Tagged with "2011 NFL Draft"
Washington Redskins 2011 NFL Season Grades
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Washington Redskins NFL NFC East 2011 NFL Draft 2011 NFL Free Agency Mike Shanahan Dan Snyder Bruce Allen Chris Cooley London Fletcher



As the Washington Redskins finish a third straight season at the bottom of the NFC East, an era where they have 15 total victories, there has been scattered areas of improvement. This is a positive sign for a franchise trying to rebuild a disheveled roster that suffered through years of poor decision-making at the top.

Though the Redskins new general manager and head coach have yet to make a huge impact to verify a statement of improvement, it appears owner Dan Snyder has enough reason to be patient and stay the course that has been laid before the team.

Struggling often comes with rebuilding, so the roster has players who did not perform well enough to warrant a return in 2012. Yet there are hidden gems in a disastrous season where Washington failed to realize the Super Bowl hopes every team begins a season with.


Quarterback


Rex Grossman - He is, at times, a poor man's Brett Favre. At other times, he is the equivalent of a junior high school sandlot quarterback.

Like Favre, he turns the ball over in bunches with throws no professional quarterback should make. He also has a habit of taking delay of game penalties in bunches and takes tons of ill-advised sacks that result in huge losses of yards.

Grossman was brought back in 2011 because of his familiarity of Kyle Shanahan's offensive system. This has helped him make plays that show off a skill set that has intrigued many ever since he joined the NFL in 2003.

He is, at most, a system quarterback who needs an exceptional defense to carry him and cover Grossman's innumerable mistakes. But he is no more than a backup because of his constant mental errors. He is certainly on the lower tier of starting quarterbacks in the NFL, as shown currently by his eight fumbles and league leading 19 interceptions.

Washington will most likely upgrade the quarterback position in the draft, thus ending Grossman's days as a starter. He made $810,000 this year, but is is just slightly more than backup John Beck. It is doubtful both will be back in 2012, but Grossman may leave on his own thinking he can start for another team elsewhere.

Grade : D +






John Beck - Redskins brass spun stories that Beck could lead the team before the season began, but he was beat out for the starting job in training camp. He did get three starts this year, but lost each of them. Beck has now lost all seven of his career starts, but four did occur with the 1-15 Miami Dolphins in 2007.

He took 16 sacks and threw four interceptions in his four games. While the blocking was not good in stretches, it was expected that his mobility would help prevent so many sacks in a short time.

It won't be shocking to see him return in 2012, but as a reserve since most of the football world expects the Redskins to draft a quarterback to start.

Grade : D










Running Back


Roy Helu - When Redskins general manager Bruce Allen grabbed Helu in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, he had an idea Washington had a steal on their hands. Those ideas were put into reality after the rookie was forced into action much earlier and much more often than they expected.

Helu became the main ball carrier after injuries disheveled the backfield. He has responded even better than expected, showing excellent receiving abilities as well. Not only does Helu lead the team with 635 yards rushing, at a respectable 4.3 yards per carry, he has 47 receptions.

The best part of his success may be his ball security. Helu has fumbled twice, but recovered one. He also became the first Washington rookie to for 100 yards in three consecutive games. The Redskins can only hope for similar results in the future.

Grade : A +








Tim Hightower - Getting Hightower in a trade this year excited the halfback and Washington fans, because most knew the abilities of the hometown hero from his previous three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. The only question was if he could last all year as the primary ball carrier.

His season ended after getting hurt in the fifth game, but he was averaging more touches per game than he had before. The reviews of his time were mixed because he was scoring less touchdowns and catching less passes, but Hightower's injury put a damper on getting a real review of his abilities.

His injury allowed Washington to discover rookie Roy Helu, so it seems likely he will go back to a familiar role to sharing the football in 2012.

Grade : C








Ryan Torain - Injuries basically ended his Redskins career, as Washington cut him a few days after Christmas in 2011. Torain has had injuries plague him ever since college, but his interesting skill set should get him a training camp invitation somewhere in 2012.

Drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 draft by Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos, he was lost for the year after getting hurt in his first NFL start. After sitting out the 2009 season, he rejoined Shanahan in Washington last year.

Many got somewhat excited about Torain after seeing him run for 742 yards in eight starts, but injuries soon hit him again. After sitting out preseason and the first three games of the year with a hand injury, Torain led the Redskins to a victory by running for 135 yards on 19 carries.

Since then, he had gained just 65 yards on 40 carries and fell on the depth chart so far that the team decided to part ways with him.

Grade : D








Evan Royster - Royster spent most of the year on the practice squad, but was promoted in week 10. Since then, he has run for an impressive six yards per carry on 36 attempts as a reserve.

While pounding the ball between the tackles is more his game, the rookie has had a few impressive moments. He won't outrun opponents, but Royster gets by with intellect and enough elusiveness to show why the Redskins used a sixth round draft pick on him this year.

He will return next year hoping to back up Roy Helu and Tim Hightower, but he has shown some abilities when called on.

Grade : B







Darrell Young - A college linebacker, he was converted to fullback as a undrafted free agent rookie last year. While he did play quite often as a rookie, Young has shown a lot of improvement this year.

His job is to block, but the fullback has touched the ball 16 times and scored once. He should return next year and continue to get better.

Grade : A







Mike Sellers - His has been quite a successful career after the Redskins signed him from the Canadian Football League in 1998. Sellers has played both fullback and tight end in his 12 NFL seasons.

He did leave the team after 2000 to join the Cleveland Browns for a season and the CFL for two years. Sellers returned to Washington in 2004 and made the Pro Bowl in 2008 for his exceptional blocking ability.

Sellers is 36 years old and this is probably his last season. He has spent most of the year on the bench and has one reception. But he was a team player that Redskins fans rooted for because of his toughness and leadership as well.

Grade : C -










Wide Receiver


Jabar Gafney - Washington is the fourth team Gaffney has played for in his 10 NFL seasons. He has had his best season in the pros with them, as he is on the verge of setting career high marks in receptions and touchdowns scored. He has already set a career best mark of 919 yards receiving.

He has been Washington's only consistent force in the passing game. A big reason is his reunion with quarterback Rex Grossman, who also threw him a ton of passes while both were members of the Florida Gators in college.

Gaffney has one more year left on his contract, so that should guarantee a return to Washington in 2012.

Grade : A -








Santana Moss - It has been a forgettable season for the 11-year pro. A injury to his hand slowed him down, and the 43 receptions he has had this year is the fewest he has had since 2004. He signed a three-year contract worth $15 million before the season started, so it appears likely Moss will be with the Redskins in 2012.

Grade : C









Anthony Armstrong - It was been a horrific season for Armstrong in 2011. He came out of nowhere as an undrafted free agent rookie in 2010 to catch 44 balls at 20 yards per catch. He has just seven receptions this season.

A big part of the reason could be Washington's struggles at quarterback, but Armstrong has battled a hamstring issue this year and lost his starting job. He might be able to rebound in 2012, after the Redskins get a better quarterback, but Armstrong was a feel-good story of 2010 now trying to prove his success wasn't a flash in the pan.

Grade : D









Donte` Stallworth - Stallworth has been in the NFL nine seasons and has played with six teams. He has a good skill set, but has never consistently put it together. He sat out in 2010 after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter.

Washington cut him briefly this year, but brought him back after injuries depleted their receivers corps. Stallworth has caught 21 passes for two scores in the 10 games he has played. The former first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints appears to be running out of chances, but it would be no surprise to see him in the NFL next year.

Grade : C






Leonard Hankerson - The rookie had a case of the drops in preseason, but he made the team because the coaches were impressed with his size and skill set. The team had also used a third-round draft pick to acquire him.

Hankerson was beginning to show productive signs when he got hurt and was lost for the season. He played just four games, catching 13 passes, but he had his first 100-yard receiving game in the NFL at the time of his injury. Expect him back in 2012, assuming he is healthy.

Grade : C +








Terence Austin - Austin is a second-year pro who has played and contributed more this season. He has 11 catches, showing decent ability in getting open. He has had to fight through the depth chart since arriving in Washington, an issue he will once again face in next year's training camp.

Grade : C








Niles Paul - Paul is another Nebraska Cornhusker that Washington drafted this season. He has primarily been used on special teams, but the speedy wide receiver has caught two passes and run the ball once.

One of Paul's strengths is blocking downfield, a skill he showed often in preseason. He has a very good chance of returning next year, but is buried right now on a depth chart full of good receivers.

Grade : C








David Anderson - He will played just five games, but the possession-type receiver has caught six balls and scored once. It will be a longshot for his return in 2012, but Mike Shanahan does like a receiver with his skill set. Brandon Stokley is a prime example.

Grade : C +











Tight End


Chris Cooley - You could say it was a wasted season for Cooley, who played just five games because of a knee and hand injury. But he did catch eight balls and surpass Washington legend Jerry Smith for having the most receptions in a career by a Redskins tight end.

Cooley wants to return in 2012, but that was beginning to look suspect when Fred Davis started to excel in his place. Davis then got suspended for illegal drug use, so Washington should think about bringing back a player who wants to finish his career with them.

Grade : C -







Fred Davis - Davis was starting to look like one of the few good draft picks Vinny Cerrato had before he was finally fired as the Redskins Vice President for Football Operations in 2009. Then the tight end was suspended for the final four games of the 2011 season for illegal drug use.

The criticism of Davis, when Washington used a second round pick on him in 2008, was that he wasn't really interested in football. He developed slowly behind Chris Cooley on the depth chart, but showed flashes of the ability most felt he possessed.

Davis was having a career year this season, catching 59 passes in 12 games, before he was shelved. His contract expires at the end of the year, so there are no guarantees he will return in 2012.

If Washington loses him, there will be a big hole to fill at tight end. It will be even bigger than the one he created himself by poor decisions.

Grade : B







Logan Paulson - A blocking tight end forced into more involvement in the offense due to injuries and suspension, Paulson made the team last year as an undrafted free agent rookie. He has caught a career best nine passes this season, as opposed to the two he had last year.

He makes his bones by blocking, something Paulson does a good job at. This should get him serious consideration at a 2012 return to Washington.

Grade : C




Richard Quinn - Quinn went into the 2009 draft as the top blocking tight end in the draft. The Denver Broncos used a second round selection on him, but cut him the following year. He has appeared in one game, so his chance will come in training camp as he vies with Paulson for the job of blocking tight end.

Grade : Incomplete



Rob Meyers - After spending most of the 2011 on the practice squad, Meyers joined the active roster for the final two weeks of the season. He gets compared a lot to Chris Cooley, most likely because both attended Utah State University.

Meyers has been on six different teams practice squads since joining the NFL in 2009, so it is doubtful he will be back in 2012.

Grade : Incomplete



Dominique Byrd - Byrd appeared in two games before being waived. The four-year pro has played for both the Saint Louis Rams, who drafted him in the third round of the 2006 draft, and the Seattle Seahawks as well.

Grade : Incomplete











Offensive Line


Trent Williams - It has certainly been mixed reviews since the Redskins used the fourth pick pf the 2010 draft on Williams. Many thought he was suited to play right tackle, but the Redskins believe he can play the demanding left tackle spot.

More criticism of this pick comes from the fact the final four games of this season saw him suspended for using illegal drugs. The fact he continues to miss games due to injuries is also becoming a trend Williams needs to halt next year.

Williams struggled last year by giving up 11.5 sacks, but he showed some improvement this season by giving up just three in his 10 games. He did draw more penalties this year, but the youngster is still a work in progress.

I expect Williams to remain at left tackle in 2012, but his drug suspension has to be cause for some concern. He was lauded for having high character when drafted, so letting his team down belies that thought. But the team needs to hope this is a temporary setback for a man who is the beginning stages of an excellent career.

Grade : B -







Jamaal Brown - Washington felt good about trading for Brown's services before 2010, because they knew they were getting a two-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion who was the first round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2005.

He had spent his best years at left tackle, but the Redskins have had him at right tackle since they acquired him. While he has played decently, the injury bug has plagued Brown's career and prevented him from ever playing 16 games in a season.

While the Redskins offensive line showed improvement this season, they are still ranked ninth with 40 sacks allowed. Brown has unofficially been credited with a career high nine sacks allowed, but he has had just four penalties called on him as well.

The Redskins will face some tough decisions once this season ends. Brown will be just 31 years old next year and his 2011 salary was just $685,000, but the team might make some changes to a unit where injuries prevented them from truly gelling this season.

Grade : C -







Sean Locklear - His previous seven years had been spent with the Seattle Seahawks, where the veteran started the last year at both tackle spots. Washington signed him as a free agent this year, where he has started in four of the eight games he appeared in.

Health is a concern, mainly because he missed 17 games with Seattle. Even though he was replaced on the starting lineup recently, after giving up four sacks, having a veteran on a roster is a positive. Especially one with the experience of starting 82 games. This factor could bring him back to training camp next year.

Grade : D







Will Montgomery - He had quite a journey in becoming the Redskins starting center this year. Drafted in the seventh round of the 2006 draft, he had six starts in 13 games in his first two seasons with the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets. Washington signed him in 2009, where Montgomery had nine starts at guard before this year.

Replacing Casey Rabach, who missed just one contest in six seasons, placed Montgomery in the spotlight somewhat. He has had a few moments where he has been overmatched, but Montgomery has kept his job on a team that has a lot of offensive linemen who are able to play his position.

He will be just 29 years old in 2012, and his body still does not have a ton of wear and tear on it. Montgomery should go into training camp expecting to start next season.

Grade : B -








Willie Smith - The undrafted rookie has appeared in just three games this year, but started at left tackle in two. The Redskins could have a legitimate steal here.

Many scouts thought not only that Smith would be drafted this year, a few thought he could start in a year or two into his career. While raw, mainly because the former defensive lineman has less than four years experience as a blocker, he is athletic and blessed with long arms that help him do well in both the run and pass game.

While Trent Williams had had a few decent moments at left tackle, many believe right tackle is his best position. Aging veteran Jamaal Brown may not return next year, so it is a possibility that Smith starts at left tackle while Williams moves to the right side of the offensive line.

Grade : B -







Tyler Polumbus - After going undrafted in 2008, Polumbus was signed by Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos. He spent the next two seasons starting 15 games at both tackle spots for the Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle waived him after five games this year, so the Redskins signed him a few weeks later. Polumbus has a start at right tackle and has also played guard. His familiarity with Shanahan should give him a decent chance at being invited to training camp next year.

Grade : C








Maurice Hurt - He began this year on the practice squad, but has started the last eight weeks because of injuries. Drafted in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft., Hurt is one of the gems Redskins general manager Bruce Allen unearthed.

While he has had moments where Hurt had typical rookie struggles, giving up two sacks and drawing a pair of penalties, he has earned a chance to try to make the team again in 2012. His will be an interesting story in training camp, as he battles Kory Lichtensteiger for the job at starting left guard.

Grade : B









Chris Chester - The Redskins happily signed him as a free agent before this year, because he was a big upgrade over Artis Hicks. Hicks, who was a mistake free agent signing in 2010, was let go by the team. Chester has no sacks or penalties credited against him this year.

Chester was drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft by the Baltimore Ravens. After nine starts in his first two years, Chester has started at right guard since. Washington gave him a five-year contract, so expect him back in 2012.

Grade : A








Eric Cook - At 6'6", Cook is tall for a center. Washington drafted him in the seventh round of the 2010 draft, but cut him and placed him on the practice squad. He has started in two of the seven games that he played in this season, but as a guard.

Washington might bring him back next year, but it will be interesting to see which position Cook will try to make his mark at.

Grade : C







Kory Lichtensteiger - Drafted by Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos in the fourth round of the 2008 draft, he spent that year as a reserve before being cut after Shanahan was fired. The Minnesota Vikings signed Lichtensteiger, but cut him a few weeks later.

After sitting out of the league in 2009, he rejoined Shanahan with the Redskins last season and started 14 games at guard. Lichtensteiger, who can play both guard and center, began 2011 starting at guard and tore his knee up in the fifth game of the season.

He should be back, if healthy, next season because Washington needs all the help they can get on the offensive line. Lichtensteiger's best position was once thought to be center, but he has forged a decent career so far at left guard. He was playing at a decent level when his year was halted by injury, giving up no sacks or penalties at the time.

Grade : B









Defensive Line


Barry Cofield - Coming over a free agent this year from the division rival New York Giants, Cofield had adjusted nicely to the nose tackle position after having spent his previous five years as a defensive tackle.

Cofield will end up with the lowest tackle total of his career this season, expected because few nose tackles pile up huge tackle numbers, but he has a career high eight passes defended. A key note is that Cofield has missed just one game in his career, so he will be penned in for 2012.

Grade : B +








Stephen Bowen - After five years with the hated Dallas Cowboys, the undrafted Bowen came to Washington as a free agent this season. Not only has become a full-time starter the first time in his career, Bowen has responded with the finest season of his career.

He leads all Redskin defensive linemen in tackles and sacks. Bowen has proven to be a service player that Washington can plan to start again in 2012.

Grade : B +









Adam Carriker - Carriker has revitalized his career since washing out as a 2007 first round pick of the Saint Louis Rams in 2007. Unlike his time with the Rams, Carriker has not battled injuries in Washington.

Able to play nose tackle as well, the defensive end has been more productive this year compared to last season in quarterback sacks. He is getting less tackles per game, but the rate isn't a huge drop off.

The five sacks he has right now is second amongst Redskins linemen and fourth overall on the team. Since the team has so many other holes to fill, Washington could ride Carriker another season with confidence.

