Friday, April 19, 2013

4 comments Grading Mel Kiper's 2002 NFL Draft Grades

This is probably one of my favorite things to write. I like to go back and see what Mel Kiper said about each NFL team's draft and see what kind of grades Kiper gave each team's draft. It goes to show two things. First, it goes to show that Mel Kiper doesn't traditionally go out on a limb in giving these grades. You see a lot of "C's" and "B's." In fact, in his 2002 NFL Draft grades there are only three grades that aren't some variation of a "B" or a "C." Think about that. Three teams did excellent or poorly and otherwise Mel thinks each team did "well" to "average." What is the point of draft grades if they are just going to be an exercise in hedging? The second reason I like covering Kiper's grades is that it goes to prove there are no draft experts. It's mostly guessing. So kudos to Mel Kiper for making ESPN pay him to be an expert on something it is nearly impossible to be an expert on.

So the 2002 draft grades for Mel are behind a pay wall, so I had to get creative. I will be using his first round commentary and what Mel wrote that I found on this message board. I traditionally would hate copying an article off a message board and hope it is true that these are his grades, but it certainly reads like something Mel would write. Plus, there is a huge gap in my Kiper grades. I have done the 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005 drafts. So I need to find a way to do the 2002 NFL Draft one way or another. I have found my way.

I'll start with the NFC and provide commentary when necessary about what Mel said about each team's first round pick as well.

Dallas Cowboys

As Jimmy Johnson would say, "How 'bout them Cowboys?"

I told you this sounds like something Mel would write.

For value and talent, WR Antonio Bryant is the best pick of any position in the draft. Despite his 4.6 clocking in the 40, he has a ton of ability. He should come in ready to prove his doubters wrong. Former Cowboy great Michael Irvin was similar in a lot of ways to Bryant.

They were both troublemakers off the field. After that, there's not a ton more comparison between these two players. One is a Hall of Famer and the other is not. 

DB Pete Hunter could have been a fourth-rounder, so he is not a bad fifth-round pick.

Pete Hunter also could have gone undrafted too. So that makes him a bad pick.

OT Tyson Hunter and TE Bob Slowikowski have a chance as backups.

Tyson Hunter doesn't have a chance as a backup because the Cowboys didn't draft a Tyson Hunter. They did draft a Tyson Walker though. I always love it when Kiper says a player "has a chance as a backup" as if this is a statement of some importance. Yep, that could be backup or a starter. Not a good point.

Then in discussing the Cowboys first round pick of Roy Williams, Kiper says:

He will step in at free safety and form an awesome, deep-patrol tandem with strong safety Darren Woodson. There may not be a bigger defensive difference-maker in the draft than Williams.

Other than Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers, but really, who is counting? 

He comes up into the box to deliver bone-jarring blows. He is also just as comfortable operating in coverage.

But IS Williams just as comfortable operating in coverage? Is he? 

Grade: A

Kiper loved this draft. They got Roy Williams, Andre Gurode, and Antonio Bryant out of this draft. I'd say that's a solid "B-" in my opinion. But I guess since there are only two more grades that aren't a "B" or a "C" I should be happy Kiper didn't use one of those letters.

New York Giants

WR Tim Carter helped himself at the Senior Bowl practices. But remember, at the beginning of the year, I had Carter as a fifth- or sixth-round pick. He would have been better as a third-rounder rather than a second. I would have taken Antonio Bryant over Carter.

I rip Kiper, but he was very correct about this evaluation. Blind nut. Squirrel. You get the rest.

LB Nick Griesen could be the long snapper and a backup linebacker.

Griesen could be a long snapper or he could also be a financial advisor or any other profession he should choose. The world is your oyster Nick Griesen.

(Actually, Griesen was one of the Giants better picks)

WR Daryl Jones has a chance to make the team because he was a decent player at Miami.

In-depth evaluation here. "Daryl Jones played football and was okay at it."

LB Quincy Monk was around the ball a lot at North Carolina

Which in terms of playing linebacker in the NFL, it is always useful to be around the football. It's hard to tackle a running back when you aren't near the football.

Grade: B-

The Giants hit on one player in this draft, Jeremy Shockey. I will call this a "D" draft for that reason.

