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NFL announcing move: Gus Johnson moves to Fox

gus-johnson

Over the weekend, we posted the opening paragraphs of our comparison of new and moved announcers for the NFL 2011 season. This week, another couple of announcers moved, as Gus Johnson left CBS for Fox, where he will be teamed with Charles Davis on Fox’s growing college football coverage. Below are some thoughts on the move; the comparison will connect it to other announcing moves.

Gus Johnson has become the internet’s favorite announcer with his emphatic and enthusiastic style. Despite his popularity, though, Johnson’s 15 years at CBS never featured him moving up the ladder all that much. He was always fighting to be on a top-four team for CBS’s NCAA basketball tournament coverage, and Johnson worked with Steve Tasker on CBS’s No. 5 NFL team. Maybe it was too many Bills or Jaguars or Bengals games for Johnson – even though he called crazy plays like this year’s Jaguars Hail Mary or the crazy Brandon Stokely touchdown in 2009’s Week One. Now Johnson moves to Fox, where he will team with Charles Davis to become the network’s top college football voice. Davis, who called BCS games for Fox as well as working on the network’s No. 3 team for the NFL the past two seasons, isn’t flashy, but he’s a terrific analyst who will be a nice counterbalance to Johnson’s enthusiasm (much like Len Elmore has been during March Madness). Johnson and Davis will spend most of 2011 on FX, the Big Ten Network, and other lesser networks, but starting in 2012 they will be the featured voices for Fox’s Pac-12 coverage. They’ll also draw Big 10 and Pac-12 championship games in football and Pac-12 basketball tournaments. That means Johnson and Davis will see less NFL action, mainly at the end of the year. That leaves Dick Stockton and 2010 rookie Jim Mora without Davis, which should be OK, and could mean that a solid team like Thom Brenneman/Brian Billick or Sam Rosen/Tim Ryan moves up the ranks. Meanwhile, on CBS youngster Spero Dedes could step into the regular rotation as a play-by-play guy. Johnson and Davis spending most of their time on campus is the NFL’s loss, but it’s probably a good career move.

(One extraneous thought that I tweeted: Attention @nbaontnt – Gus Johnson is available for next year’s playoffs. And Dick Stockton even older for next year’s playoffs. Just sayin’)

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Filed under archive, Football Relativity, NFL announcers

FR: The 2011 NFL draft

Each year, we break down the NFL draft using our Football Relativity tool. Instead of giving grades, we compare teams to each other, with the teams that we feel did best in the draft landing on the 10 level and the teams we feel did poorly landing on the 1 level.

Remember that you can review the first round in our draft first thoughts, review our mock draft here, and see who won the Football Relativity draft contest here.

10  – Cleveland Browns – Two years ago, we pounded the Browns for trading down from the fifth overall pick and not getting good value. This year, the Browns tried a similar move, but they maximized their return by adding four picks – second- and fourth-rounders this year, plus first- and fourth-rounders in 2012. Those picks are a boon to a rebuilding team. Cleveland gave back one extra pick to trade up to get NT Phil Taylor, which might have been a bit of a reach but was at least an aggressive move to get a player who’s a rare commodity. It’s incredibly hard to find young nose tackles, so you can’t blame the Browns for paying to get one. Second-round DE Jabaal Sheard adds pass-rush punch to a defense that sorely needs it, while WR Greg Little becomes the most talented receiver on the roster and a guy capable of developing into a No. 1 wideout if his head is screwed on straight. Fourth-round TE Jordan Cameron is another high-potential player who comes with some risk. Cleveland added both depth and impact in this draft, and they are primed to do so in the 2012 draft as well. That’s a win-win that Browns fans should appreciate.

10 (con’t) – Indianapolis Colts – The Colts knew what they needed going into the draft — offensive linemen — and they met that need with good players. In the first round, polished OT Anthony Castonzo fell in their laps, and they took him. Castonzo may never be an otherworldly left tackle, but he fits the mold of a solid, dependable guy at the position for the next decade. That’s precisely what the Colts needed. Then in the second round, the Colts drafted Villanova’s Ben Ijalana, who is a little more physical and could fit at right tackle or at guard. Adding these two players will help the Colts right away. Third-round DT Drake Nevis also addresses a need if he can contribute to a rotation right away, while fourth-round RB Delonte Carter may replace the injury-prone Joseph Addai, who’s a free agent. The Colts didn’t try to get as fancy as they have in recent drafts, and the results should help them prolong their window as contenders. What else can you ask for?

9 – Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons made the big move of the draft, giving up five picks – including their first-rounder next year – to trade up from 27 to 6 to pick WR Julio Jones. Jones certainly fills a big-time need, as the Falcons have never had a strong complement to Pro Bowl WR Roddy White. If Jones can provide that, he will be a huge boon who’s probably worth the steep price. The move gutted the Falcons’ draft, so they didn’t get a ton of help elsewhere. ILB Akeem Dent could step in as a contributor, and fourth-round Jacquizz Rodgers could become a Darren Sproles type of contributor. And we’ve seen enough of seventh-round DE Cliff Matthews to know he has ability. Sometimes, teams need to be bold to get over the hump, and we admire the Falcons’ willingness to take that risk, even though it cost an arm and a leg.

9 (con’t) – Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs traded down in the first round and made the most of it. Moving down from 21 to 27 (which turned into 26 when the Ravens let the clock expire) allowed the Chiefs to add WR Jonathan Baldwin, an ubertalented prospect who had a dented reputation. Maybe Baldwin is a bit of a diva, but if the Chiefs can help Baldwin mature, they’ll get a terrific complement to Dwayne Bowe. And with the extra third-rounder they got from the Browns, the Chiefs added OLB Justin Houston, a first-round talent whose failed drug test at the combine knocked down his stock. Both players are risk, but they are high-end talents that can help the Chiefs continue moving upward. Second-round C Rodney Hudson is a safe player who adds depth to the inside of the line, while fifth-round QB Ricky Stanzi was a good value who could develop into a solid backup for Matt Cassel. The Chiefs got great value with their picks, and even though that took some risk, it’s worth it because the roster already had a lot of good players but not enough great ones.