Grade : B -








Chris Nield - The rookie was a hero in his first game, collecting two key sacks and forcing a fumble. He hasn't been heard from since, as his 10 total tackles show. It seems he has a chance to return as a reserve next year, because nose tackle may be the most physically demanding position in all of football.

Grade : C -







Darrion Scott - After spending two years in the UFL with Haslett, after having spent four previous years with the Minnesota Vikings, Scott is in his second season with the Redskins. He has played seven games and wore three jersey numbers for Washington since then.

His Haslett connection might get him back in camp, but four total tackles says the Redskins could do better here.

Grade : D -






Kedric Gholston - A serviceable lineman since being drafted by Washington in the sixth round of the 2006 draft, Gholston got hurt in the ninth game of this season and was shelved the rest of the year.

He has a good chance of returning because he does fit the 3-4 scheme defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is running, but his output pretty much says that serving as a reserve in the rotation would be his best fit.

Grade : C -






Kentwan Balmer - The Redskins could be the last NFL team for Balmer, who has become a journeyman after flopping as the San Francisco 49er's first round pick in 2008. He has given nothing in his three games with Washington, a fact that probably doom his chances for a return next season.

Grade : F






Chris Baker - Baker came from a very defensive line at Hampton University that featured Miami Dolphins defensive end Kendall Langford and New York Jets defensive end Marcus Dixon. Detroit Lions linebacker Justin Durant got to play behind them.

While those three have become starters in the NFL, Baker had had the least success. He has logged just two games, recording no statistics, since 2009 with two teams.

After spending three months on the practice squad, he joined the team and got hurt in his first practice. Now on the injured reserve, it is doubtful Baker will be back in 2012.

Grade : Incomplete





Jarvis Jenkins - Getting injured during a promising preseason during your rookie year can only get an incomplete grade. Washington will hope his knee injury does not inhibit him any further.

Grade : Incomplete





Doug Worthington - He joined the team for the last two games of 2011 after having spent the season on the practice squad. The combination defensive tackle/ end spent 2010 on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squads after being drafted in the seventh round. He will hope for a chance to make any NFL tea, next year.

Grade : Incomplete











Linebacker


London Fletcher - The unquestioned leader of the defense, Fletcher is a 14 year veteran who contract expires at the end of the season. While 36 years old, he has never missed a game in his career and continues to be one of the top tacklers in the NFL.

He leads the NFL with 163 tackles, which is actually more than he had in his previous two years where he garnered Pro Bowl honors. There is no doubt the man still produces better than most middle linebackers in the NFL, yet the only question will be if he wants to return in 2012.

His return is probably the most critical of all of the Redskins impending free agents. Even if his production is curtailed, Fletcher's leadership is irreplaceable.

Grade : A +









Ryan Kerrigan - Drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft, the former collegiate defensive end has made a nice transition to outside linebacker. He leads the team with 7.5 sacks, has 62 tackles, four defended passes and has a touchdown off a interception.

He is a serious candidate for for Defensive Rookie of the Year and appears to have a big future ahead that will probably includes Pro Bowls.

Grade : A










Brian Orakpo - Orakpo made the Pro Bowl in his first two seasons after the Redskins drafted him in 2009. He is still learning how to be more than just a pass rusher, yet he has a career high in both tackles and passes defended this season. If he doesn't get 1.5 sacks in his final game, he will have a career low seven this year.

He is a work in progress, but a successful one who has teams up rather nicely opposite Kerrigan at outside linebacker. They are learning from a defensive coordinator who was also once a Pro Bowl linebacker, so there is a very good chance Orakpo's game continues to evolve and improve annually.

Grade : B +









Perry Riley - Drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Riley has steadily improved at middle linebacker. After playing eight games as a rookie, Riley has now become a starter at inside linebacker and has 64 tackles so far.

He has benefited from learning from Fletcher, which only bodes well for his future in Washington. Expect him to be starting in 2012.

Grade : B









Rocky McIntosh - There is no question that McIntosh hasn't been nearly as productive as he was in 2010. Not only has he lost his starting job, but he has his least amount of starts since the 2006 draft when Washington acquired him in the second round.

His 62 tackles this year are the fewest since that rookie year, and it appears McIntosh is better suited as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. His contract expires at the end of the season, so there is a decent chance he will be with another team in 2012.

Grade : D








Lorenzo Alexander - Though listed as a linebacker, his position may be better termed as just "Football Player". Alexander made the Redskins as an undrafted rookie in 2007 and has played all along the front seven of the defense and is the captain of the special teams.

Head coach Mike Shanahan once called him Alexander the best special teams player he had been around. So it is a pretty safe bet the relentless Alexander returns in 2012.

Grade : C







Keyaron Fox - Fox makes his money on special teams. The eight-year veteran has earned a Super Bowl ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the past, where he was the captain of their special teams. There is a good chance Washington brings him back in 2012.

Grade : C +






Markus White - Drafted in the seventh round of the 2011 draft, White is a former collegiate defensive end converted to outside linebacker. He has appeared in one game this season.

Grade : Incomplete







Rob Jackson - Another outside linebacker converted from defensive end, Jackson makes his main contributions via special teams. He has been in Washington since 2008 since being drafted in the seventh round, but has appeared in just 24 games. Jackson will have to fight for a roster spot in 2012.

Grade : C -









Defensive Back


LaRon Landry - After starting out the first nine weeks of the 2010 as the best safety in football, Landry has been battling injuries to his Achilles tendon. He has played in just eight games since then.

After sitting out the preseason, Landry struggled with his health before shutting it down. He was still effective, making 48 tackles. But the question with him looms larger with each day.

Landry is going to be a free agent in 2012, one highly sought by teams who want to believe his injuries are behind him. Washington surely doesn't want to let him go without a fight, but owner Dan Snyder has taken similar gambles in the past and gotten burned.

Landry has all the tools desired to play strong safety, and his level of intensity makes him a favorite amongst the Redskin fans. No one would blame him for joining a team offering a bigger salary or a winning record, but this team needs him to return next season and beyond in full health so he can continue to be the best strong safety Washington has had since the immortal Hall of Famer Ken Houston.

 
Grade : C






DeAngelo Hall - Maybe the biggest headlines Hall has made this year was telling reporters he did not deserve his annual $4.5 million salary. Yet he leads the team with 15 passes defended and three interceptions. He is also second on the team in tackles.

Hall plays a soft corner and often gives up plays. There have been lapses in effort and attention, something not to be expected from a player raking in the salary he does.

He should be back starting in 2012, mainly because effective starting cornerbacks are hard to find. He revitalized his career with Washington in 2009 and went to the Pro Bowl last year. He is a key figure in the Redskins dreams to returning to glory.

Grade : B +









Josh Wilson - There have been several moments in the 2011 season where Wilson was the best defensive back on the team. A local hero who is also the son of a Maryland University legend, Wilson and Kevin Barnes both played on the same Terrapins team in college.

Washington signed him as a free agent this year and have been rewarded. Besides picking off two passes, Wilson is tied with the most passes defended on the team and has started and played in every game.

Not only should he be back in 2012, but it is likely the Redskins start him as well.

Grade : B +










Oshiomogho Atogwe - Washington was hoping for a bigger season from Atogwe in 2011, but he got hurt in preseason and has been inconsistent much of the year. Not only is he about to finish with his lowest tackle total since his rookie year, but the seven-year veteran missed three games and eight starts

Washington invested five years and $26 million into the free safety, so they are hoping for better in 2012. Atogwe can make plays, but he may not be on the team long if injuries continue to hamper him.

Grade : C -











Kevin Barnes - Barnes has had his best season as a Redskin since being drafted by them in the third round of the 2009 draft. He has set career high marks of two interceptions and 26 tackles thus far.

He gets picked on at times, but the improvement over his career is evident. Barnes has one more year left on his contract, so there is a good chance the homegrown hero returns to the Redskins in 2012.

Grade : C +










Dejon Gomes - Drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 draft., Gomes has started four games at free safety. He is aggressive and shows good range, but his rookie season might be most noted for his tackle ending the year of Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl halfback Adrian Peterson. Peterson, the highest paid running back in the NFL, had a consecutive streak of 1,000 yard rushing seasons halted at four years.

Gomes will be back next year to back up Atogwe, but the future of the youngster is very promising.

Grade : B










Reed Doughty - He may not be the most athletic player, but Doughty is third on the team in tackles. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2006 draft by Washington, he has played both safety positions and started 35 of his 74 career games.

Doughty won't wow many and creates even fewer turnovers, but he is an intelligent player who gets the most out of his abilities. Yet there is no guarantee he returns in 2012 for seventh season with the Redskins. Doughty has fended off challenges from players like Chris Horton and Kareem Moore thus far, so don't count him out just yet.

Grade : C









Byron Westbrook - Born and raised in Washington D.C., Westbrook is about to complete his third season with the Redskins. It is his most productive yet, as he has a career highs with three passes defended, 10 tackles and a forced fumble.

Special teams is his main area of contribution, but it is very foreseeable that the cornerback stays on the team next year.

Grade : C









Brandyn Thompson - Drafted in the seventh round of the years draft, the bulk of his work has come via special teams. He has a pair of tackles in the five games he appeared in. He will spend nest season's training camp trying to make the team again.

Grade : D








Phillip Buchanon - Drafted in the first round of the 2002 draft, the Redskins represent his fifth team so far. Buchanon started out 2011 suspended for using performance-enhancing substances, then promptly went on inured reserve after playing in two games.

It is hard to imagine he will be back, but Redskins general manager Bruce Allen has worked with him in Oakland and Tampa Bay as well. It could be time for Buchanon to call it a career, but perhaps he tries again in 2012.

Grade : Incomplete










Specialists


Graham Gano - In 35 games over three years with the Redskins, Gano has been up and down. He has missed 20 field goals the last two years, in 74 attempts, but did make a career best four field goals of over 50 yards.

His nine misses of 39 yards or closer is a frustrating career statistic, but there are no guarantees Washington will find a better placekicker in 2012. It is possible Washington may be forced to spend a draft pick on a kicker, since Gano's inconsistencies are not conducive to winning football.

Grade : C








Sav Rocca - Rocca has been one of the Redskins best free agent signings of 2011. Despite the fact he will attempt the fewest punts of his career this year, his 43.6 yards per attempt average is the close to his career best mark. His 39.7 net yard average is the best of his career.

Though having just five NFL seasons under his belt, Rocca is 38 years old. He has spent 15 years playing Australian Rules Football. Washington needs him back in 2012, and can only hope he wants to return.

Grade : A +







Brandon Banks - The Redskins kick return specialist, the second-year pro has been used even less on offense this season. He did throw a 49-yard touchdown pass on a wide receiver option.

The diminutive Banks isn't returning balls as effectively as he did in his 2010 rookie year, but the difference isn't great and he does lead the league in kickoffs and kickoff return yardage. It seems very likely he will return to that role in 2012.

Grade : B






Nick Sundberg - After spending his 2009 rookie season on the practice squads of the Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens, Sundberg replaced aging Pro Bowler Ethan Albright at long snapper on special teams in 2010. He has done a good enough job to warrant a return next season.

Grade : A









Coaches


Mike Shanahan - Shanahan came to Washington in 2010 with a career record of 138-86 with two Super Bowl titles as a head coach. He also won another Super Bowl as an offensive coordinator.

He has gone 11-19 with the Redskins so far, which has caused some to speculate if his job was in jeopardy. Shanahan admits his rebuilding plan hasn't gone as quickly as expected, but he is basically trying to turn over a roster that suffered years of incompetence under Vinny Cerrato's leadership.

While Shanahan will need all five years of his contract to show if he was a success, there is areas he has earned criticism. The main one is him allowing his son to be the offensive coordinator, a job the younger Shanahan has looked overmatched at often.

Patience will be needed in the Redskins overhaul. He and general manager Bruce Allen saw all of their 2011 draft picks make the team, but there are plenty of other holes to fill. Yet there is the worry that Shanahan is running a system that can't win it all in the NFC East.

Grade : C -








Kyle Shanahan - Getting a job because your dad is the boss doesn't exactly breed confidence amongst the ranks. He first got a NFL job working with Jon Gruden, then four seasons under Gary Kubiak. Kubiak played two years under the eldest Shanahan, then spent 12 years coaching with him.

Washington finished 25th in scoring last year, averaging 18.9 points per game. They finished 18th in yards gained and 30th in rushing yards accrued. improvement was needed by the younger Shanahan's offense, but it actually regressed in certain areas.

The Redskins are ranked 26th in scoring this year and are averaging about a half a point less per game than 2010. They have improved to 16th and 26th in total yards and rushing yards gained, but regressed in passing yards gained and interceptions thrown despite throwing the ball at about the same rate as last season.

Most of the criticism of Shanahan's strategy comes from the fact it appears he often abandons the run in favor of the pass. It has surprised some because his father had most of his NFL successes via strong rushing attacks.

He appears destined to return to the Redskins in 2012 because of his dad being the head coach. Shanahan will most likely have a rookie quarterback in charge of his offensive schemes, so there is a chance Washington continues to falter with the ball as a young quarterback matures.

Washington fans might be stuck with both Shanahan's all five years, but a lot of critics could be suppressed if the young coordinator shows his theories to be correct.

Grade : D







Jim Haslett - Haslett has been involved with NFL defenses since 1979, save five years where he coached in college or other professional leagues. First he was a Pro Bowl linebacker, then he eventually became a head coach and respected defensive coordinator.

He is still in the throes of converting the Redskins defense into a 3-4 scheme, acquiring the personnel he feels best fits his system. The Redskins struggled last year, finishing 31st in both total yards and passing yards allowed. They were 26th in rushing yards allowed and 21st in points allowed, getting 29 sacks, 19 forced fumbles and 14 interceptions.

There was improvement this year, as Washington finished 16th in total yards allowed, 11th in passing yards allowed, and 19th in rushing yards allowed. While they have 38 sacks, the Redskins slightly improved to 19th in total points allowed.

Yet the defense is still not creating the turnovers needed to be considered respectable. They have created five less fumbles and interceptions so far, an area the team must improve on in 2012.

Haslett now has some interesting talent to work with, but depth must still be built and the run defense must get stouter. Injuries certainly hindered the unit, but that is a factor most NFL teams deal with annually.

The Redskins defense often found itself on the gridiron too long, causing fatigue, due to an inept offensive attack. If Haslett and Washington can convince aging middle linebacker London Fletcher to return next year, they will be much better off. If he doesn't, a huge hole will be there in the middle of the defense. This hole could get gigantic if strong safety LaRon Landry leaves as well.

But Haslett has led to defense to improve somewhat. He still has a ways to go, but there is more hope that pessimism involved.

Grade : B





Danny Smith - Smith has been here since 2004, but it seems he has dealt with a new kicker and punter most years. Washington finally got an excellent punter, even if he is 38 years old. But it seems their placekicker is inconsistent like most have been under Smith.

His coverage teams are generally good, but Smith must get the team a reliable kicker to procure more victories. While widely respected in the NFL, he won't reach the heights of an upper echelon special teams coach until he fixes this critical area.

Grade : B -






Yoooooooo! Dis iz Third's cuzin 7thStoneFromaTheSun makin his final procrastinashuns for da 2011 yeer. I did OK so far. I went 11-4 las week, and iz 143-88 overall.

Letz finish strong, capeesh?



Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions

I do belieef me and Third BOTH said da Lions wuz playoff bound dis yeer. Yo, da Pack don't knead dis, as both teems try to stay healthy. But Detroit wants homefield advantage in dere next game.

Lions 34 Packers 24








Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans

Neither teem needs dis, but I tink da Texans finish strong.

Texans 27 Titans 17







Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars

A battle of bottom feeders.

Jaguars 17 Colts 14








New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins

Too teems goin nowhere after dis.

Jets 17 Dolphins 16










Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles

Da disappointing Eagles strong finish mite save Andy Reid's job.

Eagles 31 Redskins 16









Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints

Da Saints go marching into da playoffs wif dere heads held up high.

Saints 34 Panthers 24










San Francisco 49ers @ Saint Louis Rams

Many tought, befour da seesun began, dat da Niners would be in last and da Rams in furst. Whops!

49ers 23 Rams 9











Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots

Da Pats want momentum headin into da playoffs.

Patriots 37 Bills 31












Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings

Who cares?

Bears 13 Vikings 10










Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos

Denver needs dis, but Kyle Orton makes dem regret choosing a weak-armed fullback over him.

Chiefs 27 Broncos 13










San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders

Da AFC West has always been wacky. Three teems go 8-8 dis yeer.

Chargers 28 Raiders 20











Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals

ZZZzzzzz

Cardinals 24 Seahawks 21












Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons

Da erratic Falcons knead dis.

Falcons 34 Buccaneers 13









Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns

As David Byrne chirped,"Same as it ever was."

Steelers 23 Browns 14










Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals

You like defense? Watch dis game! Call me crazy, but I'm goin wif da Bengals. Dey knead it two klinch a playoff berth.

Bengals 20 Ravens 17










Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
Game of the Week


Personally, I tink dat Ravens/ Bengals game is better den dese too mediovre squads. BUT all da media will bee dere and da winner gets da NFC East title while da loser goes home until 2012.

Neither teem can run da ball, both quarterbacks iz overrated, and da defenses ain't nothin to write home about. I just gunna say Tony Romo ends dat "choke artist" label dis yeer.