Philadelphia Eagles

I was surprised they addressed their defensive backfield with their first three picks, but I can see why they did it. They need to beat Steve Spurrier's Redskins in the same division and beat the Rams to go to the Super Bowl. Coach Andy Reid said they wanted to get younger in the secondary.

So Andy Reid said he wanted to go younger in the secondary and it makes sense the Eagles went younger in the secondary, but Mel is still surprised? Really?

CB Sheldon Brown was a slight reach in the second round. They also reached on RB Brian Westbrook. While he is versatile, he needs to show necessary explosiveness. His key is his ability as a punt and kick returner and as a pass-receiving option. I guess they hope he can be a young Brian Mitchell.

Wow, quite a few misses in a row there. Brian Westbrook showed the necessary explosiveness that Mel wanted to see I guess. We know now that Brian Westbrook was better than Brian Mitchell and Sheldon Brown wasn't a reach at all. Now, Mel's misses continue...

In the fourth round, I like C Scott Peters because he is an underrated, tough, hard-nosed anchor who can also play guard -- and they needed a versatile interior lineman. I had no problems with the picks of WR Freddie Milons in the fifth or LB Tyreo Harrison in the sixth.

Combined, these three players played four seasons for the Eagles. Good job, Mel. Brian Westbrook and Sheldon Brown suck, but these three forgettable picks were good ones.

Grade: C+

The Eagles got Lito Sheppard, Michael Lewis, Sheldon Brown, Brian Westbrook and Raheem Brock out of this draft. Sure, they cut Brock, but they still drafted him. This feels like an "A-" draft to me and I'm probably being a little conservative.

Washington Redskins

I like what the Redskins did. They moved down twice, picked up extra picks and still got QB Patrick Ramsey.

They traded away the chance to get Ed Reed AND landed Patrick Ramsey? It doesn't get much better than that.

I really like the Redskins' final pick, FB Rock Cartwright. At 5-foot-7, 240 pounds, he ran a 4.46 in the 40 and did 30 strength reps. He is a very capable receiver, and as a lead blocker he was able to spring Josh Scobey to daylight off the edge on the option pitch.

Grade: B-

I'm trying to decide if Rock Cartwright, Ladell Betts, Patrick Ramsey, Robert Royal or Andre Lott were the best picks for the Redskins in this draft. Sounds like a "D" to me. Yeah, they didn't really land any good players, but they got a bunch of okay, but not really okay players. Plus, they traded back to avoid drafting that bum Ed Reed.

Chicago Bears

I like what the Bears did, drafting OT Marc Colombo. They have a question at left tackle, and he can play both tackle spots.

I think Mel left off the word "well" at the end of this sentence. Colombo could play both tackle spots, but not play them well, which was the problem.

DB Roosevelt Williams was a nice third-round pick because he could have been a second-rounder.

Jimmy Clausen could have been a first round pick but that doesn't mean he was a good pick in the second round. Poor reasoning.

The Bears needed an edge pass rusher, and DE Alex Brown made sense in the fourth round.

"The Bears needed a defensive end and Alex Brown plays defensive end. This pick makes sense and this is what passes for analysis in a job I claim to be an expert at." I give this draft a "C-" because I am mean.

Grade: B

Detroit Lions

I had Joey Harrington ranked as 1A to a 1 for David Carr. 

Of course you did Mel. I have eating crap ranked 1A to a 1 for drinking piss, but that doesn't mean they are two good options for dinner.

He is perfectly suited for the dome, where any questions about arm strength would be minimized. Coming from Oregon, Harrington is ideal for Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense. He also has a desire to win and to excel.

Plus, Harrington plays the piano and is available for parties!

OT Victor Rogers was a nice pick at the end of the draft; no one would have argued if he had gone in the fourth or fifth rounds.

Now we argue over whether he should have been drafted at all.

Now for Mel's breakdown of the Harrington pick...

Harrington is the third highest player on my draft board and deserved to go in this area. Playing in Mike Bellotti's offense at Oregon, Harrington is a great fit for Mornhinweg's West Coast scheme. Harrington, who has a Brett Favre-like flair for the dramatic,

The difference is that Brett Favre is a drama queen who is interested in helping his team come back late in the game in dramatic fashion. Joey Harrington was more likely to try to make it as a dramatic actor than help his team come back late in the game. 

