The NFL Draft: Winners and Losers

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The NFL Draft: Winners and Losers
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Throughout the history of the NFL there have been two types of draft picks: booms or busts. The booms are:

  1. Peyton Manning
  2. Eli Manning
  3. Donavan McNabb
  4. Randy Moss
  5. Brian Urlacher
  6. Anquan Boldin
  7. Shawne Merriman

There are also the busts:

  1. Ryan Leaf, QB, Washington St.
  2. Tony Mandarich, Offensive Tackle, Michigan St.
  3. Brian Bosworth, Line Backer, Nebraska
  4. Akili Smith, QB, Oregon
  5. Lawrence Phillips, Running Back, Nebraska
  6. Heath Schuler, QB, Tennessee

The list goes on and on. The booms, as many people describe them as, are draft choices that give the team a big bang for its buck. The busts, on the other hand, are highly touted college players who either get injured and are never the same again, or are completely incapable of translating their extraordinary college career to the professional level. The 2009 rookie class is set to have a multitude of both booms and busts.

            The teams that I view as winners up front in the draft are the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bills addressed many issues from the previous season in their two first and two second round picks. With the #11 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft the Buffalo Bills select Aaron Maybin, Defensive End, Penn State. At first, I was not thrilled by the pick since Brian Orakpo, the incredibly fast defensive end with super-human strength, bench-pressing over 500 lbs, was still up on the board.

After watching film of them both I can start to see why Maybin was the better choice of the two. Maybin is a quick, strong and smart defender who can get to the Quarterback using a variety of power and finesse moves, such as the spin and swim moves (finesse) or even the strait up bull rush, a defensive lineman’s favorite move.

For his first few years, Maybin will be using more of the finesse moves since he is young and agile. Look for him in two-three years using the power-bull rush more when he gets his strength more up to speed to the professional level. After watching his film he has all the tools to become an Osi Umenyiora-type defensive end in the NFL. This pick is a very good and smart pick by the Bills because the division is filled with pocket passing Quarterbacks, and the only way to combat them is to have a consistent pressing rush that Aaron Maybin has provided throughout his collegiate career.

            The other draft picks by the Bills featured two interior offensive linemen that will help the Bills rebuild the line. Eric Wood, the Center from Louisville, and Andrew Levitre, the Offensive Guard from Oregon State, will be used a lot in the offseason workouts and practices as utility players moving from one position to another trying to find the best fit. The other top Bills pick featured Jairus Byrd, CB from Oregon. He is a tough, hardworking and strong kid with great character who can help fill in a gap left by Jabari Greer after leaving for free agency. The Bills have a lot to look forward to with these young, up and coming players in the NFL.

            The Philadelphia Eagles were the other winners in the 2009 Draft. The Eagles first pick was Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver from Missouri. Maclin is a high risk, high reward type of player. He has top high-end speed with the stop and go ability that is key to working in the Eagles offense. If the Eagles receiving corps are healthy this could be a very potent offense.

            The Eagles second round pick, LeSean McCoy, RB from Pittsburgh, is a very good choice, especially for the zone, run-blocking scheme of the Eagles. McCoy reminds a lot of people of Brian Westbrook with great lateral speed and the vision, awareness and agility that is key to maneuver through the Eagles zone run-blocking scheme.

            In the 5th round of the draft, the Eagles traded two 5th round picks for Ellis Hobbs, the veteran CB from the Patriots. After the trade the Eagles have arguably the best group of cornerbacks in the NFL. Led by Asante Samuel, the group of Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard and now Ellis Hobbs are quite possibly the toughest corners to pass on in the NFL. The only things that Eagles fans should be worried about are the Safeties. With the departure of Brian Dawkins, the heart and soul of the Eagles defense, the middle of the secondary is the only weak spot in the defense.

            There is one draft loser with the most apparent bust in the draft, The Oakland Raiders. The Raiders drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR from Maryland. Now unless Al Davis is a fortune-teller or Tom Cable is the drafting Swami, I give Darrius Heyward-Bey a negative 10% chance to be a factor, let alone a star, in the NFL.

This is a horrible choice from a horrible team with a horrible strategy. Tom Cable’s explanation was, “We are going to draw you up with the run, then we are going to throw it over your head.” Now yes Tom, Heyward-Bey has amazing vertical speed, but that strategy hasn’t worked in 10 plus years. You have even tried it with Randy Moss, a top five Wide Receiver in the league and that didn’t work at all. If one of the best receivers, like Moss, can’t do it what do you think is going to happen with an inexperienced, inconsistent and seemingly incapable receiver like Darrius Heyward-Bey. Throughout his collegiate career he has seemed to disappear and become useless in key situations, a clear signal that he will not be a force in the NFL. This is, by far, the worst decision that was made in the 2009 draft.

            There is one team that is fluttering between a big boom and a big bust. The New York Jets made a big splash by trading for the 5th pick in the draft and with that pick they selected Mark Sanchez, QB from USC. The pick was a huge hit with the Jets fans.

Mark Sanchez is a young talent with a cannon for an arm. He has some scrambling ability to rely on when he is under pressure and has a lot of upside even though his talent is still a little raw. With some more development he has the potential to be one of the best in the league. Quarterbacks tend to be a big question mark heading into the season. How will he perform under pressure? How accurate is he? Will he stay healthy? Can he lead his team to the playoffs? These are just some of the many nagging questions that will be asked of every rookie QB.

            Overall the draft proved to be a beneficial two days for most teams. The winners were the teams that filled their needs with players that are projected to fit in well with current team and the losers did exactly the opposite.

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