Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Kiper gave A's to the Lions, Vikings, Bears and Falcons
By Mel Kiper
Editor's Note: ESPN.com's Mel Kiper graded the selections of every team in the 2004 draft. This story originally ran on April 25, 2004.
Arizona Cardinals: B
Larry Fitzgerald obviously is a great pick and Karlos Dansby is a nice fit for their system as a pure pass rusher. Darnell Dockett is a first-round talent if he stays focused, while Alex Stepanovich is a backup type on the offensive line and Antonio Smith could turn out to be a nice fifth-rounder.
Atlanta Falcons: A
DeAngelo Hall is a potential shutdown corner and a dynamic punt returner, and I like where the Falcons were able to get Michael Jenkins and Matt Schaub. Jenkins gives Michael Vick another big target and Schaub is a nice insurance policy should Vick get injured scrambling around. They also got great value in Demorrio Williams and Chad Lavalais.
Baltimore Ravens: B
Dwan Edwards and Roderick Green will be perfect for the Ravens' 3-4 system, and Devard Darling has good size and athletic ability at wide receiver. Josh Harris could be a good value as a late-round backup quarterback and Baltimore got the most of its other late round picks.
Buffalo Bills: C+
Lee Evans will be a big help to the offense with his speed at receiver, and it was a bold move to take J.P. Losman at quarterback. Tim Anderson was a good pick in the third round but Tim Euhus is limited as a tight end.
Carolina Panthers: C+
Chris Gamble is a raw corner but could become a great player, and I like where they got Keary Colbert and Travelle Wharton. Drew Carter can stay on the shelf for a year and recover from injury.
Chicago Bears: A
The Bears did a terrific job of getting players who will fit their schemes. Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson are ideal for Lovie Smith's defense, while Bernard Berrian gives them a guy with nice return skills. Nathan Vasher could contribute as a fourth defensive back and Leon Joe is a nice fit with his sub-4.5 speed, and if Claude Harriott can revert to the form he showed as a junior, he will contribute as well. Craig Krenzel has smarts and the ability to manage a team, making him a good pick as a career backup-type behind Rex Grossman.
Cincinnati Bengals: A
I was a little critical of their selection of Chris Perry, but the Bengals will get a nice second option to go behind Rudi Johnson. Kieran Ratliff is a big-play corner while Madieu Williams made sense at the safety spot. Caleb Miller is a productive linebacker while Matthias Askew made some things happen at Michigan State and could be a force with some experience and coaching. Stacy Andrews is a project at tackle who could pay dividends in two years. Maurice Mann is an underrated wideout and Greg Brooks could develop into a nice nickelback. I like what Marvin Lewis did to help his defense.
Cleveland Browns: B
Kellen Winslow is ideal for the offense of the Browns and will give Jeff Garcia a nice target over the middle, while Sean Jones and Luke McCown were nice value picks. Not a lot of players came into the fold but Cleveland did get quality from limited numbers.
Dallas Cowboys: C-
The Cowboys passed on the best back available in Steven Jackson but recovered somewhat by getting Julius Jones in the second round. Tackle Jacob Rogers has some durability concerns, but Bruce Thornton was a major reach at corner. Sean Ryan is an OK fit, but passing on Jackson and missed opportunities in the middle rounds drops Dallas' grade.
Denver Broncos: C+
D.J. Williams made sense because of the injury questions Denver has at linebacker, and Tatum Bell could be a game-breaking running back if he can secure the ball. Darius Watts came off the board a little early and needs to get bigger, but he is a great athlete. Jeremy LeSueur was a good value in the third round, but Jeff Shoate was just OK in the fifth round.
Detroit Lions: A
Roy Williams is a great pick as a complement to Charles Rogers at wide receiver, and the Lions upgraded one of the worst running games in the league with a dynamic performer in Kevin Jones. Teddy Lehman is a solid linebacker if he is protected by the defensive line and is productive, while Keith Smith was a great pickup in the third round and Alex Lewis will be a tremendous contributor on special teams. Kelly Butler was also a good value along the offensive line.
