2008 NFL Draft: Final Thoughts, Pt. 1

Patrick SchusterCorrespondent IMay 9, 2008

I apologize for being M.I.A, but after draft weekend, I needed time to digest everything that happened, and see where everyone landed. Now we can start to prepare for a slower time in football, and the wait until camps get rolling in mid-July.

Before we take any real break, I wanted to point out some players that didn’t necessarily go in round one, but should make a significant impact on their team’s success very early in their career.

While first-round picks have been diagnosed to death, and the fact that I think giving a grade to unproven players is pretty much like trying to rank college recruiting classes (oh wait some people actually do that), I want to just share a little insight on some of these guys who stand out to me as a real steal for each team.

1. Buffalo: James Hardy—He is the big target the team desperately needed. Should make a huge impact for the Bills, especially in the redzone.

2. Miami: Kendall Langford—Same school prospect that, with the proper coaching he’ll receive, should be a starter by 2009.

3. New England: Shawn Crable—Perfect spot for both player and team. Crable will thrive in their system.

4. NY Jets: Erik Ainge—At best, the long term answer for the Jets. At worse, the game manager needed for this team.

5. Baltimore: Tavares Gooden—Another perfect spot for player and team. Gooden will replace Lewis as the leader of the defense in a few years.

6. Cincinnati: Andre Caldwell—This teams needs to cut ties with Chad and getting Andre will make that much easier.

7. Cleveland: Paul Hubbard—The perfect eventual replacement for Joe Jurevicius in their scheme.

8. Pittsburgh: Tony Hills—This team needs offensive lineman and Hills could be a starter by the end of the year. If not, he will for certain in 2009.

9. Houston: Frank Okam—Massive player to clog up the middle of the line for them. Benefits staying in Texas to play pro career.

10. Indianapolis: Mike Hart—With the resigning of D. Rhodes, Hart will have to have a good show in camp, but should secure a roster spot and contribute this season somewhere in the NFL.

11. Jacksonville: Trae Williams—Talented corner who was overshadowed by M. Jenkins, but in their scheme, should develop into a starter in the next two years.

12. Tennessee: LaVelle Hawkins—Another player overshadowed by a teammate, D. Jackson. But with the improv skills of Vince Young, and the fact they need wide receivers, Hawkins should get plenty of playing time earlier this season.

13. Denver: Carlton Powell—With the lack of talent on the line, Carlton could hit the field early and often.

14. Kansas City: Kevin Robinson—Should provide that kick-return threat missing since Dante Hall was dumped to St. Louis.

15. Oakland: Tyvon Branch—With the holdout of Nnamdi Asomugha, the combustible DeAngelo Hall, the trading of Fabian Washington, and the slightly overrated Stanford Routt, you might see Branch getting a lot of time on the field earlier next year.

16. San Diego: DeJuan Tribble—a steal at the point they were able to get him. San Diego realizes that you can never have enough top-quality corners.