The Lions had to make a pick to generate fan interest in their team, especially with a new stadium coming soon. 

So Lions fans, at least you had your interest in the team increased and then completely stomped on as if your interest never really meant anything in the first place. 

Grade: B

Let's see, missing on the #3 overall pick and and the best pick being between Kalimba Edwards or Andre Goodman...what kind of draft does that seem like to you? I'm the anti-Mel Kiper in that I keep giving out "D's" instead of "B's" and "C's."

Green Bay Packers

The Packers moved up to get WR Javon Walker when they could have stood pat and still gotten him.

I'm not sure how Mel knows the Packers could have stayed pat and gotten Walker, but he's the expert isn't he?

DB Marques Anderson was only a so-so pick in the third round. I like the selection of FB Najeh Davenport in the fourth round; he was my top-rated player at the position. DE Aaron Kampman has a motor that never stops.

Grade: C

Overall, not terrible analysis by Mel. He didn't like where the Packers traded up to get Walker and didn't like their third round draft choice, yet he gives them a "C?" I don't know if I get that logic. I think Walker was a good choice, Dookie Davenport was a good choice, and Aaron Kampmann was also a really good choice. I think I give them a "C+" just so I am not like Mel.

Minnesota Vikings

I have questions about the Vikings.

The team? Or the Norse explorers who are famous (wrongly in many ways) for raiding and pillaging other groups of individuals? Or does Mel have questions about both?

They didn't turn their card in to bypass Dallas and get Ryan Sims, the player they really wanted. They have to be prepared for situations like that.

Yeah, that's not even really a single question, much less "questions." It sounds more like Mel Kiper had a statement to make about the Vikings.

Nevertheless, OT Bryant McKinnie is a nice pick and solid prospect at left tackle. He needs to be a better run blocker and has to sustain his blocks. He could be a great pick because Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss are the franchise. To perform at a high level, they need a quality LT. What looks like a mistake could end up being a blessing.

It was a blessing, especially considering Ryan Sims was a bust.

The big question about McKinnie has been his run-blocking, which is a surprise considering his size. He tends to fall off blocks and not sustain them.

Should it really be surprising that McKinnie, who is huge, would have some trouble in run-blocking? After all, he is big and part of run-blocking is getting leverage and his size could have hurt him in some ways in regard to getting leverage. 

Grade: C

The Vikings got Bryant McKinnie right and did pretty well in drafting Brian Williams. Other than that, there wasn't much else. I'll give them a "C-" like Mel did. McKinnie pretty much makes this draft for them.

Atlanta Falcons

I was surprised they did not go after a wide receiver early in the draft as a primary target for Michael Vick.

If the Falcons really wanted to find a primary target for Michael Vick they would have drafted a carpet for the Georgia Dome since that is what most of Vick's passes ended up skipping off of.

They could have had one of consequence in the first round, like Ashley Lelie or Javon Walker.

It's weird Mel says the Falcons could have had Walker at #18 but then he criticized the Packers for drafting Walker at #20. A little consistency please.

Mel doesn't even mention the best pick from this draft, Kevin Shaffer, but if he did mention him then I am sure he would say something non-meaningful like "Shaffer has a chance to be a backup."

Duckett has the potential to be like a Jerome Bettis,

You mean from the state of Michigan and retired by the time the 2009 season comes around? 

Michael Vick needs receivers to throw to. The Falcons need to address the receiver situation, which is what I thought they would do with this pick.

Grade: C

So Mel Kiper didn't like how the Falcons used their first round draft choice and the Falcons didn't have a second round draft choice...but they got a "C." I'm pretty sure Mel doesn't even pay attention to his grades. Duckett wasn't terrible and Shaffer was a starter for a while in the NFL, but the Falcons missed on nearly every other pick. Look like another "D" draft to me.

Carolina Panthers

RB DeShaun Foster is talented, but he needs to learn to take better care of the football and to prove he can play a full season without injury.

Neither of which he ever proved.

LB Will Witherspoon made sense in the third round.

"Will Witherspoon played football in college, so it makes sense an NFL team would draft him to play football in the NFL."

