Yesterday I was kind enough to re-do the first round of the 2008 draft, and with the same amount of hindsight that makes it easy to judge general managers, it’s time for the 2009 class.
The premise is simple: you have a time machine, you go back to April 2009, and you assume control of every franchise and their top pick. Knowing what we know about how players will perform and how their bodies will hold up, we then make the right selection for every team.
It’s officially time for a re-draft.
1. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Key Stat: Only six of Stafford’s touchdowns came when he was under pressure.
Notes: Put forward the kind of statistical year that would lead you to believe he’s one of the league’s best, but still has some ways to go in terms of actual performance. Excels when is given time and makes good use out of his main weapon, but he needs to improve under pressure and consistently make better decisions.
Re-Draft: It’s worked out pretty well, so stick with Matthew Stafford.
2. Jason Smith, OT, St Louis Rams
Key Stat: In three seasons, Smith has played just 1,730 snaps. That’s just 52.5% of the Rams’ total snaps on offense in that period.
Notes: Drafted to be the team’s franchise left tackle, Smith has instead become the team’s liability on the right side. The scary thing about him is that at times he looks good, but a week later can look like one of the worst players in the league. Lacks consistency, seems to have caught the injury bug, and was one of the most overpaid players out there.
Re-Draft: Once again this picked worked out … actually, no, it didn’t. The Rams are still looking for a replacement for Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, so Hakeem Nicks would help immensely.
3. Tyson Jackson, DE, Kansas City Chiefs
Key Stat: Responsible for more defensive stops in the run game (38) than any other 3-4 defensive end in the league.
Notes: Jackson isn’t a defender who does a particularly good job at getting upfield and may never live up to where he’s drafted because of his limited skill set. That said, he’s made himself a valuable part of the Chiefs’ defense with his ability to get off blocks and make stops in the run game.
Re-Draft: How good would this team be with Clay Matthews on the roster paired with Tamba Hali?
4. Aaron Curry, LB, Seattle Seahawks
Key Stat: Curry has only missed 14 tackles in three years.
Notes: The most NFL-ready player from the 2009 draft would go on to have our third-lowest grade of all 4-3 outside linebackers in his rookie year. Curry never truly recovered in Seattle, with his coverage woes all too evident and a coaching staff unable to channel his inner playmaker. While he may well prove a capable two-down player in the league for a long time, he adds to the argument against taking linebackers early in the draft. He was traded to Oakland last year for a 2012 seventh round pick and a conditional selection in 2013.
Re-Draft: Linebacker wasn’t necessarily the wrong place to target. They just landed the wrong guy. Step forward Brian Cushing.
5. Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets
Key Stat: In three years worth of action, has the lowest grade of any player drafted from 2009 at -54.4.
Notes: His performances in the playoff game (where he has cut down his mistakes significantly) have made many forget about how horrible he’s been for most of the regular season. Presented with a roster as deep as any in the league, he’s had to be carried to the playoffs amid a complete inability to function under pressure.
Re-Draft: Stay away from the “Sanchize” thus saving themselves years of molly coddling a sub-standard quarterback. The Jets finally get some outside pass rush with Brian Orakpo, though, in hindsight, they don’t trade up this high.
6. Andre Smith, OT, Cincinnati Bengals
Key Stat: Went from a -18.0 grade in 2010 to -1.7 a year later.
Notes: Found it hard to get (and stay) on the field in his first two years in the league. Weight issues and a chronic foot injury kept him sidelined for much of the start of his career. Took a step forward in 2011 but has failed to justify such an early draft pick being spent on him.
Re-Draft: It never hurts to introduce an offensive weapon like Percy Harvin.
7. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland Raiders
Key Stat: Managed almost twice as many yards in 2011 (975) as he did in 2009 and 2010 combined (490).
Notes: In 2011, Heyward-Bey finally started to show his potential earning a +4.6 receiving grade for his troubles. That wasn’t quite the case in either of his first two years. He was so poor in both years that he picked up our lowest receiving grade in 2009 and second-lowest a year later. Heyward-Bey finally looks to be on an upward curve at this point in his career.
Re-Draft: You want a speedster wide receiver? Well, how about Mike Wallace?
8. Eugene Monroe, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars
Key Stat: Finished 2011 as our third-ranked left tackle.