9 (con’t) – Buffalo Bills – The Bills’ draft class isn’t eye-popping, but a team in dire need of talent added some. First-rounder Marcell Dareus will be a difference maker up front, and since Pete Borini approves of the move, we do too. Dareus immediately upgrades the roster. So does second-rounder Aaron Williams, a big corner who teams with third-round S Da’Norris Searcy to add depth and talent to a secondary that hasn’t performed well in recent years. ILBs Kelvin Sheppard (second-round) and Chris White (sixth round) could plug in as starters soon too. Buffalo didn’t spend a lot of picks on their massive offensive tackle need, but fourth-rounder Chris Hairston could emerge as a swing tackle right away, and seventh-rounder Michael Jasper is a small-school prospect who is quite raw but could turn into a home run. Buffalo didn’t get fancy in this draft, and as a result the roster is several measures better now than it was before the draft.

9 (con’t) – Houston Texans – The Texans are moving to a 3-4 defense, and so they spent much of their draft equity on improving the defense and especially their front seven. First-round DE J.J. Watt was probably the best 3-4 defensive end available, and he should step in as an immediate starter. Watt will be a solid if unspectacular player, and if he can become a Justin Smith/Aaron Smith type, the Texans will be thrilled. In the second round, the Texans added an outside linebacker in pass rusher Brooks Reed. Those two players join with Mario Williams and the rest of the Texans’ talent to give new coordinator Wade Phillips some tools. The Texans also addressed their major secondary needs by trading up to take CB Brandon Harris in the second round and then taking CB Rashard Carmichael and S Shiloh Keo down the line. Harris could combine with 2010 first-rounder Kareem Jackson to provide a young CB duo. The Texans also took a shot at developmental QB T.J. Yates in the fifth round, which could pay dividends via trade or as a backup down the line. The Texans drafted for need, but did so while still getting good value and some impact. Now it’s time for their defense to emerge as a dangerous unit a la the offense.

8 – Detroit Lions – Pundits are raving about the Lions’ draft, and there is certainly plenty to like. DT Nick Fairley was a top-10 talent who slipped to No. 13, and the Lions nabbed him to create chaos alongside 2010 first-rounder Ndamukong Suh. Two second-round picks, RB Mikel Leshoure and WR Titus Young, add explosiveness and depth to a burgeoning skill-position set. But the Lions didn’t get any help for their beleaguered secondary – passing on Prince Amukamara to get Fairley – and a dearth of picks (in part due to a trade up to get Leshoure) won’t help a team still building depth. The Lions got big impact, but this is a young team that needs depth just as much as it needs impact at this point.

8 (con’t) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – In 2010, the Buccaneers spent their first two picks on defensive tackles, stabilizing their line. This year, they used the same strategy at defensive end, adding Adrian Clayborn in the first round and then DaQuan Bowers when he fell in their laps in round two. Both players had physical questions – with Bowers’ knee being the most significant issue – but you simply can’t argue with the production Tampa Bay added. If one becomes a star, the Bucs will be happy, and they have the upside to have two terrific players. Third-round ILB Mason Foster and fifth-round S Ahmad Black could become contributors at areas of need, and fourth-round TE Luke Stocker has the ability to emerge as a starter in a couple of years. The Bucs used a good strategy early and got solid value late, and so while there’s a little risk injury-wise, they got quite a nice influx of talent.

8 (con’t) – Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals’ draft class looks safe, but they actually took perhaps the biggest risk of any team in the league by staying put at No. 35 overall in the second round and waiting on QB Andy Dalton to fall to them. Somehow, Dalton – the best quarterback on the board from No. 12 on – did fall in their laps, which is either extraorindary luck for or unbelievably good information gathering by the Bengals. Someday, I’d love to learn whether the Bengals were incredibly savvy or just extremely fortunate. New offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is apparently in love with Dalton, and with Dalton and WR A.J. Green, the Bengals are ready to start a new era. Dalton isn’t the most talented quarterback, but he’s smart as a whip and a fine leader, which are traits a QB needs. If he turns out to be Drew Brees-like, as the Bengals hope and as many analysts suggest, the Bengals got a steal. Green is an elite receiver a la Calvin Johnson, and he can be a game changer for the Bengals offense. Cincinnati also added a solid offensive lineman in Clint Boling, a fourth-rounder who could plug right in as a starter at guard. Cincinnati didn’t get much defensive help, but third-round OLB Dontay Moch was a good value who projects as a starter sometime soon. The Bengals weren’t aggressive in moving to get their guys, but they got them and therefore deserve props.

8 (con’t) – Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens had egg on their face after a botched first-round trade with the Bears, but while Baltimore didn’t pick up an extra fourth-rounder, they got their guy in CB Jimmy Smith. Smith is an elite talent with questionable character, but the Ravens locker room gives him a great chance to succeed. If he does, he’ll answer one of the biggest questions the Ravens have add over the years. Fifth-rounder Chykie Brown can also help at corner. The Ravens’ other big question over the years has been at receiver, and WRs Torrey Smith (second round) and Tandon Doss (fourth rounder) should help. Smith is a speedy outside guy who should improve on what Donte Stallworth offered last year, while Doss becomes more of a possession guy. If both hit, the Ravens’ passing game under Joe Flacco adds lots of punch. In the third round, the Ravens took OT Jah Reid, who could allow the Ravens to move Michael Oher back to right tackle and should allow the team to move on from Jared Gaither, which the team appears inclined to do. As usual, the Ravens come out of the draft with quite a nice haul.

8 (con’t) – St. Louis Rams – The Rams played the value game in the first round, picking DE Robert Quinn when he slipped to No. 14. At his best, Quinn can bring a pass-rushing presence that the Rams lack. That’s a worthy goal, and worth the first-round investment. The Rams then turned to added targets for QB Sam Bradford. TE Lance Kendricks, a second-rounder, is more of a Chris Cooley type of H-back, but he could team with 2010 rookie Michael Hoomanawanui to give the Rams a 1-2 punch there. Then the Rams took two wideouts, Austin Pettis and Greg Salas, who will compete with another 2010 rookie, Mardy Gilyard, to join Mark Clayton (expected to be re-signed) and Danny Amendola in the team’s top 3. Many of the draft analysts prefer Salas, who is more polished now, but Pettis could emerge as the kind of outside receiver the Rams currently lack. The skill-position investment will make or break this draft class, but there looks to be enough on board that the Rams will end up in the plus column.