Cowboys 30 Giants 24






Power Rankings

1. Packers
2. 49ers
3. Saints
4. Ravens
5. Steelers
6. Patriots
7. Texans
8. Lions
9. Bengals
10. Falcons
11. Cowboys
12. Giants
13. Raiders
14. Broncos
15. Chargers
16. Jets
17. Titans
18. Eagles
19. Chiefs
20. Bills
21. Dolphins
22. Cardinals
23. Bears
24. Panthers
25. Seahawks
26. Redskins
27. Buccaneers
28. Browns
29. Jaguars
30. Colts
31. Vikings
32. Rams





OK, datt iz it folks. Yo? I hope I seas yous alls in 2012, but dat iz cuntingint on if dat certain family lookin four me finds me or not.

You all have a Happy New Year and every day beyond.

As dey say in Ol' Mexico= A.M.F.


NFL 2011 Draft Grades For Every Team
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL 2011 NFL Draft Cam Newton Patrick Peterson J.J. Watt Von Miller Ryan Kerrigan Andy Dalton DeMarco Murray A.J. Green Aldon Smith



Arizona Cardinals

Arizona's draft started out strong when they selected Patrick Peterson in the first round. Not only is he playing cornerback well, Peterson has tied Hall of Famer Jack Christiansen for the most punt return touchdowns by a rookie. He is 97 yards away from the rookie record Louis Lipps set in 1984 for most punt return yards ever in a single season.

Ryan Williams is a halfback drafted in the second round who has spent the season on injured reserve. Tight end Robert Housler was the Cardinals third round pick, but he has yet to catch a pass because veterans Todd Heap and Jeff King has kept him on the bench.

Sam Acho, the fourth round pick, has done well transitioning from defensive end to outside linebacker. He has given the team five sacks, two forced fumbles, and 26 tackles as a reserve.

Anthony Sherman is a fullback Arizona took in the fifth round. He is starting and has six receptions in a role that has him blocking for halfback Beanie Wells.

The oft-injured Wells is having the best year of his career and is approaching his first 1,000-yard year. Wells nine scores not only match his career total, he is also 274 yards away from matching the totals he ran for his previous two years. Sherman's addition has obviously helped him.

Defensive lineman David Carter and linebacker Quan Sturvidant were picked in the sixth round. While Sturdivant has spent this season on the practice squad, Carter has pitched in a sack as a bench player. Wide receiver Demarco Sampson, their last pick, has caught three balls this year.

Losing the promising Williams hurt the team. Sherman and Acho have done well for the team, and the entire draft class did make the active roster with the exception of Williams and Sturdivant.

Peterson has a very strong case for being named Defensive Rookie of the Year, and his record setting work on special teams has given the Big Red two of their five victories so far. His work has helped an average draft look better.

Grade : B











Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta felt they were on the cusp of Super Bowl glory, so they got aggressive in the 2011 NFL Draft by trading to move up and select wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones, a talented player who some perceived as fragile, has already missed three games this year because of injury. Yet he has caught 34 passes for 556 yards.

Akeem Dent, a linebacker, was selected in the third round. He has basically played special teams. Fifth-round pick Jacquizz Rodgers, a halfback, has been seldom used as a reserve behind Michael Turner.

Punter Matt Bosher has been average at best since being picked in the sixth round. The Falcons had two picks in the seventh round to finish up their draft.

While guard Andrew Jackson has spent the year on the practice squad, defensive end Cliff Matthews made the team and has yet to contribute anything. Other than Jones and Bosher, this rookie class may not have an impact of the franchise for a few years.

Atlanta gambled in hopes of retaining their NFC South title, but they are now struggling to get a playoff spot. The team has been inconsistent, which pretty much sums up their 2011 draft.

Grade : D









Baltimore Ravens

One of the biggest reasons the Ravens are always so good is because of the work general manager Ozzie Newsome puts in. Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end, knows the game and obviously does his homework.

Jimmy Smith was the Ravens first round selection. The cornerback was brought up slowly initially, but has shown promise despite missing four games due to injury. He has intercepted two passes in limited duty as an extra defensive back.

Baltimore lucked into wide receiver Torry Smith in the second round, a player some thought might sneak into the first round. Smith, a local hero from the University of Maryland, fought through a tough preseason to rebound as the Ravens top deep threat.

With veteran Lee Evans hurt most of the year, Smith has stepped up to catch 32 passes and five scores at a 20.2 yards per catch average. His ability to stretch the seam of the defense has given the Ravens the offensive balance they thought Evans would have provided.

Jah Reid is an offensive tackle Baltimore drafted in the third round. He has spent this year as a reserve on a team full of veterans on the offensive line.
Tandon Doss is a wide receiver the Ravens took in the next round. He showed promise in preseason, but has not seen much action this year. He made headlines by foiling a crime earlier this year.

Baltimore had two picks in the fifth round. Chykie Brown, a cornerback, has rarely played. Yet defensive end Pernell McPhee has been an excellent find. He has grabbed six sacks, second most on the team, and 20 tackles as a reserve on one of the best defenses in the league.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was drafted in the sixth round and has spent the year on the bench behind Joe Flacco, who has yet to miss a game in his career. Halfback Anthony Allen was the last draft choice, and he has three carries in the four games he has played.

This draft class, with the exception of McPhee and the Smith's, has spent this year learning from a group of veterans who know how to win. Their true impact will be seen more clearly down the road, because most have an upside that projects well.
Newsome just did what he has always done. He has set up this team to continue winning down the road.

Grade : B










Buffalo Bills

Many look at the Bills recent drafts and see many failures with their top picks. The team needed to stop this bad trait by having an excellent 2011 draft.
The Bills flew out of the gates this season, but reality has recently set in on the young team and had their Cinderella season strike midnight as they are in the midst of a five-game losing streak. Part of this early success was due to a solid draft where almost all made the active roster.

Marcell Dareus, a defensive tackle selected in the first round, leads the team with 3.5 sacks despite having to play nose tackle after Pro Bowler Kyle Williams went on the injured reserve early in the season. Buffalo has 13 players on this list, including four starters on defense.

Buffalo's second round choice was cornerback Aaron Williams, who has played just six games because of injuries. He has shown promise and he may contribute more with Pro Bowler Terrance McGee on injured reserve.

Kelvin Sheppard is a linebacker drafted in the third round who is now starting after veteran Shawn Merriman went on the injured reserve after six games. The rookie has 36 tackles and safety so far.

Da'Norris Searcy was drafted in the fourth round, and the strong safety has even started three games. He has an interception and 38 tackles so far. Chris Hairston was the Bills second pick in the fourth round, and he has spent this year on the bench.

Fifth-round pick Johnny White has just 11 carries this year, but the halfback may end up getting more work after starter Fred Jackson went on injured reserve a few weeks ago. Linebacker Chris White is now on the injured reserve after the sixth-round selection had played special teams for seven weeks.

Buffalo had two picks in the seventh round. Cornerback Justin Rogers has spent this season contributing on special teams.

The Bills final pick was defensive lineman Michael Jasper, an interesting project who weighed over 450 pounds in college. He has spent the year on the practice squad and trimmed down to 375.

The rebuilding of the Bills may take awhile, but having a solid draft finally will help. Dareus doesn't appear as if he will follow recent wasted top picks like Aaron Maybin, J.P. Losman, John McCargo and Mike Williams. Other recent top picks like Lee Evans, Willis McGahee, Donte Whitner and Marshawn Lynch have joined Maybin to contribute for other teams.

But Buffalo hopes he isn't mediocre like recent first round selections C.J. Spiller and Leodis McKelvin. Time will tell, but the Bills did show unexpected marked improvement despite only getting real production from Dareus in the years draft class.

Grade : C-











Carolina Panthers

Ron Rivera needed a sound draft in his first year as the head coach. Being a defensive expert, he leaned heavily on that side of the ball but first started by getting his franchise quarterback.

Cam Newton has carried this team day one, even though the roster has crumbled around him. The Panthers have 14 players currently on the injured reserve, which in includes their best defensive player and best offensive lineman.

Newton has not only tossed the ball 413 times already, he has run the ball 100 times. Newton's 13 rushing touchdowns is the most ever by a quarterback in NFL history.

He is just 19 rushing attempts and 51 yards from leading Carolina in this category despite the fact the team spent millions to retain the services of DeAngelo Williams before the season began. Jonathan Stewart has been more effective than Williams despite coming off the bench.

After tabbing Newton with the top pick of the draft, Rivera grabbed two defensive tackles in the following rounds. While Terrell McClain played well at times, Sione Fua gave next to nothing. Both tackles went on the injured reserve after 12 games this year.

Brandon Hogan is a cornerback Carolina took in the fourth round, but he has yet to record a statistic because he spent most of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list until recently. Wide receiver Kealoha Pilares was taken in the fifth round, but has yet to catch a pass. He has returned 15 kickoffs, and he took one return for a team record 101 yard score.

The Panthers sixth-round pick, Lawrence Wilson, did not work out. After spending much of the season on the practice squad, Wilson was arrested with possession of narcotics and had his contract terminated.

Carolina grabbed two offensive linemen with their last two selections. Guard Zach Williams is on injured reserve, while tackle Lee Ziemba has spent the year as a rarely used reserve.

With a team trying to rebuild, it has been difficult through all of the injuries. Carolina is the eighth best scoring team in the NFL, but the defense is ranked 29th in points allowed. This has helped the team to a 4-8 record so far.

Besides Newton, the only rookies that have played well are McClain and Pilares. Newton will probably win the offensive Rookie of the Year award, thus saving this year from being a failure, but the overall draft has been a disappointment for the most part.

Grade : C








Chicago Bears

When you go the the NFC Championship Game, as the Bears did last year, you pick near the end of the draft and hope a good player falls to you. The Bears top pick, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, was put on injured reserve after appearing in just two games.

Chicago selected defensive tackle Stephen Paea in the second round, but the rookie has been buried on the bench. He still contributed a sack and a safety in the six games he has appeared in.

Chris Conte is a safety Chicago took in the third round. He has started seven games and chipped in 26 tackles and a interception.

The Bears used their fifth round selection on quarterback Nathan Enderle, who has spent the year on the bench. Chicago's last pick, linebacker James Thomas, has spent the year on injured reserve.

Conte is the only player of Chicago's five picks that has contributed much of anything. Men like Carimi, Paea, Enderle and Thomas may help out in the future, but this year has been a wash out for this draft class.

Grade : D -







Cincinnati Bengals

When you get rid of your top wide receiver and your franchise quarterback refuses to play with your team, things appear bleak at best. Yet the Bengals turned this situation into a positive through their draft.

They drafted wide receiver A.J. Green in the first round, then quarterback Andy Dalton in the next round. Both players have done so well that they have been mentioned as possible candidates for Rookie of the Year.

Green has grabbed 50 passes for 832 yards and seven touchdowns. He has been nothing short of spectacular despite battling nagging injuries and having another rookie toss him the ball.

Dalton often plays unlike a rookie, though he has had a few expected bumps on the road to successes. He has thrown 17 touchdowns against 12 interceptions, which has helped Cincinnati stay very much alive in the playoff hunt this year.

Dontay Moch, a linebacker picked in the third round, broke his foot in the first preseason game and has spent this year on the bench. Clint Boling, the fourth round selection, has started three games.

The Bengals next two picks, free safety Robert Sands and wide receiver Ryan Whalen, have contributed nothing this year. Their last selections, cornerback Koren Lindsey and halfback Jay Finley, did not make the team.

Though they haven't gotten much after their first two picks, the selections of Green and Dalton have set this franchise up for years. The duo is already exciting and should get even better down the road.

Grade : A -








Cleveland Browns

Everyone in Cleveland knew the rebuilding job Mike Holmgren is undertaking will take time, but there is already positive signs. Despite hiring offensive expert Pat Shurmur as head coach, the offense has been anemic. But the defense is ranked eighth in points allowed so far.

Mammoth defensive tackle Phil Taylor was drafted in the first round and has started right away. He already has 48 tackles and four sacks.

Jabaal Sheard was drafted in the second round and the defensive end lines up next to Taylor. He leads the team with 5.5 sacks and has 43 tackles.

Wide receiver Greg Little was a third round pick some viewed as a sleeper who could be Rookie of the Year. That hasn't happened with Cleveland's offensive woes, but he has led the team with 50 receptions.

Tight end Jordan Cameron, the Browns fourth round selection, has only contributed one catch. Fullback Owen Marecic, the fifth round pick, has mainly spent his time blocking for a wide range of halfbacks in the Browns banged up backfield.

Cleveland had two picks in the fifth round. Buster Skrine, a speedy cornerback, hasn't done much. Yet guard Jason Pinkston beat out veterans Artis Hicks and John Greco for a starting job.

Strong safety Eric Hagg, their last pick, has played in just six games as a third-string player. It was a draft where every player Cleveland selected made the active roster.

Holmgren has to be happy with this draft class. Taylor and Sheard could be a lethal combo for a long time. Little, Marecic and Pinkston are already starters on offense.

Getting five starters out of eight picks is an excellent job for any year. Cleveland may be struggling this year, but the "Dawg Pound" has to like the progress they are witnessing.

Grade : A








Dallas Cowboys

After years of concentrating on positions other than the offensive line in the draft, Dallas smartly began to bolster the trenches in this draft. They took 20 year old Tyron Smith in the first round, and the offensive tackle has been very good most of the season.

Bruce Carter is a linebacker taken in the second round. He has not done much this year, making Cowboys fans wonder if he will be a bust like Bobby Carpenter was as the teams first round pick in 2006.

DeMarco Murray has been quite a find as a third round selection. After a slow start, he eventually earned a starting job and has run for 872 yards so far.

Offensive tackle David Arkin, the fourth round selection, has spent this year on the bench. Josh Thomas, a cornerback taken in the fifth round, did not make the team and has now played six games with the Carolina Panthers.

Dwayne Harris, a wide receiver taken in the sixth round, has spent this season on the practice squad. Shaun Chapas, a fullback taken the next round, has spent most of this year on special teams but did start a game.

Center/ guard Bill Nagy was their last pick. He started in one of the four games he played before an injury ended his season.

Dallas had a hit or miss draft. Smith and Murray have been big, but they really haven't gotten a lot from the rest of their draft class. How guys like Carter and Arkin pan out down the road will give a truer grade, but the miss on Thomas drops the overall grade this year.

Grade : C +








Denver Broncos

When you are a head coach known for defensive expertise, it is safe to assume the first draft will lean heavily in that direction if rebuilding is the plan. John Fox took six defenders in the Broncos nine picks.

The very first pick, who happened to be the second player chosen overall, was linebacker Von Miller. He is mostly known for his pass rushing abilities, as his team-leading 10.5 sacks show, but he has become more well-rounded as the season has progressed. He is third on the team with 58 tackles.

Denver had two picks in the second round. The first was free safety Rahim Moore, a guy some thought may get picked in the first round. He has started five games and picked off a pass.

Orlando Franklin surprisingly slipped into the Broncos laps. He is their starting right tackle, an important position because quarterback Tim Tebow is left-handed.

The third round pick was Nate Irving, a middle linebacker buried in the depth chart. Joe Mays, a four-year veteran, has been a pleasant surprise at the position this season

Quinton Carter was drafted in the fourth round, but he has now risen to be the starter at free safety. He has 37 tackles and might move over to strong safety next year if 16-year veteran Brian Dawkins retires at the end of the year.

Julius Thomas was Denver's second pick in the fourth round. The tight end has just one catch so far. Mike Mohamed was a linebacker drafted in the sixth round, but has played in just two games.

The Broncos had two picks in the seventh round. Tight end Virgil Green has caught two passes while defensive end Jeremy Beal was the last pick and he has spent the season on the practice squad.

The pick of Miller alone makes this a successful draft. He is considered a favorite of mane to be named Defensive Rookie of the Year.

While Franklin is already a vital part of the offense, Moore and Carter have split starts at free safety. So it appears Denver will be set in the middle of their secondary for quite awhile. Their young tight ends have also pitched in.

In a year where rebuilding was supposed to have brought mediocrity, Denver sits on top of the AFC West because of their defense. While Fox may still be still developing his team, the results from the 2011 draft class have been mostly excellent thus far.

Grade : A










Detroit Lions

The young Lions rebuilding continues this year, and the was hoping for the same positive results they got last year. It hasn't worked out that way.

Though Detroit already had a pretty good group of defensive lineman, they took Nick Fairley in the first round. Many thought the defensive tackle might go as high as the second overall pick, so Detroit felt lucky he fell to them. Fairley has given them next to nothing so far.

Wide receiver Titus Young was the first of two picks the Lions had in the second round. He has given the team 31 receptions so far. Halfback Mikel LeShoure was lost for the year in training camp, which was a crushing blow to the team.

Fifth round pick Doug Hogue has not played much because he is buried deep on the depth chart at linebacker. Offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath, their last pick, has spent the year on injured reserve.

With just one draft pick contributing, this draft class has been disappointing for Detroit.

Grade : D -










Green Bay Packers

When your the defending champion returning most of their roster, there is only hope a few players from the draft. Especially this Packers team that won it all despite a major amount of injuries all of last year.

Offensive tackle Derek Sherrod was the first round pick of Green Bay. He has spent most of the year on the bench.

Randall Cobb is a wide receiver who is the Packers kick return specialist. Not only has he scored a touchdown off both a punt and kickoff return, he has grabbed 17 passes and scored once again.

Alex Green is a halfback drafted in the third round, but he hasn't seen much action. Davin House, drafted in the following round, is a cornerback who has also not seen much action.

The Packers drafted two tight ends and both made the team, giving them five on the roster. D.J. Williams has caught one pass, while Ryan Taylor has made his bones as a blocker.

Green Bay had three draft picks in the sixth round. Guard Caleb Schlaunderaff was soon traded to the New York Jets, where he has appeared in four games.

