PFF's 2008 First Round Re-draft
If you don’t learn from the mistakes of the past then you’re destined to repeat them, right? So while everyone is shifting focus to the incoming class of rookies, we’re spending some time looking back at previous draft classes, assessing just how good picks were, and what teams should have done.
Here I’ll be using the PFF grading scale, so anything from -2.0 (terrible) to +2.0 (excellent) is possible.
Let’s see how 2008 turned out.
1. Jake Long, OT, Miami Dolphins
Key Stat: In the first three years of his career, Long gave up one hit, hurry, or sack for every 27 pass blocking snaps. In 2011 and 2012, he gave up one for every 17.3 pass blocks.
Notes: In the five years Long spent with Miami before moving to the Rams he established himself as one the league’s premier left tackles. In his rookie year he finished 10th in our tackle rankings, and in the next two years he would finish second. Unfortunately, the injury bug struck which would mean spending the next two years struggling to recapture that form. A shame, really.
Re-Draft: The benefit of doing this in hindsight is knowing that Matt Ryan turns into a franchise quarterback. He’s an easy choice here.
2. Chris Long, DE, St Louis Rams
Key Stat: Long has finished in the Top 3 of 4-3 defensive ends in each of the past three years in terms of the total number of sacks, hits, and hurries he has earned.
Notes: After a slow start in St Louis, Long has emerged as one of the most consistent pass rushers in the league as the key stat above would indicate. If there’s a downside (and there is) it’s that he’s never developed into a complete end, with his work in the run game often being disappointing.
Re-Draft: The Rams were a team that needed pass rush. The best pass rusher from this draft, and well worth a No.2 pick, was Chris Long himself.
3. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Key Stat: He has finished in the Top 5 of our quarterback rankings in four out of his five years in the league.
Notes: Until he wins a Super Bowl he’s destined to never receive his due. However, he’s carried the Falcon franchise on his back (with some help from his receiving options) to be a regular season powerhouse. His ability to keep the chains moving is what defines him, with “Matty Ice” continuing to put Atlanta in position to win games.
Re-Draft: Atlanta needed a quarterback to build behind. With Matt Ryan off the board, Joe Flacco would have been an adequate consolation prize.
4. Darren McFadden, HB, Oakland Raiders
Key Stat: McFadden has managed more than 200 carries in a season only twice since being drafted.
Notes: McFadden was drafted to be for the Raiders what Adrian Peterson would be for the Vikings. To say he hasn’t delivered on that would be an understatement. Long on talent but short on production, he’s had problems with health and failed to adjust when Oakland has implemented a zone blocking scheme. In a league full of talented running backs “Run DMC” doesn’t stand out.
Re-Draft: If you want a homerun threat who can handle a heavy workload then Chris Johnson is your man.
5. Glenn Dorsey, DT, Kansas City Chiefs
Key Stat: Since switching to 3-4 defensive end Dorsey has finished in the Top 3 at his position three times in terms of the amount of defensive stops he’s made in the run game.
Notes: It might seem weird to think, but Dorsey was to many people the top player available in the draft. What he was proclaimed to be and what he would actually end up as were two very different things. He has struggled to get any pressure on the quarterback, and while he did become an excellent run defender that’s not what you spend a Top 5 pick on.
Re-Draft: The Chiefs had so many needs heading into this draft and were still committed to a 4-3 on defense. Here Jake Long makes a lot of sense for a team in need of a left tackle, even if it is a little high for a tackle.
6. Vernon Gholston, DE, New York Jets
Key Stat: In three seasons Gholston managed a paltry 17 QB disruptions.
Notes: The workout warrior looked great, but his play on the field was anything but. The Jets trusted him enough to give him 607 snaps over three years before finally cutting the cord on one of the biggest busts in recent memory.
Re-Draft: Can you imagine how good the Jets’ offense would have looked by replacing Thomas Jones with Jamaal Charles?
7. Sedrick Ellis, DT, New Orleans Saints
Key Stat: In our Pass Rushing Productivity rating for defensive tackles he finished eighth as a rookie. Since then he hasn’t cracked the Top 30.
Notes: Ellis was meant to be that penetrating interior tackle that consistently pushed up field. He hasn’t proven to be that guy, being the type of player who puts forth his highlight reel play for a game and then goes quiet. Even that disappeared in 2012 and the Saints have cemented the move away from him with a change of defensive schemes.
