The Grades Are In After Year One From the 2009 NFL Draft

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The Grades Are In After Year One From the 2009 NFL Draft
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The NFL Draft is kind of like the new Google mobile phone. A lot of build-up and then, pretty much, a letdown. In fact, just about every NFL draft is like that. I have no idea why it's such a big event. 
Of the 256 selections in the 2009 NFL Draft, there were perhaps seven rookies who were absolute stars and difference makers and another 20 or 25 were solid starters. That means that roughly 220 - 225 were non-factors. 
As the mock drafts for the 2010 NFL draft heat up, let's look back at the 2009 NFL draft picks. 
Wide Receiver and linebacker were the brightest spots in 2009, with some solid picks at quarterback. Offensive linemen seemed to be a very, very big disappointment (especially in the early stages of the first round). 
Considering what the top ten picks are getting paid, I expected a lot more productivity. Only three out of the top 10 picks receive passing grades. I can see why more and more GM's want to trade out of the top ten spots. 
1. Detroit Lions. Matthew Stafford. QB. Grade: B+.  I was very skeptical of this draft pick. I felt the Lions should have traded it and built up the offensive line. I was wrong. Stafford is going to be a good quarterback in this league. Don't let his 61.1 QB rating fool you, the kid had no protection and was thrown into the fire from day one. He's a competitor and he's going to be good. 
2. St. Louis Rams. Jason Smith. Off. Tackle. Grade: D. He started five games. For the Rams? That's pathetic. The number two pick is supposed to be a starter and darn near a pro bowl selection. 
3. Kansas City Chiefs. Tyson Jackson. Defensive End. Grade: C-. 35 tackles and no sacks. It would be interesting what he could do if he had some help. 
4. Seattle Seahawks. Aaron Curry. Linebacker. Grade: B-.  61 tackles. two sacks. two forced fumbles. Curry started strong but faded late in the season. It wasn't a bad rookie campaign (considering the Seahawks lost Lofa Tatupu and traded Julian Pederson). 
5. New York Jets. Mark Sanchez. QB. Grade: A-. The Jets did a great job of trading up without giving up too much and getting their quarterback of the future. He's had some ups and downs, but he got the Jets into the playoffs. 
6. Cincinnati Bengals. Andre Smith. Off. Tackle. Grade: F. Horrible pick. Smith held out and then got injured. He started exactly one game. I think he'll be out of the NFL in three years. A cautionary tale to pick based upon talent, not need. 
7. Oakland Raiders. Darrius Heyward-Bey. WR. Grade D. nine receptions. one TD. Um, how much money did they pay this guy? 
8. Jacksonville Jaguars. Eugene Monroe. Off. Tackle. Grade: B-. Started 13 games but was benched in week five. Inconsistent but could be a very good player in 2-3 years. 
9. Green Bay Packers. B.J. Raji. Defensive Tackle. Grade: C+. 25 tackles and 1 sack. An average rookie campaign and more should be expected from a top ten pick. 
10. San Francisco 49'ers. Michael Crabtree. WR. Grade: B. Crabtree had that awful contract holdout. Once he signed, he was a productive player with 48 receptions and two TD's. I want to see if he becomes a head case or has learned a lesson or two. He could be a great WR if he stays focused. 
11. Buffalo Bills. Aaron Maybin. Defensive End. Grade: D. 14 tackles. 0 sacks. I don't see him improving. 
12. Denver Broncos. Knowshon Moreno. RB. Grade: B. 879 rushing yards. 3.9 avg. five rushing TD's. Moreno was a pretty good RB for the Broncos and should improve over the years. I'm not sure he's a game changer, but a solid pro. 
13. Washington Redskins. Brian Orakpo. Defensive End. Grade A. Oh My God! The Redskins got it right. Orakpo had 50 tackles and 11 sacks and was voted to the pro bowl. He's just going to get better. 
14. New Orleans Saints. Malcolm Jenkins. Cornerback. Grade B. 55 tackles. one int. two forced fumbles. Not bad. Most cornerbacks have trouble their first year in the NFL. Overall, a solid pick by the Saints. 
15. Houston Texans. Brian Cushing. Outside LB. Grade: A+. Are you kidding me? 134 tackles. five sacks. four ints. two forced fumbles. Pro-bowl selection. Might be one of the best linebackers in the game. Relentless and very athletic. 
16. San Diego Chargers. Larry English. Defensive End. Grade: C. 28 tackles and two sacks. Not exactly what they were hoping for in another option for Shawne Merriman. AJ Smith might have finally blown a draft. 
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Josh Freeman. QB. Grade: Incomplete. 59.9 QB rating. Threw for 10 TD's and 18 interceptions. I never saw him play and rookie QB's are hard to gauge their first year. 
