It was “Christmas in April” as teams selected top players at the 2010 NFL Draft
Now that the biggest “non on the field” NFL event is done for this year and 255 players know their destinations, it is time for myself and other talent evaluators to recap the action and then take a well deserved rest. But before we move onto a short break then OTA’s, let’s take a look back at what transpired at the 2010 NFL Draft.
The 2010 NFL Draft , themed “The Grand Crossroads of Hope”, definitely had a ton of buzz, hype, and excitement as Radio City Music Hall was electric when the new 3-Day event kicked off at 7:30 PM on Thursday. The new 3-day format (Round 1 on April 22, Rounds 2-3 on April 23, and Rounds 4-7 on April 24), including a Prime Time start on a weekday night, seemed to invigorate the teams to move swifter and look for trades as the first round took only 3 hours, 25 minutes. The opening round on Thursday also drew ratings that were 30% higher than last year plus beat out the NBA and NHL playoffs head-to-head.
It seems NFL fans viewing on television also liked the new format as ESPN reported that 3.7 million viewers watched Thursday-Saturday, which was up 27% from last year. I know the great numbers will also made the league and commissioner Roger Goodell, who is thinking about more innovations for future drafts including having the 3-day event in multiple cities so more fans can access it, very happy too.
Some other new wrinkles outside of the new format were guest announces like Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees (the Saints 1st round pick), Make-A-Wish recipient Zachary Hatfield (the Steelers first pick), and Texas head coach Mack Brown (former Longhorns QB Colt McCoy’s selection in the 3rd round by the Cleveland Browns. Plus Goodell bear-hugging several appreciative first rounders — you know Pete Rozelle wouldn’t have been doing that. And lastly a Hollywood red carpet entry for the draftees hosted by NFL Network’s Deion “Prime Time” Sanders.
Other tidbits from this year’s draft included:
Big Conferences Reigning Supreme – NFL teams are looking for successful players from big conferences in the draft, because players are being taught pro techniques at these college and universities. Almost 75% of the players selected were from the 6 BCS Conferences. The SEC had the most players drafted overall with 49, followed by the Big Ten (34), ACC (31), Big 12 (30), PAC 10 (28), Big East (18), Mountain West (13), Conference USA (7), Mid-American (5), and Western Athletic (5)
Stay in School – The NFL is making a concerted effort to draft seniors in the draft and it shows. There were only 46 underclassmen drafted compared to 209 seniors. Some say older players need less coaching, but yet 17 underclassmen went in the first round including first overall pick St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford.
Florida had too much talent not to win it all in ’09, right?? – For the entire 2009 college football season, analysts talked of the enormous amount of talent on the Florida Gators’ squad. But the group underachieved settling for a 13-1 record and a dominating Sugar Bowl win over Cincinnati. Well the Gators did bring home the title of most players selected with 9 players including first rounders CB Joe Haden (selected by the Cleveland Browns at #7), C/OG Maurkice Pouncey (selected by the Steelers at #18), and QB Tim Tebow (selected by the Broncos at #25). Surprisingly Colonial Athletic Conference schools William & Mary and James Madison each had two players selected, which was more than traditional college football schools Arkansas (1), Texas A&M (1), Texas Tech (1), and Michigan State (1).
Tebow steals the show – Everyone knew that the Rams were selecting Sam Bradford with the first overall pick, but who would be the second quarterback taken in the first round. While everyone assumed that Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen would be the logical pick, he fell out of the first round. To a lot of people’s surprise the second quarterback to come off the board was much-maligned college football “winner” Tim Tebow. After raising his stock from the depths of a pretty ugly Senior Bowl week, Tebow wowed NFL teams with his Pro Day workout, interviewing skills and every intangible that you could name. Florida’s Superman also improved his throwing motion by working with several quarterback coaches and the NFL noticed as the Denver Broncos traded up to the draft’s 25th spot to grab Tebow — Denver sent 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks to Baltimore (Nos. 43, 70 & 114) and the Broncos also received the No. 119 pick in the deal. It will be interesting to see if Tebow is given the opportunity to compete with holdovers Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn or he will be a team “leader” by holding a clipboard and running the scout team. “Like everybody, he will be competing for a job,” Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said. “I don’t care if a guy is a rookie. If he’s earned the job, he’ll play. That goes for any position. But I’ll say this, he has a long way to go to get there. But he is starting the process.” An interesting subplot to Tebow’s selection is that his Broncos’ jersey (No. 15) is already a best-seller on NFL.com.