7 – Carolina Panthers – The Panthers had the No. 1 overall pick, and they did what they had to do with it, picking QB Cam Newton to take a chance on greatness. Yes, it’s a risk, and Newton isn’t the kind of “clean” prospect that so many pundits endorse, but he has the chance to be incredibly good. The Panthers weren’t going to get this kind of quarterback anywhere else, so taking the risk on Newton was what they needed to do. Without a second-round pick, the rest of the Panthers’ draft looks thin. Third-round DTs Terrell McClain and Sione Fua need to step into the rotation immediately, while fourth-round CB Brandon Hogan could emerge as well. The Panthers did what they could after the Newton pick, but their boldness in being willing to take the quarterback buoys their draft grade.

7 (con’t) – New York Giants – The Giants took the value approach to the draft, picking CB Prince Amukamara and DT Marvin Austin because they were the best players on the board, not because they fit needs. That approach can work, because it’s the best way to add talent, and both Amukamara and Austin have the potential to become top-flight starters, if not all-pros. But neither of those players – nor third-round WR Jerrel Jernigan – addressed the Giants’ big need on the offensive line. Maybe fourth-round OT James Brewer emerges as a starter, and if so this draft can be great. But if not, you have to wonder if the Giants will regret not taking the Colts’ approach and draft for value within their needs.

6 – Green Bay Packers – As the Super Bowl champs, the Packers didn’t have high picks, but they added nice players throughout the draft. First-round OT Derek Sherrod joins ’10 first-rounder Bryan Bulaga as the tackles of the future, soon replacing aging stalwarts Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. Second-round WR Randal Cobb is a versatile player who will help replace likely departing free agent James Jones and keep the WR corps deep for Aaron Rodgers. RB Alex Green and TE D.J. Williams could also be nice offensive producers, while D.J. Smith and Rick Elmore will get a shot to emerge as under-the-radar pass rushers a la Desmond Bishop and Frank Zombo. The Packers didn’t get a ton of impact, but they got guys who fit the system well and who should see playing time within two years. That makes their draft a win.

6 (con’t) – Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers did their typical solid job at the end of the draft, adding players who will help at key positions. DE Cameron Heyward, the first-round pick, looms along with a former first-rounder, Ziggy Hood, as the eventual successors to Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel. Heyward will get time to develop, which is a good thing, but he may not make an immediate impact. Second-round pick OT Marcus Gilbert has a clearer shot to playing time if he can hold up on either side. Then the Steelers upgraded their secondary by taking CBs Curtis Marsh and Cortez Allen in the third and fourth rounds. Both need to move into the rotation to help a need area. And fifth-round OLB Chris Carter has potential as a pass rusher at a position where Pittsburgh often turns later-round picks into stars. The Steelers’ draft wasn’t sexy, but they addressed their needs with players who will get time to develop in a system that does a good job maximizing players.

6 (con’t) – New England Patriots – The Patriots entered the draft with double picks in the first three rounds, which gave them the opportunity to do something great in this draft. But the results were not great but good. Yes, the Patriots came out of the draft with extra first- and second-rounders in 2012, but the players they picked lacked great impact. First-round OT Nate Solder met a need, and he and Sebastian Vollmer will be the bookend tackles for the Pats for years to come. And second-round CB Ras-I Dowling joins a group of young, talented corners. But RBs Shane Vereen (second round) and Stevan Ridley (third round) look more like role players than bell cows, and QB Ryan Mallett (third round) is at best a backup quarterback who plays well enough in preseason chances to get traded in two years. Fifth-round OT Marcus Cannon is a big-time talent who’s a medical risk, but the Pats have enough picks to take such a risk. While this class will help, the Pats would have been better served in our opinion to take Atlanta’s approach and trade up for an impact guy or two. Instead, we’re left with a good class that fell short of what it could have been.

6 (con’t) – Jacksonville Jaguars – Unlike the Patriots, the Jaguars took chances in this draft by trading up to try to find elite talent. We’re not in love with Blaine Gabbert, but he has a far better chance of being a top-flight NFL quarterback than Jaguars incumbent David Garrard. Garrard isn’t terrible, but he’s basically an average NFL starter – about the 16th best in the league – and the Jaguars aren’t going to win big with him. So giving up a second-rounder to trade up and take Gabbert makes sense. If Gabbert can be a top-8 quarterback, which is possible, the Jaguars made the right move. The Jaguars also traded up in the third round to take OG Will Rackley, a small-school player who projects as a early starter. Jacksonville also added badly needed secondary help in S Chris Prosinski and CB Roderick Isaac and a developmental receiver in Cecil Shorts. So the Jaguars met some needs, but Gabbert is the headline of this draft. While he’s not a sure thing, he gives the Jaguars upside they didn’t have before. For that reason, we admire the risk they took.

5 – Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles make a habit of stockpiling draft picks, and they used those picks in this draft to address specific needs. First-rounder Danny Watkins and late-rounders Julian Vandevelde and Jason Kelce add depth and talent to the offensive line, while second-round S Jaiquawn Jarrett and third-round CB Curtis Marsh will help in the secondary. The one luxury pick was fourth-round PK Alex Henery, but having a lot of picks allows the Eagles to replace David Akers with an elite prospect. It’ll be interesting to see if the Eagles can develop LB Casey Matthews into an impact player and whether the failure to pick a defensive lineman comes back to bite them.

5 (con’t) – Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys made no secret of their affinity for OT Tyron Smith, a young prospect from USC who has immense potential. If Smith becomes a lockdown left tackle, this draft class will be an unqualified success, but even if Smith struggles to adjust to the NFL, he can plug in at right tackle and be an upgrade over Marc Colombo. OG David Arkin could also emerge as a starter, which woudl further address the Cowboys’ biggest need area. Second-round LB Bruce Carter is recovering from injury but has high upside as an impact inside linebacker. Dallas also added skill-position talent in RB DeMarco Murray, FB Shaun Chapas, and WR Dwayne Harris, but only fifth-round CB Josh Thomas addresses secondary concerns. Still, the Cowboys invested heavily in helping the offensive line, and if those picks pan out, the draft will be a win. 

5 (con’t) – San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers went with a boom or bust approach to the draft, taking talented but unpolished pass rusher Aldon Smith in the first round (earlier than many expected) and then trading up in the second round to get QB Colin Kaepernick. Both Smith and Kaepernick are physical freaks who aren’t ready for the NFL grind yet but who have enough intrinsic talent to become superstars. If both hit, this draft class becomes the building block for a 49ers renaissance. The Kaepernick trade limited the 49ers’ picks down the line, but that’s worth it for a QB of the future. Third-round CB Chris Culliver addresses a need area, and fourth-round RB Kendall Hunter adds needed depth behind stalwart Frank Gore. The 49ers may not see many dividends from this class in 2011, but it’ll be fascinating to see just how close Smith and Kaepernick can come to living up to their potential promise.

