NFL Draft: Hit and Miss

A man’s future is being decided as he slowly approaches the podium. Barely holding back tears, he tries to keep his hulking frame from ripping through his three piece suit. No, I’m not referring to Barry Bonds on trial for steroid abuse. Even better, I’m talking about last weekend’s NFL draft. This year’s draft did not fail to entertain as football fans enjoyed the common expected picks, occasional surprise selections, and the random booing of the rabid Bronx crowd (a player’s unofficial baptizing into the NFL). Here are some of the hit and miss selections made by teams in the first round of this year’s draft. Hits Pick #1. Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia The Lions organization is in the process of rebuilding after a humiliating 0-16 season. In this year’s draft, the Lions looked to grab someone who could be the face of the franchise, a player who could pull the team up from the ashes as did rookie QB Matt Ryan for the once dysfunctional Falcons. As a result, the Lions used their number one overall selection on Georgia QB Matthew Stafford. Stafford was impressive in his college career. With over 7,000 career yards and 51 TDs, Stafford showed that he possessed many of the qualities that make an NFL QB. Though Stafford has a very strong arm, experience, and good body size, he at times lacks the intangibles that make a player elite. However, if the Lions take the time to slowly develop him, which could prove difficult, he very well could be a pro-bowl QB. With his potential, the sky is the limit for Stafford. Dishing out the most expensive contract in the NFL for the young QB, the Lions certainly expect nothing less than success. Pick #4. Seattle Seahawks- Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest The Seahawks made a solid and safe pick in Curry. Probably the most talented linebacker in this year’s draft, Curry is an instinctive run defender who uses his quickness to penetrate and disrupt the backfield. Furthermore, Curry shows the dedication and determination that teams look for especially in first round picks. It would be fair to say that Curry is the all-around package. With current talent such as Tatupu and Hill, Curry can further add to the already formidable Seahawk line backing squad. Although Seattle may have been contemplating picking up QB Mark Sanchez with their selection, they made a very good defensive choice with Curry (not to mention former ISU QB Seneca Wallace also gets to keep his job). Pick #5. New York Jets- Mark Sanchez, QB, USC The Jets traded their number 17 pick and a 6th round pick to the Browns to snag the 5th pick which they used on QB Mark Sanchez. With Brett Farve retiring this past off season (for now anyway), the Jets found themselves with a gaping hole at the QB position so the trade with the Browns was godsend for Jets. Sanchez, although inexperienced, proved his worth for scouts at the combine. Unlike Stafford, Sanchez is coveted for his intangibles and throwing accuracy. Furthermore, Sanchez can use his feet to avoid and pass in the face of pass rush. However, he will need to learn quickly if he wants to be successful in the NFL especially with his inexperience. But if anyone can learn on the fly, it’s Sanchez. Misses Pick #7. Oakland Raiders- Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland The Raiders needed a receiver in this year’s draft, so they made a good selection in that regard. But the actual player they selected is questionable. Heyward-Bey recorded the fastest 40-yard dash time at the combine which probably was the reason the Raiders were so interested in him. However, there is difference between speed and catching ability. Although he is amazingly fast, Heyward-Bey is an inconsistent route runner and is prone to dropping passes. Considering the availability of more reliable receivers such as the proven Michael Crabtree, Oakland certainly was not in a do or die situation. Then again the choice shouldn’t be that surprising when your current owner is a senile, power crazed old man who thinks football players should be like race cars (aka the ever dysfunctional Al Davis). The Raiders love the stopwatch and have always tended to draft whoever is the fastest. If fast is what they want, then Raiders fans should be pleased. Pick #12. Denver Broncos- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia Don’t get me wrong, Moreno is an excellent running back who has the quickness and awareness of an excellent player. However, this was not the right pick for Denver. Offensively, Denver is very well built. Last season, the Broncos were 2nd in league for overall yards and 3rd for passing and receiving yardage. But the same cannot be said for the Denver defense. Last season the Broncos were an appalling 30th and 29th for yards and points given up respectively. The mid-season Bronco collapse of last year was a direct result of their ineffective defense. The Broncos defense has more holes than Swiss cheese, and by trading starting QB Jay Cutler, they gained a key additional first round pick. It isn’t often that a team gets a chance to improve as much as the Broncos could have with their defense, and they unfortunately did not take advantage of it. With, strong DE Brian Orakpo available along with OLB Brian Cushing, the Broncos could have easily found patches to their struggling defense. The Broncos got an excellent RB out of Moreno, but are in need of a priority check. These are just some of the many notable picks in this year’s draft. Although, this analysis only focused on first round picks, one must not forget that a seemingly "free" late round selection could turn into one of the league’s greatest stars (ie: Dan Marino and Tom Brady). The draft never fails to captivate footballs regardless of team affiliation, and this year’s draft was certainly no different. "You’ve gotta love the draft," sophomore Joel Rosenberg said. "I mean, who doesn’t love watching big guys being sold for auction while bawling their eyes out."