Monday, May 4, 2009

O'Malley's Tallies: 2009 NFL Draft Winners and Losers

While the 2009 Draft may have lacked that sure fire #1 player like some years in the past, talent still remained abundant for those teams willing to take some chances and risks. With a good mix of both underclassmen and senior talent on the board, every team had the challenging task of trusting their hard work for months with scouting and interviewing and being able to weigh the importance of talent compared to character. With all that being said, here are the teams that I felt left Radio City Music Hall in New York City with both the best and worst draft classes from 2009…


1. New York Giants – After many years of being an avid NFL Draft watcher, I don’t think I’ve ever liked one team’s draft class more than this year’s New York Giants class. In my opinion, every single selection made by GM Jerry Reese was a strong one and will make a valuable impact on the field in 2009. With the exception of Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree, UNC wide receiver and Giant’s first round pick Hakeem Nicks is without question the most NFL ready receiver in the draft and will be one of Eli Manning’s top targets with his big, physical frame and great hands. In the 2nd round, the team added another strong pass rusher (as if they didn’t already have enough!) to the mix by taking Virginia OLB Clint Sintim who registered an impressive 70 tackles and 11 sacks his senior year at Charlottesville. In the third round, Reese added some tight end depth by taking Wisconsin’s athletic Travis Beckum (will play a role similar to Redskin’s Chris Cooley at the next level) as well as another big receiver in Cal Poly’s Ramses Barden. Lacking the household name recognition coming from a 1-AA football program, I have always felt that Barden was flying way too under the radar coming into this draft and will be a definite red zone impact player for Big Blue in 2009.

• 4th round (129 overall): Andre Brown, RB (NC State)
• 5th round (151 overall): Rhett Bomar, QB (SHSU)

2. Cincinnati Bengals – Yes, I know it’s shocking to see the “Bungals” on a list that accentuates the positives rather than the negatives. However, as much as we all are quick to jump on them for what they usually do wrong on the field, it is very tough for me to do that this year after having such a successful 2009 draft class. With age and injuries quickly creeping up on the Bengal’s offensive line depth chart in 2008, the team was able to address that issue quickly by taking the highly touted Alabama LT Andre Smith 6th overall. While the naysayers will quickly try and point to Smith’s questionable work ethic and weight issues, there is simply too much talent and upside on film to not feel this is a great selection. In the 2nd round, the team found a great value selection in USC’s First Team All American linebacker Rey Maualuga. While Maualuga may not do any one thing exceptionally, he is still very good in many other areas and will be a great on field leader for the defense. In the 3rd round, the team selected perhaps the most risk/reward defensive player in the draft in Georgia Tech’s Michael Johnson. An elite pass rusher when he wanted to be at Georgia Tech, Johnson’s NFL outlook could land himself anywhere from a perennial All-Pro defensive end or a total bust that is out of the league in three years. While he may possess in the talent in the world, proper coaching will be a must each and every year in Cincy.

• 4th round (106 overall): Jonathan Luigs, C (Arkansas)

3. Philadelphia Eagles – If Donovan McNabb is not happy with the amount of playmakers on the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, I don’t think he ever will be. With Kevin Curtis having an injury plagued 2008 and Reggie Brown looking more and more like a 1st round bust, the Birds were able to find themselves a steal at 19th overall in Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin. While some may consider Maclin more of a track star than a polished NFL ready receiver, it is really tough to ignore his game changing speed and ability and will give opposing defenses fits as a slot receiver, deep threat, and return man. In the 2nd round, the team was able to draft Brian Westbrook’s clone in Pittsburgh RB LeSean McCoy. McCoy was a major star at Pitt despite having poor talent around him on the offensive side of the ball and should be a great 3rd down and spell back for incumbent starter Westbrook. On the 2nd day, Eagles found themselves a possible replacement for tight end L.J. Smith (signed free agent deal in Baltimore) in Florida’s Cornelius Ingram. Despite missing all of 2008 with an injury, Ingram’s talent is tough to ignore and should be a major nightmare for linebackers in coverage if he can remain healthy.

