NFL Draft Winners And Puzzlers

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - May 09, 2007
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Here’s yet another worthless draft critique - figuring this can’t be any worse than the 100 you’ve already read.

Deja vu all over again

After three straight seasons picking a wide receiver near the top of the draft, there was no way the Lions would make Calvin Johnson the fourth at the position in five years. That’s exactly what they did. It sounds crazy, but it might just work. Lions’ president, CEO and fan pin cushion Matt Millen was smart - yes, we realize how strange that sounds - to realize that he couldn’t let prior failure affect future considerations. If that were the case, the only position Detroit could draft with any hint of certainty would be at running back. The Lions were not able to work a deal with Tampa for their first and two seconds, and with no other unquestioned star in the draft, Detroit went for it. Risky, yes, but one that should give the Lions the best receiving corps in the league along with Roy Williams (82 catches, 1,310 yards) and Mike Furrey (98, 1,086). Of course, they did nothing to improve on the 63 sacks it gave up a year ago, which means Jon Kitna will have a lot of people to throw to if he has time to throw.

Filling needs?

A year ago, with a young, talented, beaten-up quarterback, the Houston Texans decided to forgo any thoughts of protecting their pocket investment and instead drafted a talented pass rusher with a questionable work ethic. Maybe the idea was to show David Carr that he wasn’t the only one taking a beating. Fast forward a year. Carr is now in Carolina, and hotshot former backup Matt Schaub is the next great signal caller. With a line that is still pathetic, the Texans grabbed Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye with their first pick. They followed that up with a wide receiver, a cornerback and a safety before grabbing two guards in rounds five and six. Meanwhile, the athletic former tight end Joe Staley goes to the 49ers at No. 28.

Caught Reaching

Miami was in desperate need of a quarterback, and when a potential No. 1 pick and possible future franchise QB fell into their lap at No. 9, the Dolphins did what any well-run team would do: Take a wide receiver. While Ted Ginn possesses rare speed and can turn around a game in an instant, he is undersized and needs to work on his route running and pass catching. He’ll make an immediate impact as a returner once healthy, but they still over-reached and it wasn’t the only time. Taking Nate Ilaoa’s backup in the sixth round was another head scratcher. They had four picks remaining and could have signed him as a free agent.

Well done

Even if Arizona’s second-round choice of a 330-pound break dancer turns out to be a disappointment, it was still a fruitful two days. Alan Branch slid from a probable top 10 pick to the second round because no one felt safe that he would show up for every play. If he does, the Cardinals may have gotten the best linemen in the draft. If he does-n’t, he’s still pretty good. Leonard Davis’ departure created a need at left tackle to protect Matt Leinart’s blind side and open holes for Edgerrin James. What they got was Levi Brown, a four-year starter at Penn State who should have the job for a number of years. Wide receiver/kick returner Steve Breston could be a steal in the fifth round.

Although we had to wait hours for the golden boy to get drafted, the Cleveland Browns pulled off one heck of a coup by trading up to nab Brady Quinn at 22. Quinn’s questionable play in big games no doubt cost him, but it’s hard to imagine getting better preparation than from Charlie Weis. Add in future Pro Bowl tackle in Joe Thomas at No. 3 and the Browns may have laid the foundation to long-term success.

Big winner

The University of Hawaii. OK, this may be a bit of a homer pick, but come on. Five players drafted and another five invited to camps and the mid-major school from the crappy conference is suddenly on everyone’s radar. Ikaika Alama-Francis and Samson Satele were no-brainers and find themselves in the best situations. Miami has holes in the line to fill and Alama-Francis has a head coach with a D-line pedigree. Melila Purcell had better numbers that Ikaika, Dan Uperesa should have been drafted, Nate Ilaoa could become Philly’s newest cult hero if he keeps his weight down, and no one will work harder for the Jets than Leonard Peters. Nice job, guys.

On a personal note: As a Lions fan, I say welcome Ikaika, congratulations and we’re sorry. Don’t expect 11 win-seasons for a while. If ever.

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