NFL Nation: David Boston

The St. Louis Rams were the only NFC West team without a quarterback need in the 2011 NFL draft.

They held the 14th overall choice, but with four quarterbacks taken among the first 12 picks, St. Louis got more value from the selection. How much more value?

If we exclude quarterbacks from the drafting equation, as the Rams did in this draft, the team got No. 10 overall value from the 14th pick. The difference in value between the 10th and 14th picks -- 200 points on the widely circulated draft-value chart -- equates to the 78th overall choice.

The Rams happened to hold the 78th pick this year. They used it for Boise State receiver Austin Pettis.

This draft featured more quarterbacks selected among the 12 choices than any since 1999, when there were five. The Rams were already set at quarterback that year. They held the sixth overall choice and got heightened value when Cleveland, Philadelphia and Cincinnati selected quarterbacks with the first three picks. The Rams selected receiver Torry Holt -- the sixth overall choice, but only the third non-quarterback.

After quarterbacks went 1-2-3 in 1999, the teams drafting next "settled" for Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Holt and Champ Bailey. The next two players taken, David Boston and Chris Claiborne, never met expectations. Overall, however, teams searching for non-quarterbacks stood to benefit.

The Rams are hoping first-round choice Robert Quinn fits into that group with James, Williams, Holt and Bailey.

Draft Watch: AFC South

April, 7, 2011
4/07/11
2:21
PM ET
NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: History in the spot.

Houston Texans

2010: OT Anthony Davis (49ers)

2009: LB Aaron Maybin (Bills)

2008: DB Leodis McKelvin (Bills)

2007: LB Patrick Willis (49ers)

2006: QB Jay Cutler (Broncos)

2005: LB DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys)

2004: QB Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers)

Last year at No. 11, the 49ers got Rutgers offensive tackle Davis, who started every game on the right side. Maybin, taken in the spot in 2009, is on the hot seat in Buffalo where he’s not come close to expectations. In 2007, the 49ers got the excellent middle linebacker Willis 11th, when the Texans took defensive tackle Amobi Okoye the spot before. The verdict on Cutler is still to be determined, while Ware is a superstar and Ben Roethlisberger's won two Super Bowls. Other hits since the NFL-AFL merger include Michael Irvin, Dwight Freeney and Leon Searcy. Other misses: Ron Dayne, Michael Booker.

Indianapolis Colts

2010: WR Demaryius Thomas (Broncos)

2009: WR Percy Harvin (Vikings)

2008: RB Felix Jones (Cowboys)

2007: QB Brady Quinn (Browns)

2006: LB Manny Lawson (49ers)

2005: WR Mark Clayton (Ravens)

2004: QB J.P. Losman (Bills)

Last year’s 22nd pick, Denver receiver Thomas caught 22 passes and scored two touchdowns. Minnesota grabbed receiver Harvin in the spot in 2009 and he’s one of the game’s most dynamic players already. Quinn didn’t cut it in Cleveland and ranks third now in Denver, and Losman didn’t solve Buffalo’s quarterback issues. The last time the Colts were in this spot, they took receiver Andre Rison in 1989. He played only one season for the franchise, but in 12 years he amassed more than 10,000 receiving yards and caught 84 touchdowns.

Jacksonville Jaguars

2010: DE Derrick Morgan (Titans)

2009: LB Larry English (Chargers)

2008: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Cardinals)

2007: DT Justin Harrell (Packers)

2006: CB Jason Allen (Dolphins)

2005: DT Travis Johnson (Texans)

2004: OT Shawn Andrews (Eagles)

Morgan went 16th to Tennessee last year, but suffered a season-ending knee injury early on. Rodgers-Cromartie had a big rookie season in 2008 as the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu was a huge find at the spot in 2003 and Jevon Kearse set a rookie record for sacks and led Tennessee to the Super Bowl in 1999. But others in the recent past like Allen, Houston's Johnson and Cleveland running back William Green hardly lived up to expectations. Dan McGwire, a big quarterback bust for Seattle, also went in the spot in 1991. But anyone thinking the Jaguars can’t hit a home run should know that a guy rated by many as the greatest player of all time, Jerry Rice, was selected 16th in 1985.