18. Denver Broncos. Robert Ayers. Defensive End. Grade: D. 11 tackles. There are 15 guys playing in the Canadian Football League that can get you 11 tackles in a season. By the way, that averages out to about $175,000.00 per tackle. 
19. Philadelphia Eagles. Jeremy Maclin. WR. Grade: B+. 55 receptions. 13.9 avg. four TD's. Great pick for the Eagles. Rookie WR's generally have a tough time, Maclin was solid in his first year. 
20. Detroit Lions. Brandon Pettigrew. TE. Grade: B. 23 receptions. one TD. Another great pick for the Lions. Don't let his stats fool you. Pettigrew was brought in as a blocking tight end and he didn't disappoint. He'll only get better.
21. Cleveland Browns. Alex Mack. Center. Grade: B+. Started 13 games. At least the Browns didn't blow this pick. Solid offensive lineman. 
22. Minnesota Vikings. Percy Harvin. WR. Grade: A. Pro-bowler. 60 receptions. eight TD's. 1,156 return yards. Total stud and a game breaker. The steal of the draft. 
23. Baltimore Ravens. Michael Oher. Off. Tackle. Grade: A. How in the heck did he slip this far? Started 15 games and slipped seamlessly between left and right tackles. A physical freak with a mean streak. 
24. Atlanta Falcons. Jerry Peria. Defensive Tackle. Grade: Incomplete. Suffered major knee injury and was lost for the season on September 20th. one tackle. 
25. Miami Dolphins. Vontae Davis. Cornerback. Grade: B+. 53 tackles and four ints. Excellent late round pick for the Dolphins. Davis was a solid pro his first year. 
26. Green Bay Packers. Clay Matthews. LB. Grade: A-. 51 tackles and 10 sacks. The second of the USC linebackers was a steal for the Packers. Much better at rushing the passer than I thought he would be. Makes up for AJ Hawk. 
27. Indianapolis Colts. Donald Brown. RB. Grade: C. 281 yards rushing and three TD's. I thought Brown was going to be a lot better as a pro. Colts still have no rushing game. 
28. Buffalo Bills. Eric Wood. Center. Grade: B. Started 10 games until he was injured in Week 11 with a compound fracture of his left leg. Time will tell how serious that injury is. He looks to be a good pro with a nasty streak. 
29. New York Giants. Hakeem Nicks. WR. Grade: B+. 47 receptions. 790 receiving yards. six TD's. Excellent first season a late round pick. Made up for the loss of Plaxico Burress. Should only get better. 
30. Tennessee Titans. Kenny Britt. WR. Grade: B. 42 receptions. 701 receiving yards. three TD's. Not bad production from a late round pick. Considering the troubles the Titans had the first half of the season, he should only get better. 
31. Arizona Cardinals. Chris Wells. RB. Grade: B. 793 yards rushing. 4.5 avg. seven TD's. Wells had some injury issues the first part of the season. He was actually a productive back. If he can remain injury-free, he should start for the Cardinals next season. 
32. Pittsburgh Steelers. Evander Hood. Defensive End. Grade: C-. eight tackles and one sack. More is expected of a first round pick. 
Later Round Studs: Overall, there was little quality in the later rounds. I probably missed some a few starlings, however, later round gems were few and far between.
Louis Delmas. Safety. Detroit Lions. 2nd Round. Grade: A. 65 tackles. one sack. two INT's. Big hitter who didn't disappoint. Lions got a stud in the second round. 
James Laurinatis. LB. St. Louis Rams. 2nd Round. Grade: A. 120 tackles. two sacks. two INT's. Great pick for the Rams in the second round and a very aggressive linebacker. For once, an Ohio State linebacker didn't disappoint.
Ray Maualuga. LB. Cincinnati Bengals. 2nd Round Grade: B+. 63 tackles. one sack. three INT's. The last of the excellent corp of USC linebackers. Maualuga set the tone for the Bengals defense and was a thumper all year round. Can't believe he slid this far. 
Jairus Byrd. CB. Buffalo Bills. Grade: 2nd Round. A+. 45 tackles. nine INT's. Pro bowler. Awesome pick for the Bills. Brilliant cover man and ball hawk. 
Max Unger. Offensive Guard. Seattle Seahawks. 2nd Round. Grade: B+. Started in game one. Solid offensive linemen his first year. 
LeSean McCoy. RB. Philadelphia Eagles. 2nd Round. Grade: B+. 637 rushing yards. 40 receptions. four TD's. 4.1 avg. Great second round pick for the Eagles after Brian Westbrook went down with an injury. 
Louis Vasquez. Offensive Guard. San Diego Chargers. 3rd Round. Grade: B+. Started 11 games and the only rookie starter on the Chargers. A very strong lineman with a mean streak. 
Austin Collie: WR. Indianapolis Colts. 4th Round. Grade B+. 42 receptions. 483 yards. 11.2 avg. five TD's. The poor man's Wes Welker. The Colts finally got a good pick. 

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