Re-Draft: The Saints could use some help in the secondary and would have been delighted to land Brandon Flowers.
8. Derrick Harvey, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Key Stat: Harvey finished his Jaguars career with just 55 combined sacks, hits and hurries.
Notes: He was the player who could get to Peyton Manning and close the gap on the Colts. So talented that the Jaguars gave up a first, two thirds, and a fourth round pick for him. Yet Harvey failed to be the guy Shack Harris envisioned him being. One of the biggest draft busts in Jaguars history — if it wasn’t for Vernon Gholston we’d be talking a lot more about Harvey.
Re-Draft: Khalif Barnes was never the answer at left tackle for the Jaguars. However, Ryan Clady would be.
9. Keith Rivers, OLB, Cincinnati Bengals
Key Stat: Rivers has never managed more than 512 snaps in a season.
Notes: If you’re going to draft a linebacker this high, he needs to become the heartbeat of your defense, or a damn fine playmaker. Rivers proved to be neither as injury and a lack of faith from the coaches meant he would feature in 35 games for Cincinnati. Yet not one of those games saw him play 100% of the team’s defensive snaps.
Re-Draft: Linebacker was the right move, they just got the wrong guy. Jerod Mayo wouldn’t have proven to be an issue here.
10. Jerod Mayo, ILB, New England Patriots
Key Stat: Mayo has led the Patriots in defensive stops over the past three years.
Notes: While he hasn’t developed into a premier, playmaking linebacker, he has managed to make himself a leader on the Patriots’ defense. The constant progression in his growth saw him walk away from 2012 with our second-highest grade of any 4-3 outside linebacker. On an ever-changing defense, he’s one constant New England can’t do without.
Re-Draft: Anyone else think New England would be happy to replace Richard Seymour over the long term with Calais Campbell?
11. Leodis McKelvin, CB, Buffalo Bills
Key Stat: McKelvin has given up 16 touchdowns and earned just six picks since being drafted.
Notes: You wonder how much his 2009 injury took out of him, with McKelvin failing to ever really establish himself in Buffalo upon his return. Still, he has established himself as one of the league’s premier return men, and in a more limited role on defense this year he did take a step forward. It earned him a new deal, and a second chance to establish himself.
Re-Draft: It’s not a sexy pick, but the Bills needed a center. John Sullivan has gone on to be one of the best in the league.
12. Ryan Clady, LT, Denver Broncos
Key Stat: This left tackle is coming off a year where he gave up just 22 quarterback disruptions on 609 pass blocking situations. That gave him the fourth-best Pass Blocking Efficiency score of any offensive tackle.
Notes: Let’s be honest. Clady wasn’t very good in 2011. Having a quarterback like Tim Tebow didn’t make his job any easier, but there were too many bad plays on tape of Clady to think he was a top tackle. Fast forward a year later and things were very different. Our fourth-ranked left tackle on the year isn’t a dominating run blocker, but he ensured Peyton Manning had a clean pocket, earning the franchise tag in the process.
Re-Draft: There’s no Ryan Clady, but there is a Duane Brown. He’d be a perfect fit here, even if he would take some time to groom.
13. Jonathan Stewart, HB, Carolina Panthers
Key Stat: Only once in his career has he had a season with more than 200 touches.
Notes: If not for the presence of DeAngelo Williams and some injuries, you wonder just what Stewart could achieve. After getting paid, 2012 didn’t exactly go to plan for Stewart who once again missed too much time to be good value at this spot. It’s a shame because when he does get a solid amount of carries he’s proven to be one of the best backs in the league at getting more than his line gives him.
Re-Draft: Receiver help was needed for a team relying exclusively on Steve Smith. Bringing in another deep threat with DeSean Jackson would have done nicely.
14. Chris Williams, OT, Chicago Bears
Key Stat: The man drafted to be a franchise blindside tackle has spent just 414 career snaps at left tackle.
Notes: A bust pure and simple. Williams wasn’t meant to become a sub-standard left guard, he was meant to be an elite left tackle. He’s failed in that regard and in five years with the Bears amassed a grade of -40.3. No wonder they cut their losses with him during the 2012 season.
Re-Draft: The need for a left tackle was evident. So just make a better choice by nabbing Branden Albert.
15. Branden Albert, OT, Kansas City Chiefs
Key Stat: Albert had the seventh-highest Pass Blocking Efficiency score of all tackles in 2012.
Notes: Though Albert has been suggested as a possible trade candidate, that’s more a reflection on how much it will cost to retain him, having been recently franchise tagged. Indeed, the former college left guard has turned into an excellent pass protector, even if he isn’t exactly someone who gets constant push in the run game.
Re-Draft: To help replace Jared Allen, Cliff Avril might not be the best value pick, but he’d act as an upgrade on the roster.
16. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Arizona Cardinals
Key Stat: Prior to being traded away, Rodgers-Cromartie had 42 career pass deflections as a Cardinal.
Notes: An incredibly frustrating player, Rodgers-Cromartie is one of the most talented cornerbacks in the league who has enough about him to match up with the opposition’s top receivers. Then at times he has looked disinterested, finding himself traded out of Arizona as part of a package deal for Kevin Kolb.
Re-Draft: You don’t normally see guards taken in the first round. Now imagine how much better the Cardinals line would be if they had selected Carl Nicks?
Continue to Page 2 for the rest of 2008’s first round…
17. Gosder Cherilus, OT, Detroit Lions
Key Stat: Cherilus has yielded 150 sacks, hits and hurries since being drafted by the Lions. The scary thing is that he’s averaged 38 QB disruptions allowed per year and has shown no signs of improving on that.
Notes: He did step up his play this year and has developed into one of the most reliable pass blocking right tackles in the league. He may be less than what Detroit had hoped for but still a solid acquisition that represents a success for the franchise.
Re-Draft: In need of a running back, Ray Rice would have upgraded this team in many ways.
18. Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Key Stat: Flacco earned a +11.7 grade for his work in the postseason last year.
Notes: A Super Bowl winner and now the highest paid player in the game. But is he worth it? An inconsistent player who got hot at the right time, but his postseason play did ensure the Ravens won the big one. Flacco has been what Baltimore needed.
Re-Draft: With no Flacco on the board, Baltimore might want to add a back to complement and then take over from Willis McGahee. Like Matt Forte.
19. Jeff Otah, OT, Carolina Panthers
Key Stat: Otah has managed only 1,840 career snaps. That’s less than two seasons worth of work (including rookie season playoff games).
Notes: Chronic back problems have limited what Otah can do for the Panthers. That is a shame, because when he’s been healthy he’s played extremely well. His +11.0 grade is no joke, and Otah entered the league looking like the prototypical right tackle that could block going forward and on his heels.
Re-Draft: They added a receiver earlier on so now it makes some sense to upgrade their defense. Jason Jones would be a project, but he’d contribute immediately as a nickel-package defensive tackle.
20. Aqib Talib, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Key Stat: Talib was beaten for 18 touchdowns while intercepting 17 balls during his time as a Buccaneer.
Notes: A headache off the field, Talib is talented enough to warrant during the assignment of a team’s No. 1 receiver in a league that lacks people who can do it. For Tampa Bay’s new coaching staff that upside just wasn’t worth it in 2012 as they cut their losses with him.
Re-Draft: They got a better than expected year out of Antonio Bryant, but they still need a receiver for the future. Like Stevie Johnson.
21. Sam Baker, OT, Atlanta Falcons
Key Stat: Earned a +12.5 grade for his work in 2012 after collecting a -24.9 grade the previous four years.
Notes: Baker has played hurt at times and it’s shown. Still, when the pressure was on (a contract year) he delivered his most complete season to date. Far from elite, he’s a solid tackle that is good enough for the Falcons to win with.
Re-Draft: Atlanta had some holes on both sides of the ball, and this wasn’t the deepest class. Still, giving Joe Flacco a chain-mover like Danny Amendola wouldn’t hurt.
22. Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Key Stat: In four years, has managed more than 150 carries in a season only once.
Notes: Jones may be a fine runner who can make defenders miss, but you only need to break down his season by season carries to question whether he’s really worth a first-round pick. The Cowboys didn’t need a feature back at the time, but Jones’ inability to stay on the field has consistently prevented him being the kind of complement they likely envisioned him becoming.
Re-Draft: In need of a decent receiver for Tony Romo, Jordy Nelson is the guy here.
23. Rashard Mendenhall, HB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Key Stat: Averaged just over 172 carries per season during his time in Pittsburgh.