• 5th round (157 overall): Victor “Macho” Harris, DB (Va. Tech)

Honorable Mention

4. Chicago Bears – Jarron Gilbert (DT - San Jose St), D.J. Moore (CB – Vanderbilt)

5. Green Bay Packers – B.J. Raji (DT – Boston College), Clay Matthews (LB, USC)


1. Oakland Raiders – I am going to keep this one short and sweet because I am truly lost for words on how bad this team did in the draft. With the best receiver in the entire country sitting there waiting for you to call his name (Michael Crabtree), how can you possibly justify taking Maryland’s Derius Heyward-Bey 7th overall!?!? While I will be the first to admit that Bey does indeed have long term potential at the next level, he is truly as raw as it gets as a route runner and was usually feast or famine on the stat line during his days at College Park. If Bey’s 4.3 forty time was the only thing that owner Al Davis cared about with that selection, why doesn’t he just go ahead and try to convince Jamaican track star Usain Bolt and his 9.69 second 100-meter dash to come to the Black Hole? This was just one of the many awful personnel decisions made by the incompetent Oakland Raiders in the 2009 draft…

2. Dallas Cowboys – After cutting your All Pro WR (Terrell Owens) as well as losing one of your impact defensive linemen to your division rival in free agency (Chris Canty), why in the world would you use your first few picks in the 2009 NFL Draft on a no name OLB from Western Illinois and a quarterback that threw for less than 600 yards last year?!?! That is exactly what the Dallas Cowboys did this year while the rest of the teams in their division snatched up talented players like Brian Orakpo and the aforementioned Hakeem Nicks and Jeremy Maclin. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Boys’ then went on to draft a KICKER in the 5th round (already have the All-Pro talented Nick Folk on the roster) despite having a number of talented players in need positions still on the board. I know it is still very early in the year to tell, but it certainly appears as if it could be a long, soap opera like year down in Big D…

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I am far from an NFL talent evaluator, but I really, really just don’t see it in Josh Freeman. Playing in the “defense is optional” Big 12 conference while at Kansas State, Josh Freeman wasn’t even one of the top 3 quarterbacks in his conference let alone a 1st round pick in the 2009 draft (more like a late 2nd early, early 3rd round pick to me). In addition, Tampa Bay already had 4 quarterbacks on their roster going into the draft including Byron Leftwich, a player with a lot of similar qualities to Freeman. While Freeman may have the long term potential to contribute later in his career, I just feel there were bigger needs for the Bucs with an aging Ronde Barber and defensive mainstays Derrick Brooks and Kevin Carter being released. Even after their selection of Freeman in the 1st round, there just wasn’t a selection made by the team the rest of the draft that seemed to catch my attention…

2009 Fantasy Impact Makers

1. Chris “Beanie Wells: RB, Arizona Cardinals – In 2009, Tim Hightower should get a taste of his own medicine from “Beanie” Wells after stealing many red zone scoring from Edgerrin James last season. This season, look for Wells to be very Brandon Jacobs like, being that bruiser opposing defenses get worn down by late in games and a possible candidate for double digit touchdown scores.

2. Knowshon Moreno: RB, Denver Broncos – As much as new Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels likes to chuck the pigskin all over the field, there is something about a talented Denver Broncos running back and their track records over the years that have to make a fantasy owner salivate. With perennial “game manager” Kyle Orton expected to be at the helm in 2009, Moreno and his big play potential will be crucial in making sure WR Brandon Marshall is not always doubled teamed on the outside and that the Broncos are able to stay balanced in their attack to the best of their ability.

3. Shonn Greene: RB, New York Jets – For those fantasy owners planning on making Thomas Jones their keeper selection in 2009 after his amazing 13 touchdown campaign, you may want to think again after Shonn Greene signs his contract with Gang Green. In 2008 as an Iowa Hawkeye, Shonn Greene took the nation by storm by rushing for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns on 307 carries. Listed at nearly 230 lbs., Greene can expect to take the majority of the goal line carries for head coach Rex Ryan and offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

4. Chase Coffman: TE, Cincinnati Bengals – After slipping nearly into the 4th round, I truly believe there will be a lot of teams regretting not selecting this very talented tight end out of the University of Missouri. Throughout his time in Columbia, Coffman was able to break the record for most catches by a tight end in their career with 247 (including 90 his senior season)! Once paired up with a healthy Carson Palmer, it would be far from a stretch to envision Coffman finishing the 2009 season as a top 10 fantasy tight end (similar to and if not better than the rookie impact of Seattle’s John Carlson in 2008).

Thank you all for reading as always and feel free to leave your comments for me!!

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Brian Doyle said...

Apparently a player's character isn't even considered in the player criteria for the Bengals. Smith's sketchiness will fit in perfectly in Cincinnati. I still think he'll be a bust.

No love for New England? They shored up a lot of their depth issues and managed to come away with four second round selections...and now already have two second round picks in 2010. Plus they jettisoned Ellis Hobbs, which should make everyone but Plaxico Burress happy.

Mike Colligan said...

I actually laughed at the same thing. I was wondering where Maualuga might fall, when I saw the Bengals a few picks away I knew that would be it. I think they got great value for him but that's adding gasoline to a raging fire. I guess it'll setup nicely for "Hard Knocks" in Cincinnati this fall though.