5 (con’t) – Denver Broncos – Denver had strong defensive needs and addressed them in this draft. However, picking OLB Von Miller over DT Marcell Dareus was a quizzical move. Miller is the better pass rusher, but Miller doesn’t dovetail with the 4-3 system new head coach John Fox wants to run. Of course, the Broncos can cater their system to feature Miller, and Miller may be worth such an investment. But that puts a lot of pressure on a rookie. S Rahim Moore, a second-rounder, should step right in, while fellow second-rounder Orlando Franklin will join a line that’s mismatched because the Broncos have switched systems three times in the last four years. Denver has big-time needs, and the players they got should help. But we’d feel much better about the future had the Broncos chosen Dareus over Miller.

5 (con’t) – Arizona Cardinals – The Cards made the strategic decision that they wanted to add a veteran quarterback to 2010 rookies John Skelton and Max Hall, which set them up to pass on Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, and the like and instead take CB Patrick Peterson with the fifth pick. Peterson is a fine player who’s not unlike ex-Card Antrell Rolle, although Peterson has better coverage skills and could stick at corner. He’ll help the Cardinals, even though he’s not at a position of glaring need. But after Peterson, the Cardinals’ draft was uninspiring. Second-round RB Ryan Williams can play, but he doesn’t have a clear path to contribution. Third-round TE Robert Housler is talented but raw. If those guys find their way into the lineup, or if later-round guys like OLB Sam Acho and ILB Quan Sturdivant exceed their draft position, the Cardinals will look great. But our sense is that this draft class is not great but just OK.

5 (con’t) – New York Jets – The Jets entered the draft short-handed because they had dealt their second-rounder for CB Antonio Cromartie. But they still did a good job addressing needs at two positions, the defensive line and wide receiver. Defensive line was the more pressing need, and first-rounder Muhammad Wilkerson is a terrific prospect to succeed Shaun Ellis as a two-way threat at defensive end. Third-rounder Kenrick Ellis is versatile enough to play on the nose or the end, which will let the Jets shape their rotation the way they want. Both should help immediately. At wide receiver, where the Jets’ top three options are all free agents, the team added depth in fifth-rounder Jeremy Kerley and seventh-rounder Scotty McKnight. And as they always do, whether they need to or not, the Jets picked a running back, fourth-rounder Bilal Powell. This is a solid class that’s held back only by the lack of early-round picks.

4 – Washington Redskins – The Redskins didn’t like any of the quarterbacks in this draft, so instead of being aggressive to draft one, they went in with a strategy to stockpile picks. That philosophy is fine, and it will help a roster that needs depth, but it doesn’t appear that the Redskins added much impact in the draft. First-round OLB Ryan Kerrigan should be a solid player, but does he have enough pass-rush skill to take pressure off of Brian Orakpo? That’s the difference between a solid starter, which is what Kerrigan looks like to us, and a big-time player. Second-round DE Jarvis Jenkins is a nice player at a need area, so that pick makes sense. The Redskins also addressed their anemic WR corps with third-rounder Leonard Hankerson (a fine value), fifth-rounder Niles Paul, and sixth-rounder Aldrick Robinson. Hankerson has starting ability, and Paul adds size to a smurfish unit, while Robinson is an Anthony Armstrong clone who could find playing time. The Redskins also added RBs Roy Helu and Evan Royster, productive big-college players who could jump right in for a coach in Mike Shanahan who knows how to find mid-round runners. So even if the depth approach works as the Redskins planned, it didn’t cover all of the Redskins needs, which makes us wonder whether adding extra late-round picks was really worth it.

4 (con’t) – San Diego Chargers – The Chargers addressed one of their biggest needs in the first round with DE Corey Liuget, who may not be a prototypical 3-4 defensive end but who should provide a little more impact at that position than the typical plugger. Second-round CB Marcus Gilchrist is a big player with pretty good coverage skills who could play outside or at safety. He and third-round CB Shareece Wright provide depth at an area that has thinned ou in recent years. Many analysts panned the second-round selection of LB Jonas Mouton, who wasn’t rated nearly that highly, but he fits a need area at inside linebacker. Third-round WR Vincent Brown, a local product, and sixth-round RB Jordan Todman add some punch. The Chargers also tried to draft players who succeeded on special teams, which was the team’s downfall last year. Maybe there’s not great upside in this draft class, but there’s pretty good depth thanks to five picks in the first three rounds. That depth is something that had leaked away from the Chargers in recent years, so the approach will help.

4 (con’t) – Oakland Raiders - The Raiders never get good draft grades because they don’t try to play the draft game. They take the players they want and make sure they get them, regardless of what the perceived draft value of the players are. And while that’s not a popular strategy, it has worked for the Raiders, who actually have a pretty deep roster of talent on board. The Raiders love speed, and third-round CB Demarcus Van Dyke and fifth-round RB Taiwan Jones have it in spades. Second-round C Stefen Wisniewski (nephew of Raiders legend Steve) and third-round OT Joe Barksdale address a need area, and while they aren’t physical freaks like 2010 picks Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell, Veldheer’s emergence (in particular) allowed the Raiders to add solid if not spectacular guys at that position. Cornerback was another need, so Van Dyke and fourth-rounder Chimdi Chekwa are need picks too. For a team without a first-round pick (it was traded for Richard Seymour), the Raiders hit on their needs. Regardless of the perceived value, they did just fine.

4 (con’t) – Tennessee Titans – The Titans took a big swing in the first round, taking QB Jake Locker. Locker is a physical freak who never fully played up to his talent in college, but he has a ton of talent and a strong desire to succeed. His performance will make or break this draft. In the second round, the Titans added OLB Akeem Ayers, who could become a playmaking guy a la Keith Bulluck. He and fourth-rounder MLB Colin McCarthy upgrade what used to be a strength for the Titans. Tennessee also spent picks up front in third-round DT Jurrell Casey and late-rounders Karl Klug and Zach Clayton. Now they must show they can develop linemen as well as they did when DL coach Jim Washburn was in Music City. The Titans added talented guys in Locker and Ayers, but they must coach them up for this draft to end up looking good.