Lots of Trades – Teams were more than willing to trade up or down, which continued an offseason filled with player movement. There were 33 trades – NFL record is 34 set in 2008 – during this year’s draft, which definitely can be attributed to the new 3-day format and more time between rounds 1 and 2.
Tight Ends Galore – After the success of Pro Bowl tight ends like the Colts’ Dallas Clark, Chargers’ Antonio Gates, and Cowboys’ Jason Witten every team is looking for athletic players that can dominate the middle of the field. This year more than ever GM’s seemed to understand that you need not one, but two quality tight ends as 19 were drafted. Here is the breakdown of the 2010 NFL Draft by position: Defensive Backs (52, but half were Safeties and the other half CB’s), Linebackers (35), Receivers (30), Defensive End (28), Tight Ends (19), Running Backs (15), Defensive Tackle (20), Offensive Tackles (19), Quarterbacks (13), Guards (12), Centers (7), Punter (3), Kick Returners (2), Kicker (zero), and Long Snapper (zero)
Clausen gets hit in the wallet – Another player that was probably glad he didn’t come to New York was Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Opinions in NFL circles varied about the former ND passer, but he landed in a great situation as the Carolina Panthers rescued him in the 2nd round with the 48th overall selection – should compete right away with holdover Matt Moore. However in going from a “perceived” Top 10 pick to the 2nd round, Clausen lost some money that he will need to make-up. CNBC’s Darren Rovell estimates that Clausen lost about $2.6 million by not being selected where some slated him — ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projected him to go in the Top 10. Last year’s 48th pick, Bears DB Darcel McBath, signed for about $2 million guaranteed and earned $1.9 million in salary in 2009.
Ghee probably wished that he had stayed home — Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee and Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston were the last two players from the 17 invitees to New York that were selected. However even in disappoint, Ghee (selected in the 3rd round by the Bengals) was given the honor of Goodell announcing the pick and giving words of encouragement to the youngster while posing for pictures.
Draft Report Card
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 their teams in the 2010 NFL Draft. The teams that did well seemed to follow a blueprint that I believe has worked in the past for teams like recent Super Champs the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, and the New York Giants:
- Go for Larger School Players (BCS Level Players) in the 1st three rounds.
- Judge the total player (Interview, Practice Habits, All Star Game, Combine, Pro Day, “Character”, and most importantly Game Film).
- “Football Players” in the 4th round and higher. Players that may not have all the measurables, but who can provide quality depth by helping on special teams or playing multiple positions.
- Always consider your team’s needs with picks (Use the draft to replenish and build to establish the cornerstone of your team).
Remember no “blueprint” is bulletproof, so regardless of how much homework is done before the draft, most talent evaluator’s will have just as many Charles Rogers, Freddie Mitchell, Mike Mamula, Akilli Smith, and Tim Couch (All High 1st Round Busts) type picks on their resume as Tom Brady, Terrell Davis, and Seth Joyner (All late round finds) type picks. The draft process is a roll of the dice, but the aforementioned group always seems to do just a little bit better than others.
Oakland Raiders – After being the butt of several years of NFL jokes, the Raiders had one of their best drafts in a long time. Their stellar effort started with the selection of highly rated middle linebacker Rolando McClain from Alabama then improved their defense more by adding Texas stout defensive tackle Lamarr Houston. Al Davis also didn’t forget about an O-line that needed much improvement by adding small-school star Jared Veldheer (Hillsdale) and NFL Combine phenom Bruce Campbell from Maryland. Of course, they also grabbed the draft’s fastest player in Clemson WR/KR Jacoby Ford too. And the cherry on top of the sundae was the Raiders trading a 2012 fourth round selection to the Washington Redskins for quarterback Jason Campbell. The addition of Campbell also should spell the end of the JaMarcus Russell era in Oakland, which will be addition by subtraction.
Detroit Lions – What is not to like about the Lions grabbing my number #1 player in Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh with the 2nd overall pick. Suh is a dominating presence that should help a defense that allowed almost 500 points in 2009. Lions GM Mark Mayhew then grabbed one of the draft’s versatile playmakers by trading up at the end of the first round to select Cal speedster Jahvid Best, who should become quarterback Matthew Stafford’s Reggie Bush. After their stellar first day haul, Detroit added physical Iowa CB Amari Spievey, tough Miami (FL) OT Jason Fox and “Mr. Irrelevant” Weber State receiver Tim Toone, who they are hoping is the NFL’s next Wes Welker.
