NFL Nation: Bryan Smith

Vernon Gholston's anticipated release from the New York Jets comes three years after the Ohio State defensive end dominated at the NFL scouting combine.

Gholston tied offensive lineman Jake Long for a combine-high 37 repetitions in the bench press. He clocked 4.67 seconds in the 40-yard dash as a 266-pound defensive end.

The Jets drafted Gholston sixth overall in the 2008 draft. They tried him at outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme, but Gholston has made no impact. As Rich Cimini notes via ESPN Stats & Information, Gholston has none of the 3,267 regular-season sacks NFL players have collected since 2008.

In retrospect, the Seattle Seahawks were much better off selecting Lawrence Jackson even though Jackson was, by all accounts, a disappointment before the team traded him to Detroit. Two other NFC West teams, St. Louis and Arizona, came out much better with defensive ends Chris Long and Calais Campbell, respectively.

The chart shows defensive ends NFL teams selected in the first three rounds of the 2008 draft. I limited the chart to college defensive ends expected to fill similar roles in the NFL. Two defensive tackles in that draft class, Red Bryant and Kentwan Balmer, wound up playing defensive end.

Some on the list -- Jackson, Derrick Harvey and Phillip Merling come to mind -- never projected as elite pass-rushers. Cliff Avril, the last defensive end listed, has the most sacks. Long is probably the best all-around defensive lineman on the list, and he is improving.

Thirty of 32 first-round choices from the 2008 NFL draft remain with their current teams.

The exceptions: Lawrence Jackson, selected 28th overall by the Seattle Seahawks, and Kentwan Balmer, chosen one pick later by the San Francisco 49ers.

And with Glen Coffee retiring from the 49ers, San Francisco joined the New England Patriots as the only NFL teams to have parted with more than one player drafted among the first three rounds over the past two seasons.

That makes it easier to waive the usual disclaimers about waiting three or four years before assessing draft classes. We already know the 49ers and Seahawks will never realize a return on their 2008 first-round investments.

The first chart lists the nine draft choices from 2008 or 2009 who are no longer with their original teams (Brad Cottam, a third-round choice of the Kansas City Chiefs, landed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list after clearing waivers).


The second chart shows how many 2008 and 2009 draft choices selected in the first three rounds are no longer with their original teams.

Eagles: Cutdown analysis

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
8:15
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Biggest surprise: I guess putting quarterback Michael Vick on the commissioner's special exemption list might qualify, but it might only be for a day or two. The Eagles kept A.J. Feeley on the 53-man roster, probably so they can keep trying to trade him. As long as Vick's on that exemption list, he can't practice with the Eagles. But they can take him off the list at any time. The Eagles are known for cutting ties with former draft picks rather quickly if they don't see steady progress. They've done that with cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu and defensive end Bryan Smith. Tom Heckert hinted that the Eagles might try to bring at least one of those players back on the practice squad.


I noticed that some folks had fullback Kyle Eckel and defensive tackle Dan Klecko projected to make the team. Eckel didn't help himself by whiffing on a blitz pickup in the final preseason game and Klecko was one of the reasons a Jets rookie running back ran wild. Biggest surprise may have been the fact that Reggie Brown and Hank Baskett both made the 53-man roster. The Eagles have seven wide receivers right now. But something could certainly change on that front. They're in the same boat as the Giants at wide receiver. I think the Eagles might downsize at receiver if they can find a third tight end they like.

No-brainers: There was no way to keep rookie Brandon Gibson and veteran defensive end Jason Babin off this team. Babin, a former first-round draft pick, performed so well that he received a restructured contract and Gibson simply made plays throughout camp. He outperformed first-round pick Jeremy Maclin. I think Danny Amendola is a fun player to watch, but he's NOT Wes Welker. He's not anywhere close to Welker, but he may be good enough to make the Eagles' practice squad. I think he could be a decent punt returner. Can't hold up as a receiver. The drop in the end zone against the Jets didn't help.

What's next? Well, we have to see how this quarterback situation plays out. I don't think a team's going to give up anything significant for Feeley at this point in his career. It wouldn't surprise me if Vick's back with the team by Wednesday. He's making too much progress right now to suddenly take him out of the locker room.

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