TE Keith Heinrich was an excellent choice in the sixth round, and OG Pete Campion was solid in the seventh.

Grade: B

Neither player ever did anything in the NFL. Kiper brought out the "B" and "C"-only dartboard again and came back with a "B" for Carolina. They got Peppers, Foster was good for a while, and Witherspoon was the prototypical linebacker who is good enough to start, but not good enough for a team to want to keep him as a starter. I gave the Vikings a "C" for drafting McKinnie and this is probably a step above that. Let's go with a "C+" for this draft.

New Orleans Saints

Because the Saints had already added Jerome Pathon in the offseason, I felt they could have taken Albert Haynesworth or Patrick Buchanon. But in drafting Donte Stallworth, they get a receiver with speed and big-play ability to go along with Joe Horn. DE Charles Grant was a reach at No. 25 overall; he had one great game, but wasn't a factor in others. He was on my overrated list,

I would say the Saints did a really good job by drafting Charles Grant. Stallworth did have speed, but that's about all he did in the NFL, other than test the league's new discipline policy when he ran over a pedestrian while high.

C LeCharles Bentley was an excellent second-round choice because he can play center or guard.

Very good call. Bentley was a great choice.

Instead of drafting QB J.T. O'Sullivan in the sixth, they could have taken Seth Burford.

I'm not falling for that one, Mel. Seth Burford isn't a real person and you can't trick me into thinking that he is.

Grade: B-

A "B-" for a draft that netted the Saints two starters, a good speed receiver, a couple good contributors in James Allen and Mel Mitchell, and the guy who has tied the NFL record for "most teams played for" in J.T. Sullivan? No thank you. That's a solid "B+" draft at a minimum.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Because they gave up picks to land coach Jon Gruden, the Bucs didn't draft until the third round. I'm a big Gruden fan, though.

He did lead them to a Super Bowl, so there is a reason to be a big Gruden fan I guess.

S Jermaine Phillips is solid as a fifth-rounder, but there were better players at his position on the board.

Grade: B

Jermaine Phillips is the only player out of this draft for Jon Gruden and the Bucs who stayed with the team for longer than a few seasons. He was a very good pick. It's hard to grade this draft since Gruden got the Bucs a Super Bowl, but this draft was very, very weak. For the draft-only I would have to go with a "D-." It's pretty brutal outside of Jermaine Phillips.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals laid the building blocks for a much stronger front seven with the solid selections of DT Wendell Bryant and LB Levar Fisher in the first two rounds.

Wendell Bryant repeatedly violated the NFL drug policy and Levar Fisher had injuries. So these building blocks turned into nothing for the Cardinals.

I have mixed opinions about their first third-round pick, QB Josh McCown. He has size, athleticism and mobility, but he is still developing as a passer. He needs to improve his accuracy and decision-making and has only a decent arm.

Of all the players from this Cardinals draft, which one has made the biggest NFL impact? You guessed it, Josh McCown, the guy who Mel had mixed opinions about.

At Wisconsin, he received no help and had to constantly fight through double teams. But Bryant remained a destructive force, getting after quarterbacks like Antwaan Randle El, Drew Brees and Joey Harrington. 

This is ironic that Bryant got no help at Wisconsin because he wasn't any help to his teammates in the NFL. 

Grade: B 

Almost none of these players made any NFL impact at all and the Cardinals essentially missed on their first two draft picks. There's no way around it, I see this as an "F" draft.

St. Louis Rams

I like CB Travis Fisher as a nickel or dime type of defensive back, but in the fourth round, not the second.

I saw him projected as a seventh round pick when I was researching to post these grades of Mel Kiper's grades. Still, Fisher played more like a second round pick than a seventh round pick. Mel actually has this Rams draft fairly correct. It wasn't great.

C Chris Massey is nothing more than a long snapper.

Grade: D

Yes, but Massey is a very, very good long snapper. He had a run of 528 clean snaps during his career and only messed up one snap out of 703 snaps. That's impressive. Fisher wasn't terrible, Thomas wasn't worth a first round pick, and the pick that lasted the longest with the Rams was a long snapper. I think Mel had the right grade.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers wanted a cornerback and went for Mike Rumph, a big, press-coverage type who must prove he has the necessary recovery speed to hold up. He is an excellent tackler who could be moved to safety down the road; once upon a time, Ronnie Lott did the same thing with great success.