San Francisco 49ers – After their O-line allowed 40 + sacks in 2009, the Niners knew they had to get better upfront to have a chance to win the NFC West. With their two first-round picks (11th and 17th overall) they fortified their O-line with picks of developing offensive tackle Anthony Davis (Rutgers) and rock solid offensive guard Mike Iupati (Idaho). These additions should help RB Frank Gore run harder and protect quarterback Alex Smith who is trying to rebound into a franchise passer. Later on, Mike Singletary added USC safety Taylor Mays, who brings an instant grudge against the Seahawks and their head coach Pete Carroll. The Niners also added tough Penn State LB Navorro Bowman and scrappy smaller Arizona State receiver Kyle Williams.
Baltimore Ravens – I am not going to lie to you, after the Ravens traded out of the first round… I thought they were crazy. But Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome had something up his sleeve as he added defensive impact players in the second round with the selection of Texas OLB Sergio Kindle and Alabama anchor nose tackle Terrence Cody. Kindle is an explosive athletic pass rusher, who should compliment fellow linebackers Terrelle Suggs and Ray Lewis very well. And Cody should team with Haloti Ngata to form one of the biggest defensive middles in the NFL, so I dare anyone to try and run on them. Also to help aging tight end Todd Heap (53 rec, 593 yards, and 6 TDs), Newsome added young speedy pass-catchers Ed Dickson (Pitt) and Dennis Pitta (BYU).
Others I thought did a nice job Thursday – Saturday were the Bucs, Patriots, Eagles, Rams, Dolphins, and Seahawks
HEAD SCRATCHERS, BUT I WOULDN’T CALL THEM “LOSERS”
Jacksonville Jaguars – You would have thought a coach on the Hot Seat like Jack Del Rio would have had more urgency in his picks. The Jags pulled the 2010 NFL Draft’s biggest shocker by pick Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall selection even though he carried a 2nd or 3rd round grade. Then can you tell me who any of their remaining picks are – DT D’Anthony Smith,, Louisiana Tech; LB Larry Hart, Central Arkansas; DE Austen Lane, Murray State; RB Deji Karim, Southern Illinois; and WR/KR Scotty McGee, James Madison. Lastly how could the Jags not select a quarterback when starter David Garrard is struggling of late.
Others I thought would have given low grades to, if I believed in them were Bears (didn’t pick until the 75th overall selection) and Buffalo Bill (only took one offensive lineman in the 5th round…wasn’t that their biggest need).
Best Value Selections
RB Jahvid Best (late first round by the Lions)
QB Jimmy Clausen (2nd Rd, 48th overall pick by the Panthers)
QB/WR Armanti Edwards (3rd, 89th overall by the Panthers)
safety Myron Rolle (6th Rd by the Titans)
Picks with Bust Potential
1st rd, #22 — Denver Broncos – Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
2nd rd, #54 — Cincinnati Bengals – Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
3rd rd, # 72 — Buffalo Bills – Alex Carrington, DE, Arkansas State
The 8th Round Begins for Some Players
Every year thousands of players are left heartbroken as “Mr. Irrelevant” — 2010′s version was Weber State WR Tim Toone who was picked 255th by the Detroit Lions — is selected thus ending their dreams of being selected in the NFL Draft. Sure being drafted is an honor, but there have been many outstanding undrafted players including: Broncos great receiver Rod Smith, former Eagles tough strong safety the late Andre Waters, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, and many others. The great thing for undrafted players is that they can now choose their landing spot in the NFL and possibly enhance their chances by finding a good roster situation before signing.
Some 2010 undrafted players to keep an eye on in training camp are
Grambling State DE Christian Anthony
Bowling Green WR Freddie Barnes (signed as a UDFA by the Chicago Bears)
Norfolk State WR Chris Bell
Wayne State RB Joique Bell (Buffalo Bills)
LSU OG Ciron Black (Steelers)
Oregon RB LaGarrette Blount (Tennessee Titans)
UCLA LB Kyle Bosworth (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Shaw DT Callahan Bright
West Virginia QB Jarrett Brown (SF 49ers)
Penn State QB Daryll Clark (Washington Redskins)
Hampton RB LaMarcus Coker
St. Augustine’s OLB/DE Marcus Crump
Stillman OLB/DE Junior Galette (Saints)
Central Florida safety Michael Greco
Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller (Indianapolis Colts)
USC RB Stafon Johnson (Tennessee Titans)
Valdosta State QB/WR Kellen Lewis
Alabama A&M OLB/DE Jeremy Maddox
Jacksonville State QB Ryan Perrilloux, (Tryout with Minnesota Vikings)
Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Western Illinois CB Patrick Stoudamire (SF 49ers)
Florida A&M CB/KR LeRoy Vann (SF 49ers)
Army WR/TE Ali Villanueva
Penn State CB A.J. Wallace (Miami Dolphins)
Abilene Christian OT Tony Washington
Western Illinois TE Joseph Wielgat
Harvard OT James Williams
Haynesworth stays put – Even though disgruntled players like Redskins QB Jason Campbell (to Raiders), NY Jets RB Leon Washington (to Seahawks) and Titans RB LenDale White (to Seahawks) were traded during the 2010 NFL Draft. Surprisingly Redskins unhappy DT Albert Haynesworth was not traded over the draft’s 3 days. I guess money (signed in ’09 for 7 years, $100 Million Contract w/ $41 Million guaranteed and was paid a $21 million bonus on April 1st ) got in the way of any deal for the sulking defensive tackle, who is ill-fitted for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s new 3-4 scheme. Now Haynesworth, who was 2009 free agency’s Big Fish, and new Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan will need to work out some kind of relationship. Other veterans that were rumored to be traded but stayed put were Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick, Buffalo Bills RB Marshawn Lynch (probably will be cut), Jacksonville Jaguars DT John Henderson (cut after draft) and New England Patriots LB Addalius Thomas (cut after the draft).
