After handing out 2009 NFL Draft team grades to the beasts of the AFC East, it’s time to evaluate how the AFC North’s quartet did last weekend.
Best: Paul Kruger, DE, Utah
Kruger is an elite defensive end with high intensity. He brings versatility and power on either side, as well as solid coverage ability, if used as a linebacker. He should be able to become what Jarrett Johnson never could.
Worst: Davon Drew, TE, East Carolina
Todd Heap is often injured and hasn’t been himself the past two years, but Drew isn’t the answer at tight end, either. He’s athletic and skilled, but doesn’t have enough experience to expect a smooth transition. It’s unlikely he ever makes a huge impact.
Steal: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
Oher was a first round talent that shouldn’t have dropped to the 23rd pick, and could end up being one of the best linemen to come out of this draft. He’s a remarkable player and person, and has all the tools to excel in the NFL. While a first rounder usually isn’t a steal, Oher’s potential to blossom into a stud tackle will have the Buffalo Bills regretting passing him up.
Baltimore landed two huge impact players in Kruger and Oher, and also added a solid corner prospect in Lardarius Webb. Like usual, the Ravens know when and where to nab good defensive players, and this draft should help keep them in the division title hunt for years to come.
Best: Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
The Bengals got what I feel is the true steal of the draft, because Maualuga represents everything a middle linebacker, let alone a defender, should be. His physicality and passion is unmatched, while he also possesses ideal athleticism and speed. He needs to work on his tackling and positioning, but that isn’t anything Marvin Lewis can’t fix.
Worst: Freddie Brown, WR, Utah
Brown has good size and solid intangibles, but is raw and inexperienced. He’s coming into a situation where he could be needed often in his rookie year, but he was drafted almost completely on potential. He’ll be lucky to make the team.
Steal: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
A projected late-first rounder, Johnson fell all the way to round three, making him the second great steal by Cincinnati. He’s extremely raw and thin for a defensive end, but his athleticism and quickness is off the charts. If he can get bigger, while retaining his speed and quickness, he could become a terror on the edge.
Marvin Lewis truly put together one of the better drafts of 2009. By grabbing Missouri’s Chase Coffman in the third round, he finally gives the Bengals a solid pass-catching target from the tight end position. With Maualuga and Johnson, the team now has two faces to build its defense around, while their first round pick, Andre Smith, and fourth rounder, Jonathan Luigs, shore up their offensive line.
Best: David Veikune, OLB, Hawaii
Cleveland is in dire need of help on the outside, and Veikune should be able to step in and excel at what he does best: rushing the quarterback. Veikune has elite athleticism and quickness, and has a remarkable burst around the edge. He could step in from day one and start opposite of Kamerion Wimbley.
Worst: Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Georgia
Massaquoi definitely has the size and talent to succeed at the next level, but is still raw and has weak hands. Due to his inconsistency, he’s no better than a third or fourth option in his first year, with no certainty he’ll ever emerge as a go-to receiver.
Steal: Coye Francies, CB, San Jose State
Considering I had Francies as a potential third rounder, I was shocked to see him drop to the sixth round. He possesses great size and speed, as well as excellent ball skills. He’s a true steal in this year’s draft.
The Browns did a ton of trading down, and got exactly what they deserved: a bunch of decent players with potential, but none that are guaranteed to make an impact in their first year. They addressed their overall depth, while getting two solid steals in Francies, as well as USC linebacker, Kaluka Maiava.
However, after putting both Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson on the trading block, they still don’t have a resolution at quarterback. Waiting until the sixth round to address the future at running back (Clemson’s James Davis was a disappointment, as well.
Best: Evander “Ziggy” Hood, DT, Missouri
Hood has excellent size and athleticism to be an effective man in the middle for Pittsburgh’s 3-4 scheme. He may take some time to fully develop, but the Steelers did a fine job of grabbing the best available interior lineman on the board, and he should be a solid player for some time.
Worst: Mike Wallace, WR, Mississippi
While Wallace has blazing speed and tons of potential, receiver is only a minimal need, and the Steelers could have nabbed a solid, young linebacker for their 3-4 in the third round. They did lose Nate Washington to the Titans, but Wallace is too much of a reach when Pittsburgh could have addressed more pressing needs.
Steal: Kraig Urbik, G, Wisconsin
Urbik doesn’t blow you away with athleticism, but he’s exactly the type of hard-working, fundamentally sound offensive lineman the Steelers need. He’s a great value pick in the third round, as well.
The Steelers addressed their offensive line by snagging Urbik, and added meat to the middle of their 3-4 with Hood. It would have been nice to see a fresh linebacker talent, especially now that Larry Foote has been released, but overall, Mike Tomlin and co. had a decent draft.