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Ghost of Drafts Past: Grading Each Team's 2009 NFL First Round

Matt SmithContributor IIIMarch 2, 2011

Ghost of Drafts Past: Grading Each Team's 2009 NFL First Round

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    The 2009 Draft was interesting and we have the results to prove it. While it would have been a worthy task to grade the first rounders of the 2010 NFL Draft there just aren't enough results to prove it.

    The 2009 NFL Draft featured several trades and a couple interesting picks, just like any draft should. Now that we have two years worth of experience behind these players, did they turn out as expected? Who were the steals? Who still has the potential?

    There's only one way to find out—a trip down draft memory lane.

Arizona Cardinals: Beanie Wells (RB, Ohio State)

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Beanie Wells has been an up and down player. In his first year he did pretty well and had 793 yards on a 4.5 average. This was relatively good, as he was a rookie for the Cardinals who needed a boost in the run game. He wasn't a particularly solid option out of the backfield on the receiving end, but then again he never was too big of a threat at the receiving end even at Ohio State either.

    This past season hasn't been to good for him. After suffering a knee injury in the preseason, he missed the first two games of the season, then another in week 10. Who knows if the injury has affected him permanently, but his production dropped to 397 yards on a 3.4 average.

    Still though, things aren't looking bad for Beanie and he has shown he can be productive. Most importantly he hasn't been a bust.

    Draft Grade: B

Atlanta Falcons: Peria Jerry (DT, Mississippi)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    It's unfortunate for this guy. Peria Jerry had a lot going for him entering the 2009 Draft being the second DT rated (behind another guy who we will get to on this slide). Jerry received bad news when he found out that he would miss the entire rest of the 2009 season with a knee injury.

    While he did play in games during 2010, Peria Jerry was still hampered by the knee injury and hasn't played a ton or been too productive. If he's healthy, he has some potential, but as of now things aren't looking good for his health if a knee injury limits your productivity for two years.

    Draft Grade: D

Baltimore Ravens: Michael Oher (T, Mississippi)

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    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Of course, a lot of you know him from the movie The Blind Side. Many of you might not even know how well he's actually done. Michael Oher has started all 32 games of his career so far. He was very good his rookie year, finishing second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. Two thirds of the way through the season, Oher was moved from RT to LT.

    Michael Oher has been good in his sophomore year at the NFL as well, being as productive as before. Oher hasn't needed to adjust much to LT, as he played it in college for a while. Oher is better run blocking then for the pass though, and should become a key part to the Ravens for years to come.

    Draft Grade: A-

Buffalo Bills: Aaron Maybin (LB, Penn State)

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Is Aaron Maybin the worst player in the NFL? Probably not, no matter what someone from the Buffalo News says. But still, it's hard to argue the case for him being even a decent player. While the talent is there, the work ethic is almost non-existent. After holding out before the 2009 season, he was offered a $15 million signing bonus because you don't just waste your first round pick and let the man go unsigned.

    Playing in 27 games, Aaron Maybin only has 24 total tackles and one forced fumble. He was benched earlier this year, and thanks to some injuries, he got some more playing time though he hardly deserves it.

    Aaron Maybin was a talented player at PSU, but the work ethic dropped off as soon as he got to the pros.

    But then again, who does want to play for the Buffalo Bills?

    Draft Grade: F

Carolina Panthers: No Pick (Trade)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Carolina Panthers used their first round draft pick in 2009 and several other picks in order to gain an extra 2008 first round draft pick. They used it on Jeff Otah. It isn't fair to grade their 2009 first round draft pick completely on Jeff Otah, as he wasn't a 2009 draft pick and they used others, so we will loosely grade it on him.

    Jeff Otah has been a solid player, especially against the run. While he has had a couple injuries, the most recent being a 2010 season ending injury, he has performed well. It was clear the offensive line wasn't the same without him.

    Still, they had no pick and that hurts his grade as well as the fact they used multiple picks to acquire Otah.

    Draft Grade: C

Chicago Bears: No Pick (Trade)

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    Now that Jeff Otah was graded loosely, the infamous Jay Cutler trade has to be graded even loser. Jay Cutler was acquired from Denver for a 2009 first round pick and third round pick in addition to a 2010 first round pick and Kyle Orton. Jay Cutler in his two seasons in Chicago has had QB ratings of 76.8 and 86.3. 