Rumph did move to safety, but unfortunately he was absolutely nothing like Ronnie Lott. He was injured a lot and wasn't even close to being on-par with Lott regardless of injuries.

QB Brandon Doman is a more mobile version of Ty Detmer.

"A mobile version of Ty Detmer..." How did Doman not go in the first round?

I also like OG Eric Heitmann as a value pick in the seventh round. OT Kyle Kosier has a chance to be a backup at tackle or guard.

This was a very weird 49ers draft. Eric Heitmann was with the team until 2011 and Kyle Kosier was in the NFL until 2011 as well. They were probably the two best picks in this draft for the 49ers.

Grade: B-

Mike Rumph wasn't a bust, but the 49ers had 10 picks and hit on their two 7th round picks best. Sounds like a "C" draft to me.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks moved down and lost an opportunity to get Daniel Graham. Instead, they got TE Jerramy Stevens, who has a lot of upside.

He also has the ability to smack a bitch if she gives him too much lip. Well, he is also arguably maybe or maybe not a rapist, but I won't knock the Seahawks down in their draft grade for that.

Terreal Bierria has the physical ability to be a backup safety or to play special teams.

He also has the physical ability to commit first degree murder. But again, I wouldn't dare let this affect my grade of this draft.

DT Rocky Bernard could work into the rotation along the defensive line.

Or he could also end up being the best player from this Seahawks draft.

Grade: C- 

That grade seems about fair to me.

Buffalo Bills

Knowing they would land Drew Bledsoe for their first-round pick in 2003 and that they had acquired Trey Teague through free agency, the Bills addressed their offensive line even more with the first-round pick of OT Mike Williams. It will enable them to move Jonas Jennings inside to guard. The Bills now have the makings of an outstanding offensive line.

This would have been if Mike Williams had not been a tremendous bust in the NFL. He didn't pan out and the Bills tried to move him around the offensive line to no avail.

I had Williams rated ahead of Bryant McKinnie after the knee injury wasn't viewed as a concern.

Epic miss on Mel's part.

WR Josh Reed was an excellent second-round pick. He has quickness, a burst out of his break and outstanding ability in the open field. DE Ryan Denney has a motor that is comparable to Phil Hansen, who just retired. I really like the selection of S Coy Wire in the third round. He went earlier than I thought, but he could be a better pro than his Stanford teammate, Tank Williams, who went in the second round to Tennessee.

My head is aching from this logic. Mel liked the pick of Coy Wire in third round, though he thinks Wire could be better than the guy drafted in the second round. So if Wire could be better than a second round pick, why be surprised Wire went in the third round?

Grade: B

This was a pretty good draft for the Bills, Mike Williams not included. Josh Reed, Ryan Denney, Justin Bannan, and Coy Wire all spent considerable time in the NFL and Bannan is still in the NFL. I wouldn't give it a "B" since the Bills missed so hard on their first pick, but I think I could go with a "B-."

Miami Dolphins

I love RB Leonard Henry; he's an outstanding seventh-round pick who runs with determination. He can excel down the field catching the ball and operated in a sophisticated offense under Steve Logan. He could be a solid backup to Williams.

Grade: B

Leonard Henry did almost nothing in his two seasons with the Dolphins. They got Randy McMichael and Seth McKinney out of this draft and that's about it. They didn't have a first round pick because they traded for Ricky Williams. Considering they had five picks I think Mel's grade is probably appropriate.

New England Patriots

WR Deion Branch was a bit of a reach, but he was productive at Louisville and has ability as a kick and punt returner.

Branch wasn't a reach at all. He has had a long and very productive NFL career. 

DE Jarvis Green is OK as a fourth-rounder who can pass rush off the edge.

A defensive end who can pass rush? Whoever heard of such a thing?

WR David Givens didn't produce enough game-changing plays, but he has good size and is an excellent athlete.

And really, is there a more fair way to judge a 7th round pick than how many game changing plays he made in college? 

