|Mark Sanchez was the fifth overall pick in 2009. (AP photo)|
Never, however, as far as I know anyway, has a writer put his own analysis on the line and looked back on all the predictions they may have made following a draft. Until now. I went back to my "winners and losers" column three years ago, after the April 2009 draft, to see exactly how I did in breaking down the first day.
Surprisingly enough, I did well in my analysis. Heck, I'll go a step further and say I did tremendously (which admittedly makes this easier to write ... what, you thought I would do this if I was terrible in my analysis?). So, here's an updated breakdown, with both original and updated analysis, and a grade attached to my winners and losers selections from three years ago.
LOSER: Josh McDaniels, Broncos
Original Analysis: In a nutshell, I wrote that then-Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels had no idea how to run a professional football team, and that was on display when he made two terrible choices on the first day of the draft, back when things started Saturday afternoon. One, he reached for running back Knowshon Moreno at No. 12 overall, when not only was running back not a need, but he was projected to be a pick in the 20's. Two, he traded a future first-round draft pick in order to get back into the second round. Also, it was made clear that McDaniels would have a tough time sticking around as coach.
Today's Analysis: McDaniels didn't last, as he was fired before he could end his second year with the club. That prediction was on the money. For the actual draft analysis, we won't even get into trading a first-round pick for a second-round choice because it's still absolutely moronic and easy to destroy. Moreno has been up-and-down during his three-year career. He had a promising rookie season, rushing for 947 yards and seven touchdowns. But those numbers dwindled sharply the next two seasons, with Moreno eventually losing carries to Willis McGahee last year. The Broncos passed on Brian Orakpo and Brian Cushing for Moreno, which isn't exactly a fair comparison, but there was better talent that could have been had later in the draft (namely Moreno himself).
MY GRADE, A: These were the final nails in the coffin for McDaniels.
LOSER: Oakland Raiders
Original Analysis: I wrote, not surprisingly, that the Raiders made the ultimate reach in drafting wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey at No. 7 overall, especially with Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin still on the board, which I had being the better prospects.
Today's Analysis: There were five wide receivers drafted after Heyward-Bey in the first round, and all are better players today than the guy picked No. 7 overall. Crabtree (No. 10), Maclin (No. 19), Percy Harvin (No. 22), Hakeem Nicks (No. 29) and Kenny Britt (No. 30), to varying degrees, would have been the better picks for the Raiders. Plus, it shows there was no need to reach for a player like Heyward-Bey, with a trade-down the obvious play if the Raiders truly wanted the Maryland wide receiver. Heyward-Bey has 99 career receptions, with 65 coming last season, not at all what would be expected from such a high draft pick.
MY GRADE, A: Heyward-Bey's career stats say it all.
WINNER: San Francisco 49ers
Original Analysis: I loved the Michael Crabtree pick at No. 10 for the 49ers, especially when taking into account the Raiders basically handed San Francisco the wide receiver after reaching for Heyward-Bey.
Today's Analysis: Crabtree has worked out better than Heyward-Bey, but Harvin and Nicks, two other first-round picks, have been much better players so far. Crabtree had a lengthy holdout that basically killed his rookie season, but he has gotten better each year. He had 48 receptions as a rookie, 55 in his second year and 72 for 874 yards and four touchdowns last season. Still, I liked Crabtree way more than he has produced, which results in my first miss of the draft.
MY GRADE, D+: Crabtree was a no-brainer of a pick, but he hasn't produced.
WINNER: Philadelphia Eagles
Original Analysis: I called it a great move for the Eagles trading up two spots to take Jeremy Maclin, mainly because it would create a great wide receiver tandem with him and Desean Jackson.
Today's Analysis: Maclin has been a solid player for the Eagles, but not as good as Harvin or Nicks. He had a great year in 2010, his second , with 70 receptions for 964 yards and 10 touchdowns. Maclin took a step back last year, though, hauling in 56 passes for 773 yards and two touchdowns.
MY GRADE, B: Maclin hasn't been great, but he's been a solid starter.
LOSER: Indianapolis Colts
Original Analysis: Here's what I wrote about the Colts taking UConn running back Donald Brown: "There is no way Brown should have been a first round draft pick, never mind the fact that he was the second RB selected. Brown won’t do anything and this will be a waste of a pick."
Today's Analysis: In three years, Brown has rushed for 1,423 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those numbers are not only low for a first-round draft pick, but even more troubling considering starter Joseph Addai could barely stay healthy for an extended period of time.
MY GRADE, A: I would say I pretty much nailed this one.
WINNER: Arizona Cardinals
Original Analysis: Here's what I wrote about the Cardinals' pick, which came after the Colts: "The Cardinals getting Chris “Beanie” Wells at No. 31 is a great pick. Wells is a perfect fit in the Cardinals offense and will take over for Edgerrin James next year. I’m sure the Cards were ecstatic that Indy took Brown ahead of them."
