NFL Draft Recap: Pick-by-Pick Reaction and Analysis

Written By Bob Cunningham On Sunday, April 26, 2009
The 2009 NFL Draft has been exciting thus far through the first round. There have been some trades, some surprises, and perhaps some reaches.

Let's take a look at each selection.

1. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford - QB - Georgia

First off, this guy has bust written all over him. The documented strength of Stafford is the arm strength, while the weakness is that he is rather slow in his progressions and reads.

To me, that screams, "Bust!"

Making reads and becoming quicker in his progressions can be coached so that may not turn out to be a big deal. Unfortunately, the Lions are not well-known for sculpting talented players more than they are for ruining them. Stay tuned.

2. St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith - LT - Baylor

This is a fantastic pick for the St. Louis Rams. They were rumored to want to trade out of this pick, but since there were no takers they did the smart thing and took the best player on the board. Let’s also not forget he fills a huge need.

Smith is a big, nasty guy who will bring a certain attitude to the Rams that they have lacked for quite some time.

Look for this guy to hold down that left tackle spot for the next 12-15 years.

3. Kansas City Chiefs: Tyson Jackson - DE - LSU

This may have been a slight reach for Jackson at 3, but with that said the Chiefs got a good player here.

Jackson is a guy who’s athletic enough to play end in a 4-3, but big enough to play end in the 3-4, and play it well.

The Chiefs are looking to get tougher all-around, and Jackson helps that.

4. Seattle Seahawks: Aaron Curry - OLB - Wake Forest

Curry fell into the Seahawks’ lap with the number four pick in the draft, after passing by a team everyone was sure would take him with the third pick in the Kansas City Chiefs.

Curry may be the best overall player in the draft this year, and was in talks with the Lions to become the first overall pick.

If there is such a thing as a value pick in the top five, the Seahawks just got it.

5. New York Jets (from Cleveland Browns): Mark Sanchez - QB - USC

In the first blockbuster trade of the 2009 draft, the Jets traded an immense amount (swapped first-round picks, 5 and 17, their second-round pick, along with players Abram Elam, Kenyan Coleman, and QB Brett Ratliff) for an unproven guy.

Not just a guy unproven in the NFL, but unproven in college as well, making only 16 starts in his college career. But then again, Matt Cassel started 16 less than that.

6. Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Smith - LT - Alabama

The Bengals did what most people thought they would do, and that is drafted LT Andre Smith. Regardless of his problems this offseason, Smith is an incredible talent and may have been the second guy off the board if it weren’t for the aforementioned troubles.

The Bengals have acquired a guy who has the potential to be a fantastic, Pro Bowl caliber left tackle for a long time in the NFL.

7. Oakland Raiders: Darrius Heyward-Bey - WR - Maryland

In typical Al Davis fashion, he overlooked talent and any other sort of stat or intangible and drafted solely on speed.

So with Michael Crabtree still on the board, waiting in the draft’s green room, the Oakland Raiders selected Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Without getting offensive, this is just a dumb pick. Heyward-Bey may turn out to be a good player, but he was not worth the seventh pick. The fact that Crabtree was still on the board just makes it even worse.

Davis’ affinity for speed will come back to bite him.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Eugene Monroe - LT - Virginia

Monroe was considered by many to be the best left tackle in this draft and could have gone in the top five simply based on preference.

The only knock on Monroe is that he’s not aggressive or tough enough in the run game, but the same was said about Joe Thomas; The same guy who made it to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season.

9. Green Bay Packers: B.J. Raji - DT - Boston College

With the Packers bringing in Dom Capers to switch the defense over to the 3-4, Raji was the only pick here. He can be that kind of Vince Wilfork-type nose tackle who can keep the linebackers free and clear to move around and make plays.

Raji is a great jumping-off point to get this 3-4 moving. He should be an impact player immediately. They better hope that their 2007 first-round pick DT Justin Harrell can play defensive end.

10. San Francisco 49ers: Michael Crabtree - WR - Texas Tech

The 49ers need to kiss the ground that Al Davis walks on, then send him a thank-you letter for allowing their franchise to progress, while sending the Raiders back a few years.

Crabtree will help out whichever quarterback wins the job in camp look a whole lot better. The last time the 49ers drafted a wide receiver who was a playmaker but perhaps a little slow, it worked out just fine.

For those who don’t know, that man was Jerry Rice.