Grade: B

Daniel Graham had a sort of frustrating career with the Patriots, but Branch and Givens were very important to the Patriots winning two more Super Bowls. Jarvis Green became an important part of the Patriots defensive line over the next 6-7 years. This draft seems to me like an "A-" draft to me. It isn't so much the quality of player, but how these players helped the Patriots win a couple more Super Bowls.

New York Jets

The Jets didn't address their desperate need at cornerback, where they lost both starters -- Aaron Glenn and Marcus Coleman -- in the expansion draft. Instead of drafting someone like Lito Sheppard, they opted for DE Bryan Thomas. I would have looked at a free safety over a cornerback, but not a defensive end.

Though he hasn't been outstanding through his career, Thomas is still on the Jets roster, so that has to count for something.

I like DT Alan Harper in the fourth because he can make plays, even he lacks ideal computer numbers.

What are "ideal computer numbers" for a nose tackle again?

OG Jonathan Goodwin was a major reach in the fifth round; I had a free-agent grade on him.

Grade: C

92 games started and one Pro Bowl later Jonathan Goodwin still wasn't a reach in the fifth round.

The Jets had five picks and three of these picks were in the NFL for almost a decade and one of these picks is still on the team. Granted, none of these players were outstanding for the Jets, but I give them a "B" for three quality picks out of five picks.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens had targeted two players, Levi Jones and William Green, but neither one was on the board at No. 24. So they went for their third option, FS Edward Reed, a playmaker and someone they really needed in their decimated secondary.

Wow, the Ravens dodged two big bullets there didn't they? They could have gotten Levi Jones or William Green and instead drafted a Hall of Famer.

Grade: B

The Ravens drafted a Hall of Famer, a punter that is still in the NFL, and Chester Taylor in this draft out of 10 possible picks. It's hard to knock a draft where the Ravens draft a Hall of Famer at #24, so I'm going to give Mel's grade a slight bump to a "B+."

Cincinnati Bengals

Levi Jones could be a solid bookend at left tackle for the Bengals, and he has also has the ability to switch to guard if needed. But I thought they could have gotten more value with the 10th pick. I would have either drafted Phillip Buchanon or traded down; they could have still gotten Jones.

Mel Kiper had a strange obsession with Phillip Buchanon through this entire draft. It's bizarre how much he liked Buchanon.

Thompson is a playmaker in the defensive secondary, finishing his college career with 24 interceptions.

He was a second round pick who played one season with the Bengals. That should tell you something.

Grade: C

Levi Jones probably wasn't worth the #10 overall pick, but he did play for the Bengals for a while. The Bengals had six picks and didn't get much out of any others except for Matt Schobel. I think this draft really deserves a "D."

Cleveland Browns

RB William Green could be a solid player for Butch Davis if he improves his pass-catching ability.

The #16 overall pick in the draft could be a solid player if he improves his pass-catching that's never good to hear.

LB Ben Taylor could be a backup either inside or outside or play on special teams.

BREAKING NEWS: A rookie linebacker may play the linebacker position or be on special teams. 

Grade: C+

Either Andra Davis or Andre Davis were the best picks in this draft for the Browns. Other than that, they missed on William Green, so this really looked like a low "C" draft to me.

Pittsburgh Steelers

S Chris Hope is steady, but not spectacular.

Hope's Pro Bowl appearance and decade in the NFL say differently in some ways.

I figured WR Lee Mays and DB LaVar Glover would be late picks and that DE Brett Keisel would be an undrafted free agent.

Grade: B

Brett Keisel still plays for the Steelers. Great job scouting by Mel though. It's a good thing he doesn't get paid to be an expert. The Steelers got Chris Hope, Kendall Simmons, Antwaan Randle-El, Verron Hayes, Brett Keisel, and Larry Foote out of this draft. I think this is an "A" draft.

Houston Texans

The Texans had twelve picks and drafted David Carr first overall.

Carr now becomes the cornerstone of the Texans' franchise. He is a franchise-caliber quarterback with accuracy and velocity reminiscent of another No. 1 overall pick, Troy Aikman. Look what Aikman meant to Dallas. Carr is a major building block; with the right supporting cast, the rest could be history.

David Carr was history playing behind the Texans offensive line. 

OT Chester Pitts was a reach in the second round.

