PFF’s 2009 First Round Re-draft
With the benefit of hindsight, and PFF's unique data, Khaled Elsayed re-drafts the first round of the 2009 NFL draft to show the league's GMs how it should have gone.
PFF’s 2009 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 2009 comes out.
1. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Key Stat: After finishing fifth in our Adjusted Accuracy Percentage signature stat in 2011 Stafford dropped to 25th a year later.
Notes: What can you say about Stafford? His yardage totals impress in fantasy football, but with a huge numbers of attempts, and huge number of bad plays he’s yet to live up to what was expected. Equipped with a cannon for an arm and one of the best receivers in the game, he’s flashed his top end talent on plenty of occasions. Still, the jury is out.
Re-Draft: The Lions desperately needed a quarterback and there’s no doubting the ceiling of Matthew Stafford. Right pick, even if he’s not the best player in this class by some distance.
2. Jason Smith, OT, St Louis Rams
Key Stat: Unfortunately, Smith would end up playing just six snaps of his Rams career at left tackle.
Notes: A massive bust, there were times when you thought Smith might develop into a competent player. However, with a questionable attitude, and struggling to stay on the field, a new regime in St Louis cut their losses. A big let down.
Re-Draft: This was a team going nowhere fast so going best player available made a lot of sense. You wouldn’t want Marc Bulger or Kyle Boller throwing to him in the long term, but Hakeem Nicks is a very nice choice.
3. Tyson Jackson, DE, Kansas City Chiefs
Key Stat: Jackson has never managed more than eight combined sacks, hits and hurries in a season.
Notes: A terrible selection with the benefit of hindsight. It became quickly apparent to all that Jackson couldn’t handle an every-down role as he lacked the ability to generate any pressure. Even a breakout 2011 year (where he was a force in the run game) looks more like the exception than the rule, with Jackson barely being an adequate early downs guy.
Re-Draft: The team was in the midst of converting to a 3-4 defense and who knew if Tamba Hali would transition successfully. Even so, pairing him with Clay Matthews would have really added something to this team.
4. Aaron Curry, OLB, Seattle Seahawks
Key Stat: Curry only earned a -11.8 grade in coverage in just over two years in Seattle.
Notes: Was considered by many to be the most NFL-ready player from the 2009 draft class. Shows what they know. A liability in coverage, Curry may have been an extraordinary athlete but he was a less than ordinary football player. A new regime and some schematic changes signaled the end for Curry as a Seahawk, despite Pete Carroll giving him a chance to prove his worth. He didn’t.
Re-Draft: This team didn’t have a running back on the roster it trusted. Arian Foster could have worked for this team in a number of ways.
5. Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets
Key Stat: Finished in the bottom six of our Adjusted Accuracy Percentage every year he’s been in the league.
Notes: The Jets made a bold move to make Sanchez their quarterback of the future. On the surface of it two AFC Championship games might signal a decent return on investment. The truth is that the Jets were blessed with an excellent roster and he failed to take full advantage it. As the roster became older, his flaws were more exposed. A disappointment.
Re-Draft: You wouldn’t have traded up for him, but with the fifth overall pick the Jets would want a difference maker. Percy Harvin has proven he can be productive regardless of who’s playing quarterback.
6. Andre Smith, OT, Cincinnati Bengals
Key Stat: In 2012 Smith was our top ranked right tackle.
Notes: It certainly took Smith a while to get going. He was slow to his first camp with a holdout, and then continual weight issues kept him off the field. However, he got in better shape and has developed into a an elite right tackle. He’s much better going forward than back, and in that respect has become a perfect fit for Cincinnati. The character concerns haven’t gone away though.
Re-Draft: A team sorely lacking pass rush. Brian Orakpo could help that out for sure.
7. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland Raiders
Key Stat: Picked up just 1.19 Yards Per Route Run in 2012 — 11th lowest in the NFL.
Notes: The Raiders fell in love with “DHB” because of his speed, viewing him as being the receiver to get behind opposing defenses. It didn’t work out that way as he would spend his four years catching just 11 deep balls. To put that in perspective, 10 guys caught more than that last year alone. Just not a productive player and drafted far higher than he ever should have been.
Re-Draft: So you’re desperate for a speedy receiver? Just pick Mike Wallace.
8. Eugene Monroe, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars
Key Stat: Gave up 90 quarterback disruptions in his first two years in the league. Monroe then improved to 58 in the next two years.
Notes: Monroe may never be an elite left tackle, but he’s got the look of a guy who is going to be a very good one for a long time. He’ll get beat at times by some of the better pass rushers out there, but more often than not can keep his quarterback protected.
