The 2010 NFL draft wound down to a close a few minutes ago, and I have to say, there were some real reaches in the 225th round. Peyton Manning's first-born male child? Sumo yokozuna Hakuh? Sh?? Russian big game hunter, Vladimir Putin? C'mon, people. At least draft some prospects from your high school's ninth-grade football team. Hail alma mater!
I kid, of course. The three-day format of the draft actually made the whole thing a lot easier to digest. Sure, you might have been cheated out of your annual Saturday draft party, but unless you're a fan of the Broncos, Bills or Bears, there was at least something to cheer about in this draft.
Obviously, there is plenty of fantasy impact coming out of this draft, not just from the rookie skill players, but the consequences of, say, some genius move like the 49ers taking two offensive linemen in the first round. Loved that. Let's take a look at all the consequences, and assign some random and semi-informed grades to suss out the perceived winners and losers of this draft.
Because it's always more fun to kick 'em when they're down, we'll go worst to best.
Denver Broncos: F-
This was just insane. Josh McDaniels must have a giant pair and faith in his coaching staff that is unwarranted just yet. The Broncos used their two first round picks on players that have to be taught to play their positions at the pro level. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has the measurables to be a gritty, Marques Colston-type player, but he comes from a system at Georgia Tech where he wasn't running anything resembling a traditional route tree. He needs about two years to learn that stuff, but the Broncos need him to produce immediately. I'm also a long-time connoisseur of the Tim Tebow Hater-Ade. My question for McDaniels is, do you think that in ignoring your most immediate needs, you'll be around in Denver in three years to see if Project Tebow comes to fruition? Moreover, if it doesn't (which it won't), should you be fired with extreme prejudice? Beyond these two enormous mistakes, the makeover of the offensive line continued, which hopefully will help Knowshon Moreno.
Chicago Bears: F
What a horrible stroke of luck to give up a second-round pick for defensive end Gaines Adams. This low grade doesn't reflect that, but it sure doesn't help. Most of these picks, which skewed heavily towards defense, won't turn around the fortunes of this lackluster unit. None of them add to the IDP luster of Brian Urlacher, Lane Briggs, or Julius Peppers, either.
Buffalo Bills: F+
The Bills did little to either fill their needs or improve their franchise. With huge needs at offensive tackle and quarterback, they took running back C.J. Spiller in the first round, when Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch were already on the roster. Ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, though: Spiller will be a decent mid-round fantasy pick if one of those guys is traded. Otherwise, he won't see the ball enough to be a consistent contributor, and will get mutilated due to the lack of blocking when he does.
Carolina Panthers: D-
It just doesn't make much sense for a team light on picks to draft three quarterbacks. Jimmy Clausen fell into their laps in the second round, when he was projected by many as a Top 10 selection. It's a nice pick, and he has a good shot to beat out incumbent Matt Moore, but rookie QBs have no real fantasy value. The goodwill from that pick was immediately neutralized by giving up a 2011 second-rounder for Armanti Edwards, who will probably play a little regular QB, a little Wildcat QB, and a little WR. Although WR Brandon LaFell's hands are inconsistent, he's better than the other would-be No. 2 WRs currently on the roster. Consider him a sleeper opposite Steve Smith.
New Orleans Saints: D
In addition to turning water into wine, Breesus is apparently now capable of turning raw prospects into starters at positions where the Saints are overloaded. New Orleans straight up drafted on potential, ignoring their needs at linebacker and pass rusher. Cornerback Patrick Robinson and defensive tackle Al Woods have decent shots to contribute in a rotation, but that's about it. Zero fantasy value involved in the Saints draft, at least until basketballing TE Jimmy Graham learns how to play football and becomes the next Tony Gonzalez/Antonio Gates. He's the low-post version of Onome Ojo, Saints fans...
Jacksonville Jaguars: D+
The Jags upgraded their defensive front seven with DTs Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith, as well as draft-day acquisition MLB Kirk Morrison. Throw in DE Aaron Kampman, and that lineup sounds pretty good on paper. Of course, the Jaguars defensive unit always sounds good on paper, yet inevitably falls short. The secondary is still weak, and Jacksonville shouldn't be counted on as a fantasy defense unless they're playing Buffalo or Detroit.