Notes: It has taken Monroe some time to get it together in the NFL, but he really stepped it up in the critical third year. Nine sacks given up is a tad deceiving based on who was taking them, but just 25 QB disruptions all year showcase a player living up to his draft stock. He is one of the better tackles in the league when it comes to actually helping out his running back.
Re-Draft: Making Lardarius Webb the pick would provide a complement (and heir) to Rashean Mathis.
9. B.J. Raji, DT, Green Bay Packers
Key Stat: Finished at the bottom of all defensive tackles in our Run Stop % signature stat, and sixth from bottom in our Pass Rush Productivity rankings for 2011.
Notes: Raji was something of a star after helping Green Bay to the Super Bowl. His hit-and-miss year in 2010 ended with two big performances with the nation’s eyes on him. His start to 2011 seemed to suggest he’d be carrying this form forward, but after Week 3, his season went south with Raji unable to make much of an impact no matter how much Green Bay left him on the field. He faces a big year in 2012 as this Packer tries to regain his form.
Re-Draft: The cracks were already starting to show at the tackle spot with Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher only getting older. Sebastian Vollmer could step in at either spot from Day 1.
10. Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Key Stat: Crabtree has yet to manage more than 874 yards in an NFL season.
Notes: Its safe to say Crabtree hasn’t always been helped by the play of his quarterback. However, he hasn’t actually managed to stand out with the opportunities that have been presented to him. He is one of the league’s better receivers after the catch (his 14 forced missed tackles in 2011 was fifth of all receivers) but needs to cut down on the drops (22 since entering the league).
Re-Draft: Wide receiver is still a glaring need. There are massive character concerns here, but Kenny Britt brings with him the kind of playmaking this team needed.
11. Aaron Maybin, DE, Buffalo Bills
Key Stat: Picked up just 11 combined sacks, hits, and hurries in his time with Buffalo. Maybin managed 24 with the Jets in one season.
Notes: It never worked out for Maybin in Buffalo and he was limited to a purely situational role in New York. He could prove a long-term asset for the Jets, but given how one-dimensional he is, that’s not the type of player you want to spend a high first round pick on.
Re-Draft: The Bills needed a tackle to replace the departed Jason Peters. Eugene Monroe has all the tools to be a franchise left tackle for a long time.
12. Knowshon Moreno, HB, Denver Broncos
Key Stat: Managed almost as many yards in his rookie year (947) as he did in the next two years combined (958).
Notes: While Moreno can make some moves in the open field, he’s never finished higher than 16th in terms of total rushing yards. That about sums up how he’s failed to justify his draft selection, never looking like the No. 1 back he was drafted to be.
Re-Draft: You want a running back, then LeSean McCoy fits in with what the Broncos needed.
13. Brian Orakpo, OLB, Washington Redskins
Key Stat: Orakpo has tallied a +51.3 grade for his pass rushing in three years.
Notes: He may not be the most complete player in the league, but Orakpo has been a pass-rushing menace since entering the league. Initially playing linebacker in a 4-3, Orakpo had success in a way similar to (but not as prolific as) Von Miller. This was before a move to the 3-4 pushed him onto the next level. His impact for the Redskins is measured in 147 combined sacks, hits, and hurries since entering the league.
Re-Draft: Time to draft the successor to Jason Campbell, and that man is Josh Freeman.
14. Malcolm Jenkins, S, New Orleans Saints
Key Stat: Has missed 29 tackles since entering the league while recording 36 defensive stops.
Notes: The college corner didn’t just have to account for adjusting to safety in the pro’s; he had to deal with being the safety in a Gregg Williams defense. That makes life about as tough as it gets in safety land. It has also left him vulnerable to being exposed on more than one occasion. His talent shines through at times, but you get the feeling we’ve yet to see the best out of him.
Re-Draft: The Saints needed a defensive end that could come in and play on every down if required. Matt Shaughnessy would improve their DE spot.
15. Brian Cushing, LB, Houston Texans
Key Stat: Led all inside linebackers last year with 34 combined sacks, hits and hurries.
Notes: In three years in the league has emerged as one of the top linebackers in the NFL. Other than a 2010 where Cushing had problems with performance and a suspension, he’s shown an ability to make plays all over the field. A true every-down linebacker who can play the run, drop into coverage and rush the passer, Cushing can do it all.
Re-Draft: How about this, Arian Foster falls to the perfect team for him.