3 – Chicago Bears – Strangely, the Bears’ draft is defined more by the snafu of their aborted first-round trade with Baltimore than by the fact that Chicago got its man in OT Gabe Carimi. GM Jerry Angelo hasn’t done well at all with his first-round offensive line picks in Chicago, but the fact that OL coach Mike Tice fell in love with Carimi speaks well of him. The Bears also traded up to add DT Stephen Paea, a strong player who will provide stability against the run. The question on Paea is how much pass rush he can provide as the Bears seek to replace the injury-plagued Tommie Harris. Because they traded up for Paea, the Bears had few other picks. Third-round safety Christopher Conte could step in and play. The Bears probably need all three picks to emerge as solid starters for this draft to keep their positive 2010 momentum going.

3 (con’t) – Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins, who traded their second-rounder as part of the Brandon Marshall deal, were chasing picks throughout the draft, and the result is a thin class that doesn’t address all that many needs. First-rounder Mike Pouncey will step in and start on the interior of the offensive line, which was a big problem last year, so even if he was a minor reach in terms of value, he’s a good player and a great fit. After picking Pouncey, Miami dealt away its third- and fifth-round picks to take RB Daniel Thomas at the end of the second round. Thomas is a good enough runner, but unless he is significantly better than the rest of the rookie class, the trade-up was a poor use of resources.

2 – New Orleans Saints – The Saints were set up to have a great draft after DE Cameron Jordan fell into their laps at No. 24 in the first round. But instead of being content with that serendipity, the Saints decided they had to have RB Ingram, and so they gave up their first-rounder next year to get him. Making such an investment – especially when solid runners Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory are in place – seems impetuous. After that, the Saints did OK, especially with third-round OLB Martez Wilson, who should become a starter. But the Ingram move was far too expensive for our tastes and especially for the player.

2 (con’t) – Seattle Seahawks – It’s easy to pan the Seahawks’ draft class because it didn’t fit the value charts. But Seattle obviously came into the draft to address a specific offensive line need. First-round James Carpenter likely fits at  right tackle, while third-rounder John Moffitt projects as a guard. While those aren’t always high-round positions, since the Seahawks have OLT Russell Okung and C Max Unger in place, the plan does make some sense. Seattle had to trade out of the second round to replace the pick they gave up for QB Charlie Whitehurst, and that limited the ability to add top-flight talent in the draft. OLB K.J. Wright doesn’t fit a need area, but fellow fourth-rounder WR Kris Durham could. The Seahawks seemed to draft more for need than for talent, and it doesn’t appear their roster is strong enough to merit that approach. But if the needs are filled capably, the Hawks will be justified.

1 – Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings went boom or bust from the beginning of the draft by taking QB Christian Ponder with the 12th pick. Ponder has lots of talent, but he had trouble staying healthy, and some analysts don’t like the way he reacts to pressure in the pocket. If Ponder turns into a good starter, the Vikings will have the last laugh, but we don’t see that happening. Second-round pick TE Kyle Rudolph is a talented player who struggled with injuries last year, and he doesn’t fill a specific need. But the Vikings are an aging team that needs a talent infusion, so we’ll give the pick a thumbs-up just on that basis. DT Christian Ballard, a fourth-round pick, could be a steal who can help replace Pat and Kevin Williams, but Ballard’s positive drug test at the combine is a question mark. Still, in the fourth round there wasn’t a more talented player available. If Ponder and Ballard are both hits, this will be a great draft class, but that combo seems like a long shot to us.

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The 2011 Football Relativity Draft Contest winner

As we work on our full breakdown of the 2011 NFL draft, we want to take a moment to congratulate the winner of the first ever Football Relativity Draft Contest. The contest, which called on entrants to answer 10 questions, featured many entrants answering with great success. But only one entrant got all 10 questions right. Pete Borini of Clifton Park, New York, correctly predicted that the first round would feature four QBs, 12 DTs, and also was the only entrant to guess that Aldon Smith would be drafted before Tyron Smith.

Marcell Dareus with Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix, owner Ralph Wilson, and coach Chan Gailey, via daylife.com

Congrats to Pete. His Football Relativity T-shirt is in the mail. And in his honor, we’re featuring a photo of his favorite team’s first pick – Marcell Dareus of the Buffalo Bills.

Thanks to everyone who participated. We’ll play again next year.

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Deja Vu – Evaluating the 2011 Football Relativity mock draft

Before we evaluate our a mock draft, a few notes:
*Check out the first-round draft thoughts for a division-by-division and team-by-team roundup of the first round, and the Football Relativity Twitter feed for initial thoughts on the weekend events. We’ll wrap everything draft-wise up next week.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, here are the first-round results, compared to what we predicted. As you can see, we hit seven picks dead on, including the Jake Locker longshot. We also had 29 of the 32 first-rounders correct.

1. QB Cam Newton, Panthers – as predicted

2. OLB Von Miller, Broncos – predicted 3rd, off 1

3. DT Marcell Dareus, Bills – predicted 2nd, off 1

4. WR A.J. Green, Bengals – as predicted

5. CB Patrick Peterson, Cardinals – predicted 7th, off 2

6. WR Julio Jones, Falcons – predicted 14th, off 8

7. OLB Aldon Smith, 49ers – predicted 17th, off 10

8. QB Jake Locker, Titans – as predicted

9. OT Tyron Smith, Cowboys – as predicted

10. QB Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars – predicted 5th, off 5

11. DE J.J. Watt, Texans – predicted 18th, off 7

12. QB Christian Ponder, Vikings – predicted 25th, off 13

13. DT Nick Fairley, Lions – predicted 6th, off 7

14. DE Robert Quinn, Rams – predicted 10th, off 4

15. C Mike Pouncey, Dolphins – as predicted

16. DE Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins – predicted 23rd, off 7

17. OT Nate Solder, Patriots – predicted 19th, off 2

18. DE Corey Liuget, Chargers – predicted 22nd, off 4

19. CB Prince Amukamara, Giants – predicted 13th, off 6

20. DE Adrian Clayborn, Buccaneers – as predicted

21. DT Phil Taylor, Browns – predicted 28th, off 7

22. OT Anthony Castonzo, Colts – predicted 12th, off 10

23. OG Danny Watkins, Eagles – predicted 27th, off 4

24. DE Cameron Jordan, Saints – predicted 11th, off 13

25. OT James Carpenter, Seahawks – not predicted in first round

26. WR Jonathan Baldwin, Chiefs – not predicted in first round

27. CB Jimmy Smith, Ravens – predicted 26th, off 1

28. RB Mark Ingram, Saints – not predicted in first round

29. OT Gabe Carimi, Bears – predicted 21st, off 8

30. DE Muhammad Wilkerson, Jets – as predicted

31. DE Cameron Heyward, Steelers – predicted 32nd, off 1

32. OT Derek Sherrod, Packers – predicted 31st, off 1

Had in first round, but still on the board: DaQuan Bowers (16th), Andy Dalton (24th), Akeem Ayers (29th)

So there you go. We had direct hits at 1, 4, 8, 9, 15, 20, and 30, (for a total of 87 points under our scoring system) and also correctly matched Jimmy Smith with the Ravens (which would have been 26 more points if not for the Ravens’ passing on a pick). We missed five more players by single spots.

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Deja Vu – Evaluating the 2010 Football Relativity Mock Draft

Before we evaluate our a mock draft, a few notes:
*Check out the first-round draft thoughts for a division-by-division and team-by-team roundup of the first round, and the Football Relativity Twitter feed for initial thoughts on the weekend events. We’ll wrap everything draft-wise up next week.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, here are the first-round results, compared to what we predicted. As you can see, we only hit seven picks dead on, including the first six. That’s my best stretch to open a draft since 1998.

1. QB Sam Bradford, Rams– as predicted

2. DT Ndamukong Suh, Lions – as predicted

 

3. DT Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers – as predicted

4. OT Trent Williams, Redskins – as predicted

5. S Eric Berry, Chiefs – as predicted

6. OT Russell Okung, Seahawks – as predicted

7. CB Joe Haden, Browns – predicted 10th, off 3

8. LB Rolando McClain, Raiders – predicted 15th, off 7

9. RB C.J. Spiller, Bills – predicted 7th, off 2

10. DT Tyson Alualu, Jaguars – predicted 27th, off 17

11. OT Anthony Davis, 49ers – predicted 23rd, off 12

12. RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers – predicted 20th, off 8

13. DE Brandon Graham, Eagles – predicted 16th, off 3

14. S Earl Thomas, Seahawks – predicted 19th, off 5

15. DE Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants – predicted 13th, off 2

16. DE Derrick Morgan, Titans – predicted 8th, off 8

17. OG Mike Iupati, 49ers – predicted 18th, off 1

18. OG Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers – predicted 24th, off 6

19. OLB Sean Witherspoon, Falcons – predicted 29th, off 10

20. CB Kareem Jackson, Texans – predicted 30th, off 10

21. TE Jermaine Gresham, Bengals – as predicted

22. WR Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – predicted 11th, off 11; predicted to correct team

23. OT Bryan Bulaga, Packers – predicted 17th, off 6

24. WR Dez Bryant, Cowboys – predicted 14th, off 10

25. QB Tim Tebow, Broncos – not predicted in first round

26. DT Dan Williams, Cardinals – predicted 12th, off 14

27. CB Devin McCourty, Patriots – not predicted in first round

28. DE Jared Odrick, Dolphins – predicted 25th, off 3

29. CB Kyle Wilson, Jets – predicted 28th, off 1

30. RB Jahvid Best, Lions – not predicted in first round

31. DE Jerry Hughes, Colts – predicted 22nd, off 9

32. CB Patrick Robinson, Saints – not predicted in first round

So there you go. We had direct hits at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 21, while missing two players by one spot and another two by two spots. We also correctly matched Demaryius Thomas with the Broncos. Overall, we hit 28 of 32 first-rounders, including the first 24.

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Deja vu – Evaluating the FR mock draft

Before we evaluate our mixed bag of a mock draft, a few notes:
*We’ve updated the trades and swaps post with the two player-related trades from this weekend’s draft. (In case you missed it, three players moved from the Jets to the Browns in the Mark Sanchez deal, and the Pats dealt Ellis Hobbs to the Eagles.) That post is now final, and we’ll start a new one for deals between now and the beginning of the season if there are any.
*Check out the first draft thoughts and second draft thoughts on the draft. We’ll do a relativity post comparing all 32 teams to each other later this week, but we want to be thorough with that one.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, here are the first-round results, compared to what we predicted. As you can see, we only hit three picks dead on, but we were one or two picks away on a bunch of other guys.

1. QB Matthew Stafford, Lions – as predicted

2. OT Jason Smith, Rams – as predicted

3. DE Tyson Jackson, Chiefs – predicted 9th, off 6 spots

4. OLB Aaron Curry, Seahawks – predicted 3rd, off 1 spot

5. QB Mark Sanchez, Jets – predicted 4th, off 1 spot

6. OT Andre Smith, Bengals – predicted 7th, off 1 spot

7. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders – predicted 17th, off 10 spots

8. OT Eugene Monroe, Jaguars – predicted 6th, off 2 spots

9. DT B.J. Raji, Packers – predicted 12th, off 3 spots

10. WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers – predicted 5th, off 5 spots

11. DE Aaron Maybin, Bills – predicted 16th, off 5 spots

12. RB Knowshon Moreno, Broncos – predicted 26th, off 14 spots

13. DE Brian Orakpo, Redskins – predicted 11th, off 2 spots

14. CB Malcolm Jenkins, Saints – predicted 8th, off 6 spots

15. OLB Brian Cushing, Texans – predicted 14th, off 1 spot

16. OLB Larry English, Chargers – predicted 23rd, off 7 spots

17. QB Josh Freeman, Buccaneers – predicted 22nd, off 5 spots

18. DE Robert Ayers, Broncos – predicted 13th, off 5 spots

19. WR Jeremy Maclin, Eagles – predicted 10th, off 9 spots

20. TE Brandon Pettigrew, Lions – predicted 28th, off 8 spots

21. C Alex Mack, Browns – not predicted in first round

22. WR Percy Harvin, Vikings – not predicted in first round

23. OT Michael Oher, Ravens – predicted 15th, off 8 spots

24. DT Peria Jerry, Falcons – predicted 21st, off 3 spots

25. CB Vontae Davis, Dolphins – predicted 29th, off 4 spots

26. OLB Clay Matthews, Packers – predicted 27th, off 1 spot

27. RB Donald Brown, Colts – not predicted in first round

28. C Eric Wood, Bills – not predicted in first round

29. WR Hakeem Nicks, Giants – not predicted in first round

30. WR Kenny Britt, Titans – not predicted in first round

31. RB Chris Wells, Cardinals - as predicted

32. DT Evander Hood, Steelers – predicted 30th, off 2 spots

So there you go. We had direct hits at 1, 2, and 31, while missing five other players by one spot and another two by two spots. Overall, we hit 26 of 32 first-rounders, which is OK but not great. I thought those centers and wide receivers would last until the early second round. Of the 6 guys who I put in the first round who didn’t get drafted there, five went in the first 11 picks of the second round, and the last went at No. 54 overall. So there were no complete embarrassments there.

