How to assess this draft? I give the first-round run of seven offensive tackles an A, but beyond that letter grades are out, groupings are in. These are the teams that got me thinking.
DRAFTING FOR NEED, AND WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?
Bengals: Start with the finest and most dedicated LB, Keith Rivers. Third-rounder Patrick Sims is a 310-pound DT who'll shore up the middle. WRs Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell help cover the loss of Chris Henry and the moods of Chad Johnson.
Cowboys: Breathtakingly fast RB Felix Jones will team with Marion Barber. Mike Jenkins, a quality CB, will pair with Terence Newman. Martellus Bennett, an athletic TE, will replace Anthony Fasano (traded to Miami). Tashard Choice, a serious banger, provides still more backfield depth.
Giants: Talented S Kenny Phillips neatly fills the hole left by the departure of Gibril Wilson. The off-season loss of two LBs is covered by an athletic pair of 245-pounders, Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff.
Jaguars: To beat the Colts, you have to get at Peyton Manning. The first two picks went for edge rushers Derrick Harvey and Quentin Graves, though trading up 18 spots, to No. 8, for Harvey was a bit of a reach.
Patriots: Linebacking corps aging? Plug in top pick Jerod Mayo, 242 pounds, 4.54 in the 40. Mourning the loss of CBs Asante Samuel and Randall Gay? Here's second-rounder Terrence Wheatley.
Saints: They wanted to trade up for their most pressing need, a big, quick defensive lineman, notably Glenn Dorsey. Sorry, price was too high, so they took LB Sedrick Ellis. Believe me, they will not regret it. Second-round CB Tracy Porter (4.37) helps the secondary get speedier.
WAIT A MINUTE
Bears: Enemy offenses run over a Chicago D built for speed rushing. Rex Grossman loses WRs Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad. So the first two picks are a smooth, athletic T, Chris Williams, and a grind-it-out RB, Matt Forte. One QB among 12 picks would have helped.
Broncos: They had trouble stopping the run, remember? Well, first-rounder Ryan Clady is a very functional T, but they didn't take a big defensive guy, DT Carlton Powell, until round 5.
Chiefs: The names will knock you out: DT Glenn Dorsey, OL Branden Albert, CB Brandon Flowers, 6' 8" TE Brad Cottam. Two questions: How do you cover the loss of All-Pro DE Jared Allen (traded to Minnesota)? Do you really have a QB who can get you through a season?
Redskins: Secondary's creaking, D-line needs help. So the first four picks go WR, TE, WR, G? Yes, Devin Thomas might be the best wideout in the draft, and Malcolm Kelly is a good possession man, but...
Panthers: John Fox is a tough guy. The first round brought pounding RB Jonathan Stewart and hard-nosed T Jeff Otah. Later came no-nonsense CB Charles Godfrey and solid ILB Dan Connor.
Buccaneers: The No. 1 pick, CB Aqib Talib, likes to get in people's faces, which Jon Gruden doesn't mind at all. Then comes little WR Dexter Jackson, who runs a 4.33. Speedy and annoying, that's Tampa Bay.
Dolphins: The nine picks average 6' 3", 275, and at the top are 6' 7", 315 T Jake Long; 6' 5", 272 pocket-collapsing DE Phillip Merling and 6' 2", 225 QB Chad Henne, with a rifle arm. Bill Parcells likes 'em big.
Cardinals: The top pick, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, is a terrific cover guy, but second-round DE Calais Campbell didn't reach his potential and third-round WR Early Doucet had a nagging groin injury.
Ravens: Up and down the draft order they went until big Joe Flacco, the Delaware QB, fell into their laps. To make things interesting they grabbed RB Ray Rice, the greatest Rutgers player since Paul Robeson.
QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY
49ers: I guess this is a way of saying that after top pick Kentwan Balmer, the late-blooming DT, and G Chilo Rachal, the roughneck second-rounder, none of the Niners' other selections thrilled me.
Bills: Leodis McKelvin is a top-flight CB but an even better return man. QB Trent Edwards asked for a big target -- how about 6' 6", 220-pound WR James Hardy?
Packers: Some interesting choices among nine picks, but two QBs? We can understand Brian Brohm, but why Matt Flynn?
Texans: Should have been loading up on pass-protecting lineman from the franchise's start, and now they finally get one -- a finesse guy, T Duane Brown.
Rams: DE Chris Long makes sense. And so does beefy G John Greco, the third-rounder. But who insisted on WR Donnie Avery at No. 33 with better wideouts on the board?
I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE...
Eagles: Trevor Laws, the second-round DT, show the world that a great run-plugging lineman is just as valuable as a sack artist.... Donovan McNabb get a look at second-round WR DeSean Jackson's 4.35 speed.
Steelers: First-round RB Rashard Mendenhall carrying the ball in relief of Willie Parker. . . . Big Ben playing skyball with 6' 4", 212-pound WR, Limas Sweed, the second-round pick.... Classy fifth-round QB Dennis Dixon coming in for a few of those Kordell Stewart numbers.
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