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NFL Draft Impressions: Rams Get Their Man; Jags Disappoint Their Fans

Posted: Apr 30, 2010

Did your team improve? Is your fan base excited about the direction of your squad? We will take an in-depth look at the NFL Draft over the next couple of weeks, but wanted to give our initial reaction to how the teams in our Swampland Footprint fared-especially in the first round. We grouped our clubs into categories based on where each franchise currently stands in the NFL pecking order.

Elite clubs  Both New Orleans and Indianapolis could just select the best player there and not worry about "need". The Saints made a solid first pick in Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson, and TCU edge rusher Jerry Hughes fits perfectly with the Colts defensive scheme. Hughes will help keep Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis healthy for another Playoff run.

Quality franchises right on the cusp of contending. Both management teams have a good feel for the Draft. Atlanta selected Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, which just gives an already athletic Falcons defense another playmaker. Tennessee had to be surprised that division rival Jacksonville passed on Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan. The Titans happily drafted the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year, who was considered the best combination of a pass rush/run stopping end in this Draft.

National fan base, traditional teams looking to make a splash. Dallas got great value by taking Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant with the 24th pick. Many draft analysts had the Lufkin native rated as a Top 5 talent. Miami made their big move by trading for star wide receiver Brandon Marshall before the Draft. In the first round, they almost took GT's Morgan, but instead traded back, got back picks lost from the Marshall deal and still got a quality defensive lineman in Penn State’s Jared Odrick. Washington obviously made their big offseason news with the hiring Mike Shanahan and the acquisition of signal caller Donovan McNabb. The ‘Skins had to protect their offseason investment of McNabb, so Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams made a ton of sense with the #4 overall pick.

Solid teams who always seem a little snake bitten. Cincinnati made the Playoffs last season, but they will have to be better in 2010 to stay there in the rugged AFC. Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham and Texas WR/returner Jordan Shipley will be nice weapons for Carson Palmer. Houston finally had a winning record in 2009, but they are still waiting for their first Playoff game. This roster is good enough to get to the postseason, especially after adding Alabama cornerback Kareem Jackson and Auburn running back Ben Tate.

Former contenders trying to work their way back up. Carolina did not have a first round pick but made big news in the second round with the selection of Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Many teams had a first round grade on him, so the Panthers got great value with the 48th overall pick. Tampa Bay got their QB last year in Josh Freeman, so this Draft was about fixing the league's worst run defense. Enter Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, as well as UCLA DT Brian Price.

Struggling team who found their identity. Much like Detroit a year ago, St. Louis forged a new path with the selection of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. They had passed on Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez in the last two Drafts, but now Bradford is the face of this franchise.

Headed to Los Angeles?  Wow. Jacksonville GM Gene Smith shocked the NFL with the selection of Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu with the #10 overall choice. No one saw him going higher than the 25-30th pick, but the Jaguars reached here and did not trade back to get more value (like the 2nd round they gave up in last year’s Draft). Smith said there was no interest from other clubs trading up, but picks 11, 12, 13 were all traded for great value. After reaching for another defensive tackle (goodbye John Henderson) in the third round, Jacksonville finished the Draft with four straight FCS (not Division I) players. The few fans they have left may be ready to desert at this point.

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