The 2010 NFL Draft is over and we only have about 362 days left until the 2011 NFL Draft. Before we get ahead of ourselves and think about next year’s draft, let’s take a look at how some notable teams did this year. This draft class was incredibly deep and I believe that there will be plenty of players that were drafted in the middle rounds that will end up as starters sooner rather than later. Many of the 2nd-round picks would have been 1st-rounders in other years, which gives you an idea of how much talent this class had packed into it. Below is an analysis of some of my favorite drafts from this year. I also gave an Honorable Mention to teams who had solid drafts and helped themselves in multiple areas by picking up more than one starter.
Ozzie Newsome is known as one of the best GM’s in the league on draft day. He consistently gets good value for players and does an incredible job of identifying talent and maneuvering around the draft board to get those players. This year, the Ravens moved out of the first round and passed on a chance to get Dez Bryant, Jared Odrick or even one of the top CBs. However, by acquiring extra picks while moving back, they were able to land one of the best draft classes this year. Sergio Kindle was an excellent pick in the second round. Within the next couple of years, he should become a solid starting outside linebacker opposite Terrell Suggs. Also in the second round, Baltimore was able to pick up Terrence Cody, who should see playing time pretty early, but will only be used in a rotation due to his lack of endurance. Baltimore also picked up TEs Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, who should both push for starting time immediately. Todd Heap is a solid tight end, but many believe his days in Baltimore are numbered and Dickson and Pitta will be able to stretch the middle of the field. The Ravens also snagged WR David Reed in the fifth round, which was great value for a receiver who showed he can really play this offseason.
I loved just about everything the Cards did with their draft. Some people believe they should have jumped on the opportunity to pick Jimmy Clausen, but I am confident that Leinart will prove his worth this year, and obviously the Cards’ front office feels similarly. NT Dan Williams provided great value for them at 26th in the first round because he easily could have gone in the top 15 picks. Williams is the premier 3-4 NT in this class and should replace Bryan Robinson more than adequately. Daryl Washington in the second round is also a steal because he was talked about as a potential late first-rounder. Arizona drafted him to become their “Karlos Dansby”. Don’t expect him to be that good right away, but 2-3 years down the road I believe Washington will be a force. Many scouts liked WR Andre Roberts performance at Senior Bowl week. He was a great pickup in the third round. O’Brien Schofield will be a rush linebacker in Arizona’s 3-4 defense and he may become the best pick of the Cards’ draft class this year. Before tearing his ACL in practice, which was extremely unfortunate, Schofield was ‘wowing’ scouts with his almost seamless transition to OLB at Senior Bowl Week.
Head coach Pete Carroll’s first draft with the Seahawks was jaw-dropping. No one knew how Carroll would approach draft day, but afterward, everyone was impressed. Give Seattle a lot of credit for sticking to their draft board and picking up players that fell to them. OT Russell Okung fell a couple spots and Seattle snagged him to hopefully fill the void at LT. Then, S Earl Thomas was sitting in their laps even after Philadelphia moved up to presumably take him. The Seahawks had a huge hole at safety and Earl Thomas will become a starter immediately. In the second round, Seattle took WR Golden Tate in a spot which gave them great value. Tate has some learning to do with his route running, but the bottom line is that he is a playmaker. Tate should contribute immediately as a slot receiver and I expect him to become a reliable target in the future as he matures and gets better. One thing that may be overlooked about this draft, however, is how Seattle was able to acquire veterans through trades. Former USC running back LenDale White and running back Leon Washington were essentially acquired for next to nothing in draft picks. Carroll improved his team in a number of ways that undoubtedly has the Seattle fan base exhilarated and ready for their new-look team to take the field.
Honorable Mention: New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions