Draft Day: Winners and Losers
Once again, the fan favorite, the circus maximus that highlights the start of NFL season has passed by. The lights have dimmed, and the workers have come to cleanse the sands and remove the losers from the floor. But, who, in the matches of the weekend that brings shouts of anger and joy from onlookers survived, and who failed outright? Who reached for the glory and fell short? Who maneuvered for position only to find themselves paying too high a price? Here are the top three winners and losers of the Draft Day weekend.
The first to fall to the sirens of the days were the Cleveland Browns. This once mighty franchise, with all of its inner struggles, traded up one spot after reaching for a truly mighty warrior in LT Robert Gallery, falling far short in picking up a possible troubled youth in TE Kellen Winslow II. While being of uncontested ability, his reported locker room conduct may make the team wish they had traded down to get some linemen for their running back Lee Suggs to run behind. That was their major need of the draft, and rather than opt for that, they wasted picks to move up and take a non – need player. They added a good safety, but their second day picks were mostly very raw projects.
The second victim of draft day delirium was the Dallas Cowboys. While their fans will argue that their pick of Julius Jones was terrific and their pick up of a first rounder was spectacular, they passed on two larger backs with more durability, less fumble issues and that is what they needed. They are trading a sure thing that they went with before in Troy Hambrick. Julius Jones missed the entire 2002 season and while he may have been a bargain to grab in the second round, passing up on Steven Jackson or Jones from Virginia Tech may very well have been a huge mistake that they will hate to hear fans revisit in the future. In fact, with no backs picked, the Cowboys went with the 6th – 8th best running back on the board for most teams. Their later round picks, such as OT Jacob Rogers, might not seem so bad, if it weren’t for known durability problems – but they reached for him when he most likely would have fallen.
The final to be dragged from the sands were the K.C. Chiefs. They did not truly get any players in need positions that they were lacking in. They made major reaches in the second round with DT Siavii or TE Wilson. Most people are saying the same things, that the raw talent might be there, but that these unpolished jewels are far from being treasures. Having those picks in the second round instead of another round or two, where the raw talent is found makes these tremendous errors rather than finding immediate impact players to help out their needy defense.
First – the New York Giants. While some may scream that the price they paid was insane, look at what the Giants have had to deal with since Simms left. Their quarterback performance hasn’t been much better than Ryan Leaf’s tryout at San Diego or Heath Shuler’s with the Skins. Yes, Collins took them to a Superbowl, but then performed so abysmally many were amazed that that team even made it there. Many, mostly the teams of the NFC East, may one day rue this draft sacrifice of the Giant’s front office. Chris Snee, a very good guard, one of the best of the draft, will help solidify a very large problem on their offensive line and a very serviceable linebacker in Reggie Torbor helped fill in another need.
The Lions will roar. And Mariucci and company will be too. They pulled off a nice deal with Cleveland for the Browns to move up one spot and not take the kid they were looking for. Matt Millen is chuckling over that, and still gets a feather in his cap for many good pickups that they needed. The primary two are the weapons that could possibly (if they stay healthy) make them into a potent offense. Roy Williams (WR) and Kevin Jones (RB) are two very potent defense destruction machines that add to a very dangerous (on paper so far) combination already in place with Harrington and Rogers. This could quite seriously put them on the map for a meteoric rise in the offensive statistics departments.
The Patriots, well, are the Patriots. There isn’t much to be said here besides here they go again. A potent defensive weapon in Wilfork and potentially one of the best tight ends of the draft in Ben Watson, they solidified two needs on their team in the first round. While the Pats stocked up on raw talent, in most cases they have people in front of the talent to learn behind while they grow. Cedric Cobbs (RB), will be behind Corey Dillon, Marquise Hill (DE) is behind some young defensive ends in place, but if Klecko moves to linebacker when the aging corps loses a player to retirement, Hill might be a raw talent to insert in his place. Even Wilfork and Watson can learn behind Keith Traylor and Christian Fauria before having to be placed into service. And who is one of the better teachers in the league? Bill is. While no major impact may be felt in the initial rush of the Patriots rookies of this draft, the long term effect of the Patriot stockpiling may be huge.
This article was released on 2004-05-01.
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