Arguably the worst draft of anyone. With three second-round picks, they took wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly and tight end Fred Davis – and got almost nothing from all of them. The only starter they got was safety Chris Horton, their last pick in the seventh round.
Next week at this time, you will hear teams claiming that they were shocked they were able to get so much talent in one draft, but, as we have seen with a recap of last year's draft, expecting too much from rookies can be a costly situation and one that doesn't always work out as planned.
2008 draft yields mixed results
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