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NFL Draft Analysis: Winners and Losers

The event that is the NFL Draft took place this weekend, spanning three days for the first time ever. The headlines were dominated by the QB class of Bradford, Tebow, Clausen, and McCoy. 3 of the first 4 picks were Oklahoma Sooners. 20 tight ends were chosen, compared to only 13 running backs. Idaho, Boise State, and Fresno State produced first-round picks. USC, Notre Dame, and Ohio State did not.

It was an interesting Draft, to say the least.

Now that the dust has settled, and we can step back and look at how each team fared, the question becomes: Who won, and who lost, in the 2010 Draft?

While it’s way too early to answer that, I’m gonna try anyway. I’ve identified 3 winners and 3 losers from the 2010 Draft. Read on to see who I chose…

Three Winners

Baltimore Ravens – I think the Ravens could fall under the “Winners” category every single Draft. General Manager Ozzie Newsome does a great job, year in and year out, of finding players that fit their schemes and style of play. He did it again this year by trading out of the 1st round and grabbing OLB Sergio Kindle (Texas) and NT Terrence Cody (Alabama) in the 2nd. I think both guys are great fits and will help strengthen the already-tough Baltimore D. Tight ends Ed Dickson (Oregon) and Dennis Pitta (BYU) give Joe Flacco two more receiving threats to go along with offseason additions Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth. Todd Heap’s best days are clearly behind him, and Baltimore found two potential replacements with Dickson and Pitta.

New England Patriots – When watching the Draft unfold, it’s clear the Patriots’ brain trust knows what they’re doing. New England is usually one of the most active teams on Draft Day, making many trades involving several picks. However, they do so with a plan in mind, and it worked to their advantage this year. The Patriots wanted to continue to get younger and more athletic on defense, as shown by their selections of CB Devin McCourty of Rutgers and former Florida Gator linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes. QB Tom Brady had to like the Pats’ draft, as he has three new weapons to work with in tight ends Rob Gronkowski (Arizona) and Aaron Hernandez (Florida), as well as speedster Taylor Price, a wide receiver from Ohio University.

Oakland Raiders – The Oakland Raiders had a very good Draft weekend. Let that one sink in for a minute. They defied all logic and actually made some good moves that helped improve their club. Their biggest move of the weekend was acquiring QB Jason Campbell from the Redskins for a 2012 4th-round pick. The Raiders badly needed to move on from JaMarcus Russell, and Campbell gives them a solid option going forward. Oakland also made some solid Draft picks, including first-rounder Rolando McClain, a middle linebacker out of Alabama. Going into the Draft, many considered McClain to be one of the most NFL-ready prospects available. DT Lamarr Houston (Texas) could contribute very early as well. In Rounds 3 and 4, the Raiders added two high-upside offensive tackles in Edwin Veldheer (Hillsdale) and Bruce Campbell (Maryland). No Raiders draft can be complete without a player with track star speed, and Jacoby Ford (Clemson) fits the bill this year. Ford, one of the fastest prospects in the Draft, could help in the return game immediately.

Three Losers

Buffalo Bills – I really like C.J. Spiller as an NFL prospect. I don’t like him as the Bills’ first-round pick, though. While the Clemson RB was arguably the best player available when the Bills picked at No. 9, I felt they had more pressing needs to fill, namely at quarterback and on the offensive line. They passed on Jimmy Clausen twice, Colt McCoy three times, and didn’t grab a QB until the 7th round, when they selected Troy’s Levi Brown. They didn’t address their need at offensive line until the 5th round. New head coach Chan Gailey is an offensive guy, so you would think he would be lobbying for quarterback and offensive line help, in order to build a solid foundation for his offense. With all the other AFC East teams improving in the Draft, it looks like Buffalo is taking two steps back.

Pittsburgh Steelers – After what has been a tumultous offseason, the Steelers followed it up with a head-scratcher of a Draft weekend. Center Maurkice Pouncey out of Florida was a solid choice in Round 1. I thought Emmanuel Sanders, the wide receiver from SMU, was a decent pickup in Round 3, especially after the trade of Santonio Holmes. However, I don’t understand why Pittsburgh felt they needed to use 3 of their first 7 picks on outside linebackers, when they have Pro Bowlers James Harrison and LaMar Woodley already in place. I don’t think the Steelers were complete Losers on Draft Day, as it’s too early to call any team a complete Loser. However, I think their Draft class left a lot to be desired.

Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags provided us with the first ‘Huh?’ pick of the Draft, taking Cal’s Tyson Alualu 10th overall. While considered a good prospect, I don’t think anyone expected him to come off the board so soon. Jacksonville used 5 of their 6 selections on defense, including their first 4. That said, they decided to go with several small school prospects, who may or may not be able to transition to the NFL level. Five years from now, the Jaguars’ brass may look like geniuses with this Draft class, but they took on a few too many projects, in my opinion.

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