Linebacker D.J. Smith started a game but has mostly played special teams. Defensive end Ricky Elmore did not make the team, while defensive end Lawrence Guy, their last selection, has spent the season on injured reserve.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson has a excellent draft for a defending champion picking last most of the time. While many are just seldom used reserves right now, it is yet another example of why the Packers are undefeated thus far.

Grade : B -









Houston Texans

With the team on the verge of their first playoff appearance ever, the success of their 2011 draft is a big reason why. It also may have saved head coach Gary Kubiak his job.

Defensive end J.J. Watt is a mammoth player who has quietly put a season together worthy of Rookie of the Year honors. He has 4.5 sacks and third on the team in tackles. Houston currently has allowed the second fewest points and yards in the NFL.

Houston had two picks in the second round. Brooks Reed is an outside linebacker forced into action early after Pro Bowler Mario Williams was put on injured reserve after five games. Reed has six sacks and 35 tackles so far.

Cornerback Brandon Harris has played just four games so far, while fourth round pick Rashad Carmichael, another cornerback, has spent the year on injured reserve.

The Texans then had a pair of picks in the fifth round. Strong safety Shiloh Keo has spent the year on the bench, while quarterback T.J. Yates was recently thrust into the starting lineup after injuries shelved Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart for the year.

Houston also had a couple of picks in the seventh round. While Derek Newton has spent the year backing up left tackle Duane Brown, linebacker Cheta Ozougwu, Mr. Irrelevant of 2011, did not make the team.

Watt was the only player expected to start, but Reed and Yates have also played well when called upon. Newly hired defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was given some ammo this year, as the team used six of their eight picks on defenders.

Even if the Texans have an early exit in the playoffs this year, which could happen with many key players amongst the 12 players on injured reserve, this draft class has set up the franchise nicely for several years ahead.

Grade : A -












Indianapolis Colts

When a team is without a victory yet, there is a struggle to find a silver lining. Many Colts fans are looking ahead to next year, with the expected return of Peyton Manning and drafting of Andrew Luck. Manning had led Indianapolis to the playoffs in 12 of the previous 13 seasons.

Anthony Castonzo was drafted in the first round and now starts at left tackle. He is one of three rookies starting, though the other two are undrafted players.

They drafted guard Ben Ijalana in the second round, but he ended up on injured reserve after four games. Defensive tackle Drake Nevis, their third round pick, was put on the injured reserve after five games.

Delone Carter is a halfback who was drafted in the fourth round. He has played often and piled up 347 yards and a pair of touchdowns so far. Chris Rucker is a cornerback who was the Colts last pick and has played sparingly.

It was not the best draft ever for the Colts, considering only two players have contributed much. The class has been bereft by injury, and Castonzo has missed four games himself. It seems everyone associated with the Colts cannot wait until next year.

Grade : D












Jacksonville Jaguars

It has been a difficult year for the Jaguars. They basically got a new quarterback, new head coach, and a new owners as the season has progressed.

Blaine Gabbert was the Jags first round pick. The quarterback was thrust into the lineup before he was ready and has struggled all season.

William Rackley was drafted in the second round and starts at left guard. Cecil Shorts is a wide receiver drafted in the following round. He has caught just two passes so far, but Shorts has also fielded 12 punts.

Jacksonville used their last two picks on a pair of safeties. Free safety Chris Prosinski has spent most of the year on the bench, while strong safety Rod Isaac went on the injured reserve after three games.

The Jaguars have 20 players on injured reserve, which undoubtedly has helped them struggle. With a new regime set to make their mark next season, the team is hoping for a more productive draft class in 2012.

Grade : C -













Kansas City Chiefs

This season has been difficult for the Chiefs. While they have just seven players on injured reserve, four players were expected to carry the team to a repeat as AFC West champions.

Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin was drafted in the first round, but the rookie has had a disappointing year with just 14 receptions. Center/ Guard Rodney Hudson was drafted in the second round and has spent the season on the bench.

The Chiefs had a pair of picks in the third round, so they concentrated on defense. Linebacker Justin Houston is staring now and has three sacks and 36 tackles. Defensive end Allen Bailey hasn't contributed much.

Jalil Brown is a cornerback drafted in the fourth round who has spent his season on special teams. The team had two picks in the fifth round in quarterback Ricky Stanzi and linebacker Gabe Miller. Stanzi has stayed on the bench while Miller is on injured reserve.

Jerrell Powe, a nose tackle selected in the sixth round, has played in one game. Fullback Shane Bannon, the Chiefs last pick, is on the practice squad.

Besides Houston, Kansas City has gotten next to nothing from this draft class. With the way the season has been with the team, the Chiefs could have used more help from the rookies.

Grade : D













Miami Dolphins

After a very tough start to their 2011 season, the Dolphins have player better recently. Part of that reason is that their rookies have stepped up their game.

Mike Pouncey was drafted in the first round and has started all year at center. Halfback Daniel Thomas, their second round pick, has run for 504 yards despite being banged up several games.

Clyde Gates, a wide receiver taken in the fourth round, has only two catches. But he has returned 26 kickoffs at a healthy 25 yards per return average.

Fullback Charles Clay is known for being a good blocker, but the rookie fullback has also caught 13 passes thus far. The sixth round pick has started eight games.

Miami had a pair of picks in the seventh round, but cut defensive tackle Frank Kearse. Kearse later played two games with the Carolina Panthers. Cornerback Jimmy Wilson, their final pick, has an interception in limited playing time.

The powerhouse blocking of Pouncey and Clay should help Thomas a lot in his career. Gates is a speedy player who some feel has a future as a deep threat on offense.

It was a solid draft by a team who needs a decent quarterback to give their offense versatility because the defense is stout. Whether Miami has a new head coach or not in 2012, many pundits expect them to draft that franchise quarterback.

Grade : B










Minnesota Vikings

Most Vikings fans knew this would be a tough season with rebuilding in mind. They just didn't expect only two victories so far.

A few were surprised when they tabbed quarterback Christian Ponder in the first round, especially after having just signing veteran Donovan McNabb. Not only did McNabb get benched then cut, the rookie has played very well in his place.

Tight end Kyle Rudolph was grabbed in the second round. He has shown some promise with 18 catches and a pair of scores.

A few were suprised to see defensive tackle Christian Ballard fall to the Vikings on the fourth round. Yet the rookie has spent much of the year on the bench.

After drafting cornerback Brandon Butler in the fifth round, a player who has contributed little, the Vikings then had four selections in the sixth round and two more in the seventh.

Tackle DeMarcus Love and center Brandon Fusco have spent the year on the bench. Linebacker Russ Homan was cut in training camp but later joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad for a few days.

Free safety Mistral Raymond is now starting at free safety. He was just given the job after veteran Husain Abdullah went on injured reserve. Wide receiver Stephen Burton has caught a pair of passes so far, while defensive end D'Aundre Reed has sat on the bench.

Ponder has made the draft successful, while Rudolph has also helped. The rest of the picks are projects, which symbolizes where the franchise is right now. It will take a few years to see how good the draft class really is.

Grade : C +











New England Patriots

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick loves to work a draft, and this strategy has led to one of the most successful runs in recent NFL history. He attacked the 2011 like always.

Left tackle Nate Solder was drafted in the first round and has spent this year on the bench being mentored by veteran Matt Light. Then the Patriots had two picks in the second, third, and fifth rounds.

Ras-I Dowling is a cornerback who was put on injured reserve after two games. New England then drafted two halfbacks.

While Shane Vereen has just 15 carries, Stevan Ridley has 48. The team has a deep backfield, but touches are even fewer because Belichick prefers future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady passing the ball.

They did draft quarterback Ryan Mallett, but few will be shocked to see him starting for another team in a few years. Tackle/ guard Marcus Cannon joins Solder on the bench to learn.

Lee Smith was a curious selection, considering the Patriots have two young studs at tight end. He was cut by New England, but has joined the Buffalo Bills and caught three passes. Defensive end Markell Carter and cornerback Malcolm Williams have spent the year on the Patriots practice squad.

The Patriots have to feel good they have a pair of blockers and runners for when their veterans retire. Dowling is considered a top talent, but he has had trouble staying healthy the past few years.

The team is a real interesting mix of veterans and kids, but that is the plan of the genius Belichick. Instead of standing pat with veterans who have gotten him a lot of wind, he keeps upgrading the roster with young players so that the team will stay relevant for many years ahead.

Grade : C











New Orleans Saints

The Saints are beginning to look like the team that won the Super Bowl two years ago, not the team that floundered early in the playoffs last season. A big reason is that quarterback Drew Brees might be having an even better year than when he led the team to their title.

They had two draft picks in the first, third and seventh rounds. Five of those picks were used to bolster the defense, which struggled in 2010.

Their first pick was defensive end Cameron Jordan, who has started every game and has 25 tackles. Halfback Mark Ingram was selected next, and he seems like a lot of former Heisman winners who were average at best in the NFL.

Linebacker Martez Wilson and cornerback Johnny Patrick have spent the year on the bench. Linebacker Nate Bussey is on the practice squad, while defensive end Greg Romeus is on the injured reserve.

Jordan and Ingram aren't exactly setting the league on fire, but they are relied on already. Ingram splits carries with a plethora of excellent running backs, while Jordan has somewhat filled the void left by the departure of Charles Grant at the end of the 2009 season.

The other four players may have futures, but the lack of production from this group drops an already mediocre grade lower. But the way Brees is going, it hasn't mattered that the rookies aren't great.

Grade : C -











New York Giants

The way injuries have absolutely destroyed the Giants defense this year, it has been been tough that a few kids had to grow up fast this year. Those who were able to play, that is.

Their top pick was cornerback Prince Amukamara, who broke his foot in training camp. The Giants kept him on the roster, and he has recently returned to play the last three games and already has an interception.

New York used their second round pick on defensive tackle Melvin Austin, but he got hurt in training camp and is on the injured reserve. Wide Receiver Jerrel Jernigan, the third round selection, has just one kickoff return so far.

Offensive tackle James Brewer, the fourth round selection, has stayed on the bench this year. Then the Jints had four picks in the sixth round.

Linebacker Greg Jones has started five games and has 26 tackles. Strong safety Tyler Sash has spent most of the year on special teams along with halfback Da'Rel Scott. Linebacker Jacquian Williams has been a nice find and he is sixth on the team with 50 tackles.

Williams has saved this class from a failing grade, but it could rise before the season ends because Amukamara is back. It will hopefully be a healthy season for these kids in 2012 so they can show their abilities better.

Grade : C -












New York Jets

The Jets have been a big disappointment in 2011. Yet the draft class hasn't been a big part of that reason.

Muhammad Wilkerson was the Jets first pick. The defensive end started right away and he has 29 tackles and a safety. Nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, their third round pick, has just played four games so far.

Halfback Bilal Powell was drafted in the fourth round and has just seven rushing attempts so far. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley is now the third receiver on the team and has 18 catches. Kerley has also returned 18 punts.

The Jets had two picks in the seventh round. Quarterback Greg McElroy is on injured reserve, while wide receiver Scotty McKnight is on the practice squad.

Wilkerson has obviously had the biggest impact in this draft class, but Kerley was a nice find. His progress allowed the Jets to trade veteran Derrick Mason. The rest of the group has yet to help much, which drops the overall grade.

Grade : C -










Oakland Raiders

Every member of this Raiders draft got that last taste of true greatness. They are the last players to be drafted by the legendary Al Davis, who would pass away early in the 2011 season.

He went old school, despite having no pick in the first round. Davis drafted Stefen Wisniewski long long after he got Raiders great Steve Wisniewski to rejoin the franchise by coaching the offensive line. Now the uncle is teaching his nephew how to play guard like he did, where the versatile youngster has started every game this year.

Oakland has two picks in the third and fourth rounds. Cornerback Demarcus Van Dyke has started four games and has an interception, while guard Joseph Barksdale has spent the year on the bench.

Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa is on the injured reserve while halfback Taiwan Jones has 17 carries and eight kickoff returns. Wide receiver Denarius Moore has been quite a find and has 24 catches and four touchdowns despite battling nagging injuries. Tight ends Richard Gordon and David Ausberry both have just one catch each.

Wisniewski has been steady and solid all year, and Moore really helped when the team was transitioning between starting quarterbacks. Most of the rest of the draft class has helped at some point, so it wasn't a draft will besmirch the genius of the great Davis.

Grade : C











Philadelphia Eagles

No team has failed to meet expectations in the 2011 more than the Eagles. The draft class is not a big part of how their year has gone so far.

Guard Danny Watkins is a 27 year old rookie guard who has started eight games as the Eagles first round selection. He seems to get better each game, though he has had his struggles.

Free safety Jaiquawn Jarrett is a local hero who has started one game, but mostly has spent his time on special teams. Cornerback Curtis Marsh has hardly played this season.

The Eagles had a pair of picks from the fourth round on. Casey Matthews, a member of the most famous football family today, started at the beginning of the year before getting benched. Kicker Alex Henery has missed just three field goal attempts all season.

Dion Lewis is a halfback who has mainly contributed as a kick returner, while guard Julian Vandervelde has played in just one game. Yet the Eagles hit pay dirt in the sixth round.

Brian Rolle is a linebacker who is fourth on the team with 40 tackles. He also returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown. Center Jason Kelce has started every game this season.

Greg Lloyd is a linebacker whose father was a Pittsburgh Steelers legend. He has spent the year on the bench. Fullback Stanley Havill has spent the season on the practice squad.

Philadelphia seems to have found a good foundation at the inside of their offensive line with Watkins and Kelce. Of their three linebackers drafted, only Rolle has made a significant contribution. Henery is probably the best rookie on the team and has been as solid as any kicker in the league.

While the big-money superstars have come up short this year, this draft class has played well enough to get Eagles fans excited about the future.

Grade : A










Pittsburgh Steelers

The biggest reason the Steelers seemingly sit near the top of the NFL the past 40 years is because they build their teams through excellent drafts. The 2011 season seems no different.

Pittsburgh drafted defensive end Cameron Heyward in the first round. He has spent much of the year on the bench learning from the excellent veteran starters.

Marcus Gilbert is an offensive tackle who was selected in the second round. He, like much of the Steelers offensive linemen this year, has battled nagging injuries. Yet he has started in all 11 games he has played in.

Pittsburgh drafted a pair of cornerbacks in the next two rounds. Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen have mostly helped on special teams thus far.

Keith Williams is a guard that Pittsburgh drafted in the sixth round. He was cut, but later picked up by the Buffalo Bills and has played five games for them. Halfback Baron Batch was the Steelers last pick and he has spent the season on injured reserve.

Just another typical draft by Pittsburgh. They got a blocker who starts along with three defensive players who will contribute more as their careers go on.

Grade : C +











Saint Louis Rams

It has been an excruciating season for the Rams. A favorite by may to win the NFC West, before the season started, they are one of the worst teams in the league right now.

Robert Quinn is a linebacker who was their first round pick. He is used on pass rushing downs and has five sacks so far.

Saint Louis wanted to get quarterback Sam Bradford more weapons to throw to. Tight end Lance Kendricks has 19 catches, but a ton of drops too. Wide receivers Austin Pettis, who doubles as the primary punt returner, and Greg Salas, who is now on the injured reserve, have combined for 49 receptions so far.

The Rams used their final four picks on defensive players that are no longer with the team.All were cut in preseason, but three are still in the league.

Safety Jermale Hines played five games with the Carolina Panthers and is now with the Indianapolis Colts. Cornerback Mikail Barber was waived after being injured in preseason.Linebacker Jabara Williams is with the Chicago Bears, while safety Jonathan Nelson is on the Panthers practice squad.

Quinn, Kendricks, Pettis and Salas have made contributions, so the draft wasn't a total failure for the Rams. The play of the oft-injured Bradford certainly didn't help them.

Grade : C












San Diego Chargers

This draft class should be known as the last one head coach Norv Turner presided over. The inept Turner appears to have finally run out of chances.

Defensive tackle Corey Liuget is the Bolts top pick. While he has started in nine of the 11 games he has played in, Liuget has just 13 tackles this season. San Diego had two picks in the second, third and sixth rounds.

Cornerback Marcus Gilchrist has started three games while getting an interception and returning a fumble 40 yards. Linebacker Jonas Mouton is on injured reserve.

Wide receiver Vincent Brown is the best rookie San Diego drafted this season. The athletic Brown has 16 catches and a pair of scores. Cornerback Shareece Wright has spent this year on the bench, while halfback Jordan Todman is on the practice squad.

Offensive tackle Stephen Schilling has a pair of starts in the five games he has appeared in. Linebacker Andrew Gachkar has been playing special teams.

The Chargers wanted more from their top draft picks than occasional contributions. The contributions of the promising Brown saves this group from being called a complete failure.

Grade : D










San Francisco 49ers

The Niners have been one the great stories of 2011. Not only are they 10-2 right now, they also had an excellent draft under first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Linebacker Aldon Smith was San Francisco's first round pick. While the former collegiate defensive end has been primarily used as a pass rush specialist, he has come through with 9.5 quarterback sacks and a safety.

The promising Colin Kaepernick has spent this year learning how to be an NFL quarterback under Harbaugh, yet the second round pick has gotten to throw five passes so far. Cornerback Chris Culliver has an interception and 25 tackles as a dime back.

Halfback Kendall Hunter has been quite a nice pick in the fourth round. As the primary backup behind Frank Gore, he has churned out 302 rushing yards. Guard Daniel Kilgore has spent the season on the bench.

The 49ers had two picks in both the sixth and seventh rounds. Wide receiver Ronald Johnson did not make the team and is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad. Free safety Colin Jones ha played little.