    Sure, he led his team to the NFC Championship during the second year of his stay and has improved. But is it enough to warrant the 2009 Draft Pick plus others?

    They maybe could have done as well at QB with the 2009 Draft Pick.

    Draft Grade: C+

Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Smith (OT, Alabama)

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    Andre Smith was one of the best tackles in the nation coming out of college. However when he came to the combine, Smith came out of shape. Also, during the combine he left his group without telling anyone to go to Alabama's pro day.

    Still, the Bengals thought it a good idea to pick him so they did and did it with the sixth overall pick. Smith has been nothing short of a bust. He has had injuries, allowing him to only play in 13 games, and has showed little to make anyone think he even wants to play football.

    Smith has only been detrimental to the team with his off-the-field antics and bad performance. If he can get back into shape and throw away his attitude, he may actually turn into something, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen.

    Draft Grade: F

Cleveland Brown: Alex Mack (C, California)

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    Now we get to the man who stole the show at the Pro Bowl.

    Alex Mack has had a great career so far. Mack has played and started in every game since he was drafted, and the Browns should expect big things from him. He doesn't commit many penalties, and helps anchor the offensive line.

    Some of his achievements include being named to the All-Rookie team in the 2009 season and selected to the Pro Bowl in his 2010 season.

    While he wasn't originally selected to the Pro Bowl, Mack was the highlight at it. With the fourth quarter nearing the end, Mack received the ball on a lateral play and ran through Roman Harper to score a touchdown. His efforts were in vain though, as the AFC lost 55-41, but it was still great to watch.

    Draft Grade: A-

Dallas Cowboys: No Pick (Trade)

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    The Cowboys traded a first, third and sixth round pick of the 2009 draft to the Lions for Roy Williams and a seventh round pick. It seemed like a good idea.... at the time.

    Roy Williams was a standout in Detroit and the Lions deemed him unnecessary to keep, so they dealt him. Fortunately, the Cowboys love paying money for athletes so Williams got a big contract. What has he done?

    Why he has 75 receptions for over 1000 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Cowboys wish that wasn't in two years though. Williams hasn't been what they thought he would be.

    Draft Grade: D+

Denver Broncos: Knowshon Moreno (RB, Georgia), Robert Ayers (LB, Tennessee)

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    Moreno was their first pick, at number 12 overall, and then followed by Ayers and number 18 overall.

    First off, let's start with Moreno. Moreno has been mediocre so far, averaging 4.0 yards per carry. His rookie year wasn't too impressive. His second year was moreso. He increased his YPC and his receptions. While he didn't get as many TDs, he was more impressive overall.

    Robert Ayers isn't exactly as good though. He was used sparingly his rookie season. Then, he was injured and out for five games during his second season. He improved his numbers though, largely in part to the absence of Elvis Dumervil. Ayers shows flashes of brilliance every once in a while and could have a good future.

    Draft Grade: Moreno, B and Ayers, C-

    Overall: C+

Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford (QB, Georgia), Brandon Pettigrew (TE, OK St.)

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Matthew Stafford was the No. 1 overall pick and Pettigrew the No. 20. No, not Peter Pettigrew (although we wish he was). He's from Harry Potter. Brandon Pettigrew.

    Stafford is the future QB of the Lions, and has played well when not injured. So far in his career, he has been injured for a lot of the games. He missed practically his entire second year as he only played in three games. Look for him to become a star when he gets healthy.

    Pettigrew had what you would say a breakout season this year, catching 71 passes for 722 yards and was the second best receiving option. The first would be Calvin Johnson, probably the best player on their team. Pettigrew has good blocking skills, and should become one of the leagues top tight ends in a couple years.

    Draft Grade: Stafford, B+ and Pettigrew, A

    Overall: A-

Green Bay Packers: BJ Raji (DT, Boston College), Clay Matthews (LB, USC)

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    A sack monster and the self proclaimed "the Freezer."

    The Packers struck gold on this deal.

    With their original pick, the Packers selected BJ Raji. They needed a man to fill the middle up the middle in the switch to the 3-4. Raji does just that. Raji recorded 6.5 sacks and was a dominant force on the line and will be for years to come.

    The Packers traded several picks, including the one they got from the Jets for Brett Favre, to trade up and get Matthews with the 26th pick. Matthews has had 10 and 13.5 sacks in his first two years respectively. When he isn't sacking or causing other havoc, he is drawing double teams so the other players succeed. It's a win-win situation.

