2008 NFL Draft Day 1 Review

By Lloyd Vance, BIGPLAY Football “Draft Guru” / Sr. NFL Writer

(New York, NY) — Now that the anticipation, drama, and excitement of Day 1 of the 73rd NFL Draft titled “Believe in Now” is in the books, 450 media members covering the event including myself can ponder what happened.  The draft that marked the official debut of the new NFL shield logo started out predictable with all six invited players leaving the Green Room early — Did anyone really think Al Davis would not take Darren McFadden.  But then the event went back to its usual unpredictable nature.

Some topics that must be talked about from Day 1 are listed below:

  • Speed is Essential – With everyone always talking about speed on the field being important, the NFL applied the same standard to the draft.  The event was crisp and ran with unbelievable speed.  I believe the NFL has to stick with their new time restrictions that saw an almost record speed of 3 hours, 30 minutes for the first round, which was almost half the time of last year’s draft (6 hours, 8 minutes) and almost equaled the record of the 1990 draft (3 hours, 24 minutes).
  • Rip, Rip – That was the sound of mine and everyone’s Mock Drafts.  No one can predict what will happen on Day 1 of the NFL Draft especially in the first round.  It was fun for a little while seeing that I got the first four picks dead right.  But with the trading going on later, unpredictability ruled the day.  In the end I had 9 out of 31 right for a respectable .290 batting average, which Phillies slugger Ryan Howard would kill for right now.
  • Where are all of the receivers?? – Unfortunately as predicted this year’s receiver class had too many question marks.  I kept looking at my available list heading in the last five picks and that is when it really donned on me that for the first time since 1990, there were not any receivers deemed first round worthy by the NFL.  With GM’s knowing that there was second round value in this year’s group the receivers started flying off the board starting with the Rams grabbing speedy Houston receiver Donnie Avery. Bigger names Devin Thomas, James Hardy, DeSean Jackson, and Malcolm Kelly soon followed the unheralded Avery.
  • Flacco and Rodgers-Cromartie represent for D1-AA – Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco (selected at #18 by the Baltimore Ravens) and Tennessee State cover corner Dominique Rodger-Cromartie (selected #16 by the Arizona Cardinals) became only the 3rd and 4th 1-AA players drafted in the top 30 selections in the past 10 years (Joined 2000 NFL Draft selectees and former Jackson State teammates CB Rashard Anderson and WR Sylvester Morris).  The last D1-AA quarterback taken in the first round was recently retired quarterback Steve McNair from Alcorn State (Selected #3 overall by the Houston Oilers in 1995).
  • Big Schools reign in round one – NFL teams know where to go to find players, BCS schools in case you didn’t know.  In the first round 26 out of 32 players (84%) came from the BCS.  Led by USC (three first round picks), the Pac 10 had 11 players overall selected in the first two rounds.  The ACC also had 11 players with the surprise of the draft being “big boy” conferences the SEC, Big 12, and Big 10 only having 8 players selected on Saturday.
  • The “U” keeps a first round tradition going – With the New York Giants  selection of top rated safety Kenny Phillips with the 31st pick of the in the first round.  The University of Miami (Fla.) continued the school’s impressive active streak of a first round selection (14).   The incredible streak goes back to the 1995 draft where All-American defensive tackle Warren Sapp was selected No. 12 overall by Tampa Bay. 
  • Aggressive Trades – Teams not wanting to miss out on their guy were willing to ship later and future picks to move into position.  There were 14 trades in the 31 first-round picks. Starting at the seventh overall spot, where New Orleans moved up to No. 7 trading their No. 10 spot, a 3rd round pick and a 5th rounder to get defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis of Southern California.  Another noteworthy trades was the Jacksonville Jaguars moving up from 26th overall to eighth, where it grabbed Florida DE Derrick Harvey. In the deal the Ravens traded their first-round selection (8th overall) to the Jag’s for a first-round selection (26), two third-round selections (71 and 89), and fourth-round selection (125) – Man that is a lot of picks.
  • The veterans stay put – With all of the attention paid to possible trades of veteran players Eagles CB Lito Sheppard, Dolphins DE Jason Taylor, Bengals WR Chad Johnson, Giants TE Jeremy Shockey, Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin, and others did not go anywhere.  I believe the clubs that have these players may have inflated expectations and they may need to curb their asking price.

I don’t like to give “Letter Grades”, because as I always like to say, “It takes 2 to 3 years to evaluate a draft”.  That being said, some teams definitely did seem to strengthen and weaken their teams for the upcoming season and in some cases next season in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Day 1 Winners

Dallas Cowboys – An exciting day for the Cowboys as they added homerun threat running back Felix Jones from Arkansas and South Florida man to man corner Mike Jenkins in the first round.  THey also picked up athletic former basketball player TE Martellus Bennett in the second round and added a fourth rounder in a trade with the Dolphins.