Re-Draft: Not a home run by most counts, but the Jags wanted a franchise left tackle and Eugene Monroe was that guy.
9. B.J. Raji, DT, Green Bay Packers
Key Stat: Managed 51 quarterback disruptions on the Packers’ run to the Super Bowl in 2010.
Notes: What to make of B.J. Raji? On one hand he’s a guy who can dominate at times, such as when he went on a tear in the 2010 postseason. However, too often he’s a guy who looks relatively invisible, leaning on offensive linemen rather than doing something… well, productive. The Packers have used him more at defensive end recently, with some more noteworthy performances, yet we’re left wanting to see more from him.
Re-Draft: The Packers could bring in Sebastian Vollmer and get him ready to take over from either Chad Clifton or Mark Tauscher.
10. Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Key Stat: Finished 2012 with 2.55 Yards Per Route Run, which was fifth-highest (and equal to Calvin Johnson) in the league.
Notes: For a while you wondered just what the 49ers had in Crabtree. A difficult rookie year was followed by a couple of seasons where he was good, but not great, with a tendency to drop passes. Then 2012 happened, and with a switch at quarterback he would finish the year our seventh ranked receiver. A player that’s getting better and better.
Re-Draft: Desperately low on talent at wide receiver, Michael Crabtree remains the right move.
11. Aaron Maybin, OLB, Buffalo Bills
Key Stat: Had 11 combined sacks, hits and hurries in two years with the Bills.
Notes: A true waste of a pick. The Bills had him on the field for 330 snaps in two years and received desperately little production. Woeful. What else can you say?
Re-Draft: A player like Brian Cushing would have given this defense a much needed boost.
12. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos
Key Stat: Averaging 4.0 yards per carry in his career.
Notes: When Josh McDaniels came in he had some pretty big shoes to fill. Mike Shanahan had built a running game that could plug in runners and get production, and so in a radical, symbolic departure from that, the Broncos picked up Moreno. That doesn’t make him worth the 12th pick in any draft, and given how easy the Broncos have found it to replace him at times, it’s something of a waste.
Re-Draft: If you want a running back so bad then Lesean McCoy is the kind of playmaker they could do with.
13. Brian Orakpo, OLB, Washington Redskins
Key Stat: Owner of the sixth-highest Pass Rushing Productivity score of all 3-4 outside linebackers in 2011.
Notes: Orakpo was miscast in his rookie year as a 4-3 outside linebacker, but since switching to a more attacking role in the Redskins’ 3-4 defense he has flourished. Year after year he has has shown significant improvement, even if he may never be the most complete defender in the league. It’s a shame he missed so much of 2012 injured because his 2011 season, where he earned a +20.0 pass rushing grade, was something to really build on.
Re-Draft: The team could look toward thinking to the future with a guy who can be an explosive pass rusher. Like Michael Johnson.
14. Malcolm Jenkins, CB, New Orleans Saints
Key Stat: Missed one tackle in every 5.2 attempted which was the fifth-worst score for any safety in 2012.
Notes: The Saints drafted Jenkins to shore up their cornerback spot. In his rookie year he initially played sparingly as the Saints won the Super Bowl, but it was enough for him to be moved to safety full time. However, like many former cornerbacks, the switch to safety hasn’t been an easy one, despite his profile and it showed up big with a horrible 2012 season.
Re-Draft: A much better cornerback to select would have been Lardarius Webb.
15. Brian Cushing, ILB, Houston Texans
Key Stat: Has missed only 25 tackles in four years in the NFL. London Fletcher by comparison missed 21 last year alone.
Notes: After a stellar rookie season, Cushing had to battle suspensions and injuries in a disappointing second year. Still, he bounced back with an excellent 2011 where he showed himself to be an elite linebacker. He was well on his way to reinforcing that before an injury knocked him out of the 2012 season and severely impacted the Texans’ defense. He’s missed more time than you’d like, but Cushing remains an excellent player for the Texans.
Re-Draft: The defense had holes everywhere. In a division where they needed to make Peyton Manning uncomfortable, step forward Henry Melton.
16. Larry English, OLB, San Diego Chargers
Key Stat: After a rookie season where he managed a disappointing 25 quarterback disruptions, he has picked up only 19 since.
Notes: The Chargers saw English as a long-term replacement to the fading force that was Shawne Merriman. He wasn’t. Remarkably still with the team, he plummeted down the Chargers’ depth chart and has struggled to get playing time. Even when he has been on the field he’s failed to produce and must go down as a wasted pick.
Re-Draft: It may be a little high for him, but if you’re desperate for pass rush then Paul Kruger is the best guy to fit in their 3-4 scheme.
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