Bruce Miller was a defensive lineman in college, but San Francisco moved him to fullback. He has now started six games and even has a touchdown off of seven receptions. Guard Michael Person has spent the season on the bench, while cornerback Curtis Holmcomb is on injured reserve.

Smith has really helped the 49ers have the top rated defense all season, while Hunter and the surprising Miller are making significant contributions to the offensive backfield. Culliver has also had provided much needed help.

San Francisco has already won the weak AFC West. A reason why is this rookie class, one that should have the team winning beyond this season.

Grade : B










Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks 2011 season has been tough. It has been just as tough on their rookies.

Seattle used their first and third round draft picks on tackle James Carpenter and guard John Moffitt. Both landed on the injured reserve list after nine games, and Moffitt is also serving a suspension for use of performance enhancing drug use.

Linebacker K.J. Wright was the first of two draft picks Seattle had in the fourth round. He currently starts and has 38 tackles with a quarterback sack. Wide Receiver Kris Durham had three receptions before ending up on the injured reserve.

Free safety Mark Legree did not make the team. Cornerback Byron Maxwell and defensive tackle Lazarius Levingston have contributed little, but linebacker Malcolm Smith does have a sack and forced fumble.

Seattle is a young team that has 11 rookies on the roster and three more on the injured reserve. While Carpenter, Moffitt and Wright earned stating jobs, their best rookie is undrafted wide receiver Doug Baldwin and his team-leading 38 receptions.

The Seahawks can only hope Carpenter and Moffitt will not follow in Russel Okung's footsteps. Okung, the sixth player chosen overall on 2010, is a left tackle who has already missed 10 games due to injuries. If their young linemen can stay healthy, the franchise will be a threat down the road.

Grade : C +










Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The young Bucs took a few steps back this season. Youth can be attributed to their regression, but it was not expected to be as severe as it has been.

Five defenders were amongst their eight selections. Defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers were their first two picks. Clayborn has 27 tackles and 5.5 sacks, while Bowers has chipped in 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Middle linebacker Mason Foster is third on the team with 57 tackles. He also has a pair of sacks and has demonstrated good leadership.

Two tight ends were drafted by Tampa Bay. Luke Stocker has given them eight receptions, but Daniel Hardy did not make the team and is now a member of the Saints practice squad.

Strong safety Ahmad Black is now on the Bucs practice squad while halfback Allen Bradford is a member of the Seahawks practice squad. Cornerback Anthony Gaitor has suited up for five games on special teams.

Clayborn and Bowers are part of a young and talented Buccaneers defensive line that has yet to fulfill expectations. Foster looks like he will grow in the position, but the rest of the draft did not go well. Much like the Buccaneers 2011 season.

Grade : C +










Tennessee Titans

The Titans have had a pretty good year under first year head coach Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard. They are very much in the playoff chase.

Quarterback Jake Locker was their first round draft pick. Though he has spent most of the year on the bench, Locker has tossed 21 passes and two touchdowns.

Linebacker Akeem Ayers, their second round pick, is sixth on the team in tackles with 51 tackles and he has two sacks. Third round pick Jurrell Casey, a defensive tackle, leads all Titans defensive linemen with 40 tackles.

Linebacker Colin McCarthy has only played nine games, but he is right behind Ayers on the team with 40 tackles. Halfback Jamie Harper has just seven carries all season.

Defensive tackle Karl Klug is the Titans fifth round pick and his four sacks leads the team. Offensive tackle Byron Stingily has sat on the bench this season, as has defensive tackle Zach Clayton for the most part. Cornerback Tommie Campbell, Tennessee's last pick, has contributed on special teams.

The Titans grabbed four defenders who have had immediate impact. Their future franchise quarterback has benefited from learning from sage veteran Matt Hasselbeck. This good fortune has helped the team stay afloat most of the season.

Grade : A









Washington Redskins

Redskins general manager Bruce Allen has the unenviable task of trying to clean up the tremendous mess Vinny Cerrato left the team in. The son of the Redskins Hall of Fame George Allen, he has already made tremendous strides.

Where his dad may have traded all of their draft picks to acquire veterans, the younger Allen went a different direction by wheeling and dealing on draft day and getting the team 12 draft selections.

Ryan Kerrigan was their first round pick. He is making the transition from collegiate defensive end, but Kerrigan leads Washington with 6.5 sacks and is third on the team with 56 tackles. He also intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown.

The Redskins second pick was defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins. He was showing tremendous ability before suffering a season-ending injury during a preseason game. Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson gave Washington 13 receptions before ending up on the injured reserve list.

Roy Helu has been a gem for the Redskins this season. He is now starting and the fourth round pick has 456 rushing yards and 42 receptions. He was the first of three Nebraska Cornhuskers that Allen drafted consecutively.

Safety Dejon Gomes and wide receiver Niles Paul have spent most of the season on special teams. Halfback Evan Royster and cornerback Brandyn Thompson have spent much of the season on the practice squad, while wide receiver Aldrick Robinson has spent all of his year there.

Guard Maurice Hurt started the year on the practice squad, but he is now starting after a rash of injuries hit the team. Markus White, a linebacker who played defensive end in college, has spent the year on the bench, while nose tackle Chris Neild has a couple of sacks backing up starter Barry Cofield.

Washington lost seven starters to injury or suspension this year, which has doomed their 2011 dreams. Kerrigan and Helu were very nice surprises, but the rest of the draft class looks like developmental projects that will not show their true worth until they travel further down the NFL road.

Grade : C






Yoooo! Dis iz 7thStone! Yo! Lets make dis fast cuz I got to go ho ho ho. Dats rite, da Guidacelli triplets is coming over so I iz eating viagra like dey is tic tacs. Capeesh?

Last weak I went 10-5, so I iz now 114-72 overall.

Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens

Yo? You kiddin, rite?

Ravens 31 Colts 14








Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers

If Atlanta loses hear, dere seasun is over.

Falcons 27 Panthers 24








Houston Texans @ Cincinnati Bengals

YO! DIS iz gunna be a CLASH of too grate defenses. Plus both teems can run da ball and have rookie quarterbacks starting. I'm gambling hear, cuz da Bengals know a loss kills playoff dreems prolly.

Bengals 23 Texans 21








Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions

Da Lions stop losing hear.

Lions 31 Vikings 28











Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Jacksonville Jaguars

No one outside of Florida cares and not two many inside da Sunshine States does either.

Buccaneers 23 Jaguars 17









Philadelphia Eagles @ Miami Dolphins

A battle of two teams going nowhere. The difference is that the Dolphins players try to play like professionals who know they are lucky to earn a paycheck, rather than think it is owed to them.

Dolphins 24 Eagles 20








Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Jets

Da difference hear is dat da Jets is fighting for dere playoff lives.

Jets 27 Chiefs 14











New Orleans Saints @ Tennessee Titans

Can anyone stop Drew Brees?

Saints 28 Titans 20








New England Patriots @ Washington Redskins

Sorry Cuzin 3rd

Patriots 42 Redskins 20









San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

Just cuz da Niners won da NFC West, it dont meen dey is rollin over til playoffs.

49ers 27 Cardinals 17








Chicago Bears @ Denver Broncos

It ain't if anyone can stop Teblow, it is dat Bears beat up offense can score aganst dat improvin Broncos defense. NO

Broncos 16 Bears 7









Oakland Raiders @ Green Bay Packers

Da Raiders are just erratic eniff two hand da Pack there furst loss.

Packers 34 Raiders 24









Buffalo Bills @ San Diego Chargers

Too teems we wont sea in da playoffs.

Chargers 34 Bills 28









Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
Game of the Week


Simple. If da Giants lose = dere playoff dreems are pretty much dun. If dey win = dey is den tied for furst place in da NFL East wif da Cowboys. I tink both teems stink and prefer the Bengals vs. Texans game, but dere are more steaks involved hear.

Cowboys 21 Giants 20







Saint Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks

Hasn't Monday Night Footballs sucked King Kong balls most dis yeer? May be the worst MNF seasun EVER. Only a football junkie will watch dese too suck ass teems. Guys like me.

Seahawks 27 Rams 16



Power Rankings

1. Packers
2. Ravens
3. 49ers
4. Steelers
5. Texans
6. Saints
7. Patriots
8. Bengals
9. Falcons
10. Cowboys
11. Jets
12. Lions
13. Broncos
14. Raiders
15. Titans
16. Bears
17. Giants
18. Bills
19. Chargers
20. Seahawks
21. Chiefs
22. Cardinals
23. Dolphins
24. Buccaneers
25. Panthers
26. Browns
27. Eagles
28. Redskins
29. Jaguars
30. Vikings
31. Rams
32. Colts

OK. See ya! As dey say in Ol' Mexico= A.M.F.




 

2011 NFL Draft : Washington Redskins Grades and 5 Undrafted Players They Should Sign
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL NFC East Dan Snyder NCAA Washington Redskins College Football Bruce Allen 2011 NFL Draft Free Agency Ryan Kerrigan Jarvis Jenkins




In 1999, a life-long football fan realized a childhood dream by purchasing his favorite team. Dan Snyder, who was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs just outside of Washington D.C., was just 33-years old when he became the owner of the Washington Redskins.


He has become a polarizing figure since then. Redskins Nation knows Snyder is a real Redskins fan who is hell-bent on seeing his team win titles, willing to do whatever it takes to reach those heights.


Yet he has also ostracized himself by moves like confining tailgating and charging fans for wanting to do so. Moves that took a team once ranked as the sixth most popular NFL team in 2003 to 17th since 2009.


Despite a famous waiting list for season tickets that numbers over 200,000 people, he sued season ticket holders who had not yet paid because of the hard economic times the country has been in. Actions looked upon as betrayal by one of their own.


It hasn't helped Snyder, who has long admitted he knows nothing about the intricacies about football, has had his teams go 86-106 since his purchase. The Redskins have had just three winning seasons in his regime.


His naivety to the game saw Snyder hire Vinny Cerrato, a guy he thought was a disciple of Hall of Famer Bill Walsh and had learned how to build a winning team. In retrospect, it appears Cerrato learned nothing from Walsh and bamboozled Snyder.


When Cerrato was hired in 1999, he mortgaged the future of the franchise by bringing in old players like Irving Fryar, Jeff George, Mark Carrier, and a pair of Hall of Famers named Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders. His first two draft picks were Champ Bailey and Jon Jansen.


While only Smith helped the team from the free agents group, Bailey and Jansen both helped the Redskins for many years. Bailey, who appears that he will one day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, gave Washington four Pro Bowl years in five seasons before being traded for running back Clinton Portis in 2004.


While many of Cerrato's draft picks played in the NFL, his trading away draft picks for old players infuriated fans. Especially in the aftermath, where the Redskins got next to nothing in return.


The Redskins had four years where they had five or few draft picks in the Cerrato Era. They headed into the 2011 NFL Draft with a team desperately needing bodies, but with only seven draft choices to accomplish this.


It was a different draft day for the Redskins in 2011. A draft not seen by the team since the days of Bobby Beathard, the great Redskins general manager who helped build teams that went to four Super Bowls in a 10 years.


Snyder had tired of hearing about the incompetence of Cerrato. He had tried to quell it by banning fans from bringing signs into the Redskins home stadium, and even bought several radio stations that were managed in a heavy-handed manner by Snyder to prevent negative talk about his organization.


He announced Cerrato resigned at the end of the 2009 season, but being fired is more of an apt term for Cerrato. He had already been fired for one year in 2000 before coming back to seemingly systematically destroy the Redskins for revenge.


Bruce Allen was hired as general manager after Cerrato departed. The son of Redskins Hall of Fame coach George Allen, he is the eight general manager of a team that has been in the NFL since 1932.


He follows in the footsteps of such Hall of Famers like Otto Graham, Vince Lombardi, and his own father. Allen had won the George Young Executive of the Year Award with the Oakland Raiders in 2002 and had been the general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2004 to 2008.


Not only was he blessed to have learned from his dad, but he also got mentored by Hall of Famer Al Davis. After gaging his team during a frustrating 2010 season, Allen had a plan for the Redskins in the 2011 NFL Draft.


He works side by side with head coach Mike Shanahan, yet Allen pulled off a series of draft day moves that would have made Bill Belichick smile. Belichick, the master of wheeling and dealing on draft day, now has some company in that area with Allen.


Trading down from the get go, the Redskins went from seven draft choices to 12. It was as if the team took a time machine back to the 12-round draft days of Beathard and Charley Casserly.


It was a draft day Redskins fans deserved after having suffered for too many years to want to count. The team desperately needed this, even if the possibility of having to cut draft picks in training camp occurs.


It was an infusion of not just competence, but expertise. For all of the verbal lashings Dan Snyder has taken since 1999, this is the time to pat him on the back for getting Bruce Allen and giving the team a chance to finally turn things around.


Now if we could only get Snyder not to confine nor charge fans for tailgating and be more of a fan than owner on this issue.



Here is a brief break down of the Redskins draft, followed by a grade.





Ryan Kerrigan, Outside Linebacker



After watching the Tennessee Titans shock people by reaching on quarterback Jake Locker, there was more available talent available than expected. Yet The Redskins were intent on getting bodies, and it appears they were not high on Blaine Gabbert.


The Jacksonville Jaguars were high on the quarterback, so the teams pulled off a trade that saw the Redskins switch slots in the first round while picking up another draft pick that they would later trade for more selections.


Kerrigan goes were most draft experts had him. He is your classic overachiever who never quits on a play. He is also a pleasure to have in the locker room.


While he should see time at strong side linebacker, I imagine both he and Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo will put a hand in the dirt on obvious passing downs. Like Orakpo, the only pass defense Kerrigan will offer is rushing the passer.


After a season of drama from Albert Haynesworth in 2010, veterans will enjoy this kid. Kerrigan brings his lunch pail every day and goes to work, the type of player a franchise can never get enough of.





Jarvis Jenkins, Defensive End


A very sound pick up that will be even more effective if free agent Kedric Golston returns. Jenkins is very good at stopping the run, an area Washington needs help at.


He isn't a classic nose tackle, but is versatile enough to get rotated there if needed. He is not going to rack up many sacks, but you will rarely see him get fooled or pancaked.


Some question his stamina, because he was given frequent blows in college, so this is why the return of Golston helps. Jenkins will be good for the Skins rotation playing the five-technique or wherever he is needed.





Leonard Hankerson, Wide Receiver



A big kid with huge, soft, reliable hands. He will not burn any defensive backs, but he will use his body to screen them off. A red zone threat who will be looked on as a chain mover.


With Santana Moss possibly gone, and Anthony Armstrong catching 20-yard passes, Hankerson fills a big need while adding quality depth. He also has the possibility in leading the team in touchdown catches as a rookie.





Roy Helu, Running Back



Helu has to be a Shanahan Special. Shanahan is known for taking running backs later in the draft, then turning them into 1,000-yard backs.


The kid is a one-cut back who hits the hole hard, but his real worth could be he saves Washington a roster spot because of his excellent receiving ability. He should challenge for a starting job right away.





Dejon Gomes, Cornerback



His athleticism is probably what had Washington reach on him much higher than he was rated. Many experts had Gomes going undrafted or in the seventh round.


He has good size and hands, but often whiffs on tackles and needs a lot of work in his deep zone recognition. Defensive Backs coach Bob Slowik has a lot of work to put into Gomes.


He will have to earn his pay on special teams, but there is a chance that this is the only area Gomes can contribute at for Washington.





Niles Paul, Wide Receiver



Another physical possession receiver, possibly signalling the end of Roydell Williams and Malcolm Kelly. Paul needs major work on refining his route-running, but Washington has the great Keenan McCardell at Wide Receivers coach to help him.


He has decent speed to go with a good frame, so there is a chance he can help the team. Paul also has experience at returning kicks, so special teams play might determine if he sticks or not.





Evan Royster, Running Back



The first real bizarre move by the Redskins. Washington is woefully thin at linebacker, and there were a ton of linebackers selected right after Royster was drafted. This includes Greg Jones, a tackling machine who has the ability to start at middle linebacker one day at middle linebacker.


With Rocky McIntosh a free agent and London Fletcher 36-years old, Jones made sense here, especially with the fact that the oft-injured and smallish Robert Henson and young Perry Riley are the only inside linebackers on the roster besides Fletcher.


Royster was productive in college, but he is not very strong nor fast and offers nothing but blocking in the passing attack. He isn't explosive, lacks lateral agility, and goes down easy too.


Yet he is a very hard worker and smart. Maybe the Redskins plan on trying him at linebacker, because I think he may have difficulty beating out Helu, Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, Mike Sellers, Darrel Young, James Davis, Chad Simpson, or even Andre Brown for a roster spot.





Aldrick Robinson, Wide Receiver



A smallish, but speedy, wide receiver, Robinson could end up being the best receiver drafted by Washington in 2011. He has great hands and body control, willing to go over the middle without fear.


He should fill in at the slot right away, but he needs work because he comes from a spread offense in college. McCardell was a Pro Bowl receiver known for crisp routes and great hands, so Robinson will get coached up to produce early in his career.





Brandyn Thompson, Cornerback



A small, but not speedy, cornerback Washington hopes can add depth and help on special teams. Though his hips are a little stiff as well as his difficulties with bigger receivers, Thompson has a tendency to gamble.


Yet he has good hands and knows how to play zone coverage. Thompson is smart and a sound tackler. He will have to make the squad via special teams, but he could be solid in the nickel formation one day.