The “U” has an increase in players selected – Though the University of Miami (Fla.) did not get a first round pick for the second year in a row — in 2009 the school’s 15-year first round streak ended. The school that invented “swagger” did have four players drafted led by emerging tight end Jimmy Graham (3rd Rd by the Saints). Other Hurricanes coming to the NFL are LB Daryl Sharpton (4th Rd by the Texans), OT Jason Fox (4th Rd by the Lions), and TE Dedrick Epps (7th Rd by the Chargers).
Rookies Better Watch Their Pockets – With rookie guaranteed money reaching $40 Million dollars after the 2009 NFL Draft and 2010 NFL Draft first overall pick Sam Bradford expecting to get over that mark, fans can expect a rookie salary cap as part of the upcoming CBA. Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a recent interview about a possible rookie cap, “I’m a big fan of the rookie salary cap… I think that it is very much in the best interest of our veteran players, being able to be rewarded for what they achieve on the NFL field.” I know veterans will be happier after the 2011 NFL Draft, because then rookies will have to earn big dollars due paying their dues on the field.
Players drafted for their “Wildcat” potential – We all know the NFL is a copycat league, so it was not surprising that the 2010 NFL Draft saw some players drafted for “versatility” reasons. Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards (3rd round by the Panthers), University of Buffalo’s James Starks (6th round by the Packers) and UAB’s Joe Webb (6th round by the Vikings) were selected by their respective teams with the hope that they could be the next Joshua Cribbs (The Do-Everything Browns’ KR/WR/Wildcat QB). It will also be interesting to see if Broncos first round pick Florida QB Tim Tebow (25th overall) will be asked to be a “pure” quarterback or if he will help out of the Wildcat formation too. Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said of Tebow, “He’s a quarterback. That’s all he’s going to do.”
What No Quarterback?? – Incredibly quarterback strapped teams the Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers did not select a quarterback of the future. Overall there were 15 quarterbacks taken – including Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards (Carolina) and UAB’s Joe Webb (Vikings) who are probably conversion candidates – with two in the first round (Sam Bradford at No. 1 by St. Louis and Tim Tebow at No. 25 by Denver). Maybe a team looking for a quarterback can call the Oakland Raiders who traded for former Redskins passer Jason Campbell to go along Kyle Boller, Bruce Gradkowski, JaMarcus Russell, and Charlie Frye who were already on their roster.
No love for HBCU players – Throughout NFL history, players from historically black college and universities (HBCU’s) have starred in the league (Walter Payton, Ernie Ladd, and Doug Williams to name a few). But this year there were only two HBCU standouts that were drafted: Morehouse OT Ramon Harewood (Ravens – 6th Round) and South Carolina State DB Phillip Adams (SF 49ers – 7th Rd). It was the lowest number of HBCU players taken since 2004 when Southern DB Lenny Williams (252nd overall) and Hampton DE Isaac Hilton (253rd) were 7th round selections. I guess Hampton RB LaMarcus Coker, Stillman DE Junior Gallette, Florida A&M QB Curtis Pulley and others will have to go the undrafted free agent route or to the CFL or the Arena Football League.
A Brief Look at the ’11 Draft – It is never too early for some player research for the 2011 NFL Draft including: Washington QB Jake Locker, North Carolina DT Marvin Austin, Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn, Alabama RB Mark Ingram, West Virginia RB/KR Noel Devine, Penn State RB Evan Royster and many others. But we have 11+ months to bring you information and draft news about these guys.
That is it for 2010 NFL Draft and may all the league’s teams be enriched going into the 2010 season.