    Draft Grade: Raji, A- and Matthews, A

    Overall: A

Houston Texans: Brian Cushing (LB, USC)

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    As of how to grade Cushing is still a little unclear.

    After a spectacular rookie season that included 134 tackles, five sacks, four interceptions, and two forced fumbles, Cushing was found out to have high levels of a hormone in his system. He was suspended for four games the next season. While Cushing denies he took performance enhancing drugs, the question marks are still there.

    His second year wasn't as productive, but still went pretty well.

    The former USC star will still have many good years ahead of him, whether he took the drugs or not.

    Draft Grade: A-

Indianapolis Colts: Donald Brown (RB, UConn)

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Donald Brown was supposed to give Joseph Addai a run for his money at the running back position. So far it hasn't happened.

    Donald Brown has had several injuries and only played in 24 of his 32 possible games. He hasn't been exactly consistent or always productive. He only has five TDs and 778 yards in his career.

    Thus far, it looks like Addai is going to keep his job. Brown is somewhat solid as a backup, but should've been able to get more carries then what he was while Addai was injured.

    Draft Grade: B-

Jacksonville Jaguars: Eugene Monroe (T, Virginia)

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Eugene Monroe is not always a consistent player.

    Monroe was drafted with the eighth overall pick, something the Jaguars may or may not regret.

    Monroe can play great one week, but then bad the next. Granted that, he does play well more often than bad, you just have to hope that you get the good Eugene Monroe.

    Monroe is the current starting tackle, and that should not change soon as he tries to flatten out his inconsistency. He was more inconsistent during his rookie season than his sophomore year which is a good sign that he is progressing.

    Monroe has had a concussion, but not much else.

    Draft Grade: B

Kansas City Chiefs: Tyson Jackson (DE, LSU)

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    If you saw Tyson Jackson play, you wouldn't have guessed he was ever the third overall pick in a draft.

    And, as implied, that's because he certainly doesn't play like one. Is he a failure? No. It's only his second year, and he is steadily improving.

    As of now, he isn't a great football player. He records mediocre stats and isn't exactly a disruptive force that causes other players to benefit from his talents. Only one sack isn't a great start.

    But as I said, he is steadily improving. The way Jackson's playing now it's hard to give him a good grade. However, he does show signs of improving and adjusting to the 3-4.

    Draft Grade: C-

Miami Dolphins: Vontae Davis (DB, Illinois)

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    To start things off, one thing you should know about Davis is that Brett Favre called him one of the best cornerbacks that no one has heard of.

    Davis had a great rookie season with 53 tackles, four INT and 11 passes defensed. His second year also went well as he improved in some categories, such as forcing two fumbles. While some of his stats decreased, what I like about Davis is that he is developing more and more into a shutdown corner.

    I see him becoming much better and becoming a shutdown corner in a few years, as well as a name people know.

    Draft Grade: A

Minnesota Vikings: Percy Harvin (WR, Florida)

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Coming out of college, Harvin's talent was undeniable. His attitude and off-the-field maturity was not.

    During the combine, Harvin tested positive for marijuana. This drove a couple teams away from him as they weren't sure how he would be off the field.

    Harvin hasn't run into trouble as of recent, as has been playing spectacular in his NFL career. Harvin is a speedy receiver who is a downfield threat with homerun ability every time he touches the ball. Harvin has had around 800 receiving yards both years in his career. He also serves as a return man and has several return TDs.

    He hasn't been featured as the main target for very long in his career, as Sidney Rice holds that spot.

    Draft Grade: A- 

New England Patriots: No Pick (Trade)

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    The Patriots decided to instead of having a first round pick, opt for about 100,000 other picks which they will later trade for more picks as they always do.

    The Patriots traded back three spots with the Ravens for a first and a fifth round draft pick. They then traded the first and the fifth round draft pick to the Packers for two third round picks and a second round pick. The Packers selected Clay Matthews, a dominant force. The Patriots selected Darius Butler and Brandon Tate. They traded the other third rounder for even more picks ripping off the Jaguars for a second round pick in 2010 and a seventh round pick in the 2009 draft.

    Tate has become a good return man and mediocre receiver. Butler has been serviceable, but with the addition of McCourty he isn't used as often.

    Meanwhile, Clay Matthews continues to dominate on defense. A man they could've had, but refused so as to endlessly trade draft picks.

