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  1. #1
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    Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft
    By Nick
    April 25th, 2009

    The first day of the 2009 NFL Draft has come to a close, so the logical thing to do is to offer some opinions on what went down Saturday afternoon at Radio City Music Hall.

    Rams take get talent, character in Smith and Laurinaitis
    The Rams continued to demonstrate the strong emphasis they place on talent, intelligence, and character by selecting Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith and Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis.

    Smith was identified as the likely target of the Rams in the days leading up to the draft, but no one was really sure until the pick was actually turned in. Smith brings a workmanlike mentality to the position; he wakes up in the morning with a job to do and the determination to do it. He’s the most athletic tackle in this class and has a nasty demeanor as a run blocker. As a former tight end, Smith’s technique at left tackle isn’t quite as polished as other prospects. But when he matures and gains a better understanding of the position, he could really be something special.

    In round two, the Rams selected James Laurinaitis, the talented middle linebacker from the Ohio State Buckeyes. A 2007 Butkis award winner, Laurinaitis easily could have gone in the first round, and general manager Billy Devaney actually tried to trade up to ensure that they’d get him. Such a trade didn’t materialize, but the Rams were fortunate to watch Laurinaitis fall into their laps. James has good size for the Mike position, and is a very instinctive player. He stays true to his assignments and is a very sound tackler. Laurinaitis had one of the best short shuttle times of all of this draft’s middle linebackers, meaning he has great short area quickness to redirect in the box to make plays against the run.

    Bengals haven’t learned from past risky picks
    Some analysts may feel the Cincinnati Bengals had one of the best first days in this draft, and it’s hard to argue against that. Cincinnati picked up Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith with their first round pick, and came back in the second round to take falling linebacker Rey Maualuga of USC. Both characters have maturity red flags, but the Bengals do not seem to be a team that cares much about character issues.

    Smith is arguably the most physically talented offensive tackle in the class, but started to slip down draft boards in January when it was revealed he was suspended from his team’s bowl game. Andre then announced at the combine that he would not be participating, claiming that he’d only started working out a week or two before the event. He then mysteriously disappeared from the event the following day, and the mistake was blamed on an agent he’d eventually fire. Smith clearly has the talent to develop into a top NFL lineman, but he’s not made good decisions this offseason and has some growing up to do.

    Maualuga is a prospect that I had going in the top twenty in my final 2009 mock draft, but he slipped into the second round. Concerns about Maualuga range from his speed to whether he’s a three down linebacker. But character was also a red flag; according to Scott Wright of NFL Draft Countdown, Maualuga “[w]as arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor battery after allegedly punching a man during a party in 2005” and had also faced team disciplinary action more than once. If Maualuga has really turned a corner since his earlier indiscretions, he’ll likely become a valuable player for the Bengals in the AFC North. But it seems NFL teams did not buy into the press clippings enough to convince themselves to take Maualuga in the first round.

    Bills add talent, but not to replace Peters
    After trading left tackle Jason Peters to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month, many draftniks expected Buffalo to use one of their first day picks on the offensive tackle position. Apparently, the Bills had other ideas.

    Buffalo passed on Michael Oher in the first round to take undersized Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin. Buffalo’s need for a pass rusher is significant and it doesn’t surprise me that they elected to address it, but I am surprised Maybin was the pick, especially over a more talented and pro-ready player in Brian Orakpo.

    With each of the next three picks, the Bills had the chance to draft Connecticut tackle William Beatty… and passed. In fact, Beatty fell to the bottom of the second round, so his draft grade did not appear to be as high with NFL teams as it was with amateur evaluators. The Bills instead elected to pick two interior linemen (Louisville center Eric Wood and Oregon State guard Andy Levitre) as well as a defensive back.

    The Bills are either very confident in Langston Walker and Demetrius Bell, or they’re hoping to strike it rich with a later round or undrafted prospect like they did initially with Peters.

    NFC West has impressive first day showing
    I’ve already talked about my impressions of the Rams’ draft, but the rest of the West really had fairly good days as well.

    The Seattle Seahawks stayed put at fourth overall and took the best defensive player on the board, Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. Late-breaking news from NFL Network indicates that, after drafting Curry, the ‘Hawks are planning to rescind their franchise designation from weak-side linebacker Leroy Hill, making him a free agent. Still, with Curry and Lofa Tatupu, Seattle’s linebackers will be formidable. Seattle traded down in round two, acquiring one of Denver’s 2010 first round picks, and would eventually select versatile lineman Max Unger, who should compete for time at center or guard.

    The San Francisco ***** were probably as surprised as everyone else to see Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree fall to them at the 10-spot. Though the Niners also need help on the offensive line and in their pass rush, they couldn’t justify passing the draft’s highest rated receiver and, at one point, highest rated prospect. Crabtree is young and comes from a spread offense, but should learn a lot from veteran Isaac Bruce. In the second round, San Francisco traded their second pick to Carolina in exchange for the Panthers’ first round pick in 2010, meaning new head coach Mike Singletary will be ready to stock up on talent next season as well.