11. Buffalo Bills: Aaron Maybin - DE/OLB - Penn State

The Buffalo Bills must have a plan for Aaron Maybin, because he doesn’t really fit into a 4-3. He’s a little too small to be a 4-3 defensive end, and not quite big enough to play OLB. He’s a perfect 3-4 pass-rushing OLB.

Look for the Bills to try and bulk him up to play outside linebacker.

12. Denver Broncos: Knowshon Moreno - RB - Georgia

In one of the biggest surprises of the first round, the Broncos picked Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno. Moreno is one of seven running backs on the Broncos roster heading into 2009.

This is a textbook case of simply selecting the best player on the board and not selecting for need, but was Moreno the best player on the board at the 12th pick? The Broncos are certainly starting the Josh McDaniels-era in a peculiar fashion.

13. Washington Redskins: Brian Orakpo - DE - Texas

Orakpo is another guy who was projected as a possible 3-4 OLB, but has been drafted by a 4-3 team as a defensive end.

He’s a high-motor guy who will help the Redskins get pressure on the quarterback, something they’ll need in a quarterback-heavy division with Eli Manning, Tony Romo, and Donovan McNabb.

14. New Orleans Saints: Malcolm Jenkins - CB/FS - Ohio State

Ohio State’s Malcolm Jenkins could have easily been rated the best corner and the best free safety coming out of college this year. He reminds me a lot of Antrel Rolle in that he’s versatile enough to play both.

Personally I would have him playing free safety, but with the addition of Darren Sharper he may see time at corner until Sharper hangs it up.

15. Houston Texans: Brian Cushing - LB - USC

Cushing is the first of the USC linebackers to be drafted, but I’m not sold that he’s the best. I believed, and still do, that the best linebacker from that group was Rey Maualuga, then Cushing, and then Clay Matthews.

However, I do believe that Cushing is a good player and will be very good next to DeMeco Ryans. Cushing is a smart guy who plays within his assignment which will allow him to make an impact day one.

16. San Diego Chargers: Larry English - DE - Northern Illinois

This is a great pick for the Chargers who lost their defensive end, Igor Olshansky, to the Dallas Cowboys in free agency.

A lot of people are screaming “reach” here at this pick, but I think this was a guy who was incredibly underrated and will make a big impact on a struggling Chargers’ defense.

He comes in listed as a defensive end, but he could play OLB in the 3-4. We’ll see if they have him bulk up and play DE or not.

17. Tampa Bay Bucs (NYJ thru CLE): Josh Freeman - QB - Kent State

The Bucs moved up from 19 to 17 in order to grab Kent State quarterback Josh Freeman, a guy most had thought the Bucs were targeting from the very beginning. This move marked the second trade-down made by Cleveland.

The Bucs have a starter right now in Byron Leftwhich, who they believe can play and mentor Josh Freeman until he’s ready to start for them. Leftwhich and Freeman are similar in physique and style of play, which will allow Freeman to really learn a lot from a good veteran quarterback.

18. Denver Broncos: Robert Ayers - LB - Tennessee

It took them two first-round picks, but at least they finally made a pick that made sense.

After a headscratcher of a pick, the Broncos selected Robery Ayers out of Tennessee, and a guy who can come in and help with their transition to the 3-4 immediately.

He’s an extremely talented athlete and very competitive. This pick shows that the Broncos are married to their switch to the 3-4. Ayers will be a very important piece of that puzzle.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (TB thru CLE): Jeremy Maclin - WR - Mizzou

In an extremely surprising move, the Philadelphia Eagles traded up from the 21st pick in order to select wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

With an entire city clamoring for Anquan Boldin or Brandon Pettigrew, the Eagles went their typical way and shocked everyone watching by going wide receiver through the draft rather than a trade.

Maclin is a superb talent who could have just as easily been a top-10 pick. When I see Maclin, I think a taller, bigger, DeSean Jackson.

20. Detroit Lions: Bradon Pettigrew - TE - Oklahoma State

The Lions capped off their first round by selecting the best tight end on the board, and probably the best overall player available.

It’s never a bad first round when you can come out of it with a future franchise quarterback and the best-rated tight end in the class.

21. Cleveland Browns: Alex Mack - C - California

After moving back in the first round a total of three times, the Browns finally made a selection here with Alex Mack.

This may be another reach here, but all it takes is one team to draft a guy before you come out looking stupid. Reach or not, Mack is a player who will help the Browns whenever he gets the opportunity to play.

He was by far the best center coming out this year and the Browns got a very good player for the future.

