Sunday, April 26, 2009

Winners and Losers in the First Round

I don't think it was much of a surprise to anyone when the Detroit Lions picked Georgia QB Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 selection in the NFL draft.

But there were some surprises in the first round, not the least of which was the fact that Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree was still available when the San Francisco 49ers made the 10th selection.

Draft picks are always gambles. You never know if a player who performed well on the college level is going to make that jump to the next level, but Crabtree seems to have all the tools to be the best receiver the 49ers have had since Jerry Rice was on the roster.

Unfortunately, he doesn't have someone as good as Joe Montana calling the signals — at least, not yet.

Crabtree was still available because Oakland chose Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward–Bey at No. 7. I was a little surprised that the Raiders took him instead of Crabtree, but, frankly, I was pretty surprised that Seattle didn't snap up Crabtree with the No. 4 pick.

The Seahawks went for defense, taking Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. Curry complements a youthful linebacking corps that gives Seattle a great deal of flexibility for years to come. But Crabtree is a great talent at wide receiver. He has a good work ethic, and he's ready to be a playmaker in the NFL.

Baylor isn't known for producing NFL Hall of Famers, but I sort of think offensive tackle Jason Smith has a chance to finish his career with a bust in Canton, Ohio. So I wasn't surprised to see the Rams take him with the No. 2 pick. They had a big hole to fill following the departure of Orlando Pace, and Smith can fill that hole for the next 10 years at least — provided he doesn't suffer a severe injury.

I was a bit surprised that Texas' Brian Orakpo was still on the board when the Redskins made the 13th pick, but I think he'll fit in with their defense very nicely.

I'm not sure there were any surprising first–round picks — at least, as far as I am concerned. I think all the guys who wound up being first–rounders were expected to be taken in the first round, but where some of them wound up did come as a bit of a surprise.

Now we have to wait a few more months to see who pays off — and who doesn't.

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