Nearly a week after the draft it seems a good time to reflect.
The kind of money that has been thrown around this season is set to top $600 million and even in the best drafts [ the 1983 draft for example contained John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino] there are never 32 successful picks.
I am in no way comparing the 2009 draft to the 1983 draft, in fact quite the opposite; this year’s draft did not have enough star players. Don’t take my word for it though, Bill Belichick, Head Coach of the New England Patriots, when asked if he was trading up in this year’s draft he quipped “and who exactly would I be trading up for”.
The Patriots have stock piled 2010 draft picks, seen to be a better draft, and traded down several times, as did the Cleveland Browns. Belichick is the best drafter in the business and so it is useful to listen to him, even if his past methods are unorthodox.
In fact, the two teams deemed to have the best drafts are the Cleveland Browns [who traded down as well] and the Houston Texans .This because they picked solid players, not superstars. The Browns first round pick was a Center and the Texans did not pick a Wide Receiver, Running back or Quarterback in the draft, relying rather on undrafted rookies for those positions.
The team [and not for the first time] to be seen to have the worst draft are the Oakland Raiders, they passed on Michael Crabtree, seen by many as the best wide receiver in the draft for Darius Heward-Bey, a speedster and a big risk. What makes this worse is that Crabtree eventually fell to the San Francisco 49ers, so now he is only across the bay and the Raiders are just a short bridge ride away from the future superstar they passed on. In the second round they picked Michael Mitchell, who was not in any draft guide and raised a fair few eyebrows with pundits in America.
Another big risk is taking a quarterback with the first overall pick. For ever Manning brother there is a Tim Couch or Alex Smith and with 6th round Super Bowl winners such as Tom Brady available it can be a huge coup or a huge risk. Matthew Stafford, No.1 pick for the Detroit Lions is now the highest paid player in the NFL with $41.7 million in guaranteed money, twice what Eli Manning received in his rookie deal from the Giants just five years ago. Eli Manning has won a Super Bowl whilst Stafford has yet to throw a football in anger.
For what its worth, and it’s not much, my picks for the top draft picks are as follows
Mark Sanchez, QB – New York Jets: An expensive price to pay for a face of a franchise, but will sell shirts and club seats for the new stadium in 2010.
Michael Crabtree, WR – San Francisco 49ers: I truly believe the drafted Crabtree to annoy the Raiders; they just need to find someone to throw to him now.
Brian Cushing, OLB – Houston Texans: Leader of the USC defense in college, which sent 4 Line Backers to the draft, Will become the leader of this young, emerging defense
Knowshon Moreno, RB – Denver Broncos: The Broncos fired long-time coach Mike Shanahan at the end of last season and replaced him with Ex-Patriots Offensive Co-ordinator Josh McDaniels and after trading disgruntled Quarterback Jay Cutler they need a boost and this is it, the best running back in the draft.