NFC/AFC East Draft Grades

*Posted on www.newsportswriters.com on 5/12/2006

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Best Value Pick: EJ Whitley, OT, Texas Tech
I could have easily put tight end Anthony Fasano here, but Whitley fills a much bigger need and getting him in the seventh round was somewhat of a steal for the Cowboys. Whitley is a three-year starter with excellent size (6’5″ 309) and versatility (he started at every position in his collegiate career). With Flozell Adams and Marco Rivera both over 30, adding depth to a position with a very coachable player like Whitley was a great move by Dallas in the final round of the draft.

Worst Value Pick: Jason Hatcher, DE, Grambling
Projected by most as a late round draft pick or even a rookie free agent, for the Cowboys to pull the trigger on him in the third round was clearly a bit of a reach. He is very raw and unpolished, and having played at the D2 level the transition to the NFL level will be that much greater. With defensive lineman like Gabriel Watson, Victor Adeyanju and Ray Edwards still available, Parcells must really see something in Hatcher to have selected him before those far more talented options.

Sleeper Pick: Skyler Green, WR, LSU
No shock that I put him here, but believe it or not he probably belongs here and I’ll tell you why. After drafting Green early on the second day of the draft Coach Parcells had one thing to say Skyler, a former high school quarterback. He said to get your arm ready for training camp. Interesting to say the least. He will likely return kicks and punts for Dallas in his rookie season, but he also has a pretty strong chance to be the Cowboys third receiver as there isn’t very much behind TO and Terry Glenn on the current roster.

Grade: Dallas did a great job in the first two rounds by selecting Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Fasano, both Parcells type players and both filling needs on their roster. Hatcher as I stated earlier was a bit of a head scratcher, but the following picks of Sklyer Green, Patrick Watkins, Montavious Stanley and EJ Whitley did more than make up for it�B-

New York Giants

Best Value Pick: Sinorice Moss, WR, Miami
I was a little confused with their first selection of Mathias Kiwanuka, but they were dead on here with their selection of Moss. He’s the speedy downfield option much needed in their offense and is a perfect compliment for the bigger more physical Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer. Not to mention Toomer is nearing the end of his career and is no longer the deep threat he once was. Moss will likely also share the return duties with career return man and personal favorite of mine, Chad Morton.

Worst Value Pick: Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Boston College
It’s really not that the value here is that bad and that it doesn’t somewhat fill a need, but I thought that they would pick a corner (Jimmy Williams), lineman (Justice or Winston) or even a linebacker (DeMeco Ryans) here, which are probably bigger need areas on their roster. Learning from an aging Strahan and Umenyiora will certainly help a great deal, but reaching for a player from a university that you once coached certainly isn’t the answer.

Sleeper Pick: Gerrick McPhearson, CB, Maryland
I think they that got good value in the seventh round here with McPhearson, and he does have pretty good size (5’10” 196) and strength for his exceptional speed (4.42). He probably fell in the draft because of an injury history, but in the seventh round if you get a guy with that size and speed with two years as a starter under his belt it’s certainly worth the pick.

Grade: With this draft the Giants likely didn’t come away with one starter for next season and down the line only one or two may ever be. They made huge strides in free agency by adding Lavar Arrington, Sam Madison, and RW McQuarters, and it’s a good thing because they did not do very well this year in the draftâÂ?¦C-

Philadelphia Eagles

Best Value Pick: Max Jean-Gilles, OG, Georgia
Most would think Winston Justice or even Jason Avant belong here, but getting first round talent in the fourth round was even better value than Justice provided. Projected by most as the first or second guard in the draft, Jean-Gilles is a monster (6’4″ 355) that can play either guard or tackle and did for Georgia in four seasons, starting every game in his final three. He fits a huge need for the Eagles, whose current starting line is aging, and coupled with Winston Justice will make up the left side of the offensive line in Philly for the next decade.

Worst Value Pick: Chris Gocong, DE, Cal Poly
If I had to pick someone from their draft to put here (which was very hard to do) I guess it would be Gocong, who is a bit undersized and will likely never be an every down player in the league. I think a linebacker would have been a better pick here, but if they move Gocong to the position (with his size it’s possible) then I have a little less beef with the selection.

