They got the draft's second-rated quarterback with the 10th overall pick in USC's Matt Leinart. That alone is worth high grade because Kurt Warner is 36. Warner can now run the offense for a year and let Leinart learn before taking over one of the NFC's most explosive offenses. Then they came right back and took his teammate, USC guard Deuce Lutui, which gives them a big body to help shore up a big, but bad offensive line. If Leinart ends up being what some people project him to be it's an A draft.
General manager Ozzie Newsome got the guy his defense needed and middle linebacker Ray Lewis was demanding in Oregon nose tackle Haloti Ngata. Baltimore added Oklahoma center Chris Chester with the 48th pick, which was an excellent value.
Denver traded up and got a strong-armed quarterback in Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler, who some scouts think could end up being the draft's best. They also filled a need with Western Michigan's Tony Scheffler in the third round. What puts this draft into the elite class was trading their second round choice to the Packers for veteran receiver Javon Walker. He was far superior to any receiver in the draft, which lets them shore up three offensive positions in one day.
Green Bay Packers
This was a very good draft day in Green Bay. The Packers got Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk, one of the draft's six elite players. More importantly they came right back and improved their offense with their next two selections, Boise State tackle Daryn Colledge and Western Michigan receiver Greg Jennings. Colledge went about where he was projected, while Jennings could end up being a steal. Green Bay sorely needed all three.
Solid job by James Harris and Jack Del Rio.
They wanted a tight end to add to their offense and they got the second best in the draft in UCLA's Marcedes Lewis. They also need a backup for Fred Taylor, which turned out to be UCLA's Maurice Drew. They get extra credit for making the best use of jet fuel. Both players are from UCLA so they only need one plane to bring them both cross country.
New England Patriots
Bill Belichick drafted a running back for the first time since he was coaching the Browns and took "Touchdown'' Tommy Vardell. He shook off that disaster and got the draft's No. 2 rated runner in Minnesota's Laurence Maroney, who rushed for over 1,000 yards three straight seasons. He's a solid receiver and has better speed than incumbent Corey Dillon. They had no young back ready to step in for the aging Dillon, which makes it a key selection.
The Raiders got what they wanted most, defensive help and a big playmaker in Texas cornerback Michael Huff. Huff is in the mold of past Raider secondary people — a big hitter who can change a game. Then they came back and took a highly rated linebacker, UTEP's Thomas Howard, who should also bring some toughness to a unit that needs it. Huff makes it a good day and Howard improves on it.
New York Giants
What made the Giants' draft impressive on the first day was that they got value in excess of where they were picking in the first and second round. When last season began Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka was considered potentially a top 10 pick but he injured his knee at midseason and never fully recovered. He wasn't that effective in the Senior Bowl, while some question if he can put on enough weight or has enough speed to get around the end. Still, it's not a bad gamble at the end of the first round. Then they grabbed wide receiver Sinorice Moss late in round 2. This is not a great receiving class, but Moss was considered the third best of the bunch. He gives them a third weapon to add to Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer and a lot of speed. He also could help on returns. That's a good days work with a lot of potential upside for a team with few pressing needs.
Atlanta did the best it could, landing Virginia Tech cornerback Jimmy Williams in the second round when most teams felt he had first round talent. Williams has off-field issues that he'll have to deal with, but he's big and fast, which is all the physical tools you can look for.
The Vikings had their eyes on linebacker help and Iowa's Chad Greenway in particular — and got both. He's a good fit for their defensive style, which relies on athleticism more than power. Then they got a solid second round defensive back in Texas cornerback Cedric Griffin. The Vikings reached a bit grabbing New Mexico center Ryan Cook a round early, but fared well when they took Alabama State quarterback Tarvaris Jackson later in the second round. He is a developmental quarterback who needs work but some personnel men around the league see him as a diamond in the rough. He'll have some time to develop with the Vikings and a good coach to work with him in Brad Childress.
When you're drafting last it's never easy to help yourself but the Steelers did. They needed to replace receiver Antwaan Randle El both as a receiver and a return man. It took them two men to do it but they pulled it off with Ohio State's Santonio Holmes. And return specialist Willie Reed. Throw in safety Anthony Smith for depth and it's a solid draft.
San Diego Chargers
This is a draft that could get a much higher grade in retrospect if their top two picks hold up physically. San Diego desperately needed to address two problem areas — their secondary and their offensive line — and they got two 30 players rated.
Florida State cornerback Antonio Cromartie started only one college game last season because of a severe knee injury, but he seems to have recovered completely. He has great size and speed. Then they got Auburn tackle Marcus McNeill in round 2 and that could tremendous. McNeill was considered by some to be the best tackle prospect in college football a year ago but back and knee problems made him suspect. That's the only problem with this draft.
St. Louis Rams
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
They needed secondary help and some in speedy Miami safety Kelly Jennings. Many teams felt he's a second round value but the Seahawks needed a corner and he was the best one left so they took him. Who could blame them?
They excellent value with Virginia Tech defensive end Darryl Tapp at the end of round 2. When you're picking next to last in each round you can't be too choosy. B- is pretty good all things considered.
PFT: Tom Brady, who turns 36 in August, says he has "never felt better throwing the football" and his confidence is peaking.
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