NFL Nation: draft

NFL observers have debated the past few months trying to figure out what the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills should do with their top-10 picks. Miami picks No. 8 overall, while Buffalo holds the No. 10 pick.

But should one or both teams consider trading back in the draft? It's a valid option if either team can pull it off.

The key would be an enticing player fall. The two that come to mind are former Alabama running back Trent Richardson and former Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. If one of these players fall, the phones should be ringing Thursday night in Miami and Buffalo.

Richardson is a top-five talent. But recent knee surgery and the lesser importance of running backs at least make it possible that he falls to Miami at No. 8. If that's the case, several teams in the teens could be interested in moving up.

Tannehill is another hot prospect who shot up the draft boards. Initially viewed as a late first-round or early second-round pick, Tannehill has impressed scouts in the offseason and could go as high as No. 3 or No. 4.

But if there isn't a trade with Minnesota Vikings and the Cleveland Browns pass on Tannehill, he probably will be there at No. 8. That would put Miami in the position to draft Tannehill or pass. Most project the Dolphins will take the quarterback. But if Miami passes and Tannehill falls to Buffalo, several quarterback-needy teams could be ready to pounce.

NFC West draft rewind

December, 23, 2009
NFC Draft Rewind: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft class lists: Arizona | St. Louis | San Francisco | Seattle

Examining the draft classes of each division team.

St. Louis Rams

Building blocks: The Rams held two of the top-35 overall choices. Both picks are looking like long-term contributors. Tackle Jason Smith (second overall) and linebacker James Laurinaitis (35th) became instant starters.

Unexpected impact: Sixth-round choice Keith Null has become one of six rookie quarterbacks to attempt passes this season. His 81.2 rating against the Texans in Week 15 was the second highest by a Rams starter this season (minimum five attempts).

Questionable call: Despite their status as a rebuilding team, the Rams went out of their way to protect Smith. They arguably stunted his growth as the left tackle of the future by having him start out on the right side.

Seattle Seahawks

Fined young man: First-round choice Aaron Curry was a difference-maker at linebacker early in the season. The NFL fined him repeatedly for overaggressive tactics, however, and Curry hasn't looked the same since. The Seahawks have scaled back his role as the season has progressed.

Setting up the next GM: The Seahawks acquired the Broncos' first-round choice in 2010, a move that earned praise for general manager Tim Ruskell. Ruskell's resignation while the season was spiraling arms his replacement with ample ammunition.

On the line: While Ruskell's failure to rebuild the offensive line played a key role in his demise, second-round choice Max Unger became an instant starter at right guard, moving to center last week. Unger looks like he'll be a long-term starter on the line.

San Francisco 49ers

Worth the wait: The 49ers did not look very smart, or lucky, when a contract dispute kept first-round choice Michael Crabtree off the field for the first five games. Crabtree leads the 49ers' wide receivers with 499 yards, trailing only tight end Vernon Davis for the team lead. He has two touchdowns. His 41 receptions work out to 72.8 over a 16-game season. Few wide receivers could step in so seamlessly as rookies after missing all minicamps, training camp and the first five games.

Wait until next year: The 49ers traded their second- and fourth-round choices to Carolina for the Panthers' first-round choice in 2010. The move looks better now that the Panthers have fallen from the 12-4 standard they set last season. For the short term, though, the 49ers didn't get much immediate impact beyond Crabtree.

Need unfilled: The 49ers hoped sixth-round choice Bear Pascoe would contribute quickly as a blocking tight end in coordinator Jimmy Raye's offense. Pascoe didn't even earn a spot on the 53-man roster. The 49ers have carried only two tight ends on their roster.

Arizona Cardinals

Value at the top: First-round RB Beanie Wells is gaining momentum as the playoffs approach. Suffering an ankle injury during his first training camp practice played into fears about Wells' durability, but he has held up physically during the season. Wells gives out more punishment than he takes.

No small value: Seventh-round pick LaRod Stephens-Howling checks in at 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds, making him too small by NFL standards. No matter. Stephens-Howling's 99-yard kickoff return against Tennessee helped the Cardinals stay in the game. Arizona has worked Stephens-Howling into its offense as well, targeting him as a receiver out of the backfield. The rookie scored a touchdown against Carolina before losing a key fumble at San Francisco.

Medical alert: While Wells has so far proven durable, the Cardinals lost second-round choice Cody Brown to a season-ending wrist injury, affecting depth at outside linebacker. Sixth-rounder Will Davis, another outside linebacker, has also missed time to injury.

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Bears' decision to trade multiple draft choices to the Broncos for Jay Cutler has shaken up the draft order and altered the landscape for future trades.

In light of this, I've updated the Excel draft-order file and added a sheet showing the number of picks per round for each team. Another column assigns values to those picks from the draft trade chart for all non-compensatory choices, producing a total value for each team.

