This past weekend marked the annual NFL Draft, the draft consists of seven rounds where NFL teams choose players from the collegiate level for a chance to play on their squad. Generally the players in rounds 1-5 make the team and compete for a spot to play, players in the later rounds rely on their ability but also need a sprinkle of luck for a chance to play. Some of the best players in the league today have come from the 6th and 7th round, but the majority of players who make a difference on their team are drafted on day 1. I love the draft though, especially back in the day when I would go over to my grandparents house, and all the guys would kick back and relax, while eating home-made wings with different sauces. Todd, Jason, Gooze, Joe and I sat an entire day watching each pick, and pondering what the upcoming season would be like with the rookies (with ranch dripping down our faces).
Generally I enjoy watching the first round to see all the up and coming players and all their combine numbers, and the highlights of the college career. I am no expert but I usually mumble comments as teams pick certain players. This draft was no different, when the Raiders were up to pick at the 7 spot, they elected to go with a WR out of Maryland, Darrius Heyward-Bey — who Mel Kiper had rated as the #30 best player on the board. The guy is fast, but he was honorable mention in the ACC, now time will only tell if he will pan out, but Al Davis, are you serious? Michael Crabtree, one of the most prolific college football players ever to play the game was still on the board and rated by many as the best player in the draft. Who knows, the guy could be a bust...but if I'm paying someone 60 million dollars, he certainly should be a little better than honorable mention in the ACC. Then as if the first pick wasn't bad enough, they end up selecting a safety, Michael Mitchell, who didn't even have video, the guy was rated 70 out of 72 safeties in the draft and the raiders took him with their second pick. Sigh. 0-16 for the raiders??? Anyway, I'd like to reflect a little on the packers draft, which I was thoroughly impressed with.
Ted Thompson isn't your typical GM, he allowed Favre to leave the packers, he rarely makes free-agent moves but I will say, his crackerjack way of improving the team through the draft is quite stellar. Nick Collins and Greg Jennings, both have outperformed projections and both went to lower end schools. Neither of them were highly rated but good ol' Ted took a chance and has reaped the benefits. I hope that his unique approach to this years draft will work out like it has in the past.
With their first pick, 9th overall, they selected B.J. Raji out of Boston College. After watching highlights and listening to analysts, he seems to be the real deal. With a healthy Justin Harrell and the packers changing to a 3-4 I think he can be a huge force on the inside, a Gilbert Brown type of player. With their second pick, they traded a 2nd round, and two 3rd rounders to move up to the 26th pick to nab Clay Matthews III out of Southern Cal, who I think might be one of the biggest surprises of next year. He can flat out fly as a linebacker and his ball-hawking ability will fit-in nice with the likes of A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett next to him as well as Aaron Kampman coming off the outside. With the rest of their picks, they picked up two nice offensive lineman that can step in right away, a solid fullback from LSU, and a few more defensive players to fill in some holes and provide some depth on special teams. Overall, I felt good with this years picks, and I really think the packers have something to prove next year. They have one of the youngest teams in the draft and Aaron Rodgers will continue to improve on a great first year performance.
A few other notes about the draft: I thought the Redskins got a steal with Orakpo, he looks like he'll be a force for many years on the outside and hopefully will provide some defensive improvement to the redskins poor defensive line. Teaming up with Haynesworth could create some havoc and leave many of the opposing teams QB's on their butts. I also was impressed with the Dolphins taking a risk on Pat White, I think he'll turn out to be a good fit with their wishbone style of play.
Some other notable players that I think will do good, Mark Sanchez(best QB in the draft IMO), Patrick Chung, the safety out of Oregon — went to the pats. Michael Oher out of Ole Miss (awesome story about him growing up) and Jeremy Maclin from Mizzou going to the Eagles, I hope all the rookies do well, but as you all know, there will be plenty of busts, just hopefully not any on the packers :)
Only time will tell how these new young bucks will do.