Maurice Hunt, Offensive Lineman



The Redskins finally address the offensive, perhaps a hint they plan on bringing back free agent Jammal Brown. Hunt is a bulky guy who will try to add depth at the guard position


He is strictly a masher for the running game right now, needing work on his pass blocking and assignment recognition. But he could prove to be very serviceable down the road.





Markus White, Defensive End



He had good leadership qualities, which always upgrades the locker room. He is a hard worker who has some pass rush ability, but is raw and needs a lot of coaching in that area and awareness.


Given his size, which is more suited for a 4-3 defensive end, one wonders if the Skins plan on trying him as a strong side linebacker. Yet he didn't show the ability to stand up in college, so his selection is a mystery that will be unraveled in training camp.


If Washington plans on keeping him at defensive end, White might have trouble beating out Jeremy Jarmon, Adam Carriker, Darrion Scott, along with graybeards Vonnie Holliday and Phillip Daniels, for a roster spot.





Chris Neild, Nose Tackle



NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said Neild not only looks like a nose tackle, but the kid reminded him of New York Giants great Jim Burt. Yet the analysis on the NFL's website says Neild will not be able to play nose tackle at the next level.


One thing all can agree upon is that the kid is an anchor in the trenches, because he is strong and hard to move. He is slow and not very athletic, but Neild specialty is clogging lanes and stopping the run while always working as hard as he can.


Washington's nose tackles are a collection of mediocre journeymen, so hopefully Neild can at least add quality depth. Defensive Line coach Jacob Burney has the responsibility of trying to help get Neild be an effective NFL nose tackle, because a 3-4 defense is never good if the position isn't productive.


Bruce Allen got a lot of bodies in the draft, yet the only linebacker he took is a defensive end who will need a lot of coaching to transition smoothly. He also eschewed the offensive line until the final round.


It was quite apparent the Redskins were not interested in any quarterback available to be had. Talking heads kept mentioning how the Redskins are planning to go with John Beck during the draft. Beck, drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft, is on his third team so far.


Despite the reaches on Royster and Gomes, Allen got good value and possible sleepers at wide receiver. If Jenkins and Neild can contribute to a defense that struggled last year, Fletcher, Orakpo, and Kerrigan will be freed up to make big plays that will help a secondary that is uncertain heading into 2011.


With Carlos Rogers a free agent, the bookend for DeAngelo Hall is unknown. Gomes and Thompson might be able to make up for the loss of reserve cornerback Phillip Buchanon, but neither appear ready to start. If the Redskins do not sign Rogers or another free agent, perhaps the unproven Kevin Barnes gets the nod.


With the lock out back, free agency remains as convoluted as ever. Some assume the 2010 rules will apply, though no one is certain. Since teams cannot contact players, Allen will not be able to flesh out his roster for awhile.


But he did at least add much needed depth at wide receiver and cornerback, got some players who will help on special teams, and got a couple of projects to develop in the trenches after his first two picks.


Kerrigan and Orakpo have the potential to meet at quarterback often, which could create turnovers. Jenkins can occupy blockers, leaving the pair in favorable match ups, as well as help stop the run.


With an even split on drafting both sides of the ball, Allen really fortified the roster through all of his trades. Helu might be the most immediate contributor on offense while Kerrigan and Jenkins appeared destined to start immediately.



Grade : B +  

 

Despite the fact the Redskins worked 12 picks out of the draft, there are still positions to upgrade and fill on the roster. Some of these roster spots can be filled with undrafted players.

Many players go undrafted these days because the NFL only has seven rounds to pick from these days. Yet, even with the days where drafts went 20 rounds deep, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has several inductees who were never drafted.

Here are five players that went undrafted and could still possibly help the Redskins out in 2011.


Willie Smith, Offensive Tackle, East Carolina


A good athlete who started out on defense in college, Smith is 6'5" 310. His team was run-oriented in the beginning of his career, then went pass-crazy in his last season.

Smith can mash, and he did show promise in pass protection. He also plays with a nasty streak, which should further the Redskins interest in him.

He needs work, but Smith is a guy who could play guard or tackle for many years. Even if he's no more than a reserve, Smith offers Washington needed depth.







John Graves, Defensive Lineman, Virginia Tech


Graves is a hard worker and a plus to have in a locker room. He is a run stuffer but, at 6'3" 286, he could use more bulk. Yet he has the frame to hold it.

He isn't much of a pass rusher, and a project. It will not hurt bringing him in camp and see if he can stick on special teams and develop.





Mark Herzlich, Linebacker, Boston College


It was a bit a shocker this kid went undrafted. A cancer survivor, he was one of the top collegiate linebackers before being sidelined to fight cancer.

He is a leader who works as hard as he can every play. He can run well enough to cover tight ends and running backs in the pass as well.

Though his return to football as a senior saw a decline in production, there is no doubt Herzlich is working out every day to get back to where he once was. While he might need some refinement on his tackling technique, the kid has good burst and closes out plays with fire.

The Skins are terribly thin at linebacker, so calling this kid the moment the lock out ends should be a priority. His best position may be inside linebacker, though he has the athleticism and versatility to line up on the outside as well.

The quality depth Herzlich could provide immediately should be reason enough.






Kyle Forbath, Kicker, UCLA


Graham Gano was too inconsistent in 2010, so getting competition in camp is a must. The 2009 Lou Groza Award winner, his leg converted 10 of 13 kicks over 50 yards in his career.

His career field goal percentage was 84.1, something the Redskins could use big time.






Chas Henry, Punter, Florida University


It seems like the Redskins haven't had a great punter since the days of Mike Bragg. Henry, who never had a punt blocked in college, can also kick off.

He won the Ray Guy Award in 2010 and has a propensity of dropping punts inside of the 20-yard line with 68 of 165 career punts having done so.

Henry is certainly a guy Washington should bring into camp for a tryout.




Others To Consider :


Why not bring in a few running backs into camp. Wisconsin's John Clay and Virginia Tech's Darren Evans went undrafted, but both run hard between the tackles and can block.

They might not make the team, but both have the ability to beat sixth-round pick Evan Royster out for a job.



Bringing in a ton of linebackers would be smart. They only need to look a few miles up the road to ask Maryland Terrapins Alex Wujciak or Adrian Moten to try out.

Moten would be the type to help on special teams, and he is smart with good leadership abilities. He might add depth at outside linebacker also.

Wujciak was a tackling machine in college, racking up 381 on his career. While the knock on him is a lack of athleticism, he was always around the ball for the Terps.

He is an inside linebacker who might help the team for two downs before coming out on pass plays. Think Neil Olkewicz.



Yet there are also two other linebackers to consider. Scott Lutris started all four years for the Connecticut Huskies and had 341 tackles despite missing time because of injuries.

He is a type of player who could be a starter as a strong side linebacker because he is smart and is always around the ball. Lutris needs to improve his pass coverage ability, but he does have enough speed to cover a tight end or running back.

It seems his injury history kept him undrafted, so the Redskins should try to bring him into camp.



Many scouts liked the hard-nosed run stopping ability of Central Michigan University's Nick Bellore. While he isn't fast or athletic, Bellore never quits on a play and excels at stopping the run.

Some scouts had him a mid-round prospect, so it wouldn't hurt Washington to bring him into camp.

NFL Draft 2011: The Best Late Round Value Pick in the History of Every NFL Team
Category: FEATURED
Tags: 2011 NFL Draft NFC AFC AFL NFL Draft Carolina Panthers New York Giants Washington Redskins Denver Broncos Atlanta Falcons Dallas Cowboys



As the 2011 NFL Draft approaches the end, teams are beginning to scramble to find serviceable players in what is best described as a wacky draft thus far..

Yet fans should not give up hope on their teams getting a gem, because all teams have found such a player at least once. Players who helped their teams achieve glory by excelling beyond expectations.

The only question left, after the dust of the 2011 draft settles, is if there will be a player one day good enough to supplant anyone on this list.


Arizona Cardinals : Larry Stallings


Drafted in the 18th round of the 1963 NFL Draft, Stallings was the 241st player selected and just 39 players were drafted behind him.

Stallings earned a starting job as a rookie and held onto it the next 14 years before retiring at the conclusion if the 1976 season.

He went to the Pro Bowl once and scored three times.



Atlanta Falcons : Jamal Anderson


Ever since the NFL shortened the draft to seven rounds in 1994, it really is hard to be called a find or bargain. Yet the Falcons are a pretty young team, so the 1994 draft might have given them their best late pick.

Anderson was drafted in a seventh round where just six men did not play in the NFL. He was the 201st player chosen overall.

After barely playing his first two seasons, Anderson became the Falcons workhorse in 1996. He ran off three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

After being lost for the year early in 1999, he ran for 1,024 in 2000. He got hurt early in 2001, he retired.

Yet that three year run was special, especially 1998. It was his only Pro Bowl year, where he churned out 1,846 yards and 14 scores on an NFL-leading 410 carries. He also caught 27 balls for a pair of touchdowns.

His 410 carries was a record until 2006. Anderson would do the "Dirty Bird" dance when he scored. It excited fans and got his teammates going. Anderson put the Falcons on his back and led them to Super Bowl XXXIII, the only championship game in the franchises history.

Though Atlanta lost the game, Anderson ran for 96 yards on just 18 carries. His 5,336 career yards are the fourth most in Falcons history. The 1,846 yards he ran for in 1998 is still a single season team record.




Baltimore Ravens : Chester Taylor


They have been drafting since 1996, so we'll go with Taylor. He was the 207th overall selection on the 2002 draft.

He was rarely used in his first two seasons because Pro Bowler Jamal Lewis got most of the work. He got more work in 2004 and began to show the NFL how versatile he was.

When his contract expired after the 2005 season, the Minnesota Vikings signed him and got 1,216 yards rushing from him in 1996. He scored one of his six touchdowns off a 95-yard run, which is a Vikings record.

Taylor left Minnesota for the Chicago Bears in 2010, where he currently plays.

He has been one of the top reserve running backs throughout most of his career.





Buffalo Bills : Charles Romes


Romes was drafted in the 12th round of the 1977 draft, where he was the 309th player chosen overall. Just eight of the 26 players chosen behind him played in the NFL.

After spending his rookie year as a reserve, Romes earned a starting job in 1978 and held it until 1986. He was an important part of a defense that, in 1980, helped the Bills win the AFC East for the first time in franchise history.

Romes never missed a game, starting every one over the next nine years. He had 28 interceptions over that time, which is the fourth most in Bills history.

Buffalo has hit on several excellent picks late in their draft history, but Charles Romes is their best find.





Carolina Panthers : Kris Mangum


Since the team was created in 1996, Mangum might be their best late round pick. He was selected in the seventh round of the 1997 and was the 228th player chosen overall. Just 12 players were selected behind him.

After playing mostly special teams in his first two seasons, Mangum started to get used more on offense mostly as a reserve tight end.

He stayed with the Panthers until 2006, catching 151 balls. It is the eight most receptions in Carolina history.





Chicago Bears : Danny Fortmann


To find the greatest late round draft pick of one of the NFL's original teams, you only need to look at far as their first draft. Though the great Roland Harper, the 420th player selected in 1977, must be mentioned.

Fortmann was drafted in the ninth round of the 1936 draft, and he was the fourth from last player selected.

The story goes that Bears owner George Halas drafted Fortmann because he liked the sound of his name. Playing offensive guard, defensive tackle, and linebacker,

Fortmann was soon starting as a rookie and excelling. From 1938 until his final year in 1943, he was named First Team All-Pro and was named to three Pro Bowls.

He was also selected on the NFL 1930s All-Decade Team. The Bears won three championships over this time.

Fortmann, who was just 20-years old when drafted, had been going to medical school while playing as a key member of the "Monsters of the Midway." He was the youngest starter in the league at that time, but he called the signals for the lineman on offense.

Chicago has had a league-leading six players go on to be doctors. Three were on the 1943 squad.

After Fortmann retired, he became the team doctor of the Los Angeles Rams was 17 years and was a famous surgeon.

Not only is he a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Fortmann is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. This easily makes him the Bears best late round pick.





Cincinnati Bengals : Bob Trumpy


Trumpy was drafted in the 12th round of the 1968 draft, the 301st player overall, by the expansion Bengals. Cincinnati was a new member of the American Football League at the time, and the AFL would fully merge with the NFL in two seasons.

He impressed his Hall of Fame head coach Paul Brown with his work ethic, so Brown named him the starter as a rookie.

Cincinnati was rewarded with 37 receptions at a 17.3 yards per catch clip, which got him named to the Pro Bowl. Trumpy returned the next year by setting a still standing team record of a whopping 22.6 yards per catch average off another 37 receptions.

He also scored a career high nine times and was named First Team All-Pro for his efforts.

In his first year in the post-merger NFL in 1970, Trumpy went back to the Pro Bowl. He went back for the final time in 1973 before seeing a decline in receiving opportunities.

Though he caught seven touchdowns off of 21 catches in 1976, he retired at the end of the 1977 season. At the time of his retirement, almost ever Bengals receiving record was owned by him.

His last touchdown came off a rare reverse flea flicker, where three other Bengals touched the ball before it reached him.

What makes Bob Trumpy's career special is not just the fact he helped an expansion team grow up fast with his help, as they had only three losing seasons in his ten years, but how he accumulated his excellent statistics. Cincinnati has eight different quarterbacks throwing him the ball during his career, yet he remained a viable threat regardless.

Besides still owning the team record for yards per catch in a season, the 35 touchdowns Trumpy scored are the most ever by any Bengal tight end in team history. He still ranks tenth is total receptions for a career, and his career average of 15.4 yards per catch shows how good he was with the ball after getting it.

Not only is he the first Pro Bowl player in Bengals history, an honor he shares with halfback Paul Robinson and center Bob Johnson, he is the second Bengal ever to be named First Team All-Pro.

He is also the only Bengals tight end to be named First Team All-Pro. Bob Trumpy is the greatest tight end the team has ever had.

Trumpy was drafted in the 12th round of the 1968 draft, the 301st player overall, by the expansion Bengals. Cincinnati was a new member of the American Football League at the time, and the AFL would fully merge with the NFL in two seasons.

He impressed his Hall of Fame head coach Paul Brown with his work ethic, so Brown named him the starter as a rookie.

Cincinnati was rewarded with 37 receptions at a 17.3 yards per catch clip, which got him named to the Pro Bowl. Trumpy returned the next year by setting a still standing team record of a whopping 22.6 yards per catch average off another 37 receptions.

He also scored a career high nine times and was named First Team All-Pro for his efforts.

In his first year in the post-merger NFL in 1970, Trumpy went back to the Pro Bowl. He went back for the final time in 1973 before seeing a decline in receiving opportunities.

Though he caught seven touchdowns off of 21 catches in 1976, he retired at the end of the 1977 season. At the time of his retirement, almost ever Bengals receiving record was owned by him.

His last touchdown came off a rare reverse flea flicker, where three other Bengals touched the ball before it reached him.

What makes Bob Trumpy's career special is not just the fact he helped an expansion team grow up fast with his help, as they had only three losing seasons in his ten years, but how he accumulated his excellent statistics. Cincinnati has eight different quarterbacks throwing him the ball during his career, yet he remained a viable threat regardless.

Besides still owning the team record for yards per catch in a season, the 35 touchdowns Trumpy scored are the most ever by any Bengal tight end in team history. He still ranks tenth is total receptions for a career, and his career average of 15.4 yards per catch shows how good he was with the ball after getting it.

Not only is he the first Pro Bowl player in Bengals history, an honor he shares with halfback Paul Robinson and center Bob Johnson, he is the second Bengal ever to be named First Team All-Pro.

He is also the only Bengals tight end to be named First Team All-Pro. Bob Trumpy is the greatest tight end the team has ever had.





Cleveland Browns : Ben Davis


Davis was drafted in the 17th round of the 1967 draft, the 439th player chosen overall. Just six players were picked after he was.

Used as a return specialist as a rookie, Davis led the NFL with a 12.7 return average off 18 attempts. He also scored once off a 52-yard return. Cleveland also had him return 27 kickoffs at a 26.2 average.

He would return just nine punts and eight kickoffs the next season, then never be asked to again.

The reason was because he earned a starting job at cornerback in his second year. Davis picked off a career best eight balls, returning them for an NFL-leading 162 yards.

He picked off a pass in seven straight games that season, a Browns record. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1972 after swiping three passes.

Cleveland traded him to the Detroit Lions in 1974, where he lasted three years before retiring. Davis intercepted two ball and returned one for a score over that time.

His 17 interceptions with Cleveland still ranks as the 19th most in team history.

Ben Davis is also known as the brother of famous political activist Angela Davis.






Dallas Cowboys : Larry Cole


Few teams have drafted as well late in the draft, especially during the Tex Schramm and Tom Landry Era.

It was kind of a nice surprise Cole was drafted anyways because he attended three colleges in four years.

Dallas selected him in the 16th round of the 1968 NFL Draft, where he was the 428th player selected. Jimmy Raye, a famous coach, was picked 3 slots behind him.

Cole quickly earned a starting job at defensive end as a rookie. He picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown, while also returning a fumble for another score. He intercepted another ball the next year, returning it for a score.

He became an important member of the famous "Doomsday Defense."

When Harvey Martin and Ed "Too Tall" Jones joined Dallas, Cole slid in at defensive tackle. When Randy "Manster" White began his Hall of Fame career, Cole became a key reserve. After longtime starter Jethro Pugh retired, Cole took over in his slot.

He played until 1980, a year he took an interception 43 yards for a touchdown. He had four career interceptions, scoring three times.

Cole is just one of eight players to appear in five Super Bowls.