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Deja Vu Mock Drafts – 2008

Just to add (or subtract) from my credibility, I’m posting past mock drafts. Here are my versions from 2008.
Mock Draft
As of 4.16.08

1. Miami – OT Jake Long, Michigan
2. St. Louis – DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU
3. Atlanta – QB Matt Ryan, Boston College
4. Oakland – DE Chris Long, Virginia
5. Kansas City – OT Ryan Clady, Boise State
6. New York Jets – RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas
7. New England (from San Francisco) – DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State
8. Baltimore – OG-OT Branden Albert, Virginia
9. Cincinnati – DT Sedrick Ellis, USC
10. New Orleans – LB Keith Rivers, USC
11. Buffalo – WR Devin Thomas, Michigan State
12. Denver – OT Ryan Clady, Boise State
13. Carolina – DE Derrick Harvey, Florida
14. Chicago – RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon
15. Detroit – CB Leodis McKelvin, Troy
16. Arizona – CB Aqib Talib, Kansas
17. Minnesota – OT Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh
18. Houston – RB Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois
19. Philadelphia – OT Gosder Cherilus, Boston College
20. Tampa Bay – CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Arkansas State
21. Washington – DE Philip Merling, Clemson
22. Dallas (from Cleveland) – WR Limas Sweed, Texas
23. Pittsburgh – DT Kentwan Balmer, North Carolina
24. Tennessee – DE Calais Campbell, Miami
25. Seattle – OT Chris Williams, Vanderbilt
26. Jacksonville – DE Lawrence Jackson, USC
27. San Diego – LB Jerod Mayo, Tennessee
28. Dallas – RB Felix Jones, Arkansas
29. San Francisco (from Indianapolis) – CB Mike Jenkins, South Florida
30. Green Bay – TE Dustin Keller, Purdue
31. No pick (New England)
32. New York Giants – LB Dan Connor, Penn State

feel free to check this after the draft and make fun of how i did…
Mock Draft
As of 4.25.08

1. Miami – OT Jake Long, Michigan (signed)
2. St. Louis – DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU
3. Atlanta – QB Matt Ryan, Boston College
4. Oakland – RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas
5. Kansas City – DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State
6. New York Jets – DE Chris Long, Virginia
7. New England (from San Francisco) – DT Sedrick Ellis, USC
8. Baltimore – OG-OT Branden Albert, Virginia
9. Cincinnati – DE Derrick Harvey, Florida
10. New Orleans – LB Keith Rivers, USC
11. Buffalo – WR Devin Thomas, Michigan State
12. Denver – OT Chris Williams, Vanderbilt
13. Carolina – OT Ryan Clady, Boise State
14. Chicago – OT Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh
15. Detroit – RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon
16. Arizona – CB Leodis McKelvin, Troy
17. Kansas City (from Minnesota) – OT Gosder Cherilus, Boston College
18. Houston – RB Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois
19. Philadelphia – CB Aqib Talib, Kansas
20. Tampa Bay – LB Jerod Mayo, Tennessee
21. Washington – DE Philip Merling, Clemson
22. Dallas (from Cleveland) – WR Limas Sweed, Texas
23. Pittsburgh – DT Kentwan Balmer, North Carolina
24. Tennessee – CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State
25. Seattle – QB Chad Henne, Michigan
26. Jacksonville – OT Sam Baker, USC
27. San Diego – WR DeSean Jackson, California
28. Dallas – RB Felix Jones, Arkansas
29. San Francisco (from Indianapolis) – CB Mike Jenkins, South Florida
30. Green Bay – CB Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech
31. No pick (New England)
32. New York Giants – S Tyrell Johnson, Arkansas State

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Deja Vu Mock Drafts – 2007

Just to add (or subtract) from my credibility, I’m posting past mock drafts. Here are my versions (along with follow-up thoughts) from 2007.

NFL mock draft, try 1

 OK, those who know me or hear me in my occasional cameos on ESPN 1400 know I’m a football geek, so I figured I’d go ahead and post my first take at a mock draft for this year. Enjoy…

1. OAK – QB JaMarcus Russell
2. DET – OT Joe Thomas
3. CLE – QB Brady Quinn
4. TB – WR Calvin Johnson
5. ARIZ – DE Gaines Adams
6. WASH – DE Jamaal Anderson
7. MINN – DT Amobi Okoye
8. ATL (from HOU) – S LaRon Landry
9. MIA – CB Leon Hall
10. HOU (from ATL) – OT Levi Brown
11. SF – LB Patrick Willis
12. BUFF – RB Adrian Peterson
13. STL – DT Alan Branch
14. CAR – DE Adam Carriker
15. PITT – LB Lawrence Timmons
16. GB – RB Marshawn Lynch
17. JAX – LB Paul Posluszny
18. CIN – TE Greg Olsen
19. TENN – WR Dwayne Bowe
20. NYG – WR Ted Ginn Jr.
21. DEN – DE Jarvis Moss
22. DALL – CB Darrelle Revis
23. KC – WR Dwayne Jarrett
24. NE (from SEA) – CB Aaron Ross
25. NYJ – DE Anthony Spencer
26. PHIL – OG Justin Blalock
27. NO – CB Chris Houston
28. NE – S Reggie Nelson
29. BALT – WR Robert Meachem
30. SD – S Michael Griffin
31. CHI – OT Joe Staley
32. IND – DB Eric Weddle

NFL mock draft, take 2

 

Here’s take 2, 1 week out…

1. OAK – QB JaMarcus Russell
2. DET – WR Calvin Johnson (Johnson goes 2 in a trade)
3. CLE – QB Brady Quinn
4. TB – DE Gaines Adams
5. ARIZ – OT Joe Thomas
6. WASH – OT Levi Brown
7. MINN – S LaRon Landry
8. ATL (from Hou) – DT Amobi Okoye
9. MIA – CB Leon Hall
10. HOU (from Atl) – RB Adrian Peterson
11. SF – LB Patrick Willis
12. BUFF – CB Darrelle Revis
13. STL – DE Jamaal Anderson
14. CAR – DE Adam Carriker
15. PITT – LB Jon Beason
16. GB – WR Ted Ginn Jr.
17. JAX – S Michael Griffin
18. CIN – LB Paul Posluszny
19. TENN – WR Robert Meachem
20. NYG – DT Alan Branch
21. DEN – LB Lawrence Timmons
22. DALL – CB Aaron Ross
23. KC – WR Dwayne Bowe
24. NE (from Sea) – OT Joe Staley
25. NYJ – TE Greg Olsen
26. PHIL – DE Jarvis Moss
27. NO – CB Chris Houston
28. NE – WR Anthony Gonzalez
29. BALT – OG Ben Grubbs
30. SD – WR Dwayne Jarrett
31. CHI – DE Anthony Spencer
32. IND – CB Eric Wright

how did i do?