Kansas City Chiefs: D+
Hooray for you, Kansas City! You drafted the guy many think is the best player in the draft, safety Eric Berry. On the down side, the rest of your draft was a snoozer. Offensive guard Jon Asamoah was a nice get, but tackle was a much bigger need, and not addressed. The pick of 170-pound RB Dexter McCluster was confusing, as the Chiefs immediately said he'd play WR. Huh? Goofy proclamations like that make me highly suspect of a player's fantasy value.
Green Bay Packers: C-
Getting an offensive tackle, Bryan Bulaga, to upgrade the line helps all of Green Bay's skill players, particularly RB Ryan Grant and WR Greg Jennings. Grant is a borderline RB1 with some improved blocking up front. Better blocking could also help restore Jennings' value by allowing QB Aaron Rodgers the time to wait for Jennings to break open on his preferred deep routes. The lack of additions at CB in this draft makes me leery of Green Bay's value as a fantasy defense, no matter what last year's overall numbers say. That pass defense fell apart down the stretch, and it's unlikely CB Al Harris will come back from his November ACL tear in time for the season opener.
Miami Dolphins: C-
The Dolphins draft was pretty boring all around. They improved their defensive front seven with DT Jared Odrick and OLB Koa Misi, but those weren't the positions of greatest need on that side of the ball. Don't look for much of anything fantasy-wise from this group, particularly with the losses of Jason Taylor and Joey Porter. The story in Miami is still the acquisition of WR Brandon Marshall.
Washington Redskins: C-
The Redskins aren't keen on building through the draft, so it's no surprise they were just okay in filling their holes. OT Trent Williams fits their zone-blocking scheme and will certainly contribute to keeping Donovan McNabb healthy. Williams is only one guy though, so it's hard to view this Redskins draft in a positive light, because none of their other picks generate much heat.
Dallas Cowboys: C-
WR position? Check. Immense football potential? Check. Maturity issues? Check. Wide receiver Dez Bryant is Jerry Jones' ego-driven dream pick, and a direct response to Jones' oft-stated big regret: the failure to pick Randy Moss because of character issues. Maybe now he can sleep at night. Until Bryant blows up in Jones' face though, he'll bring quite a bit to the Cowboys WR corps. The talent is certainly there, but there are only so many balls to go around in Dallas. Don't expect Bryant to step in and immediately be a fantasy stud. At absolute best, he's their third receiving option .The Cowboys didn't do much to address their offensive line needs, and that could adversely affect their offense as a whole.
Cincinnati Bengals: C-
The Bengals might as well be the Communist Party of Ohio, considering all the red flags with their draft picks. While tight end Jermaine Gresham has loads of talent and fills a perennial need, he is recovering from a blown knee. Considering the Bengals almost never throw the ball to their TEs, Gresham has far too much risk without enough potential reward. Let someone else make that mistake. WR Jordan Shipley could bring some value in the slot, but he has to win that job from Andre Caldwell first. It was an underwhelming draft for everyone except the Cincinnati police department and local orthopedic surgeons.
Indianapolis Colts: C-
While the offensive line probably should have been addressed earlier, you can't really fault the Colts for going heavy on defensive picks. OLB Jerry Hughes will work into the pass rush rotation, playing off Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. He could be an interesting late pick in IDP leagues. None of the other picks bring much to the table in fantasy terms, though you can almost guarantee CB Kevin Thomas will get some playing time with the lack of secondary depth.
Minnesota Vikings: C
CB Chris Cook is a decent player at a position of need, so good marks for that pick. He could help Minnesota up their interceptions, which is one of the few areas where an improvement could turn them into a proper fantasy defense. The pick of RB Toby Gerhart is a weird one, because he's not really a complement to Adrian Peterson, capable of spelling him on third downs. Gerhart is a big, hard-nosed banger who will take some of the heat off Peterson on first and second downs. He's a definite handcuff for Peterson, but don't expect much from him initially, unless "All Day" becomes "Every Other Weekend." The lack of a future quarterback is the biggest downgrade on Minnesota's draft.
St. Louis Rams: C
Steven Jackson is a happy guy after St. Louis' draft. QB Sam Bradford will obviously need some seasoning, but he's better than anything the Rams have trotted out recently. Once again, rookie QBs don't contribute much in fantasy, but he upgrades the position, and therefore the players around him. Second-round OT Roger Saffold also helps out an offensive line that actually looks pretty good now. Feel good about taking S-Jax as your first pick.