Miami Dolphins – Got their cornerstone tackle in Jake Long, their quarterback of the future in Long’s Michigan teammate Chad Henne, traded RB Lorenzo Booker to the Eagles for a fourth round pick, and grabbed some Parcell’s Cowboys in Akin Ayodele and Anthony Fasano for only a 4th round pick.

Kansas CitySelected three guys with first round grades in DT Glenn Dorsey, OT Branden Albert, and CB Brandon Flowers.  The Chiefs are clearly in rebuilding mode and they may have gotten the best player in the draft in Dorsey.  With nine picks on Day 2 expect some wheeling and dealing by GM Carl Peterson and head coach Herman Edwards in rebuilding this four-win team.

Pittsburgh Steelers – The “blue collar” tough team grabbed Illinois workhorse running back Rashard Mendenhall in the first round and big Texas receiver Limas Sweed in the second round.  Mendenhall will team with Willie Parker to former a formidable one-two punch and Sweed could possibly finally be the big receiver that Big Ben has been asking to be added.

Day 1 Head Scratchers

I really didn’t see many huge reaches or losers, but two teams did some head scratching moves that caused their fans to be unhappy.

Philadelphia Eagles – Surprisingly for the second year in a row the Eagles traded out of the first round.  I had one Eagles fan scream at me “A #$@$#ing trade again, WHY”.  I am not sure, but many of the fans were not happy after their team traded down several times until finally picking upstart Notre Dame DT Trevor Laws and much-needed WR/KR DeSean Jackson of California.  The Birds better hope the Panthers’ 2009 first rounder acquired from the shocking trade is a high one.

Baltimore: Reached too early for Delaware QB Joe Flacco in my opinion.  The Ravens panicked after trading down from #8 when Ryan was unavailable and then feverishly trading back up – Ravens dealt the first-round choice they received from the Jags (26) along with the 89th overall selection and a sixth-rounder to Houston for the No. 18 pick — to grab the 1-AA signal caller. Flacco will compete with Troy Smith and Kyle Boller, but has a lot to learn about playing under center after coming from a spread offense.

Carolina Panthers – In a crazy move the Panthers traded their 2009 first round selection along with a 3rd and 4th this year to the Philadelphia Eagles to select Pittsburgh Offensive Tackle Jeff Otah at #19.  They also selected Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart coming off a turf toe injury in the first round and passed on Rashard Mendenhall.  Also where is the quarterback??

Seattle Seahawks – In one of his first drafts as a General Manager, Tim Ruskell may have reached for USC DE Lawrence Jackson and Notre Dame TE John Carlson in the first to rounds.  Both players had average production in the pre-draft process and were Day 2 picks in my book.

Players Still Available on Day 2

To the guys were not selected on Day 1, remember that Patriots QB Tom Brady and former Broncos RB Terrell Davis sat at home watching TV on Day 1 too.

  • Penn State LB Dan Connor – The All-time leading tackler at Linebacker U should come off the board early on Saturday.
  • Penn State CB Justin King – The silky smooth Junior Eligible should falso ollow his teammate Connor early on Day 2.
  • Notre Dame SS Tom Zbikowski – The tough former boxer should get the call after sitting on Saturday.
  • Oklahoma CB/S Reggie Smith – The big combo defensive back fell out of the second round surprisingly, but his versatile skills should get him a look.
  • Michigan WR Mario Manningham – His stop watch time of around 4.6 at the combine may have caused him to drop.
  • Big Name Quarterbacks – Kentucky’s Andre Woodson, Oregon’s Dennis Dixon, and USC’s John David Booty

Other players available include: LSU Safety Craig Steltz, Iowa CB Charles Godfrey, Texas RB Jamaal Charles, Central Florida RB/KR Kevin Smith, West Virginia RB Steve Slaton, LSU receiver Early Doucet, Kansas big offensive tackle Anthony Collins, Hampton DE/B Marcus Dixon and many others.

Lloyd’s Leftovers 

  • For the second year in a row, The “Commish” Roger Goddell was everywhere at Radio City Music Hall.  He spent quality time with media, fans, and players while working the room with ease.  I really like his hands-on style of administration and let’s hope he keeps up the good work.
  • A record eight offensive tackles were taken in the first round including surprise Houston Texans pick Virginia Tech’s Duane Brown. Sorry Eagles fans the Birds stuck with veterans John Runyan and Tra Thomas plus gave a vote of confidence to former 2nd rounder Winston Justice by not selecting any of the talented offensive tackles.
  • HBCU powerhouse Tennessee State had its first player picked in the first round since 1974 (Ed “Too Tall” Jones by Dallas Cowboys) when CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was picked 16th overall by Arizona.

That is a wrap and I will be back at Radio City Music Hall at 10:00 AM ET on Sunday, for Day 2 (Rounds 3-7) of one of the biggest events of the NFL Calendar.


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