 

OK, time for a little self-evaluation. Here’s my mock draft from last week and what actually happened…

1. OAK – QB JaMarcus Russell – dead on
2. DET – WR Calvin Johnson (Johnson goes 2 in a trade) – no trade but dead on
3. CLE – QB Brady Quinn – Quinn went 22, but I got the team right
4. TB – DE Gaines Adams – dead on
5. ARIZ – OT Joe Thomas – actually went 3
6. WASH – OT Levi Brown – actually went 5
7. MINN – S LaRon Landry – actually went 6
8. ATL (from Hou) – DT Amobi Okoye -actually went 10
9. MIA – CB Leon Hall – actually went 19
10. HOU (from Atl) – RB Adrian Peterson – actually went 7
11. SF – LB Patrick Willis – dead on
12. BUFF – CB Darrelle Revis – actually went 14
13. STL – DE Jamaal Anderson – actually went 8
14. CAR – DE Adam Carriker – actually went 13
15. PITT – LB Jon Beason – actually went 25
16. GB – WR Ted Ginn Jr. – actually went 9
17. JAX – S Michael Griffin – actually went 19
18. CIN – LB Paul Posluszny – actually went 2nd round
19. TENN – WR Robert Meachem – actually went 27
20. NYG – DT Alan Branch – actually went 2nd round
21. DEN – LB Lawrence Timmons – actually went 15
22. DALL – CB Aaron Ross – actually went 20
23. KC – WR Dwayne Bowe – dead on
24. NE (from Sea) – OT Joe Staley – actually went 28
25. NYJ – TE Greg Olsen – actually went 31
26. PHIL – DE Jarvis Moss – actually went 17
27. NO – CB Chris Houston – actually went 2nd round
28. NE – WR Anthony Gonzalez – actually went 32
29. BALT – OG Ben Grubbs – dead on
30. SD – WR Dwayne Jarrett – actually went 2nd round
31. CHI – DE Anthony Spencer – actually went 26
32. IND – CB Eric Wright – actually went 2nd round

At PFW, we had a competition where you got points if you got the right person in the right spot. Under that system, I had 1+2+4+11+23+29, which is 70 points, a good total. I also hit 27 of 32 first rounders, which I feel pretty good about. So at the least, it’s not embarrassing.

Woo-hoo for me. (that’s sarcasm, folks)

draft – who i liked

 

Since I’m going to be on ESPN 1400 tomorrow to talk draft, I thought I’d share the teams who I liked in the draft

(you can listen to 1400 AM in Spartanburg 5/1 at 3:40 p.m. to hear me…)

The top 8, in alphabetical order:

ARIZONA — (Key picks: OT Levi Brown, DT Alan Branch, LB Buster Davis, WR Steve Breaston) Got productive guys from big colleges; Branch has top-10 talent and could become cornerstone of Arizona’s D

ATLANTA — (Key picks: DE Jamaal Anderson, OT Justin Blalock, CB Chris Houston) Got 2 first-round values in the 2nd round in Blalock and Houston

CAROLINA — (Key picks: LB Jon Beason, WR Dwayne Jarrett, C Ryan Kalil, DE Charles Johnson) The 2 second-rounders look like steals. Their trade-down from 14 to 25 was savvy because the board dropped off at 14 except at CB, which wasn’t their need area. Beason is a solid player who could help outside or in the middle if Dan Morgan gets hurt again. Jarrett is Keyshawn Johnson’s clone and potential replacement. Kalil is just a center, which is the reason he fell, but his presence allows the Panthers to upgrade at C and RG, which were trouble spots last year. Johnson is a talented DE who can apprentice for a year behind Mike Rucker before stepping in. 2 other picks, KR Ryne Robinson and TE Dante Rosario, provide depth at key areas. The one thing they didn’t get was a safety, unless 7th-rounder CJ Wilson steps up.

INDIANAPOLIS — (Key picks: WR Anthony Gonzalez, OT Tony Ugoh, CB Daymeion Hughes) Maybe my favorite draft. Gonzalez will step in for Brandon Stokely immediately as the 3rd wideout and could replace Marvin Harrison eventually. I liked him just below Bowe and Meachem, ahead of the others in that group. Ugoh is a good value pick, and Hughes is a steal at a need position.

MINNESOTA — (Key picks: RB Adrian Peterson, WR Sidney Rice, CB Marcus McCauley, WR Aundre Allison) Their offense will undoubtedly get better with Peterson and Rice, who should be more productive than his rating. McCauley was a great value as well.

OAKLAND — (Key picks: QB JaMarcus Russell, TE Zach Miller, DE Quentin Moses, WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, RB Michael Bush) Had a lot of picks and used them well for a change. Moses and Bush were first-round talents who fell because of inconsistency and injury, respectively, but if the Raiders hit on either, this draft is great value. I also liked them taking a shot on Mike Williams in a trade from the Lions. (Remember, new coach Lane Kiffin was Williams’ offensive coordinator at USC.)

SAN DIEGO — (Key picks: WR Craig Davis, S Eric Weddle, LB Anthony Waters) I don’t know about Davis, who may be a reach but at least is at a need position. But Weddle was a good player to target at one of their few need positions, and Waters will be a really good pro if he can come back from his ACL injury.

SAN FRANCISCO — (Key picks: LB Patrick Willis, OT Joe Staley, WR Jason Hill, DE Ray McDonald) This team on the rise decided to go for it this year with several aggressive and promising moves. Willis should step in and start right away. Staley cost them next year’s 1st-rounder, but if he can start at OLT he’s worth it. Hill and McDonald were good value picks. But maybe the best move was trading for WR Darrell Jackson, who immediately becomes their No. 1 and fills a huge need.

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