With the 2010 NFL Draft now over, there is a chance to analyze which team enjoyed the most successful draft.
Once you look past the big-name selections and surprises, who got the most value with their picks, and who has improved their team sufficiently to give fans hope for next season?
In alphabetical order, here goes...
Having traded out of the first round, Baltimore then picked up some top talent in the second to address their main concerns.
Sergio Kindle is at least a top 15 talent, yet he slipped to the Ravens with the 43rd overall pick following a slide down the board.
Terrence Cody was another second round pick, and if he can address questions about his work rate and weight, then he will be the outstanding player that his college career suggests he will become.
Baltimore filled their void at tight end with their next two picks, selecting both Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.
The pair have great skills, with the former capable of creating mismatches because of his speed.
With Todd Heap entering the final years of his career, Pitta and Dickson will learn from one of the game’s best tight ends until they battle it out to become his replacement.
David Reed, selected in the fifth round, has incredible speed, excellent hands, and will have a chance to perform on special teams before he hopes to break into a receiving team that has recently acquired Donte' Stallworth and Anquan Boldin.
Art Jones is another top late-round pick.
He was given a second round grade before knee surgery cost him most of his season, and this saw him slide in the draft.
Jones will be a great backup should Cody be just a two-down player, and placing either man alongside Haloti Ngata will help create a punishing and powerful defensive line.
While Baltimore did not fill needs in the secondary, their selections were terrific values and can have an immediate impact for the team.
Kindle was a top talent at great value, while the two tight ends can replace the void that will be eventually left by Heap.
Cody and Jones could also become great defensive tackles, proving the Ravens made some great selections at incredible value in this year’s draft.
The Ravens have now put themselves in a position that they can build on for years to come.
They have some top talent that will become starters immediately, and some might even become Pro Bowlers. Following years of solid performances in the playoffs, Baltimore has a team capable of challenging for the Super Bowl for many years to come.
Without a first round selection, the Panthers made the most of their situation and made some excellent selections from the talent available to them.
Following Jimmy Clausen’s free-fall into the second round, Carolina pulled the trigger on him to provide competition for Matt Moore in the race to replace Jake Delhomme.
The Panthers added even more quarterbacks to the mix when they selected Armanti Edwards in the third round and Tony Pike in the sixth round.
Pike has the skills to become an NFL quarterback and will likely challenge Clausen and Moore for the starting job, while Edwards will most likely see more time either in the wildcat or as a wide receiver given his versatility and play making ability.
Brandon LaFell and David Gettis were selected as wide receivers to provide Steve Smith with support at wide receiver.
LaFell has shown real promise and could establish himself as a top wide out if he plays to his potential, while Gettis was a late round pick.
Three picks in the last two rounds added depth to their secondary, while Eric Norwood and Greg Hardy could be excellent additions from fourth and sixth round picks, respectively.
Norwood is strong rushing off the edge and provides the pass-rushing ability that Carolina lacks, while Hardy was predicted to be a future first round pick before injuries ruined those prospects.
When healthy, a defensive end could be a real handful with his explosiveness off the edge.
By improving their depth at wide receiver and quarterback, the Panthers have created some real positional battles that could bring out the best in their players.
Norwood and Hardy are underrated and could become important players in the future too, providing the latter stays healthy.
Overall, an excellent draft from the Panthers providing they were without a first round selection. Clausen’s selection was an unexpected treat for Carolina.
New England Patriots
As usual, the Patriots looked to trade down in the draft and acquire extra picks. As usual, it paid dividends with yet another top draft.
Twelve selections filled all of New England’s draft requirements, but their first six selections really defined their draft, and these rookies will become excellent players during the next few years.
Devin McCourty was their first round selection, and he should develop into one of the league’s top cover corner backs over time.
For now though, he will see limited action on special teams and the occasional defensive snap.
New England also solved any issues they had at tight end with two picks in that position.
Finally trading up for a pick, the Patriots selected Rob Gronkowski, who at 6'6" has great size and is a complete tight end. They also selected Aaron Hernandez from Florida, who has great speed and excellent hands.
The two additions soften the blow from Ben Watson and Chris Baker’s departures, and they may well become better players than their predecessors were.
Jermaine Cunningham was selected in the third and has the versatility that the Patriots love, while Brandon Spikes was another Florida Gator that will end up in Patriot uniform.
Spikes fell down the board after a slow 40-yard dash, but his productivity in college was excellent, and he has outstanding instincts that will make up for his lack of speed.
Taylor Price was selected as another target for Tom Brady, and with the expected departure of Randy Moss next year, along with Wes Welker’s injury, he may have an opportunity to stake a claim to a starting place.
He is very capable of making big plays but must become more consistent if he is to reach his potential.
Late round picks addressed their other needs, with Zac Robinson offering an intriguing prospect with their final pick.
Robinson will backup Brady and was the man who threw balls to Dez Bryant throughout his college career.
Again, New England came up trumps in the draft and secured the services of several top talents in the early rounds with their multiple picks.
They drafted to their needs and added depth at those positions where there were concerns.
Yet again, New England fans will be pleased with the draft, as they look to continue their dominance of the AFC East and challenge for another Super Bowl.