Green Bay Packers: C+
The Packers needed help in the secondary and got just that in cornerback Ahmad Carroll. Joey Thomas is a hard worker and a solid pick in the third round, and while Donnell Washington slipped to the third round, his talent could be an asset if he develops some consistency and gets his motor running. The third round was a little early to take punter B.J. Sander and the late-round picks were just OK.
Houston Texans: B+
I like what they did with the defense, getting tremendous help at corner in Dunta Robinson and end in Jason Babin. And if he comes back from the knee injury, Glenn Earl could be a nice value.
Indianapolis Colts: C
Bob Sanders will team with young safety Mike Doss to give Indy a solid duo in the back of the defense, while Ben Hartsock is an excellent all-around, blue-collar tight end. Gilbert Gardner is the perfect linebacker for their system because he can run and cover, but Kendyll Pope was a slight reach. Jake Scott could play either center or tackle, but Jason David was also a slight reach at DB because he does not run that well.
Jacksonville Jaguars: B+
Reggie Williams may have come off the board a little early, but he is definitely a solid wideout who can use his size to his advantage. Daryl Smith could be an excellent pro linebacker and Greg Jones was a super pick in the second round as a change of pace running back to team with Fred Taylor. Kicker Josh Scobee was a little bit of a reach, but every other pick was solid and should help the team.
Kansas City Chiefs: C
Junior Siavii sold himself to the Chiefs with a tremendous individual workout, and he has a real chance to contribute as a rookie and push Ryan Sims to be better for a defense that desperately needs improving. Kris Wilson will be utilized in a lot of different ways, including the passing game and on special teams, but he may have been taken a little early. Keyaron Fox was Georgia Tech's leading tackler last season and will upgrade the LB spot but also came off the board a little early. Samie Parker is speedy but inconsistent while Jared Allen needs some work in the weight room but does have pass-rush ability.
Miami Dolphins: C-
The Dolphins just did not come away with enough players. They did move up to get Vernon Carey, who will be in the mix at tackle, but Will Poole was a good pick after falling down the board a little. I like strength in numbers and Miami did not bring enough quality players into the fold.
Minnesota Vikings: A
Kenechi Udeze, Dontarrious Thomas and Darrion Scott will help immensely for a team that needed speed on defense, particularly speed outside off the edge. Nat Dorsey and Mewelde Moore were my top two players available on Day 2 and the Vikings got them both. Rod Davis will also help the front seven and Deandre Iland is a versatile defensive back, while Jeff Dugan is a strong blocker at the tight end spot.
New England Patriots: B+
Vince Wilfork will be a solid contributor to Bill Belichick's defense but Ben Watson needs to play up to his computer numbers. His production was not always equal to his great physical ability. Marquise Hill was not a bad value while Guss Scott and Dexter Reid were probably take a little early. Cedric Cobbs will be a nice complement to Corey Dillon at running back and P.K. Sam could be the big wideout the Patriots have been looking for.
New Orleans Saints: C
Again went for a defensive lineman over their big need at corner, but Will Smith was a tremendous value at No. 18. Devery Henderson is a speed receiver who will be a nice challenge for Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth. Courtney Watson was a nice addition for the defense as a versatile linebacker and I like Rodney Leslie, while Mike Karney is a tough blocker as a fullback for Deuce McAllister.
New York Giants: C+
It all hinges on Eli Manning and how he pans out. The Giants obviously felt he was significantly better than the other top quarterbacks or they would not have given up so much to get him. There will be tremendous pressure on him to make it all worth it, but Ernie Accorsi has a history of being a good judge of young quarterbacks, so it could all work out. Chris Snee was a solid pickup at guard but they did pass on Nat Dorsey, failing to upgrade the left tackle spot. Gibril Wilson was arguably the defensive MVP for Tennessee last season.
