The 2010 NFL Draft has only been over for less than an hour, which means it is already time to jump way ahead to conclusions and crown the early winners who came out looking great from this year’s draft. While obviously there’s no way to know for several years who truly made it, part of the fun now is taking a look at the teams who have really managed to put together what looks like a great draft plan. Here are the top 5 winners, not necessarily in any particular order.
Seattle Seahawks: Well this one might be the very top. Not only did they hit home runs with getting two great first round values and instant starters with OT Russell Okung and S Earl Thomas, but WR Golden Tate in the second round was a first round talent, and one of the receivers most ready to contribute right away in the NFL. Six more draft selections added a lot of quality depth, and 6th round USC TE Anthony McCoy was considered a third round talent before off the field issues, while CB Walter Thurmond could become a steal if he fully recovers from a knee injury. Add in trades for RB LenDale White and RB Leon Washington for one 4th and one 5th round pick, and this draft was a grand slam.
Oakland Raiders: Hey, even if they’re borderline top 5, they belong here this year just because someone remembered to lock Al Davis in his bathroom before the draft. They didn’t get nearly enough in trading MLB Kirk Morrison, who was their leading tackler for several seasons, but first round pick of ILB Rolando McClain is a more athletic and polished player who will start right away and play well (unlike most recent 1st round picks by Oakland). DT Lamarr Houston was an exceptional 2nd round pick who will instantly make the D-line much better, their other 7 picks added a lot of depth, special teams potential, and some immediate contributors. OT Jared Veldheer was an outstanding pick with a lot of experience, while athletic freak OT Bruce Campbell was a great pick for the 4th round (and the one many of us expected the Raiders to reach on in the first). Add in the 4th round pick in 2012 for QB Jason Campbell (who is badly underrated) and the Raiders could surprise a lot of people next year.
Detroit Lions: For the second year in a row, the Lions prove they hired the right coach who understands how to rebuild. DT Suh was a no-brainer at this spot, and will instantly start alongside DT Corey Williams to anchor the Lions defense and disrupt both the run and pass. RB Jahvid Best can provide explosiveness immediately as a 3rd down back and return man, and has an excellent chance of winning the starting RB job outright. CB Spivey from Iowa is a very solid choice and might play CB or S, while OT Jason Fox will eventually become a starter. The last two picks add some depth on special teams, and this draft did a great job of complimenting other trades and free agent moves to vastly improve the Lions across both the offense and defense.
San Francisco 49ers: This draft is a classic example of knowing who you are, what you need, and taking care of business. Singletary wants to be a smash mouth team, but the offensive line for San Fran was one of the worst in football. OT Staley was solid, but that was about it last year. Add in OT Anthony Davis and OG Mike Iupati, two big time offensive linemen who love to play smash mouth, and that could all change. S Taylor Mays is a great value in the second round, and the remaining 5 picks were used on solid players who add depth, and most should make the team and be able to contribute.
Tampa Bay Bucs: This is a combination of value, quality, and quantity. DT Gerald McCoy will start right away and be a disruptive force up the middle, and adding DT Brian Price in the top of the second will speed up that process of rebuilding the defense. WR Arrelious Been is a great pick in the 2nd round, and WR Mike Williams in the 4th is a great gamble pick. If he gets his head on straight, he’ll be a steal. CB Myron Lewis is a solid corner who can play several roles on the field, while P Brent Bowden will be called on to fix the worst punting game in the NFL. Three more late round picks add depth to the defense with developmental guys who have large upside.
Bonus: The New England Patriots: I’ll admit, I have no love loss at all for these guys, but they know their draft work. If TE Rob Gronkowski fully recovers from injury, he’ll be seeing many future Pro Bowls and making the Patriots’ spread virtually impossible to defend. CB Devin McCourty is a versatile player who fits into the Patriots defensive schemes well and was a great value where he was picked. 11 more draft picks included one of the best punters in college football, many solid football players, and an intriguing prospect in athletic quarterback Zac Robinson. Oh, yeah, the Patriots already have 2 first round picks and 2 second round picks for next year. That’s the way to run a draft.