Today's Analysis: Wells rushed for 793 yards and seven touchdowns in his rookie season. After a down sophomore season, in which he ran for 397 yards and two scores in 13 games, he rebounded with a great third season, rushing for 1,047 yards with 10 touchdowns. Obviously, he has been better than Brown.
MY GRADE, A: Considering my main point was Wells should have been taken over Brown, this looks like a winner. Especially after Wells' breakout in 2011.
WINNER: Green Bay Packers
Original Analysis: I thought the Packers did a great job, drafting B.J. Raji No. 8 overall and then trading back into the first round to select linebacker Clay Matthews, even though many, including myself, thought the Packers reached a bit for the former Southern Cal product. I still liked what the Packers did overall.
Today's Analysis: Raji has been a staple in the middle of the defensive line for Green Bay, starting all 32 games the last two years. He had 6.5 sacks in 2010, but fell to 3 last year. Matthews, however, is where the draft is made for the Packers. He has become one of the top linebackers in the league, picking up 13.5 and 10 sacks the last two seasons.
MY GRADE, B+: I'll knock the grade down a bit for admitting the Packers reached for Matthews.
LOSER: Miami Dolphins
Original Analysis: Here's what I wrote about the Dolphins' second round selection: "I don’t understand the Dolphins picking West Virginia quarterback Patrick White. He was drafted as a 'wide receiver' and will be nothing short of a project. His best position may be the 'wildcat,' but Miami already has Ronnie Brown playing that role. I love taking chances on guys like this, but Miami doesn't have the need for it."
Today's Analysis: White was cut by the Dolphins before the 2010 season. Then, in an attempted comeback with the AFL's Virginia Destroyers, he was cut before their 2011 season began.
MY GRADE, A: White was set up for failure.
WINNER: Detroit Lions
Original Analysis: "With QB Matthew Stafford (who might sit a year behind Daunte Culpepper) and tight end Brandon Pettigrew now joining WR Calvin Johnson and RB Kevin Smith, the Lions could and should score a lot of points. That’s as good as a young base as any team in the league. Things could be looking up for Detroit after all.
Today's Analysis: The Lions have gone from laughingstock to playoff contenders the three years since the above crew was put together (with Smith playing an on-again, off-again role). Last year, the Lions went 10-6 for their first winning season since 2000 and first 10-win season since 1995.
MY GRADE, A: "Things could be looking up for Detroit after all."
WINNER: New York Jets
Original Analysis: "The day belonged to the New York Jets. Trading with the Cleveland Browns to move up to No. 5 overall to grab Southern Cal quarterback Mark Sanchez was simply brilliant. First, they gave up their first round pick, second round pick and players Kenyon Coleman, Abram Elam and Brett Ratliff. It sounds like a lot right off the bat, but looking deeper ... the first round pick is washed out … the three players involved were all backups and weren't likely to see much playing time next year with the Jets … which leaves the second round pick as the only thing of value. That is just an unbelievable trade for the Jets. So, anyone saying the Jets gave up too much to Cleveland just doesn't have a clue. Now, will Sanchez be the franchise quarterback he should be at No. 5 overall? I don’t know. Nobody knows. Nobody knows if Matthew Stafford will be a franchise quarterback, either. Those questions won’t be answered for several, several months. For right now, however, the Jets have their franchise quarterback, and that is all that matters. Even though I liked Sanchez better than Stafford coming into the draft, it’s anyone guess who will be the better pro."
Today's Analysis: OK, this isn't going to be easy, so let's jump right in. First, the Jets absolutely stole Sanchez from the Browns, basically sending a second-round pick to get him. The trade was and is genius. There will be no convincing me otherwise. Now, has the pick worked out? Three years later, there are still questions surrounding Sanchez as a franchise quarterback. He's won more road playoff games than any quarterback in team history. He's played in two AFC Championship games his three years. But, on the flip side, he hasn't progressed the way he should. He makes too many mistakes and either doesn't trust himself to throw the ball downfield, or the team doesn't trust him enough to let him do it. Either way, it's not good. One thing I was wrong on, is believing Sanchez was better than Stafford. I don't think anyone would take Sanchez over Stafford right now, so I missed on that. But with all that, I still believe in Sanchez as the team's franchise quarterback and can win a Super Bowl with this team. This year is big. What he does will determine whether or not he has a future with the team, or somewhere else as a backup. But the analysis is being done today, so here goes my grade ... feel free to disagree in the comments below.
MY GRADE, C: Two straight AFC title game appearances and a lot of hope for the future.
After 10 winners and losers from April 2009, I grade myself out to a 3.4 GPA in our NFL draft look back, which is better than I did in high school or college. I'm sure there will be some disagreements, so have at it below in the comments section. I'll respond to them all.