He also was on two winners. Known as a run stuffer, Cole was also credited with 60 sacks in his career. The very versatile Cole did whatever it took to win.

He started at every position on the defensive line in his career, but sought no accolades. He and a few Cowboys started the "Zero Club", where the first rule was not to seek publicity.

He and linebacker D.D. Lewis were the first Cowboys to play in three different decades for the team.

Cole had quite a career as a Cowboy defender, made more remarkable due to the fact he was drafted as an offensive tackle before being switched to defense in training camp.




Denver Broncos : Karl Mecklenburg


Mecklenburg was drafted in the 12th round of the 1983 draft by the Denver Broncos, the 310th player chosen overall. He made the team as a rookie, but started out playing defensive end.

He was able to work his way on the field by impressing the coaches with his determination. After getting a pair of sacks as a rookie, he was used as a pass rush specialist the next year and got seven more.

He also picked off two passes and returned them for 105 yards.

Denver knew they had to find a way to get Mecklenburg on the field, and they also wanted to upgrade their linebacking unit. Joe Collier, the Broncos legendary defensive coordinator, decided to try him at inside linebacker.

Though he split time with incumbent starter Rick Dennison, Mecklenburg was still able to rack up a career high 13 sacks. He was named First Team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl despite starting just nine games.

He took over as a full-time starter in 1986 and was named First Team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl again after getting 9.5 sacks. Denver would reach the Super Bowl, but lost.

The Broncos would go back to the Super Bowl in 1987 and 1989, but lost each time. Mecklenburg was a big reason for their success. In 1987, he went to the Pro Bowl after getting the last three interceptions of his career.

He was named First Team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl in 1989 after scoring the first touchdown of his career, which came off of a fumble recovery. He scored off another fumble the next year, as well as recording a safety.

From 1986 to 1997, Mecklenburg was one of the best linebackers in all of football. He wasn't just a pass rusher, though he did pile up 55.5 sacks over that time, but he was also a tackling machine.

Starting in 1986, Mecklenburg had at least 100 tackles every year until 1986 except for the 97 he had in the strike shortened 1987 season. He had 99 tackles in 1997. After getting 68 in 1998, his lowest total as a full-time starter, he retired.

Nicknamed the "Albino Rhino" by teammates, he has the second most tackles and sacks in Broncos history. His 180 games played are the third most ever as well.

No other Broncos linebacker has been to the Pro Bowl six times, and his three First Team All-Pro nods are tied as the second most in franchise history. He is a member of the Broncos Ring of Honor.

Mecklenburg was a winner, as shown by his helping Denver reach the Super Bowl three times. His was career not expected, so the term "self-made man" certainly applies in his care.

Besides missing seven games in 1988, and one the next year, he took the field every time his team did.





Detroit Lions : Jim David


It is amazing that so few late picks by the Lions have contributed much to the NFL. Two of the very few that have, Mac Speedie and Pete Retzlaff, starred for other teams.

David was selected in the 22nd round of the 1951 draft, where he was the 261st player chosen overall.

He earned a starting job at cornerback as a rookie, bookending Hall of Famer Yale Lary. Hall of Famer Jack Christiansen and Pro Bowler Dan Doll were the safeties.

Teams tried to avoid the three greats by picking on the rookie. That strategy backfired because David picked off seven balls on the top-ranked defense that year.

Detroit went on to win the championship, where he had a critical interception in the Lions 17-7 win over Cleveland.

Nicknamed "The Hatchett", David was a huge hitter who once knocked Hall of Famers Y.A. Tittle and Tom Fears out of consecutive games in 1953.

He had four swipes that year as Detroit won a second consecutive title. David intercepted a ball and returned it 36 yards to set up a crucial score in Detroit's 17-16 win over the Browns.

The stellar secondary was called the "Chris Crew." He made the first of his six consecutive Pro Bowls in 1954 by matching his career best total of seven interceptions. He would match that total again in 1956.

Detroit won the championship in 1957, the last title in franchise history so far. Again, David intercepted a pass in his third consecutive championship game.

When the game was at it's biggest, David always came up larger than the rest in helping his team win. He retired after his final Pro Bowl season in 1959.

Hi 36 career swipes rank fifth in team history. The four men above him, Dick LeBeau, Lem Barney, Lary, and Christiansen, are all inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. David played with all except Barney.

But he got into coaching after retiring and coached Barney. He was the one who presented Barney at his induction into Canton in 1992.





Green Bay Packers : Phil Epps


The Pack have had a few late picks become Pro Bowlers in Timmy Brown and Bill Curry. Unfortunately, it was with other teams that they excelled on.

Epps was drafted in the 12th round of the 1982 draft. The 321st player chosen overall, just six players drafted behind him played in the NFL.

While showing some promise as a receiver the few times he was used in his first two years, Epps made his bones as a punt returner.

He returned a career best 36 punts in 1983, while taking one 90-yards for a score. He returned punts for just two more years because Green Bay began using him as a starter on offense in 1985.

That season saw him grab 44 balls for three scores and run the ball fives times for one touchdown. Despite missing four games the next year, Epps snagged a career best 49 passes.

After catching 34 in the strike shortened 1987 season, he got hurt the next year and played just six games.

His absence allowed a rookie by the name of Sterling Sharpe and begin a career that saw him make the Pro Bowl fives times in his seven seasons.

Epps joined the New York Jets in 1989, where he was rarely used. He then retired.

He is still fifth in Packers history in punt return yards and third in returns. He has the 21st most receptions in team history and the 14th most receiving yards.

Most Packers fans remember the ultra-quick Epps, a player who beat the odds and helped his team win quite a few games




Houston Texans : David Anderson


They have been in the NFL since 2002, but Anderson is their best late pick so far. The 251st pick in 2006, just four players were drafted behind him.

After not playing a lot in his first three years, mostly being used on special teams, Anderson started eight games in 2009 and caught a career best 38 balls. Despite being 5'10" 195, he even saw some time at tight end.

His 2010 season was cut short by injury, he hopes to help them again in 2011.

A resilient player, Houston cut him for four weeks in 2007 before bringing him back.




Indianapolis Colts : Stan White


With a nod to Alvin Haymond, one of the greatest return specialists in NFL history, White wins the spot.

He was drafted in the 17th round of the 1972 draft, when the team was in Baltimore, and was the 438th player chosen overall. Just four men were drafted behind White.

After spending his rookie season as a reserve, White was named a starter in 1973 after veteran Ray May, the 1972 Byron "Whizzer" White Man of the Year Award winner, was traded.

Teaming with Hall of Famer Ted Hendricks and 1970 Defensive Player of the Year Mike Curtis, the trio formed one of the better linebacker units in the NFL.

Over the next few years, as Hendricks and Curtis moved on to other teams, White stayed a consistent force. While he was very good at stopping the run, White might have been the one of best linebackers of his era defending the pass.

He played with the Colts until 1979 and intercepted an impressive total of 25 passes, taking two for touchdowns. He also had a knack for getting fumbles, recovering 12 for the Colts.

He joined the Detroit Lions and played three years there, picking off nine balls.

The United States Football League began play in 1983, so White joined the Chicago Blitz. The 1984 season was his last with the USFL and as a player, when he suited up for the Arizona Wranglers.

Don Shinnick, who played on two Colts championship teams, is the only linebacker in team history with more interceptions. White ranks ninth in franchise history in interceptions and only 11 Colt defenders have recovered more fumbles.

Not only is he one of the finest linebackers in team history, he is a fixture in Baltimore as a Ravens broadcaster. Not bad for a guy who was one of the last players drafted in 1972




Jacksonville Jaguars : Rob Meier


The Jags had four picks in the seventh round of the 2000 draft. Three made the team, but Meier was the best of the group.

Drafted 241st overall, just 13 players were selected behind him.

At 6'5" 293, Jacksonville used him as both a defensive tackle and end. While stopping the run was his specialty, Meier did sack the quarterback 21.5 times in his career.

Though he never started more than nine games until 2008, where he started 15, Meier was a very important member of the rotation and his versatility made him more valuable.

He recorded a safety and recovered three fumbles as well.

After getting hurt and missing the entire 2009 season, Jacksonville released him. Still, he gave the team nine quality seasons.





Kansas City Chiefs : Mike Garrett


After Garrett was drafted in the second round of the 1966 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams, the American Football League and Chiefs probably thought they had little shot at signing the USC legend and 1965 Heisman Trophy winner.

They selected him in the final round of the AFL Draft, where he was the 178th selection. Just four players were drafted behind him.

Garrett shocked everyone by signing with the Chiefs, despite having been born and raised in Los Angeles.

Kansas City put him to work immediately as both a halfback and return specialist, which earned him a Pro Bowl nod and helped the Chiefs win the AFL title.

While returning the only 14 kickoffs of his career at an impressive 23.1 average, Garrett also returned a career high 17 punts and took one 79 yards for a score. He would return just 22 punts in his career, scattered throughout eight seasons.

Running the ball on offense is where the Chiefs needed him most. He led the AFL with a 5.4 yards per carry average as a rookie, as well as scoring on a 77-yard run that was the longest in the AFL that year.

The 1967 was his best with the Chiefs. He was named First Team All-Pro and named to the Pro Bowl after gaining a career best 1,087 yards on the ground. He also caught a career best 49 balls, while scoring a career high 10 times.

Garrett continued to be the Chiefs main running back, though Robert Holmes and Warren McVea also helped him carry the load.

He led the team with 43 receptions in 1969 as Kansas City reached Super Bowl IV. His 5-yard run helped the Chiefs extend their lead to 16-0 against the Minnesota Vikings.

Kansas City ended up winning 23-7, becoming just the second AFL team to beat an NFL team in a Super Bowl. It was also the last Super Bowl where the two leagues met, because they merged after the game.

Three games in 1970, Garrett was traded to the San Diego Chargers. He stayed with the team until 1973 before retiring, but he did gain 1,031 yards in the 1972 season for them.

Garrett still ranks seventh in Chiefs history in rushing yards and touchdowns. Just eight Kansas City running backs have more career receptions than him.

It certainly was lucky that Hank Stram decided to use his final draft choice in 1966 on Garrett.





Miami Dolphins : Lloyd Mumphord


With a nod to J.B. Brown and Anthony Carter, who became a star with the Vikings, Miami's best late pick was Mumphord.

Drafted in the 16th round of the 1969 NFL/AFL Draft, the 401st player selected, just six men drafted behind him saw time in the NFL.

Mumphord impressed Miami enough to start in seven of the 11 games he played as a rookie. He picked off a career best five balls. He started every game the next year, swiping five more passes and returning one for a touchdown.

He lost his starting job in 1971, but still was valuable as an extra defensive back.

On the 1972 Super Bowl champion Dolphins, the only perfect team in modern NFL history, he was second on the team with four interceptions and returned one for a score.

He continued his role in 1973 to help the Dolphins win Super Bowl VIII, their second straight title.

He was traded to the Baltimore Colts before the 1975 season, where he stayed for four years and picked off seven balls before retiring.

Mumphord had a fine career, winning two Super Bowl ring in three tries.





Minnesota Vikings : Milt Sunde


Sunde was a hometown product drafted in the 20th round of the 1964 draft. He was the 241st player selected overall and just two men drafted after him played in the league.

After a rookie year of being a reserve, he earned a starting job at left guard in 1965. Sunde then earned his only Pro Bowl nod the next season, joined by left tackle Grady Alderman and center Mick Tingelhoff.

He got hurt the next year, appearing in 10 games. The Vikings moved him to right guard in 1968, where he split starts with Larry Bowie. He took over the starting job the next year as the Vikings became the last NFL champions before they merged with the American Football League.

He held the starting job until 1974 when new acquired Andy Maurer took over. The Vikings went to the Super Bowl in 1973 and 1974, but lost both times. Sunde retired at the end of the 1974 season.

Minnesota has had several great guards in the franchises history, but Milt Sunde was the first to ever go to the Pro Bowl. A perfect scenario for the local kid who made good against all odds. He is a member of the Vikings 25th Anniversary Team.






New England Patriots : Jim Nance


The Patriots have had some last round picks help them, like Marty Moore, Patrick Pass, and David Givens.

Nance was a ninteenth-round pick of the Patriots in 1965. Just two players drafted after him played. He spent his rookie year mostly blocking, carrying the ball 111 times and scoring five times.

He broke loose the next year, leading the AFL with 299 carries for 1,458 yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 1,561 total yards, and an average of 104.1 yards rushing per game.

All were career highs, as was his 4.9 yards per carry average and his 65-yard run that season.

He was named the AFL Most Valuable Player, and went to the Pro Bowl.

Nance led the AFL again the following year with 269 carries for 1,216 yards. His 86.7 yards rushing per game also led the league, and he scored eight touchdowns. One came off a reception, the only time he ever scored via the air. He was named to his final Pro Bowl that year.

Nance is the only AFL player to have run for over 1,400 yards, and to have consecutive seasons of rushing for over a thousand yards.

Nance led the AFL with 193 carries the next season, and scored six times. He was named the AFL Comeback Player Of The Year that season.

He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles after that year, but opted to retire instead. Nance came back to the NFL in 1973, joining the New York Jets. He carried the ball 18 times for 78 yards over a span on seven games.

In 1974, the World Football League was starting up. Nance decided to join the Houston Texans. The Texans would later become the Shreveport Steamers towards the end of their first season.

Nance ran for 1,240 yards that year in 20 games, then ran for 767 yards the following season in 12 games. The WFL folded before the season could be completed.

His 2,007 yards on 490 carries is the most in WFL history.

His 45 touchdowns with the Patriots is still the most in franchise history.

He is a member of the Patriots Hall Of Fame, the Patriots 35th Anniversary Team, and the Patriots All-Time 1960's Team.

Jim Nance is considered by many to be the best running back in Patriots history







New Orleans Saints : Danny Abramowicz


The Saints have done very well late in the draft over the years. Jim Wilks and Marques Colston head a pretty decent list.

Abramowicz was the first of three 17th-round picks in their very first draft of 1967. Only two players drafted after him played in the league.

He became an instant star in the NFL despite the fact New Orleans struggled as a team. After 104 receptions and 13 scores in his first two years, Abramowicz had his best season in 1969.

Leading the NFL with a career high 73 receptions, he also gained a career high 1,015 yards.

Abramowicz was named First Team All-Pro, the first Saint to ever achieve that honor. After 55 catches in 1970, his production started to go down.

He was traded to the San Francisco 49ers two games into the 1973 season. He retired after the 1974 season.

He left the game with several Saints records and an NFL record of catching at least one pass in 105 consecutive games.

Though most of his records are broken, he still ranks fourth in Saints history in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns caught.

There are few late picks in NFL history better than Danny Abramowicz.







New York Jets : Dave Herman


Herman was the Jets 27th-round pick in the 1963 AFL Draft. He was the 211th player chosen overall and just four men drafted after him played pro football.

After appearing in just five games as a rookie, Herman was named the starting right guard. He held that duty for the rest of his career.

Herman made his first Pro Bowl in 1968 on an excellent offensive line that had Winston Hill and Bob Talamini. The Jets reached Super Bowl III, where they shocked the world of professional football by defeating the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.

He made his final Pro Bowl in 1969, but continued to be an important member of the team until he retired after the 1973 season. He missed just three games his entire career after his rookie year.

Dave Herman is one of just three Jets guards to have even been named to the Pro Bowl, but he is probably their best late round draft pick ever.






New York Giants : Homer Jones


Jones was drafted in the 20th round of the 1963 draft by the New York Giants. The 378th player chosen, he was the third from last pick in the entire draft.

He was also a fifth round draft choice of the Houston Oilers of the American Football League, the 33rd player picked in the draft. Jones decided to join the Oilers, which featured Hall of Fame quarterbacks George Blanda, and head coach "Slinging" Sammy Baugh.

Also joining the Oilers in camp was undrafted rookie Willie Brown, a Hall of Fame cornerback.

Jones hurt his knee in training camp then failed his physical and was cut, along with Brown. He was then intent on proving to the Oilers they had made the wrong decision.

The Giants quickly called and gave him a plane ticket to New York City. Upon his arrival, the Giants had Jones undergo surgery on his knee. He was given the jersey No. 45, which was previously worn by Hall of Fame safety Emlen Tunnell, upon Tunnell's request.

He nicknamed Homer "Seabiscuit", after the famous racehorse, because Jones was so fast. Tunnell, now a defensive backs coach for the Giants, took the young receiver under his wing to teach him the tricks of the trade.

He spent most of his rookie year recuperating while learning the game, but did get on the field for three games that year. It was also the last year that Hall of Fame Giants like Y.A. Tittle, Andy Robustelli, and Frank Gifford would play in the NFL.

He also spent time watching players like Gifford throwing the ball up into the stands to fans after scoring a touchdown, and wanted to do the same thing when he reached the end zone.

After the season, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle put in a rule that players would be fined $500 for doing so. Jones was making $10,000 a year then, so he knew that throwing the ball into the crowd was no longer an option.

He then thought of an alternative that would change the course of football history.

During the 1965 season, Jones was told ten minutes before a game that he would be starting. He responded by setting a Giants record, when he took a pass 89-yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game. It was the longest scoring play in the NFL that year.

Upon arriving in the end zone, he spiked the ball into the ground. It was the first time in NFL history this would happen, and there has been thousands of players to pull off the same feat since.

Though he feels celebrations have been taken way too far these days, Jones pioneered a part of the game many enjoy today.

Homer became a bigger part of the offense in his second year, catching 26 passes for 709 yards and 6 scores. He averaged a whopping 27.3 yards per catch, his career best.