    Draft Grade: B-

New Orleans Saints: Malcolm Jenkins (DB, Ohio State)

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Malcolm Jenkins joined the Saints at just the right time. The time to win a Super Bowl.

    But none of that matters much, as we are focusing on Jenkins and not the Saints.

    Jenkins switched to Safety for the 2010 season, even though he played cornerback in college. He has done a nice job as a safety.

    Jenkins is a good safety with good instincts. He is capable of making big plays such as when he forced a fumble on Roy Williams to save the game when it looked like the catch wrapped things up. Jenkins was named a second team All-Pro this year.

    Draft Grade: B+

New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks (WR, UNC)

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    Hakeem Nicks had a decent rookie season, but a breakout season this past one. While the Giants failed to make the playoffs and have a second half collapse that has become synonymous with them, Nicks improved in basically every category.

    Nicks had 11 touchdowns, 79 receptions, and over 1000 yards receiving. He was the go to guy for the Giants and will be for years to come. Nicks is an exciting player.

    One concern though is that when you watch his tape you can sometimes determine the route he is running, as rookie Bryan McCann of the Cowboys knew exactly where he was going and intercepted the ball in the end zone. This is probably more of a case of McCann doing a good job then Nicks failing.

    Grade: A

New York Jets: Mark Sanchez (QB, USC)

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    Somehow, some way, Mark Sanchez has managed to get his team to the AFC Championship both seasons. Also, they lost both. Nonetheless, Mark Sanchez comes alive during the playoffs.

    During the regular season though, Mark Sanchez is beyond inconsistent. He is capable of putting up a less than 10 passer rating one week than over 100 the next. Sanchez thrives in part due to his defense which normally stops opponents and creates turnovers.

    A career passer rating of 70.2 isn't something to be proud of, but becoming a road warrior during the playoffs is. He continues to improve and if he learns to be consistent he should be able to lead the Jets to the Super Bowl. If he stays on the Jets he will succeed.

    Draft Grade: B   

Oakland Raiders: Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR, Maryland)

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The speedster out of Maryland was just drafted too high. Michael Crabtree was supposed to go before Heyward-Bey, and while he hasn't had a great career, his has been far better than Heyward-Beys.

    Coming out of the combine, Heyward-Bey had the fastest 40 yard dash of 4.25 making him a legit downfield threat. Though unfortunately for him it never panned out that way.

    To be frank, Heyward-Bey hasn't been good by any means. He has had injuries that kept him out of a couple games and only one over 100 yard receiving game. He only had 26 catches this year. Heyward-Bey just never turned out the way he was supposed to.

    And considering there have been many more productive wide receivers in that draft, it just makes him look worse.

    Draft Grade: F+

Philadelphia Eagles: Jeremy Maclin (WR, Missouri)

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    There were debates over who should go first as a wide receiver. Al Davis chose Darius Heyward-Bey as the first due to his quickness. Maclin was the third receiver taken, but should've been more like the second receiver taken.

    Maclin forms a formidable trio with fellow Eagles Jason Avant and Desean Jackson.

    Maclin came off a great college career, and had what most people would qualify as a breakout season as his rookie season was solid, but not spectacular.

    During his rookie year, he caught 56 catches for four TDs and 773 yards. His sophomore year fared much better, with 70 catches for 10 TDs and 964 yards.

    He looks to improve and should be able to reach the 1,000 yard mark somewhere in the next two seasons.

    Draft Grade: B+

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ziggy Hood (DT, Missouri)

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    Selected by Pittsburgh, Ziggy Hood got the luxury of mixing some playing time with learning from an experienced and solid defense. Also, he gets to learn from Dick LeBeau.

    Hood was moved from his position at DT to DE his rookie season.

    When he plays, he has been a good contributor, but there is certainly room to improve.

    Time will tell what Ziggy Hood will become, but right now he is merely just a solid backup.

    Draft Grade: B-

San Diego Chargers: Larry English (DE, Northern Illinois)

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    It's not often that you see a player from a conference such as the MAC drafted in the first round. Still, it didn't prevent the Chargers from selecting Larry English with the 16th overall pick.

    Larry English played DE in college, but made the transition to OLB. He played some time in his rookie year as he made the transition. English played in all 16 games.

    In his second year in the NFL, English got injured early on the season. Suffering from a foot injury, he missed half of the games. While that resulted in a decrease in tackles, he still had one more sack.