Sleeper Pick: Jeremy Bloom, WR, Colorado
Another no brainer here, but I did also consider Winston Justice simply because of the off the field issues of his past (distant past). Bloom has been out of football for two years, but he has the ability and the skills to be a huge playmaker in the return game at the professional level. He possesses great speed (4.37) and great vision, but due to his size (5’9″ 178) will probably never be effective as a receiver.

Grade: The Eagles, as they always do, traded up when they needed to grab players that they coveted and managed to get rid of some aging veterans in the process as well. With the selections of Bunkley, Justice, Jean-Gilles, Avant and Bloom they acquired five future starters (Bloom as a returner) and with most of their other picks got quality reserves. Bunkley and Avant could easily start as rookies and Bunkley likely will. I thought they would have selected a linebacker earlier in the draft (Gocong may be moved there), but look for them to make a few moves in free agency at the position early in June�A-

Washington Redskins

Grade: It’s hard to really grade the Redskins’ draft after they traded their first round pick last year to select Jason Campbell and their third round pick to San Francisco for Brandon Lloyd. After finishing their annual shopping spree of the free agent market they had few holes to fill and selecting Rocky McIntosh filled the void left by Lavar Arrington, and was a solid move indeed. The rest of their picks are projects at best and most will find themselves looking elsewhere for a roster spot in the leagueâÂ?¦C-

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Best Value Pick: Ashton Youboty, CB, Ohio State
After the Bills reached with their first two picks, they started the path to making up for it with their third round selection of Youboty. Youboty, considered a first round talent by most, has great speed (4.43) and height (6’0″) for a cornerback in the NFL. He’s a bit inexperienced, but with the weak crop of corners the Bills currently have he should compete immediately for the starting nickel back spot. Youboty also has experience returning punts and kicks and may be asked to do some of that in his rookie season.

Worst Value Pick: John McCargo, DT, NC State
A no brainer here as the Bills selecting McCargo was a huge surprise to all of us, not to mention the fact that they traded up to select him. There were several better defensive linemen available at this spot, and they may have gotten a better lineman in the fifth round when they selected Kyle Williams. McCargo is undersized (6’1″ 302), has a history of injuries and is a career back up at best in the NFL.

Sleeper Pick: Ko Simpson, S, South Carolina
I put him here simply because he is a bit of a mystery coming out of South Carolina. He has great size (6’1″ 209) and speed (4.47) for a safety, but lacks ideal experience due to enrolling a year after he signed with the university. He does have the needed intangibles to be an impact player at the free safety position, but only time will tell if he will ever reach his potential at the NFL level.

Grade: Taking Whitner at eight was a bit of a reach, but most teams felt he was the second best safety in the draft (after Michael Huff) so if that is the position they coveted then I guess that somewhat justifies the pick. With Bunkley and Ngata still available there they probably should have selected one of them, but later selections of McCargo and Williams may end up addressing their need at the position. It’s hard to get past the first two picks of their draft, but once you do it’s not as bad a complete piece of work as it seems. My major problem was them not using a higher pick or two in order to address their desperate needs along the offensive lineâÂ?¦C

Miami Dolphins

Best Value Pick: Rodrique Wright, DT, Texas
This was unbelievable value in the seventh round and it’s still somewhat of a mystery to me as to why Wright fell this far in the draft. Projected by some to be second round talent, Wright has great size (6’5″ 300) and great quickness for his frame. He is versatile having played all three positions along the line in college and possesses nice overall physical tools. What ever the reason is for his free fall on draft weekend, selecting him in the final round of the draft makes this a virtual no lose situation for the Fins.

Worst Value Pick: Jason Allen, S, Tennessee
It’s hard for me to pick someone to put here, but I selected Allen because of his injury history and the fact there were possibly several better defensive backs available at this point in the draft. Safety was a huge need for the Fins and Allen was likely the best available, so I guess in the end it’s really not that bad a pick at all.

