Two rounds of the 2009 NFL draft are now complete. It was a day that featured some surprises and head-scratchers, but most projections were accurate or at least close to being so.
The University of Southern California delivered another four players to NFL rosters, including three first-round selections to increase their record total to 74.
And though the program flirted with history, they failed to set a new mark, with only two of three linebackers going in the first round.
THE 12-STEP PROGRAM FOR QUARTERBACK SELECTION
It was rumored that the Jets had interest in drafting quarterback Mark Sanchez, but it didn’t appear possible without him falling or the Jets surrendering a wealth of picks and personnel to jump into the upper portion of the order.
New York achieved the latter, using the Cleveland Browns as a trade partner to nab their franchise quarterback with selection No. 5.
To take the necessary 12 steps, the Jets handed the Browns the 17th pick of the first round, their 52nd selection in the second round, quarterback Brett Ratliff, defensive end Kenyon Coleman, and safety Abram Elam.
In essence, it’s a 5-for-1 trade, which will likely add to the Big Apple’s expectations for immediate success.
The New York press is known to be brutal, but if I had to choose one quarterback in this class best suited to handle a pressure cooker, Sanchez would be my man.
THE LONE STAR STATE ADDS ANOTHER
It was no secret that the Houston Texans were going to select a linebacker with the 15th overall pick, and Brian Cushing became their man.
The selection completes a long journey for the Cushing family, as a New Jersey native is educated in Southern California, and will soon receive a paycheck in Texas.
With continuous rumors of steroid use flying, though he’s never failed a test, Cushing maintained his value and will now join the young talents of DeMeco Ryans and Mario Williams on a Texans defense that allowed 366 yards per game in 2008.
MAKING THE LAMBEAU LEAP
The incredible story of Clay Matthews’ rise from a walk-on at USC to a first round selection by the NFL is now complete. The Green Bay Packers traded up to fulfill their hybrid need.
With Dom Capers joining the coaching staff, the Pack will switch to a 3-4, and used their ninth selection of the first round to acquire Boston College’s B.J. Raji, a nose tackle for the scheme.
They then moved back into the first round, at No. 26, adding Matthews as his support. Matthews can play any of the four linebacker positions, but will likely compete for an outside spot.
In the trade, the Packers sent New England the 41st pick of the second round, and the 73rd and 83rd picks of the third round.
Rey Maualuga’s draft slide showed evidence of the obvious concerns about his play in coverage. Two-down linebackers aren’t typically drafted in the first round, and USC’s man in the middle dropped to 38, where he was chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals’ selection reunites Maualuga with Keith Rivers, who was selected by Cincinnati in the first round of last year’s draft. The selection also places him on a roster with former Trojans Carson Palmer and Frostee Rucker.
MOALA GALLOPS INTO INDY
The Indianapolis Colts made the run stopping Fili Moala the 56th pick, in the second round. Stopping the run is something the franchise has struggled with, and personally, I think this is a steal.
Many of the early projections had Moala slotted for the first round, with some making him the first pick overall.
As the college season moved along, and the big defensive tackle faced double teams, his name faded from the list.
In time, Moala, like Maualuga, will make many GMs regret that their talents were passed over.
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