    With Shawne Merriman to the Bills, it looks like the Chargers are set to have English's playing time increased. 

    Draft Grade: C+

San Francisco 49ers: Michael Crabtree (WR, Texas Tech)

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    Michael Crabtree has received some unwarranted hate in his NFL career so far. 

    So often do you hear someone comment on how his fine career as a Red Raider hasn't been able to translate to NFL success.

    Well, I must argue differently. Most people argue he is somewhere around average, but a bust at the 10th overall pick. His stats certainly would make you think of a bust status going that high, but he has increased.

    After missing five games at the start of his rookie season, Crabtree put up 48 catches for 625 yards. For his second year he put up 55 catches for 741 yards. While you may argue that the five games at the beginning of his rookie season would have made a difference in stats, I believe he is on the incline.

    If he is able to develop chemistry with a QB, Offensive Coordinator and a Head Coach then look for him to improve.

    Draft Grade: B

Seattle Seahawks: Aaron Curry (LB, Wake Forest)

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    Aaron Curry was said to be one of the safest picks in the draft when the Seahawks selected him, which is probably what prompted them to give him $34 million guaranteed.

    Curry was a unique player coming out of college, as he was utilized in pass protection in college.

    So far, Curry has started most of the games for the Seahawks and has proven to be a solid option. He isn't a great pass rusher. He has tackled the opposition 61 and 73 times in his first and second seasons respectively.

    Curry hasn't been spectacular, especially for the fourth overall pick. Still, as it stands right now he is a mediocre linebacker.

    Draft Grade: C

St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith (T, Baylor)

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    It's hard to fill the enormous expectations that come with the No. 2 pick in the draft.

    It also becomes tremendously more difficult if you miss playing time due to injuries such as concussions and play on the opposite side you were drafted for.

    Still though, Smith looks to be a good option at right tackle, which is where he currently starts.

    He stayed healthy his second year in the NFL.

    Another plus is that if he can stay healthy, Smith should be able to improve along a young Rams team that hopes to make the playoffs next year.

    But we are looking at the No. 2 draft pick here, and there were better options taken after him.

    Draft Grade: B- 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman (QB, Kansas State)

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    Freeman has been nothing short of impressive this year, and has probably been the best QB out of this draft so far.

    You may argue that the other two first round QBs have been better, but they haven't. Sanchez benefits from a great team and Stafford has been injured.

    Freeman has done very well in leading one of the younger teams in the NFL to a 10 win season.

    His rookie season wasn't too great, but he was thrust in mid-season as the leader of a young team. Not something anyone wants to do.

    His second year has been what people talk about, as he threw for well over 3,000 yards and 25 TDs. His turnovers have been minimal, with six INTs and four fumbles. He proved to also be a mobile QB while running for over 350 yards.

    The scary thing is, he hasn't reached his full potential, and neither have many of his teammates.

    Draft Grade: A

Tennessee Titans: Kenny Britt (WR, Rutgers)

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    Kenny Britt is probably happy he doesn't have to share the field with teammate Cortland Finnegan during games.

    And so far, Britt should be somewhat happy with his production. Both years he has caught 42 balls and has already had a game with over 200 yards receiving.

    The former Rutgers standout has caught 701 yards in his first year and 775 yards in his second. In addition he also improved his touchdown count by six. In his second year though, he missed a quarter of the games due to a hamstring injury. 

    When the Titans get a new QB, it should be nice for Britt to have consistency with his QBs instead of alternating between Kerry Collins and Vince Young.

    Draft Grade: B+

Washington Redskins: Brian Orakpo (DE, Texas)

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    Though the rest of his team struggles to find any sort of a rhythm, another product from the Lone Star State shines.

    Orakpo has to be one of the few things that the Redskins can be happy with these past two years. Despite playing defensive end in college, he was moved to linebacker as many players who are "too small" do coming into the NFL.

    His rookie season was nothing short of spectacular as he recorded 50 tackles, 11 sacks, and one forced fumble. Orakpo was selected to the Pro Bowl, an amazing feat to accomplish in his rookie year.

    Just looking at the stats on his page seem misleading for his second year. Orakpo had 56 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and a forced fumble to add.

    However, he seems to be elite in the category of drawing holding calls, as he is one of the top players in the NFL in doing so. He drew a holding call on the final play of their game this season against Dallas.

    It was the difference in winning and losing the game.

    Draft Grade: A

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