Tennessee Titans: C
Not a big surprise that the Titans went heavy on defense, but the pieces they got weren't really enough to turn them into a group you'd bother with on draft day. DE Derrick Morgan is a solid all-around player, not some pass-rushing beast, so the odds of him putting up big sack numbers are long. WR Damian Williams is a polished, pro-ready player, who could be just what Vince Young needs. That said, we've been fished in by USC receivers too many times before, so look for some proof of his skills before you believe in this potential sleeper.
Cleveland Browns: C
With CB Joe Haden and safety T.J. Ward in the fold, along with new acquisition Sheldon Brown, the Browns defense gets an upgrade from "gut-wrenching" to "mildly nauseating." RB Montario Hardesty is worth a late flyer in your draft, but his ability to bang the ball inside is trumped by his inability to stay healthy. Buyer beware. I actually like the Colt McCoy pick in about two years.
San Diego Chargers: C+
RB Ryan Mathews is immediately the starter at this early stage, and you have to like his prospects. Straight from the mouth of Norv Turner: "I would expect Ryan to have 250 carries and 40 catches, something like that." Bang! Fourth round fantasy pick. That said, the Chargers probably should have picked some offensive linemen to help out Mathews. I like what ILB Donald Butler and DT Cam Thomas bring to the San Diego defense, but the unit is still a little too thin in the secondary to consider them in your draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C+
The Bucs centered on the biggest holes on their roster, defensive line and WR, picking multiple players at those positions. DTs Gerald McCoy and Brian Price immediately upgrade one of the league's worst rush defenses, but not nearly enough to make that group interesting to fantasy owners. With word that grossly overpaid WR Michael Clayton is probably on his way out, it's entirely likely that second-rounder Arrelious Benn and fourth-rounder Mike Williams will be the starting WRs on opening day. Suddenly, every fantasy defense that plays the Bucs next season just got upgraded. If you're feeling frisky, you could do worse than taking a late flier on one or both players.
Atlanta Falcons: B-
Atlanta had the Saints offense in mind in this draft. The defensive front seven was upgraded with OLB Sean Weatherspoon, and while IDP leaguers might initially be interested, Weatherspoon is better in coverage than rushing the passer. The Falcons did a good job of filling some of their needs on the offensive line, and DT Corey Peters is a nice addition to the line rotation.
New York Jets: B-
With the first-round pick of CB Kyle Wilson, the already impenetrable Jets pass defense just gave an entirely new meaning to the term "lock down." Expect them to be a ferocious team defense. On the flip side, the release of guard Alan Faneca is not mitigated by raw but talented second-round pick and Brighton Beach club bouncer Vladimir Ducasse. Expect the Jets rushing game to take a step backwards. In the same vein, Leon Washington was traded, and his replacement, Joe McKnight, might offer some value down the road.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B
The Steelers had a bunch of extra picks, and hit most of their needs. Maurkice Pouncey immediately upgrades a shoddy offensive line and helps out Rashard Mendenhall's value. Slot WR Emmanuel Sanders is an interesting player to keep in mind for a mid-season acquisition, once Ben "She Said No" Roethlisberger returns to the lineup. The bounty of defensive players headed to Pittsburgh fall in the "long-term replacement" category. RB Jonathan Dwyer might vulture some TDs from Mendenhall, so consider him with a late pick if your league is TD heavy.
Houston Texans: B
Hard to find a ton of fault with Houston's picks. CB was a big need, and Kareem Jackson helps out with that. The big fantasy story in the "City of Syrup" is Ben Tate being delivered the starting RB job on a platter. Tate is hard to knock down, and is an above-average receiver. With all the questions surrounding Steve Slaton, I'm currently targeting Tate as a mid-round pick with the potential for RB2 numbers in the Houston offense. Don't be surprised if Tate becomes a very big deal. Jump on the train early; you don't want to be in the caboose with Arian Foster again.
Arizona Cardinals: B
The Cardinals wanted to shore up the defensive front seven, and they did a pretty good job of it. DT Dan Williams will soak up blockers, while OLB Daryl Washington is tearing after opposing passers. It's probably a bit much to expect Arizona to contribute to your roster as a fantasy defense, but Washington definitely has me interested in IDP leagues.
