Positional draft review

It's rarely fair to grade a team's draft before the players even step on the field. It's a little easier to grade a draft by position, based on how many players were selected at that position. By that standard, wide receivers and centers did relatively well compared to last year, while tight ends weren't in great demand.

A week removed from the NFL draft, the talk about the impact to be made by the various rookies is still the buzz. Teams are given grades for their picks, but how about grades for position? Well, now you have it. Here are our grades on how the 32 NFL teams viewed the Class of 2009 by position.

QUARTERBACK (12 players selected) – After having three of the top 17 players taken from the position, only one other (Pat White in the second round) went in the top 100. There were only eight more QBs taken after that – one in the fourth round, two in the fifth, four in the sixth and one in the seventh. Due to its positioning at the top of the draft, it has to get high marks, but the lack of dept hurt the position.GRADE: B.

Running back has become a position once coveted, but now viewed as much more replaceable with young talent as opposed to having veterans riding out the string. Only 23 RBs went (including three fullbacks), but only four were gone in the first day. Of the 23 RBs, 13 of them went in the fifth round or later, making the Class of '09 much more of a group that helps on special teams than as major offensive contributors. GRADE: C-minus.

A year after being ignored in the first round, a whopping six wide receivers went in the first round of the 2009 draft, including the Vikings making Percy Harvin the fourth WR off the board. Few positions got as much attention, especially early. Not only did six first-rounders come from wide receivers, but so did two second-round picks and seven third-rounders, showing that several teams saw depth beyond the top stars at the position. GRADE: A-minus.

TIGHT END (19) –
There was talent here, but nothing teams were willing to spend high draft picks for. Only two TEs came off the board in the first day and one of them was with the 64th and last pick of Day One. The tight ends were spread out pretty evenly throughout the rest of the draft with four players each going in the final three rounds, but the talent was neither top-heavy nor viewed as "must have." GRADE: D-plus.

CENTER (6) –
There were only a half-dozen taken, which is not unusual, but where were they taken was nothing short of shocking. Typically a position ignored until the later rounds, three of the top 49 picks – including two first-rounders – came from the crop of centers, making this one of the most top-heavy drafts in recent memory at the position. GRADE: A.

GUARD (15) –
Unlike center, the guard spot was virtually ignored early, with only one player going on the first day of the draft. While the numbers improved in the third and fourth round, the lack of a premium choice or two at the top really knocks down the value of the position as a whole. GRADE: D-plus.

It wasn't the powerhouse it was in 2008, but the OT position got a lot of attention. Three of the top eight picks were made from there and four players were taken in each of the first two rounds, including the Vikings making Phil Loadholt the sixth OT to come off the board. There wasn't a run at the position like we saw in 2008, but the talent was still there. GRADE: B.

There was value and depth, especially since some players who were viewed by some teams as defensive ends were viewed by others at outside linebackers. The position was steadily picked clean, with four in the first and second rounds, two in the third and five in the fourth – taking 15 players off the board in the first four rounds. While not heavy on top-end talent, the position produced a lot of players with high expectations. GRADE: B-minus.

There wasn't a lot of high-end talent, but the numbers built through the first four rounds as the draft went on – two players were drafted in the first round, three in the second, five in the third and four in the fourth. The numbers were quite as high (20) when all was said and done, but the game-breaking talent just wasn't there to warrant too high a positional grade. GRADE: C-plus.

What may be the most shocking is that number includes both outside linebackers and inside LBs combined. There wasn't an inside linebacker taken in the first round and, after two went early in the second round, there wasn't another ILB taken until a run late in the fourth and early in the fifth round, where the Vikings got involved in taking Jasper Brinkley. For as important as the position is now that as many as 10 teams could be running a variation of the 3-4 defense, this was a pretty dismal year for linebackers. GRADE: C.

By far the most picked over position, cornerback played a vital role in the draft despite not having many premium talented players at or near the top. Only two first-round picks came from the CBs, but their numbers in the subsequent rounds were consistent – 5, 9, 4, 5, 8, 5 – making this a fairly strong class despite not having the blue-chip talent at the top. GRADE: B.

SAFETY (18) –
This draft class didn't have a LaRon Landry, but it did OK for itself. There were no first-round safeties, but five of them came off in the second round. The talent level at the position wasn't there and teams were more cautious about going after players from there. Of the 18 safeties drafted, 10 came in the fifth round or later. GRADE: C-minus.

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