Nobody expected Oakland to finally have a good draft.
The Raiders were linked with Taylor Mays, Jason Pierre-Paul, and even Bruce Campbell as potential first round picks.
Instead Al Davis ignored physical appearance and went with the best linebacker in the draft, Rolando McClain.
Lamarr Houston in the second round was another excellent pick and addressed their defensive line needs.
Oakland then addressed their offensive line with the selections of Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell.
Davis waited patiently for Campbell, finally selecting him in the fourth round instead of using a first round pick on him.
Jacoby Ford was next in the fifth round, providing the speed the Raiders love at wide receiver, but not at a high cost.
Travis Goethel, who was highly coveted as a late round pick, could also make an immediate impact on special teams but has good potential that could see him become an eventual starter.
Oakland finally addressed their secondary needs with three defensive backs from their final four picks.
The Raiders also addressed their most glaring need, quarterback, during the draft.
They traded a fourth round pick in next year’s draft for Jason Campbell.
Campbell will become their starting quarterback and will be an immediate upgrade from their current class at the position.
Overall, Oakland had a very successful draft.
Davis was able to draft players with great speed and size, but he used later round picks on them than usual.
Solid picks in the first two rounds, plus a trade for Campbell, should lead to a better season than last year. All their needs were addressed, and Raiders fans will have a new sense of optimism as the new season begins.
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco decided to give Alex Smith and David Carr at least one more crack of the whip in California and did not draft a quarterback.
However, their other positional issues were all addressed, and the Niners enjoyed a very successful draft, aided by their two first round selections.
Their first round picks were not sexy, game-changing play makers.
Instead, they took two solid, efficient, physical, and incredibly talented offensive linemen.
Firstly, they opted to draft offensive tackle Anthony Davis at No. 13 to solidify their offensive line before adding more talent with the selection of Mike Iupati at No. 17.
Iupati will be a top asset to the 49ers and will help their running game immensely.
San Francisco used the first round to address their main needs in the draft, and in doing so turned a huge weakness from last season into a great strength for next season.
The Niners were then able to address needs at safety by selecting the most physically gifted prospect in the draft.
Taylor Mays fell out of the first round and was selected at No. 49 overall.
Despite concerns about his coverage ability, Mays has the potential to make game-changing plays, and his physical, big-hitting approach will earn him many fans in San Francisco during the next few years.
Navorro Bowman was selected in the third round, adding a quality linebacker to their depth chart and addressing another need.
Bowman has off-field concerns, but his natural talent has been rarely questioned, and Mike Singletary will hope he blossoms into a great player under his coaching.
With no picks in the fourth or fifth rounds, the 49ers then selected a 240-pound running back with their sixth round pick.
Anthony Dixon is big and physical, and will be an excellent backup to Frank Gore, allowing San Francisco to pound their opposition with two strong running backs.
Nate Byham was a great pickup in the sixth as well and will add yet more strength to the Niners’ running game.
Arguably the top-blocking tight end in the draft, Byham’s huge frame (6'4", 268 lbs.) will create space of which Gore and Dixon can take advantage.
Finally, they added depth to their secondary with Phillip Adams and acquired Kyle Williams to give them a slot receiver and special teams player.
While Ted Ginn will likely return kickoffs, he was not trusted with punt returns in Miami because of his poor hands, and this may allow Williams to get a chance to return punts instead.
A real statement of intent from Singletary showed he is hoping to transform the 49ers into a big, strong, physical running team.
His draft accomplished this with the selections of Davis, Iupati, Byham, and Dixon.
With the selections of Bowman and Mays, they also improved their defence with two top talents.
San Francisco now have the opportunity to make a good run at the NFC West title, and teams will not relish a visit to the ultra-physical San Francisco 49ers during the coming seasons.
Trading for LenDale White and Leon Washington addressed Seattle’s needs at running back and allowed Pete Carroll to use his knowledge of college football to address the Seahawks’ other needs with some impressive draft choices.
Walter Jones’ retirement was immediately addressed with the sixth overall pick when Russell Okung fell into Seattle’s lap.
They solved their biggest issue with his selection and still had another first round pick to come.
Earl Thomas was selected at No. 14. He has been consistently compared to Ed Reed, has an exception set of skills, is a proven play maker, and can even play corner back if needs dictate.
Golden Tate was unexpectedly available at the 28th pick of the second round.
His selection fills a need at wide receiver, as he will be dangerous coming out of the slot, but he is also a very capable return man.
He will play a key role in their offense this season, and it would not be a surprise to many if he is in the running for offensive Rookie of the Year come the end of the season.
All their other needs were addressed in the draft, and the selection of tight end Anthony McCoy in the sixth round was excellent value.
His off the field antics have gained him notoriety, but with a third round grade, McCoy was a steal for Seattle.
If he can be kept in check, then he will prove a terrific addition.
Seattle’s first three picks were all first-round talents who can become starters immediately.
Thomas and Tate have the potential to win any game, while Okung filled their greatest need.
Solid late-round selections added to a great draft, and with two new running backs, the Seahawks are will be looking forward to next season.
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