The total values tell us roughly how much firepower each team has for making additional trades. The chart overvalues some of the top choices, I think, but you can adjust accordingly.

The five teams with the most draft capital for trades: Detroit (4913.4 points), St. Louis (3,565), Denver (3,006), Cleveland (2747.6) and Seattle (2729.9).

The five teams with the least draft capital for trades: Carolina (520.8), Chicago (549.2), Dallas (871.7), Pittsburgh (1,055.7) and Arizona (1,074.8).

Teams with multiple first-round choices: Detroit, Denver and Philadelphia with two apiece. Teams with multiple second-round choices: New England (3), Cleveland (2), Miami (2), Detroit (2) and the Giants (2).

New England holds a league-high 12 choices. The Bengals, Eagles and Cowboys have 11 apiece. Denver now has 10, as does Seattle, Tennessee and the Giants. The Saints have only four choices, fewest in the league. Chicago has eight, but five are in the last three rounds.

Posted by's Mike Sando

DANA POINT, Calif. -- The NFL has released its version of the draft-order file I made available after the league awarded compensatory picks Monday.

This version, in the form of a news release sent via email, shows that Jacksonville acquired the 232nd overall choice from the Dolphins in the Tony McDaniel trade. The teams hadn't announced which of the Dolphins' three seventh-round choices were involved. Now we know.

I have updated the draft-order file accordingly and made available that one for download here, with a copy on another server. I have also updated the previous blog entry on this subject.

2009 Draft Round Rams Overall Hawks Overall 49ers Overall Cards Overall
2 4 10 31
35 37 43 63
66 68 74 95
146 167
171* --
184 204
219 240
245* 244* 254*
247* -- --
248* -- --
Posted by's Mike Sando

DANA POINT, Calif. -- The NFL has awareded its compensatory picks for the 2009 draft, which means I'll post the complete sortable draft order as soon as possible.

I've calculated which picks each NFC West team will hold in the draft. The chart shows those pi

Asterisks denote compensatory choices. Teams cannot trade compensatory picks, which the NFL awards to offset net losses in free agency.

We can now compare the results with the projections posted here earlier in the month. It's looking like the 49ers and Seahawks received one fewer choice than had been projected.

Posted by's Mike Sando

DANA POINT, Calif. -- I've gone through the compensatory picks awarded Monday and put together the full NFL draft order.

This order reflects all known trades except for the Jaguars' recent trade with the Dolphins. Jacksonville will receive one of Miami's seventh-round choices. I do not yet know which one. The sixth column of the spreadsheet flags these choices. You can easily update the spreadsheet once we know which pick was traded.

Update: It was the 232nd overall choice, according to the NFL. I have made the change, which is reflected in this Excel file, updated Tuesday afternoon. I have loaded a duplicate file on another server as a backup measure.

Earlier: Salmoriarty made available a version on Google docs, without the notation on the 232nd overall choice. Thanks for the assist.

Posted by's Mike Sando

DANA POINT, Calif. -- The NFL plans to announce compensatory draft choices from the NFL owners' meeting Monday afternoon.

It's always a highlight of the meetings for those who follow the draft closely. Not until picks are announced can teams and fans know the draft order. 

I'll break it down for each NFC West team and the league once the NFL releases those picks.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. updates his 2009 NFL mock draft.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Here's a quick look at the 2009 NFL draft order through the first nine choices:

1. Detroit Lions

2. St. Louis Rams

3. Kansas City Chiefs

4. Seattle Seahawks

5. Cleveland Browns

6. Cincinnati Bengals

7. Oakland Raiders

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

9. Green Bay Packers

The NFL is expected to release the remaining known draft order Monday. The NFC West will pick twice among the top four choices.

Posted by's Mike Sando

We've made it to December, the time of year when NFC West teams start thinking about playoff positioning. I mean, draft positioning. And, let's face it: Most of us following teams in this division have been thinking about draft positioning for some time.

The division has a chance to field three teams among the top seven or eight overall choices. No division has placed three teams among the top 10 overall choices without a trade since the NFL aligned into eight divisions in 2002, according to David Bearman of ESPN Stats & Information.

The AFC East made three picks among the top 10 last season. The Patriots acquired the seventh overall choice from San Francisco before trading back to 10th overall. The Dolphins picked first and the Jets chose sixth.

The NFC North made three picks among the top 10 in 2005. The Vikings acquired the seventh overall choice from Oakland. The Bucs picked fifth. The Lions picked 10th.

A quick look at the standings, 1 through 32, shows the Seahawks and Rams between the third and fifth choices. The 49ers are seventh.

Question: As a fan, would you rather have a top-five pick or win a few games to improve the record and possibly build something positive for next season?