Sleeper Pick: Devin Aromashodu, WR, Auburn
Another great seventh round pick by the Fins, head coach Nick Saban should be very familiar with this kid from his days at LSU. He started all four year at Auburn, but never had a season with over 26 catches due to the Tigers emphasis on the run (see Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown and current stud back Kenny Irons). He has good size (6’3″ 201) and great speed (4.35), but must learn to be more consistent catching the ball in order to make it in the NFL. His size and speed make him very intriguing at the NFL level and his ability in the return game may enable him to contribute in his rookie season.

Grade: I absolutely loved the selections of wide receivers Derek Hagan and Devin Aromashodu as well as their other seventh selection of Rodrigue Wright. Hagan will immediately come in and be the Dolphins number three receiver and teamed with Marty Booker and Chris Chambers should make up one of the best trio of receivers in the league. I’m not sold on their selection of Jason Allen, but with Huff and Whitner gone it’s likely they got the best man available at a position of great need on their rosterâÂ?¦B-

New England Patriots

Best Value Pick: Chad Jackson, WR, Florida
Selecting who most thought was the best receiver in the draft in the second round was a very nice move by the Pats, and fills a huge need for them after the departure of David Givens, Tim Dwight and Andre Davis. Jackson has unheard of speed (4.34) for his size (6’1″ 213) and is not afraid to use that size and go over the middle in traffic.

Worst Value Pick: Stephen Gostkowski, PK, Memphis
A bit of a reach here in the fourth round and it will be interesting to see how the young man accepts the pressure of filling the shoes of the most beloved Patriot of maybe all time, Adam Vinatieri. He, as we all know, is no longer in New England and the Patriots willing to reach to select Gostkowski perhaps shows their confidence in him at the position. They did also sign Martin Gramatica, but with the selection of a kicker in the fourth round they clearly are not fully confident in that signing.

Sleeper: David Thomas, TE, Texas
I absolutely love this pick and feel that Thomas was one of the most underrated players in the draft. He has excellent hands and better than adequate speed (4.73), but may struggle at the NFL level because of his lack of ideal size (6’3″ 252). This may have been a bit of a reach to most, but I love his character and ability and feel he fits in perfectly in New England as a Belichick type player.

Grade: Another overall solid weekend for the Patriots in the draft as just about every pick down to their last (Willie Andrews, RS, Baylor) fills a need on their roster (Tim Dwight). My favorite pick of theirs was the third round selection of David Thomas, who I feel has the ability to become a very above average pro. Selecting two tight ends back to back in the third and fourth rounds was a little bit puzzling given their current stable at the position, but maybe they plan to use Mills at fullback as a Larry Centers type out of the backfield. First round pick Laurence Maroney doesn’t exactly fill an immediate need, but given Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk’s history of injuries don’t be surprised to see him contributing in a big way early in his rookie seasonâÂ?¦B-

New York Jets

Best Value Pick: D’Brickashaw Ferguson
A but of a surprise to have the fourth overall pick here, but if Reggie Bush would have gone to the Texans with the first overall pick it’s likely the Saints would have selected Ferguson with their pick at two. He’ll start immediately in New York (as will other first round pick Nick Mangold) and will be a huge piece to the puzzle of protectiong oft injured quarterback Chad Pennington.

Worst Value Pick: Anthony Schlegel, ILB, Ohio State
A bit of a reach in the third round, but outside of Jonathon Vilma this roster is pretty weak at the linebacker position. He looks to be a career back up and special teams contributor, so selecting him in the third round was a huge surprise given the better players at the position still available.

Sleeper Pick: Brad Smith, QB, Missouri
No real surprise here as Smith is probably one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s draft. After the Jets selection of Kellen Clemens in the second round it’s obvious New York has other plans for this very talented athlete from Missouri. At 6’2″, 209 with 4.49 speed it’s likely they’ll try him at receiver, but don’t rule out some experiments as a scat back and in the return game.

Grade: Overall not a very good first draft for the new regime and certainly not in the mold of a coach who tutored under draft guru Bill Belichick. Their first two selections were two of the best in the draft, but Clemons in the second, Brad Smith in the fourth, and Schlegel in the third were all reaches. They did get two starters (Ferguson, Mangold) over the weekend and one other potential starter (Clemens), but other than that I find it hard to see any other of their picks contributing in any way at all�C

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