Thursday, April 23, 2009 Updated: April 26, 5:25 PM ET
Pressure is on Giants' first-round pick
By John Clayton ESPN.com
NEW YORK -- Without superstars at the top, the 2009 draft is going to be one in which the rich get richer.
Bill Belichick wheeled and dealed and strengthened his Patriots defense with good players such as Darius Butler and Ron Brace. The Eagles got a steal at wide receiver with Jeremy Maclin. The Vikings gambled but could hit the big time with the selection of wide receiver Percy Harvin. And the Seahawks, although not a powerhouse in 2008, improved with the additions of linebacker Aaron Curry and center Max Unger, both of whom should start.
Like 2005, there could be more Pro Bowlers taken after the top 10 than in the top 10. We'll see. Here are 10 other nuggets from Day 1:
1. Eric Mangini needed to draft Ohio State wide receiver Brian Robiskie to satisfy Browns fans. Browns fans love Buckeyes on their team, so Robiskie will be popular. But Mangini wore down Cleveland fans by trading down three times from the fifth pick in the first round and then drafting a center, Alex Mack. That isn't going to win over many fans in Cleveland. By the way, can Mangini get any more former Jets on his roster? If he brings in two more, he might have to change the uniforms to green. Good thing he didn't trade local hero Brady Quinn.
2. Packers general manager Ted Thompson loves to trade back, but on Saturday, he traded up from the second round into the first to take linebacker Clay Matthews. Packers fans should rejoice. The additions of B.J. Raji and Matthews will make the transition to a 3-4 defense smoother.
3. The ghosts of Mike Williams and other former Texas players had a major impact in the middle of the first round. Williams, the former No. 1 pick, was a huge bust in Buffalo. Despite that, the Bills spent $8 million a year for guard Derrick Dockery, another Texas product. He was released in the offseason. So the Bills decided not to take Texas linebacker Brian Orakpo at No. 11 because of the Texas Two-Step disaster. Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins said: "Come on down!" They drafted Orakpo and signed Dockery and Williams. The Redskins are hooked on the Longhorns.
4. When it comes to a big deal, you must hand it to Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum. He made one of the huge deals of the 2008 offseason by acquiring Brett Favre. On Saturday, the Jets beat out Redskins owner Dan Snyder for Mark Sanchez, and Tannenbaum was able to do it without giving up the Jets' first-round pick next year. That he was able to do so shows the value of having players on your roster who can appeal to another coach. The Jets acquired the fifth pick in the draft from Cleveland (and former Jets coach Eric Mangini) for their first-round pick, their second-round pick (No. 52) and defensive end Kenyon Coleman, safety Abram Elam and quarterback Brett Ratliff.
5. Denver rookie head coach Josh McDaniels doesn't have a grasp on how to build a team. He signed three running backs in free agency and drafted another (Knowshon Moreno). And then he sent Denver's first-round choice in 2010 to Seattle for this year's 37th overall choice, which he used to pick cornerback Alphonso Smith. That's bizarre. Mike Shanahan must be laughing at that one.
6. Colts GM Bill Polian isn't going to leave holes in his offense for Peyton Manning. The team would like to add size to its defensive line and could have done that with Evander Hood. Instead, Polian added talented Connecticut running back Donald Brown to the backfield. With Dominic Rhodes gone, Polian thought a one-two punch of Joseph Addai and Brown made sense.
7. Bengals owner Mike Brown would rather draft a top offensive lineman than a skill-position player. In 2002, Brown drafted left tackle Levi Brown instead of tight end Jeremy Shockey in the first round. So it shouldn't have been a surprise to see the Bengals take offensive tackle Andre Smith over wide receiver Michael Crabtree, despite Cincinnati's need at receiver after the loss of T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency.
8. New Jaguars general manager Gene Smith has brought stability to the team's draft room. Instead of taking gambles on high picks, Smith made safe, quality choices. Using the best-player-available philosophy, the Jaguars drafted tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, both of whom should stabilize the offensive line.
9. No player in the draft will have more pressure on him than Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants. He's going to be asked to be the instant replacement for Plaxico Burress, who was counted on for five catches and about 80 yards a game, particularly in the first month of the season. Give Giants GM Jerry Reese credit for being patient and getting a receiver as talented as Nicks at the 29th pick. But the Giants' season could depend on how quickly Nicks develops a receiving relationship with Eli Manning. The Giants elected not to trade a No. 1 pick to get Braylon Edwards from Cleveland.
10. The best move for Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli was not trading defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey to Atlanta. Giving Dorsey andTony Gonzalez to the Falcons might have made the Falcons the favorites for the Super Bowl. It was no surprise Pioli took a defensive end, Tyson Jackson, in the first round. Like New England, his former employer, Pioli wants to build a strong defensive line.
John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.