New York Giants: B
The Giants needed to go heavy on defensive picks, and they did just that. They upgraded the defensive line with DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Lindval Joseph, who can contribute to the pass rush and run stuffing, respectively. When coupled with the upgrade at safety with Chad Jones, the Giants are a sleeper fantasy defense. Inside linebacker is still a question; fourth round pick, Phillip Dillard was drafted to fill the hole, but health is an issue with him.
San Francisco 49ers: B
This draft might not have filled all of San Francisco's needs, but I absolutely love them taking two badly needed offensive linemen in the first round, Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati. Frank Gore is very comfortable as a fantasy first rounder with these two acquisitions. Consider handcuffing RB Anthony Dixon to Gore. While he's not a complementary back to Gore, Dixon is an absolute monster running between the tackles, and will pick up the slack when Gore inevitably misses games.
Baltimore Ravens: B+
As per usual, another good draft from Ozzie Newsome. While the need at cornerback wasn't addressed, Baltimore hit all their other holes, and with style. The defensive front seven was upgraded dramatically with OLB Sergio Kindle and DT Terrence Cody. Expect the sacks to pile up. Look for TE Ed Dickson to step in and contribute early, after Todd Heap's annual dislocated spleen or pulled gooch or whatever exciting new way he'll discover to injure himself. If your draft roster is big enough to allow for a backup TE, Dickson has tons of upside.
New England Patriots: A-
Yawn ... the Patriots had another great draft. The linebacker corps was upgraded, courtesy of Urban Meyer. Florida 'backers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes improve a Patriots weakness, while CB Devin McCourty improves a mediocre pass defense. Look for the Patriots to make for a respectable fantasy defense next season. Don't get overly excited about tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. They're both good players, but Tom Brady doesn't really throw to his TEs on a consistent basis, and these guys have similar games. I can't forget to mention punter Zoltan Mesko, who sounds like either a Soviet-era villain from a James Bond movie or the scientific name of a crotch fungus.
Detroit Lions: A-
With this positive review of Detroit's draft, the Matt Millen era is officially buried. The Lions did a good job of addressing their many needs as best they could. Ndamukong Suh helps the defense out, but not nearly enough to draw fantasy notice. OT Jason Fox brings some needed help to the line, but the headliner here is Jahvid Best. He's got health issues, but with Kevin Smith recovering from a late-season ACL tear, Best will start the season as Detroit's RB. Snatch him up in the middle rounds of your draft, and he will pay immediate dividends as a RB2/3.
Philadelphia Eagles: A
The Eagles had about 74 picks, so they couldn't help but fill nearly all of their needs. They went big on the pass rush, and got a gem in defensive end Brandon Graham. Playing opposite Trent Cole (who has to be doubled), Graham will have tons of opportunities for sacks. Take note, IDP leaguers. Free safety Nate Allen is just the kind of center fielder that can help the Eagles return to prominence as a fantasy defense. I'm bullish on the prospects of this unit. On offense, tough guy WR Riley Cooper is a great fit in Philadelphia's offense, and could quickly earn a job working the short zones that Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are too good to dirty their manicured hands with. Keep an eye out for RB Charles Scott, a between-the-tackles mauler that might help you out in a pinch at that spot mid-season.
It shouldn't come as a shock that in the year after Hell froze over and the Saints won the Super Bowl, the Raiders finally had a good draft. Expectations are diminished where Raiders draft picks are concerned, but they did an outstanding job by any measure. They traded Morrison and will replace him with first-round thumper Rolando McClain. DT Lamarr Houston will also help a Raiders defense that isn't so far away from generating some fantasy interest. They upgraded the offense immensely with the Jason Campbell acquisition. Suddenly, Raiders WRs are worth a fantasy pick! TE Zach Miller and WR Louis Murphy definitely get big bumps up. Well done, Crypt Keeper.
Seattle Seahawks: A+
Count me among the Pete Carroll bandwagon-jumpers. Russell Okung fills a Walter Jones-sized hole at left tackle, while safety Earl Thomas upgrades one of the league's worst secondaries. I still wouldn't touch the Seattle defense, but points for upgrading the unit. Golden Tate could step in and contribute immediately at wide receiver opposite T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and might be worth a late fantasy pick. Lumping in two trade acquisitions at running back, LenDale White and Leon Washington, and the Seahawks become a big story going into the summer.