    Finally, the Arizona Cardinals had the good fortune of watching Ohio State runner Chris Wells, arguably the draft’s best running back, slip to them at the bottom of the first round. They took the productive college runner, which likely means an end to Edgerrin James’ time in Arizona. In the second round, the Cardinals added Connecticut edge rusher Cody Brown, who looks like a great fit for them at outside linebacker in their 3-4 defensive scheme.

    Oakland’s decision-making suggests Al Davis has lost his mind
    The Raiders, Al Davis especially, are known to covet speedy players. That theory would really be put into practice as Oakland reached in the first round for Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Before the criticism could even come to a close, the Raiders returned in the second round and took a safety that many didn’t even have in their top 200 prospects.

    When the Raiders came on the clock with the seventh overall pick, they had their choice of wide receivers. Though Michael Crabtree hadn’t run a forty yard dash this offseason, many felt he was a good choice to go to Oakland because of his playmaking ability. Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin was also viewed as a consideration since he was considered to be the faster prospect. But few predicted that Oakland would reach for a mid to late first round receiver in Heyward-Bey simply because of his 4.3 speed. The Raiders passed on arguably more talented and developed prospects to take the raw DHB, hoping that they’ll be able to teach him the skills he’s lacking.

    In the second round, Oakland traded down from pick #40 and found themselves in the middle of the second round at pick #47. Apparently targeting a safety, the Raiders had a number of qualified choices. They could take Missouri’s William Moore, Troy’s Sherrod Martin, or Utah’s Sean Smith. But instead they took Ohio safety Michael Mitchell, whom some considered a sixth or seventh round prospect. NFL analyst Pat Kirwan did not have Mitchell in his top 200, and draft guru Gil Brandt did not have Mitchell in his top 150 prospects either.

    That’s not to say that Mitchell doesn’t have things he could bring to the table, but it’s hard to believe the Raiders could not have gotten him at least one round later. With three picks in the next two rounds, it should be interesting to see where else the Raiders look.

    Cleveland apparently unwilling to make a pick
    Perhaps the biggest story of the NFL Draft was the behavior of the Cleveland Browns. In the first round, the Browns traded down not just once, not just twice, but three times before eventually making a selection at a position few identified as a top need.

    For their fifth overall pick, the Browns orchestrated a trade with the New York Jets (former employers of Cleveland’s head coach Eric Mangini) that sent the Jets’ first and second round picks as well as three marginal players to Cleveland for their top pick. The Jets would take USC quarterback Mark Sanchez while Cleveland looked to be in a prime spot to take an outside pass rusher or receiver.

    With Jeremy Maclin and Everette Brown both on the board at Cleveland’s new destination, the Browns traded once again, moving from 17th overall to 19th overall so that Tampa Bay could move up to take Kansas State passer Josh Freeman. But the Browns weren’t done there. With Maclin and Brown still on the board, Cleveland essentially gave up on Maclin by dealing with the Eagles, who promptly took Maclin at 19.

    Finally, with the 21st pick in the draft, the Browns selected… center Alex Mack from California. Don’t get me wrong, Mack is a great prospect and should be able to handle the tough 3-4 nose guards of the AFC East. But I don’t believe he was great value there, and the Browns clearly passed up on other high players at larger positions of need to take him. When the Browns returned in the second round, they took receivers Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi followed by edge rusher David Veikune of Hawaii who wasn’t really viewed as a Day One prospect.

    Time will tell if the Browns made the right move by choosing Robiskie and Massaquoi over Maclin and Veikune over Everette Brown or Connor Barwin, but right now it’s a strategy that has me scratching my head a bit.

    The best of the rest
    As usual, a number of very intriguing prospects have slipped out of the first day and look like they could be taken quickly on Day Two. With the second pick of the third round, the Rams could be in a good position to move down and gain some additional picks in the mid rounds.

    As I see it, some of the best prospects remaining on the board are:

    -Michael Johnson (DE, Georgia Tech)
    -Jared Cook (TE, South Carolina)
    -Marcus Freeman (LB, Ohio State)
    -Shawn Nelson (TE, Southern Miss)
    -Jarron Gilbert (DL, San Jose State)
    -Rashad Johnson (S, Alabama)
    -Andre Brown (RB, NC State)
    -Lawrence Sidbury (DE/OLB, Richmond)
    -Juaquin Iglesias (WR, Oklahoma)
    -Jason Phillips (LB, TCU)

    My preference would be for the Rams to sit where they are and take Iglesias, as I believe he’s an outstanding fit in a West Coast style offense and could be a great compliment to Donnie Avery in the Rams’ wide receiving corps. But if the Rams get a good trade offer, it would be wise to move down and collect more picks. For all we know, Iglesias or another talented prospect will still be on the board even if the Rams move down. This team has a number of holes, and should take advantage of opportunities to add more talent at numerous positions.


  2. #2
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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    I like the Rams going with high character guys. The Cing -Cing Bengals will never learn!
    It was "Weekend at ALs" for the Raiders. NFC West definitely got the cream of the crop. Not looking forward to seeing Crabtree and the Niners, Curry and the Seahawks or Beanie and the Cards playing the Rams.
    Cleveland - The Mistake by the Lake!
    Nice Notes Nick!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    Great read,Nick. You know I agree about The Rams picks & there certainly were some surprises.