Tennessee Titans

2010: LB Rolando McClain (Raiders)

2009: OT Eugene Monroe (Jaguars)

2008: DE Derrick Harvey (Jaguars)

2007: DE Jamaal Anderson (Falcons)

2006: S Donte Whitner (Bills)

2005: S Antrel Rolle (Cardinals)

2004: CB DeAngelo Hall (Falcons)

McClain went to Oakland eighth last season and was second on the Raiders in tackles his rookie year. Jacksonville had the spot the two years before that. The Jaguars think they got a long-term left tackle in Monroe, but Harvey might be done already. Jordan Gross is a top-flight tackle for Carolina and receiver Plaxico Burress was a Super Bowl hero for the Giants. But receiver David Terrell busted for the Bears, receiver David Boston didn’t fare much better in Arizona and running back Tim Biakabutuka was a dud for the Panthers. Sam Adams’ long career clogging up the middle as a defensive tackle started in Seattle. The last time the Titan franchise had this pick, it landed Hall of Fame guard Mike Munchak, who’s now the team’s coach.
Ted Ginn Jr. clearly wasn't wanted in Miami.

The Dolphins announced his departure in a news release short enough to fit in a tweet: "The Miami Dolphins today traded wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for an undisclosed 2010 draft choice."

That was it. No acknowledgment of Ginn's status as a 2007 first-round choice, or the kickoffs he returned for touchdowns last season or anything else.

For Miami, this was like removing a wart from their draft record. The faster, the better. Get it over with. Minimize the pain.

Ginn was the ninth player chosen in the 2007 draft. Koren Robinson and Reggie Williams were also receivers taken ninth overall in recent years.

The seventh through 10th overall choices have produced quite a few disappointing receivers in recent years: Troy Williamson, Mike Williams, Reggie Williams, Robinson, David Terrell, Travis Taylor and David Boston.

That history doesn't matter much to the 49ers regarding Ginn. They're getting a return specialist with potential as a receiver, outside the context that downgraded Ginn in the Dolphins' eyes.
 
 AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
 Antonio Bryant has made the most of his opportunity in Tampa Bay.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- Exactly a year ago, Antonio Bryant's couch was among the world's most uncomfortable seats.

Week after week, that's where Bryant sat, knowing he was better than most of the wide receivers he watched on television. The torture didn't come so much from the fact Bryant wasn't allowed to play in the NFL as it did from the realization that he put himself in that situation.

A practice jersey thrown in the face of former Dallas coach Bill Parcells and his frequent upstaging of young quarterback Alex Smith in San Francisco left Bryant with a reputation as a bad guy. But his arrest for driving his Lamborghini over 100 mph, driving under the influence and resisting arrest set him apart from the legions of flamboyant wide receivers who push the lines on the football field.

Bryant had gone way over the line and that's why he wound up on the couch and out of football for the entire 2007 season. That's why Bryant showed up in Jon Gruden's office in February asking -- more accurately, begging -- for one thing.

"All I asked Gruden for was a chance to compete," Bryant said. "That's all I wanted."

That's why Bryant said he didn't even look at the one-year $605,000 contract (with the possibility for $50,000 more in incentives) before he signed it.

As it turns out, the Bucs, who often get criticized for taking shots on troubled players (see David Boston) might have gotten the single-best deal in this year's free-agency period. The guy who was suspended for part of last season and unable to get on with any team after reports of a positive drug test surfaced, has turned out to be one of 2008's best receivers.

Through nine games, Bryant has 45 catches for 566 yards and two touchdowns. He's gone from not even knowing if he'd make the roster at the start of training camp to being Tampa Bay's No. 1 receiver, arguably the Bucs' best offensive player and perhaps even a Pro Bowl candidate.

"He does everything I ask," Tampa Bay receivers coach Richard Mann said. "He really works on the details and he's punctual and dedicated. He's been a good guy here. We don't look at the past. He's been good in the receivers room.

"Guys have a tendency to go in a shell when they join a new team and have to deal with new teammates and new coaches. With the success he's had and being around us for a while now, I think he's feeling really comfortable now and feels good about where he's at right now."

(Read full post)

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