22. Minnesota Vikings: Percy Harvin - WR - Florida

This seems like a reach as well. Harvin is obviously explosive and very dynamic, but he doesn’t have a set position. I’m baffled as to how you can spend a first-round pick on a guy who doesn’t really fit anywhere.

He’s not bulky enough to play running back, but not tall enough to play receiver so his success will be contingent upon the talent of the coaching staff. When I think of Harvin I immediately think Reggie Bush, but not quite as explosive.

I’m not sure if this guy is a first-round talent.

23. Baltimore Ravens (from NE): Michael Oher - LT - Miss

Michael Oher is a guy who I felt coming in was very underrated. He’s a blue-collar working kind of guy who gives it his all in order to get the job done.

He’s got very good feet and can hang with the best speed-rushers in the league. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play either left or right tackle starting day one.

24. Atlanta Falcons: Peria Jerry - DT - Miss

Peria Jerry was a guy who I wasn’t sold on. He’s a good player, but he just might not be first-round worthy and really reminds me of guys like John McCargo and Justin Harrell, guys who have struggled mightily after having a lot of pressure put on them as first-round picks.

Of course this is also the same thing I thought when the Falcons drafted Roddy White in almost this same spot a few years back so, this could wind up working out very well.

25. Miami Dolphins: Vontae Davis - CB - Illinois

Vontae Davis was a surprise pick here in my opinion. Davis is a guy who has well-documented mental issues that cause him to play inconsistently at times.

Sometimes he looks like a first-round guy, then other times he plays like someone who doesn’t belong on a draft board.

This is not a Parcells pick and is not a Parcells guy. If he doesn’t play well in the first couple years he could find a quick end to his career in Miami.

26. Green Bay Packers (BAL thru NE): Clay Matthews - OLB - USC

The second of the USC linebackers goes to the Packers here at 26, and they get a guy who I really like. I do think he’s a stretch here at 26, looks to me to be more of a second-round talent but they’ve got they’re guy here.

He’ll probably be kicked inside to play middle linebacker in their new 3-4 defense as he’s probably not quick enough to rush the quarterback consistently from the outside.

27. Indianapolis Colts: Donald Brown - RB - UConn

Love this guy coming out of UConn. He can run well, he can catch the ball, and he’s an intelligent football guy.

In order to play for the Colts intelligence is a high priority because Peyton Manning will put his football knowledge and overall intelligence to the test.

This is a very good pickup for the Colts, especially because of how they struggled when Joseph Addai went down last year.

28. Buffalo Bills (CAR thru PHI): Eric Wood - C - Louisville

This is another reach here. Wood is another guy who had a second-round grade, but got selected here because the Bills are drafting for need and didn’t want to wait and potentially miss out on him.

Good player, just not a good value here.

29. New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks - WR - North Carolina

Good selection by the Giants here. They fill a need but also didn’t have to reach to get him. There were a couple of good receivers still on the board at this point but Nicks must have been the best on their board.

Nicks is a guy who will have to prove himself to be a No. 1 receiver because the questions are out there, but No. 1 or not he will be a good player.

30. Tennessee Titans: Kenny Britt - WR - Rutgers

The Titans always have a need for wide receiver, but rarely do they ever take one in the first round. They apparently thought that they could not afford to miss on Britt’s rare combination of size and speed.

Another example of a team filling a need but not really reaching for the player. A very good pick by the Titans, as usual.

31. Arizona Cardinals: Chris “Beanie” Wells - RB - Ohio State

This could finally be Edge’s ticket out of Arizona. Beanie Wells is a big, tough guy who will intimidate and bruise any defender he runs into.

He’s a rare combination of size, speed, and agility. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield and should fit very, very well in Arizona’s system.

When you think of Beanie Wells, think Stephen Jackson.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Evander “Ziggy” Hood - DT - Mizzou

Hood is a bit of a reach here, but not much. He’s another guy who I gave a second-round grade and may have been there for the Steelers to possibly trade up and grab him somewhere in the middle of the second.

With that said, Hood’s a good player who can really help them out. At 6’3 and 300 pounds he may or may not be able to play DE in the 3-4. With Casey Hampton, the Steelers don’t really have a need for NT.

I thought Hood was a 4-3 DT but the Steelers evidently believe he can play in the 3-4.

The draft is an exciting time, and this year is no different. There are still moves to be made and surprises to be had so keep watching.

If you watch long enough, the Raiders just may draft you.

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