He started every game during his first seven seasons with the Texans. Granted, he was part of the offensive line that couldn't block for David Carr.

Grade: C

The Texans missed on the first overall pick and while they did draft Fred Weary and Chester Pitts, both of these guys were part of the offensive line that ruined Carr. The Texans had a lot of picks, but didn't do too much with them. You can't miss on the first overall pick. It's more of a "C-" draft based on the quantity of picks and lack of impact these picks made.

Indianapolis Colts

Grade: B-

Mel basically just said he liked how the Colts drafted for defense. The Colts drafted Dwight Freeney and David Thornton. Other than that, this draft is part of the reason the Colts "only" won one Super Bowl with Peyton Manning as their quarterback. It's hard to give a draft with Dwight Freeney a bad grade, but I'm going to do it. This is a "C" or "C-" draft in retrospect.

Jacksonville Jaguars

I am not too enamored with OT Mike Pearson, the second-round pick. He needs to become more aggressive and a better run blocker. He also lacks great feet. LB Akin Ayodele is a 'tweener who has not shown the speed and experience to warrant a third-round pick.

Mike Pearson wasn't great, but he did start 33 games for the Jaguars, while Akin Ayodele did show in the NFL he warrants a third round pick.

I had projected QB David Garrard in the fifth round, but the Jaguars took him in the fourth. He has a strong arm and runs like a fullback, but he needs more polish and consistency throwing the football.

Garrard ended up starting for the Jaguars when Byron Leftwich and doing a pretty good job.

Grade: C+

The Jags got John Henderson, Mike Pearson, Akin Ayodele and David Garrard with their first four picks, so that was pretty good. I have to be kind to them and think this is a "B" draft. They missed on all of their late picks, so maybe I am being too kind.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans drafted two guys named "Rocky" and one guy named "Tank" for the defensive side of the ball. Either they were trying to put together a team that sounds like "G.I. Joe" characters or they wanted toughness on their defense. 

DT Albert Haynesworth is a roll-the-dice pick. He could be a boom or a bust. He needs to gain sustained intensity and improve his technique to take advantage of his incredible athleticism at 6-foot-6, 320 pounds. He's a gamble on greatness, but the Titans needed a defensive tackle after losing Jason Fisk in free agency.

Albert Haynesworth turned into a boom-or-bust NFL player as well.

OG Jason Hartwig went where he was projected, as did WR Darrell Hill and DE Carlos Hall. Their late-round picks were all average.

I don't know who the hell "Jason Hartwig" is, but Justin Hartwig was not average. He started 79 out of 83 games in his NFL career, which isn't bad for a 6th round pick.

Grade: C

What do you know? A "C" grade from Mel. The Titans got Haynesworth, Hartwig, and Tank Williams from this draft and the "Rocky's" were just average. So maybe Mel was right. Squirrel. Blind Nut. Again.

Denver Broncos

They drafted WR Ashley Lelie, who is fast, angular and productive and gives Brian Griese yet another solid weapon. It looks as if Mike Anderson will be moving to fullback, so RB Clinton Portis, a second-rounder, should blend in well, especially with the halfback injuries Denver has had. DT Dorsett Davis made sense in the third round.

(Mel Kiper thinking) "Dorsett Davis played college football. It makes sense he got drafted. I better be sure to put this thought in my draft grades."

Grade: B

This wasn't a "B" draft. Ashley Lelie never really panned out (except for during the 2004 season) and the biggest contribution Clinton Portis made to the Broncos was to play well enough for the Broncos to trade him for Champ Bailey AND a second round pick. Otherwise, it was a pretty "blah" draft. I have to believe this is a "C," while acknowledging the Portis trade was a pretty good one for the Broncos.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs were bold in the first round.

And fortune favors the bold, right? That's what Gregg Easterbrook says, so it must be true. Well, not really.

They wanted DT Ryan Sims and moved up ahead of Minnesota to get him. Sims, an explosive player with excellent lower-body strength, fills a key need position.

Sims was a bust.

When you looked at the North Carolina defensive line, you wondered if the more destructive force was Peppers or Sims.

And the answer at the time, and in the NFL, was very, very clearly that Julius Peppers was the more destructive force.