    How long will it take for the first "Sign Leroy Hill Now!" thread, I wonder?

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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    Man I laughed so hard when Oakland made their pick. I really did. I busted up laughing at work and my friend knew exactly what had happened.

    Glad monkeys can own football teams!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Devaney, if you care about this team... fire the offensive coordinator!!!!

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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    is derrick williams still available? from penn state?

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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    WR Derrick Williams is still avail.

    Did LB Leroy Hill "SEAHAGS" have some kind of drug charge and still wants $8Mill a season.
    PLease pass.
    Last edited by Shan the Ram Man; -04-26-2009 at 02:01 AM.

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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    I like how the Bengals made the same picks as us except they're just higher risk/reward guys. We'll see who made the better picks there in a couple of years. It's also too bad when players I really like go to teams I really hate like Crabtree, Maklin, Orakpo and Curry.

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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    "...Maualuga is a prospect that I had going in the top twenty in my final 2009 mock draft, but he slipped into the second round. Concerns about Maualuga range from his speed to whether he’s a three down linebacker. But character was also a red flag; according to Scott Wright of NFL Draft Countdown, Maualuga “[w]as arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor battery after allegedly punching a man during a party in 2005” and had also faced team disciplinary action more than once. If Maualuga has really turned a corner since his earlier indiscretions, he’ll likely become a valuable player for the Bengals in the AFC North. But it seems NFL teams did not buy into the press clippings enough to convince themselves to take Maualuga in the first round...."

    If im not mistaken, Ray ran a 4.6 40 at his pro day which is .28 secs better than Lauranitis. So where people get this malarcky that Rey cant cover sideline to sideline is ludicrous.

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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    I am happy with our draft so far.

    Now for my Rant about the draft:
    I thought the production of the Draft was poor. ESPN needs to improve next year. They need to figure out how to get more commericials in when the picks are not up. We missed Pitsburghs 32 and our 35 because they went to almost a 3-5 minute commericial break. They need either shorter comercials or streaming advertisements. I do like that they are speeding up the process but the production was lacking. The one lady doing the interviewing was horrible and Keyshawn was to much into being a loud mouth and arguing with Steve Young. Next year dump the lady and Keyshawn and figure out how to reduce the commercials and nonsense talk. They have very little time between picks and they could spend that time talking more about team needs and players that fit. Often I found them past the pick on the clock before they even started talking about the team doing the selecting.


    EDIT: I really did not care for Steve Youngs input either when he got a chance to talk. You could dump him as well.
    Last edited by RamsSB99; -04-26-2009 at 09:11 AM.

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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    I think Buffalo must stack their board just a little differently than the rest of the league. This kind of reminds me of when they took a Donte Whitner, a safety, at #8 overall a couple years ago. It seems like they're one of those teams that will surprise you.

    Oakland, on the other hand, is starting to look like a joke. Even if this guy they took in the second was at the top of their board, did they really think somebody else was going to take him before the next round?

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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenfleece View Post
    I think Buffalo must stack their board just a little differently than the rest of the league. This kind of reminds me of when they took a Donte Whitner, a safety, at #8 overall a couple years ago. It seems like they're one of those teams that will surprise you.

    Oakland, on the other hand, is starting to look like a joke. Even if this guy they took in the second was at the top of their board, did they really think somebody else was going to take him before the next round?
    Nah man. Whitner was a panic move when the Raiders took Michael Huff.

    Since then, Lynch was the #2 back and has a probowl under his belt (good when he stays out of trouble) And Mckelvin was the concensus number one or two corner last year.

    Whitner was a terrible pick, but other than that the first round has been solid. The second day is usually a little off however. This year I OBVIOUSLY love Maybin lol (im a psu fan) and Wood is considered generally the number 2 center which was a need. Not drafting Oher might come back to hurt them, but a pass rusher was a huge need.

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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    Punahou wrote:"If im not mistaken, Ray ran a 4.6 40 at his pro day which is .28 secs better than Lauranitis. So where people get this malarcky that Rey cant cover sideline to sideline is ludicrous."

    I think the "malarcky" was based on decision making, ie reading the play quickly/mental quickness, and consistent tackling, ie wrapping up rather than going for the slobberknocker, more than physical speed.

    As to the character issues, I'll put my trust in DeSpags investigations/assessment of the guy over our understanding from the news headlines.

    I also agree with Devaney's position that each case has to be taken individually so I don't really think the Cris Carter comparison is relevant.

  13. #13
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Random Notes from Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft

    Quote Originally Posted by punahou View Post
    If im not mistaken, Ray ran a 4.6 40 at his pro day which is .28 secs better than Lauranitis. So where people get this malarcky that Rey cant cover sideline to sideline is ludicrous.
    I can't speak definitively for anyone but myself, but maybe they get it from the tape? Perhaps having a player run 40 yards as fast as they can in shorts is not a great way to measure their sideline to sideline ability. After all, I don't know many MLBs who patrol sideline to sideline by getting in a runner's stance and sprinting as fast as they can for forty yards.

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