16. Larry English, OLB, San Diego Chargers
Key Stat: 37 combined sacks, hits, and hurries over his NFL career.
Notes: English was our lowest-rated 3-4 outside linebacker as a rookie and has managed to get on the field for just 227 snaps in the two years that followed. He is simply not a good pass rusher or someone who could be trusted as an every-down player. He’s been plagued by the injury bug in his tenure with the Chargers as well.
Re-Draft: More disappointing than what B.J. Raji has been, Raji would be a better fit at end in San Diego than at nose tackle anywhere else.
17. Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Key Stat: Went from a touchdown:interception ratio of 25:6 in 2010, to 16:22 a year later.
Notes: What to make of Freeman? He’s proven capable of leading his team back from the brink of defeat, but it should be noted he more often than not played his part in walking them there. It’s true that the Bucs are coming off a tough year where everything went wrong, and injury seemed to impact his accuracy. If he’s to be a franchise quarterback, then he needs to take a step forward in excelling in all four quarters and not just in crunch time.
Re-Draft: The Bucs were low on decent defensive tackles heading into the 2009 draft, so Terrence Knighton helps rectify that.
18. Robert Ayers, DE, Denver Broncos
Key Stat: Has 28 combined sacks and quarterback hits since entering the league.
Notes: Ayers has become something of a solid player for the Broncos, but is that what he was drafted to be? The more you think about it, the more the answer is no with the defensive end earning a negative pass rushing grade every year he’s been in the league. By contrast he’s been positive every year in run defense, but those aren’t the kind of players you spend first round picks on.
Re-Draft: Free safety Jairus Byrd would have made an excellent complement to now-retired Brian Dawkins.
19. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Key Stat: Has dropped 20 passes since entering the league while also hauling in 20 touchdowns.
Notes: Maclin quickly acclimatized himself to life in the NFL, turning himself into a reliable No. 2 receiver with seven career games where he recorded over 100 yards. Not a pick who has wowed you with his production, but he has contributed.
Re-Draft: A desperate linebacker situation is somewhat saved by the selection of James Laurinaitis.
20. Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Detroit Lions
Key Stat: Led the league in dropped passes for a tight end in 2010, while finishing in the Top 10 in 2009 and 2011.
Notes: Pettigrew was one of the most NFL-ready draft selections in 2009, yet struggled to make much of a positive impact in Year 1. Since then, while his role in the offense has increased, his run blocking has steadily gotten worse and he’s become something of a penalty machine (given up 21 penalties over the last two years). Pettigrew works in Detroit, but you’d like him to iron out some of the flaws in his game.
Re-Draft: Picking up a corner like Jason McCourty would be quite nice.
21. Alex Mack, C, Cleveland Browns
Key Stat: Has given up just 40 combined sacks, hits and hurries since entering the league.
Notes: Mack has never looked as good as he did in his rookie year (+19.5) and has struggled to establish himself as one of the league’s elite centers. He’s not a million miles off, though, with his +34.9 grade the fourth-highest of any player drafted in 2009.
Re-Draft: He slips in the draft despite being better than some of the guys ahead of him, so the Browns take Alex Mack again.
22. Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Key Stat: Harvin has earned a +34.3 grade since entering the league.
Notes: The only disappointing thing about Harvin is how much he’s seen the field (54.6% of all Vikings offensive snaps). One of the biggest weapons in the league, it stands to reason that when Minnesota gets the ball in his hands, good things happen.
Re-Draft: With a lack of receiving options, Jeremy Maclin would provide a solid No. 2 for the impending breakout year of Sidney Rice.
23. Michael Oher, OT, Baltimore Ravens
Key Stat: After giving up 31 combined sacks, hits and hurries as a rookie, Oher surrendered 39 and 46 in the years following.
Notes: After a very good rookie year at right tackle, the Ravens overestimated Oher’s ability to switch to the left side and he responded with some sophomore struggles. A move back to the right side didn’t help him regain his form, and we’re left to wonder if he’ll ever be the same player again.
Re-Draft: If a good corner like Vontae Davis is available, why not?
24. Peria Jerry, DT, Atlanta Falcons
Key Stat: Jerry only managed 71 snaps as a rookie before his knee blew out. He has since started just four games as he works his way back.
