PFF’s 2008 First Round Re-draft
As the interest in the 2013 NFL Draft builds, Khaled Elsayed takes a look back at the 2008 Draft and what could have been for each team.
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…