Notes: Drafted to be a workhorse back, Mendenhall has at times looked to be that player. Unfortunately, injuries have held him back and he’s had problems with a poor offensive line in front of him. No longer a Steeler, it’s a case of what could have been if not for a late-season injury in 2011.
Re-Draft: Anyone else think Jonathan Stewart would be a real nice fit in this offense?
24. Chris Johnson, HB, Tennessee Titans
Key Stat: 2,031. The number of yards Johnson managed in 2009.
Notes: When you have a talent like Johnson, you can be scared to take him off the field. At times that has been to everyone’s detriment, with the speedster still not particularly useful in passing situations. What’s more, he’s the kind of player that needs a certain amount of help from his guys up front, and when that hasn’t come he’s looked extremely ordinary. Overall, 2009 seems such a long time ago.
Re-Draft: You’d like to add a pass rusher somewhere but this draft just doesn’t have someone capable of doing that. So, playing it safe, I’d take Pierre Garcon.
25. Mike Jenkins, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Key Stat: His 2009 grade was a +12.7. His others four years for the Cowboys saw him earn a -21.8 grade.
Notes: After a strong 2009 campaign, Jenkins looked primed to become one of the league’s top cornerbacks. A poor 2010 then followed and he’s never recovered. Dallas essentially gave up on him with their moves prior to the 2012 season and now he finds himself on the open market.
Re-Draft: Could Dallas coax the best out of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? I’m banking they’d get closer than the Eagles or Cardinals managed.
26. Duane Brown, OT, Houston Texans
Key Stat: In his first two years in the league Brown allowed 103 quarterback sacks, hits, and hurries. Since then he has given up just 79 combined in three years.
Notes: When Brown came into the league he looked woefully unprepared. A whipping boy of sorts, he just gave up pressure like it was going out of fashion. However, the Texans never lost faith and have been rewarded with better and better performances. Now they have one of the most complete tackles in the game.
Re-Draft: It’s too soon for him in any other draft, but the Texans should really have found a complementary receiver for Andre Johnson. Like Mario Manningham.
27. Antoine Cason, CB, San Diego Chargers
Key Stat: Cason has tallied 41 career pass deflections.
Notes: While it’s easy to see why he was a first-round pick on a good day, those are all too infrequent. A shame really because after 2010 he looked like a player trending upward, but he just failed to kick on from there and leaves San Diego having never been the player that he was drafted to be.
Re-Draft: San Diego would get a good year out of Mike Goff. But the long term answer at right guard? Well that could be Josh Sitton.
28. Lawrence Jackson, DE, Seattle Seahawks
Key Stat: Jackson managed just 39 combined sacks, hits and hurries as a Seahawk. In his first two years as a Lion, as a backup playing less snaps, Jackson has pulled in a total of 44.
Notes: There are a number of reasons why it didn’t work out for Jackson in Seattle (some of which we discussed with Jackson), but fundamentally it just wasn’t a match. Constantly changing coaching staffs, injuries, and being used out of position left Jackson something of an afterthought.
Re-Draft: Given the state of the 2008 Seahawks offensive line, Gosder Cherilus would have helped.
29. Kentwan Balmer, DE, San Francisco 49ers
Key Stat: Two seasons with the 49ers resulted in just one hit, two hurries, and six defensive stops combined.
Notes: A rare big miss from the 49ers, Balmer looked terrible nearly every time he hit the field. Traded two years after being drafted, Balmer was even worse in Seattle who likely rued wasting a sixth-round selection on a non-entity like the former 49er. Despite playing in different schemes he has been poor regardless.
Re-Draft: At this stage the 49ers could have used some safety help, like a Kenny Phillips.
30. Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets
Key Stat: 29. The number of drops and missed tackles he has forced.
Notes: You can’t deny that Keller makes some plays, but a history of dropped passes and poor run blocking have seen him rarely live up to the status as a former first-round pick. Some of that has to be due to the situation he was in, but this workout warrior has only teased during his Jets tenure.
Re-Draft: If they wanted a tight end so badly Martellus Bennett would be the one to contribute on every down.
31. New York Giants, S, Kenny Phillips
Key Stat: Despite his injuries he’s finished with a positive grade in every single year.
Notes: Phillips has gone about quietly making himself one of the most reliable safeties in the league. It’s just a shame he’s so often battled injuries, because if he hadn’t who knows who differently things could have worked out.
Re-Draft: Secondary help was needed, particularly at safety. So someone like Tyvon Branch would do nicely.
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