The 2009 NFL draft may lack the marketability and wow factor of players in previous drafts, but many consider this draft to be deeper top to bottom then others, meaning success can be had if managed correctly. It can also highlight how the idea of NFL parity is somewhat of a myth because of the current draft setup (top drafting teams must spend millions more than teams lower in the draft for a somewhat negligible talent difference) and because you still have teams that have no idea what they are doing (here’s to looking at you Oakland).
The Redskins, much maligned for their free agent spending and emphasis on getting big names rather than smartly acquiring talent, practically had Brian Orakpo fall into their laps. The Broncos, who had almost as bad a draft as the Raiders, passed up on the highly touted Orakpo to take a running back, as if new coach McDaniels didn’t see that his roster was already littered with running backs to choose from. Did you see the way Washington practically ran to the podium after the announcement of the Denver pick? Probably the fastest I have seen a team turn in a 1st round card. Considering Orakpo was ranked higher than his counterpart at the #3 pick, Tyson Jackson, you have to like teaming up Orakpo with new signee Albert Haynesworth.
I also thought the Ravens had a surprisingly good draft. While many would argue they still lack a big play wide receiver, the Ravens understand what their success is based on, and reloaded again with big guys up front in Michael Oher and gritty linebackers in Phillips and Kruger. Nothing flashy about these picks, but I guarantee you the Ravens will get production out of this group and continue to terrorize teams on defense and with their speed and toughness.
For a model on what not to do, please see the Raiders of Oakland. It’s hard to feel more sorry for a team than the Detroit Lions, but the Raiders are a close 2nd. There’s almost no analysis to give because the picks they made in the 1st and 2nd round were so laughably bad that even ESPN didn’t know what to say. Why? Well they didn’t even have a profile on the Raiders 2nd round pick, Michael Mitchell, who wasn’t invited to the Combine.
I looked up Mitchell, not knowing him myself, and while he looks very explosive, he also lacks basic football traits. He doesn’t wrap up on tackles, and he plays too high. Mitchell might make a few flashy plays, but he will get swallowed up by a league that features much superior athleticism compared to the talent he played against at Ohio. While the Heyward-Bey pick created more controversy, the Mitchell pick was worse. The Raiders are drafting for speed, and while speed is an important trait, there’s a reason Usain Bolt isn’t in the NFL, as you must have football talent to match that speed.
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