Notes: You wonder what could have been for Jerry, but for a horrific injury that saw him tearing just about everything in his knee. Since then, has looked like just another guy, struggling to get much penetration up field and unable to make much of an impact in the run game. Overall, he’s managed just 658 snaps since being drafted.
Re-Draft: Drafting Louis Delmas to be a leader in the secondary would help.
25. Vontae Davis, CB, Miami Dolphins
Key Stat: Has broken up 23 passes and recorded nine interceptions in his career while giving up 13 touchdowns.
Notes: Davis has picked up a positive grade for his coverage every year he’s been in the NFL, but it’s hardly been to a level that makes you think of him as one of the league’s best. He’s been quite a capable starter that has always threatened to be much more, but is yet to take the plunge.
Re-Draft: They didn’t know what they had in Cameron Wake, but they likely wouldn’t mind some of the pass rush that Connor Barwin would bring long-term.
26. Clay Matthews, OLB, Green Bay Packers
Key Stat: Yes its true he only had six sacks last year, but the 21 further quarterback knockdowns should let people know Matthews still has it.
Notes: Matthews is coming off his most consistent year in the league where he essentially was the Packers’ pass rush in 2011. One of the top outside linebackers year-in, year-out, this is the kind of complete player who can make plays in all phases of the game. That is a rare trait among modern 3-4 outside linebackers.
Re-Draft: They lost Matthews who went much higher, so the Packers console themselves with Tyson Jackson to be the kind of defensive linemen that just makes plays in the run game all day long.
27. Donald Brown, HB, Indianapolis Colts
Key Stat: Brown has just two 100-yard rushing games in his career.
Notes: Struggled to surpass Joseph Addai, then found rookies eating into his playing time. Just when the Colts were out of options, he showed just enough to make you think it was too soon to give up on him. What a tease.
Re-Draft: Andy Levitre is the best offensive lineman left on the board and his versatility would come in handy.
28. Eric Wood, C, Buffalo Bills
Key Stat: Including plays negated by pre-snap penalties, Wood has played exactly 2,000 snaps for the Bills.
Notes: He’s has had to deal with some brutal injuries, but finally started living up his draft status this year when the Bills got him playing at center. Before his rookie season was cut short, he had earned a +8.8 grade which–even with a reduced snap count–was enough for him to finish seventh overall in the center rankings.
Re-Draft: Buffalo loves picking up defensive backs, and they’d look for Malcolm Jenkins to be the center fielder of their defense.
29. Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
Key Stat: Had a combined grade of +7.7 for his work in four postseason games.
Notes: Already established as one of the best in the league, Nicks is the kind of receiver who can do it all as evidenced by his +32.5 grade over three years. Equipped with the tools to stretch a defense while the owning the physicality to dominate cornerbacks. Nicks put them to excellent use in the Giants Super Bowl triumph.
Re-Draft: They needed a replacement long term for Antonio Pierce. Rey Maualuga could be that guy while featuring at outside linebacker until Pierce had enough.
30. Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans
Key Stat: Britt has dropped just eight passes since entering the league, while forcing 18 broken tackles.
Notes: It is true that he appears to be something of a liability off the field, but there’s no denying his talent. At just 23 years old, it’s incredible to think what he can do if he finally gets healthy and gets his head straight.
Re-Draft: That interior offensive line was on its way down. Step forward, T.J. Lang.
31. Chris Wells, HB, Arizona Cardinals
Key Stat: Just 27 career receptions in a pass-oriented offense.
Notes: Part of the problem with Wells is that as good a runner he is, he’s just not a natural in the passing game. You could look past that if he was the kind of workhorse back who ripped defenses to shreds, but with constant injury problems and inconsistent on-field production, he’s just not been that guy.
Re-Draft: Kurt Warner would have been real happy to see Michael Oher come to town.
32. Evander Hood, DE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Key Stat: Had the second-lowest stop percentage in 2011 of all 3-4 ends, turning just 10 of his 296 run plays into defensive stops. This is after Hood came in last in 2010.
Notes: You can make all the excuses in the world for Hood, but he’s a player who fails to have any real impact on the game. Unable to penetrate upfield on a regular basis and lacking the ability to constantly move blockers about, the Steeler plays more snaps than his production would ever suggest.
Re-Draft: Not the greatest spot in the world to be drafting from, Pittsburgh would benefit from some competition at the cornerback spot with Sean Smith.