LB Scott Fujita is a former safety with decent physical ability, but he is not great at reacting to the direction of the play.

Because Mel Kiper didn't really like Fujita, he just happened to be the best player out of this draft for the Chiefs.

Grade: C

The Chiefs missed on their first, second, and fourth round pick. Their best pick was a fifth round pick who played his best once he wasn't on the Chiefs team. You can't miss on your first three picks. This looks like an "F" draft to me.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders did a great job this year. They ended up with two impact defensive players in CB Phillip Buchanon and OLB Napoleon Harris. Buchanon is a dynamic cover man who also excels as a punter.

I told you that Mel Kiper LOVED Phillip Buchanon. He loves him so much that he is now making up talents that Buchanon has. He is a good punter? I don't recall Buchanon ever punting at the University of Miami. The Raiders did a pretty good job in this draft, but let's not make things up.

We'll have to see what QB Ronald Curry has as a seventh-round pick. Rich Gannon is getting older, Marques Tuiasosopo is entering his second seaso, and they still have Bobby Hoying.

Grade: A-

We all know if a team has Bobby Hoying then they don't want to draft over him or anything like that. Give Hoying a chance to show himself to be the Pro Bowl quarterback we all know he can be. Curry was eventually turned into a wide receiver. An "A-" seems a bit too much to me for this draft. The Raiders did well with their first two first round picks in the draft and did okay with their next two second round picks, but I expect more from them. I think this is a "B" draft because the Raiders had four of the first 55 picks and didn't get any players that really had a long-term impact for the team.

San Diego Chargers

Instead of drafting CB Quentin Jammer, I would have traded down and looked at Phillip Buchanon because they are basically equal in ability. Jammer is a good, but not great player. In other words, he is not Deion Sanders, Charles Woodson or maybe even Champ Bailey.

Again, Mel works out his obsession with Phillip Buchanon. Quentin Jammer wasn't Champ Bailey or Charles Woodson, but neither was Phillip Buchanon. So there's that.

I had WR Reche Caldwell rated higher than Jabar Gaffney, but he also must prove Florida receivers can succeed at high level in the NFL. TE Justin Peelle went a little early, but he is a clutch pass receiver.

Most of the clutch pass receivers tend to go a little later in the sixth round. That's the common time for "clutch pass receivers" to go. Whatever that is.

I like Seth Burford as a developmental quarterback. He has the arm, mobility, strength and size, but he is raw. The Chargers have to be patient with him.

Grade: B 

Give Mel a team with Seth Burford and Phillip Buchanon and start counting your Lombardi trophies. The Chargers managed to draft Jammer in the first round, Toniu Fonoti in the second round and find contributing players (to the Chargers and other teams) like Justin Peelle, Reche Caldwell, and Ben Leber later in the draft. Still, I can't quite shake the feeling they could have done better than they did with three picks in the first 48 picks of the draft. This feels much like a "B+" draft to me. Mel isn't giving Jammer enough credit and the Chargers did a good job of drafting talent (not including the infamous Seth Burford) later in the draft.

So there we go. Because Mel gave out 3 grades that aren't a "B" or a "C" then I think I will give him a "C+" for his draft grades. I figure he would like that grade since it is right between a "B" or a "C."


JBsptfn said...

Actually, I would give that draft a B+. Getting Portis helped them get the best defensive back ever in my opinion, Champ Bailey.

Also, Lelie did a decent job, Dorsett Davis may have been a good one if it weren't for injury, and they got three more solid contributors in S Sam Brandon, TE Jeb Putzier, and DE Monsanto Pope.

Snarf said...

He will step in at free safety and form an awesome, deep-patrol tandem with strong safety Darren Woodson. There may not be a bigger defensive difference-maker in the draft than Williams.

Other than Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers, but really, who is counting?

Or Ed reed

Bengoodfella said...

JB, that is true Portis helped them get Bailey. Lelie didn't do a terrible job, but I just thought it was a "C" draft considering they didn't end up with any long-term starters from the draft. If I factored in Bailey more then it probably grade from me.

Snarf, that comment on Roy Williams was kind of funny wasn't it? Even at the time I think Peppers was considered a bigger difference maker. Maybe Kiper was worried Peppers was too much an unknown.

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