New York Jets: C+
Jonathan Vilma was moving up a lot of draft boards and fills a need for speed at linebacker, while Derrick Strait also adds speed at corner as a value pick in the third round. Jerricho Cotchery is a solid possession receiver but Adrian Jones is a project at tackle.
Oakland Raiders: B-
Robert Gallery is a can't-miss tackle prospect and Jake Grove is a nasty center who will upgrade that position. The Raiders needed receivers but did not get them until late with Carlos Francis and Johnnie Morant.
Philadelphia Eagles: B
I like what the Eagles did, moving up to get Shawn Andrews, the tremendous run-blocking tackle from Arkansas, while Trey Darilek and Adrien Clarke will also provide some depth along the offensive front. Matt Ware and J.R. Reid are both versatile defensive backs and fullback Thomas Tapeh made sense in the fifth round.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B
You have to like the upgrade at quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger, and Ricardo Colclough is a nice pick in the second round as a guy who can eventually help fill a need at corner and be a good return man early on. Max Starks will help shore up the offensive line while Nathaniel Adibi is potentially a perfect fit for the Steelers' 3-4 scheme.
San Diego Chargers: B
If it were up to me, I would have held onto Eli Manning and done whatever it took to get him signed. Philip Rivers is a cerebral quarterback, though, who could have a Bernie Kosar-type career. Igor Olshansky, Shaun Phillips and Dave Ball will upgrade the defensive line, while Michael Turner was a good choice as a backup running back in the later rounds. And I like Nate Kaeding to be a great kicker for many years in the NFL. The Chargers were bailed out by the Giants and recovered nicely.
San Francisco 49ers: B
Moved down but still got some good players, starting with Rashaun Woods and Derek Hamilton at wide receiver. Woods is a polished, solid receiver who could start as a rookie and Justin Smiley could step in and start at guard in his first year as well. If Shawntae Spencer can remain a productive corner he will be a nice pick in the second round, and the defensive front was upgraded nicely in the later rounds.
Seattle Seahawks: C
They needed a solid defensive tackle and Marcus Tubbs will be a boom or bust player at that position. If he can stay consistent for four quarters, though, he will be a big-time performer. Linebacker Michael Boulware will be moved to safety, but I'm not sure I agree with that move since Sean Jones was still available at that point. Sean Locklear was a good pickup in the third round, but the rest of the draft was just OK as Seattle failed to bring in more help for the defensive front.
St. Louis Rams: B
Marshall Faulk has made only 21 starts over the last two years, so Steven Jackson is a perfect fit as the heir apparent at running back. Tony Hargrove did not play football last year but showed as a sophomore that he can get after the passer, so that is a roll of the dice. Safety Jason Shivers was one of the steals of the draft in the fifth round. Jeff Smoker is also a nice pick in the later rounds as a quarterback project, a guy I think could eventually be a solid player under the tutelage of Mike Martz.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C
Michael Clayton will be a contributor at wideout and Marquise Cooper was an OK pick in the third round. Jeb Carey has good computer numbers but did not play up to his potential, and the Bucs are another team that just did not have enough in terms of numbers.
Tennessee Titans: A
Travis Laboy and Antwan Odom have pass rush ability and will offset some losses in free agency, while Bo Schobel is a steal in the fourth round. Ben Troupe also makes a lot of sense at tight end with Frank Wycheck retiring and Steve McNair needing an option in the middle of the field. Randy Starks has lots of potential along the defensive line as well and Rich Gardner was an OK pick in the third round, and while Michael Waddell was a major reach in the fourth, Robert Reynolds was a solid late-round linebacker.
Washington Redskins: B
They did not have a lot of picks but still did a nice job. Sean Taylor was the best defensive player in the draft and will give the Redskins a safety who can neutralize Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey, whom they will see twice a year. Chris Cooley is a Clint Diddier-type tight end who should be a solid performer, so it was a good move to give up picks to get him. The late rounds brought some depth, making the most of limited selections.