In the 1966 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jones had already scored on a 75 yard touchdown pass when he came up against Brady Keys of the Steelers.

The Giants had the ball on their own two-yard line, and Keys told Jones "What am I doing here covering you? I could be home eating chicken for dinner with my family."

Giants quarterback Earl Morrall what Homer thought. Jones said, "He's talking, so he's ready."

Morrall took the snap, reared back, and heaved the ball about 60 yards in the air. Jones snagged it and took it in for a 98-yard score. It is the longest play in the history in the franchise history of the Giants.

Homer then turned and told Keys, who was about fifteen yards behind him, "If you keep playing like that, you'll soon be eating chicken with your family every Sunday."

Jones finished the season with 48 receptions for 1,044 yards and eight touchdowns. He was a bona-fide star in New York, and was often swarmed by fans when out and about in public.

It was hard for Homer and his wife to eat dinner or watch a movie without him being bombarded with autograph requests.

The 1967 season saw him make his first Pro Bowl. He grabbed a career best 49 balls for 1,209 yards, an incredible average of 24.7 yards per catch. Jones also ran a ball 46 yards for a score. He led the NFL with 13 pass receiving touchdowns and 14 total touchdowns.

A local radio station polled fans on who the Giants MVP was, and Jones won. The station gave him a brand new convertible Cadillac for his achievement.

The Giants traded him to the Cleveland Browns for two players in 1970, including future Pro Bowl running back Ron Johnson. He had no intention of playing ever again, but was coaxed into joining the Browns by his father.

Homer had an aunt who lived in Cleveland and his father wanted him to take care of her, along with his cousin Joe "Turkey" Jones.

Upon joining the Browns, he was told that he would be the teams third receiver and return kickoffs. In the season opener, Cleveland played in the first Monday Night Football telecast on ABC. Jones led the Browns to a win by returning a kickoff 94 yards for a score, the first of its kind on MNF.

He spent the rest of the year returning 29 kicks for 739 yards, a 25.5 yards per return average. He didn't get much time on the field, but he did take one of his ten receptions 43 yards for the last touchdown of his career. He then retired after that year.

He holds the NFL record of averaging 22.3 yards per reception throughout his career. This is based on having a minimum of 200 receptions. Jones also holds the Giants franchise record for having 66.4 receiving yards per game over a career.

His 4,845 receiving yards are the fifth most, and his 35 receiving touchdowns is still tied for the fifth most in Giants history. The 218 receptions he had still ranks 18th best in team history as well.




Oakland Raiders : Rod Martin


Martin was drafted in the 12th round of the 1977 draft by Oakland, the 317th overall selection. Just five men drafted behind him played in the NFL.

One was kicker Rolf Benirschke, the second to last player picked that year. Oakland drafted him then traded him to the San Diego Chargers, where he excelled.

Martin played just one game as a rookie, but started to earn a lot of playing time in his second year by starting half of the season. Oakland was impressed with his intelligence and solid all-around play.

After starting all of 1979, he did not start in six games in 1980. This inspired him to get better just as the Raiders reached the playoffs as a WildCard team.

Bookending Hall of Fame linebacker Ted Hendricks, the duo helped the team reach Super Bowl XV. Facing the Philadelphia Eagles, Martin became a nightmare foe Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski.

He made three key interceptions to help lead Oakland to a 27-10 win. No other player in Super Bowl history has had three picks in a Super Bowl, and his three career swipes is tied with two others as the most in Super Bowl history.

He was somehow not named MVP of the game, despite such excellence.

The 1983 season was one of the best in his career. He led the NFL with two touchdowns off of interceptions, had a career high four picks, and chipped in six sacks.

He was named to his first Pro Bowl. Oakland reached the playoffs, where Martin had a sack in their AFC Championship win. In Super Bowl XVIII, he came up big again for his team.

Besides recording another sack, he recovered a fumble and made several key tackles. One came on a fourth-down play, where he stopped Hall of Fame running back John Riggins short of a conversion in the Raiders victory.

He was honored as First Team All-Pro in 1984, as well as being named to his last Pro Bowl. Martin had a career high 11 sacks, recorded a safety, and scored off a 77-yard fumble recovery.

Martin stayed in the starting lineup until after the 1988 season, where he decided to retire. He was credited with 33.5 sacks, but this stat was not recorded until 1982.

Despite being basically robbed of four years of sacks, he still ranks seventh in Raiders history and it is the most ever by an Oakland linebacker. His 14 interceptions is the second most ever by a Raiders linebacker.

One of Rod Martin's special abilities was reaching the end zone once he got his hands on the ball, which he did six times. Only Terry McDaniel's seven exceeds his total for a team record.

While the Raiders have had a few late round picks help them, none have been better than Martin.




Philadelphia Eagles : Tom Sullivan


The Eagles have had little luck finding players late in the draft until the last decade. Of the few they did hit on, Hall of Famer Lou Creekmur and Otis Taylor, they cut and watched those players become stars elsewhere.

Drafted in the 15th round of the 1972 draft, Sullivan was the 378th player selected overall. He didn't play a lot as a rookie and mostly blocked when he did.

The Eagles promoted him to the starting lineup in his sophomore year, so Sullivan responded by churning out a career best 968 yards, at a 4.5 yards per carry average, and a career best 50 receptions.

He followed that up in 1974 by leading the NFL with 11 rushing touchdowns. He began to share carries with fullback Art Malone and backup James McAlister in 1974, but still led the team with 632 yards on the ground.

Mike Hogan was the primary ball carrier the next year, as Sullivan received less touches. The Eagles hit pay dirt in the 1977 draft by selecting Wilbert Montgomery in the sixth round.

Though Sullivan was second on the team in rushing yards, he was traded to the Cleveland Browns at the end of the year. He suited up for four games and touched the ball six times for Cleveland in 1978, so he decided to retire.

Though he never made the Pro Bowl, he retired the third leading rusher in Eagles history. He still ranks tenth in that category, as well as 14th in rushing touchdowns.

While he played on some struggling squads, Tom Sullivan had a few excellent seasons.




Pittsburgh Steelers : Rocky Bleier


With a nod to Joe Kuharich, who became a Pro Bowl player and head coach, Carlton Haselrig, and Warren Lahr, who became a star with the Browns.

Bleier was drafted in the 16th round of the 1968 draft, where he was the 417th player chosen overall. He touched the ball nine times on offense as a rookie, but he contributed well on special teams.

The Vietnam War was going on, so Bleier decided to serve his country. He was shot in the left leg, then nearly lost his right foot to an exploding grenade.

The thought was his football career was over. Then Steelers Hall of Fame owner Art Rooney sent him a postcard telling him the Steelers needed him.

This inspired Bleier to rehab hard and he returned to the gridiron one year after his injuries. Though he rejoined Pittsburgh in 1971, he rarely played on offense over the next three years.

He had pain when walking and was under his playing weight. Pittsburgh waived him twice, but Bleier kept working hard. He increased his weight and found it less painful to run.

Earning a starting job at halfback in 1974, his primary duty was to block for Hall of Fame fullback Franco Harris. But he also found himself handling the ball more each season.

His finest season came in 1976. He had career high totals of 220 carries for 1,036 and five scores. With the 1,128 yards Harris gained, it was the first and only time in Steelers history two running backs ran for at least 1,000-yards in one season.

Bleier's touches started to decrease after that, but he was still a very important member on both the field and locker room. Pittsburgh dominated much of the 1970's, winning four Super Bowls.

One of his biggest moments came in Super Bowl XIII when Bleier caught a seven-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter, giving Pittsburgh a 21-14 lead over the Dallas Cowboys. The Steelers never relinquished the lead, winning 35-31.

In the 1974 AFC Championship win against the Oakland Raiders, most fans recall Harris gaining 111 yards on 28 carries while scoring twice. Yet Bleier was the quiet hero of the game by pounding out 98 rushing yards, leading the team with 123 all-purpose yards, and recovering a key fumble.

He retired after the 1980 season and still ranks eighth in team history with 3,865 rushing yards and ninth with 23 touchdowns on the ground.

Not only was he a steal for Pittsburgh in the draft, but his inspirational story is an example as to why football is a great sport.






San Diego Chargers : Chuck Allen


Allen was drafted in the 28th round of the 1961 AFL Draft by the Chargers. The Los Angeles Rams tabbed him in the 17th round of the NFL Draft, but he wisely chose San Diego because the Rams had Hall of Famer Les Richter at middle linebacker.

San Diego tried to bring the rookie along slowly, but Allen won the starting job for the final nine games in what was one of his best seasons. He had career best marks of five interceptions and 111 return yards. One pick was taken 59 yards for a touchdown.

He made his first Pro Bowl in the Chargers 1963 title year. Allen picked off five balls and returned a fumble 42 yards for the last touchdown of his career. He was moved to outside linebacker the next year, but was still named a Pro Bowler.

The Chargers moved Allen back to middle linebacker in 1965, where he would stay the rest of his career. While he was tough against the run, the cerebral Allen was also solid against the pass.

He missed 13 games over his last four seasons in San Diego, because of injury, after not missing a game the previous four years. San Diego traded him to the Pittsburgh Steelers before the 1970 season,

After two solid seasons in Pittsburgh, where he snagged seven interceptions, Allen joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 1972. Though he started eight games, he spent most of his time mentoring young linebackers like Steve Zabel and John Bunting.

Allen retired after the 1972 season and later became the Vice President of Football Operations for the Seattle Seahawks. His 20 interceptions are the most ever by a Chargers middle linebacker. Allen is one of the 50 Greatest Chargers and a member of the Chargers Hall of Fame.

The two Pro Bowls he went to is the most ever by a Chargers middle linebacker and he might be the best to have ever played the position for the team.





San Francisco 49ers : Jesse Sapolu


Sapolu was drafted in the 11th round of the 1983 draft, where he was the 289th player chosen overall.

After spending his rookie year as a reserve, he was hurt in the first game of the 1984 season and lost for the year.

He earned his way into the starting lineup at left guard in 1985, becoming one of the Niners best run blockers. They moved him to center in 1989, where he stayed the next five years.

After making his first Pro Bowl in 1993, San Francisco moved him back to left guard in 1994. Not missing a beat, he made the Pro Bowl yet again.

He was moved back to center in 1996, where he stayed until he retired after the 1997 season.

Sapolu was a very important member of four 49er teams to win Super Bowls. Excluding his second season, Sapolu missed just 10 games in his career.

A fan favorite, he is surely one of the best late round picks in franchise history.





Seattle Seahawks : Dwayne Harper


Seattle has hit on a few guys late in the draft, but most went on to help other teams.

Harper was drafted in the 11th round of the 1988 draft. He was the 299th player chosen and just nine guys drafted behind him played in the NFL.

After a rookie year of being a reserve, where he recorded the only sack of his career, Harper became a starter in his second season. He became a solid player equally tough against the run or pass.

Though the four interceptions he had in 1991 was a career high, he also forced an excellent 10 fumbles in the 1993 season. He then signed with the San Diego Chargers as a free agent in 1994.

He stayed with the Chargers for five seasons, though two were cut short by injuries. Harper started for them when San Diego reached Super Bowl XXIX, the only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

After playing just one game in 1998, because of injury, He signed with the Detroit Lions in 1999. He suited up for three games, then got hurt. He then retired.

Of his 24 career interceptions, 13 came with Seattle. That is good for the 13th most in team history and makes Dwayne Harper the Seahawks best late round pick.





Saint Louis Rams : Dante Magnani


The Rams have done well late in drafts. They got Hall of Fame defensive ends Deacon Jones and Andy Robustelli well into their draft classes, whole snagging guys like Fred Stokes and Drew Hill near the end.

Magnani was drafted in the 19th round of the 1940 draft by the Cleveland Rams, the 175th player chosen overall. Just five players drafted after him played in the NFL.

He wasn't used much as a rookie, but he did return a kickoff 93-yards for a score.

His 1942 season was his lone Pro Bowl year, where he led the team in rushing and receiving.

The Chicago Bears traded for him in 1943. He was second on the team in rushing, but he did lead the NFL with a 79-yard run for a score and a 96-yard kickoff return for a score.

The Bears won the NFL Championship that year, helped by Magnani's four receptions for 122 yards and two scores.

World War II was going on during this time, so Magnani enlisted to serve his country.

He returned to the NFL in 1946 to be third in rushing and receiving for the Bears. They reached the title game again. Magnani intercepted a pass in the first quarter and returned it 19-yards for a touchdown.

It put the Bears up 14-7, as they went on to defeat the New York Giants 24-14. He left Chicago to rejoin the Rams, now in Los Angeles, in 1947.

He played there two seasons before rejoining the Bears in 1949. After playing in the 1950 season for the Detroit Lions, he retired.

Not many late round picks have helped the Rams. Stokes and Hill mostly excelled elsewhere, but did contribute to the Rams.

No player drafted late has given the Rams more than Dante Magnani. Especially for young organization that had just started three years earlier and he was amongst the first handful to go to the Pro Bowl.





Tampa Bay Buccaneers : Dave Logan


The Bucs have always done well late in the draft. In their initial draft of 1975, they picked Carl Roaches near the end. Though he never played for them, he became a Pro Bowler for the Houston Oilers.

Logan was drafted in the 12th round by Tampa Bay in 1979, the 307th player selected, and played in five games as a reserve.

He earned the starting job in the third game of the next year, and would hold onto it the rest of his Buccaneers career.

He also scored a touchdown on a career long 60-yard fumble recovery in 1980, and scored again off of a 21-yard return the following season.

In the strike-shortened season of 1982, the NFL began recording sacks as an official statistic, and he was credited with 4.8 sacks in the nine games he played.

His best year may have been in 1983, where he had 9.5 sacks and scored off of a 54-yard fumble recovery. He was named First Team All-Conference by Pro Football Weekly, and would attain that honor again the next year after getting 5.5 sacks and scoring the last touchdown of his career off of a 27-yard interception.

Though he was not named to the Pro Bowl, he was named First Team All-NFL by the Sporting News that year.

After two more years, he left the team and joined the Green Bay Packers in 1987. He played in just two games, got hurt, then retired.

Dave Logan was an incredible physical specimen who relied on intelligence and technique to excel. He weighed just 250 lbs. while playing the most demanding position in football.

He played, and started in, every game in the last six of his eight years with the team. Besides his rookie year, he never missed a game with the Bucs.

He had 39 sacks in his career, which would be the fourth most in franchise history, but the NFL only has him officially with 28.3. That ranks as fifth best, yet it needs to be noted the NFL only recognizes 23 of the 78.5 career sacks Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon had with the team.

Logan also had 624 tackles in his career, showing he was more than a pass rusher.

His three fumble recovery touchdowns are the most ever by a Buc defensive lineman, and second in team history to the four defensive back Ronde Barber has. He is tied with 30 other players as the fourth most in NFL history in that category.

He is easily the greatest nose tackle in Buccaneers history.






Tennessee Titans : Billy "White Shoes" Johnson


This organization has had quite a few great late round picks. Grabbing Hall of Famer Ken Houston, considered the greatest strong safety in NFL history, in the ninth round of the 1967 draft was a steal in itself.

Johnson was a 15th round draft pick by the Houston Oilers in 1974. He was the 365th player picked overall despite the initial objections of GM/Head Coach Sid Gillman who didn't want a "midget" on his team.

He made the team as a return man and stood out immediately. He was given the moniker "White Shoes" in high school when he wore the white cleats, as opposed to most wearing black cleats.

In his first four seasons, he returned five punts for touchdowns, as well as two kickoffs for scores. In 1975 he tied an NFL record with four kick returns for touchdowns in a season.

He would celebrate his touchdowns with the "Funky Chicken" dance. This dance, coupled by his shoes, made him a fan favorite across the league. He was used as a third-down slot receiver in multiple receiver sets mostly.

He caught 116 balls with seven touchdowns his first three years. He was mostly used as a possession type due to the teams offensive scheme, but he also ran the ball for a touchdown.

Johnson caught 20 balls his fourth year for three touchdowns at a 20-yards per catch average. He also took a reverse 61 yards for a touchdown, the last rushing touchdown of his career.

In 1978, he blew out his knee during the fifth game. He only managed two games the following season due to its lingering effects. In 1980, he returned to be used only as a third wide receiver. He caught 31 balls for two touchdowns.

Disenchanted with his role, "White Shoes" bolted for the Canadian Football League to play for the Montreal Allouetttes. That year in Montreal, Billy caught 65 passes for 1,060 yards and five touchdowns.

Johnson returned to the NFL in 1982 by signing with the Atlanta Falcons. He played nine games that year and only caught two passes. He was able to return 24 punts at an impressive clip of 11.4 yards per return.

"White Shoes" was used as the Falcons full time punt returner in 1983. He also started at wide receiver. He caught a team and career high 64 passes while scoring five touchdowns total. One touchdown was via a punt return.

He won the Pro Bowl MVP that year when he took a punt 90-yards for a touchdown, as well as accumulating 159 total return yards. Both are still Pro Bowl records.

Johnson left the Falcons, but tried to play for the Washington Redskins in 1988. He played only one game and fielded four punts, returning three of them for 26 yards. He then retired.

Billy "White Shoes" Johnson was named to both the NFL's 1980's All-Decade Team, and to the 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.

He set seven team records in Houston and four in Atlanta and held the NFL record for punt return yardage when he retired. He is still ranked third all-time in NFL history for punt return yardage and still holds the Oilers / Titans franchise record for punt return yardage.

Johnson may be known to many fans as an innovators of the touchdown dance. He is credited as being one of the first, but certainly his can stake claim to having been the best ever.

Celebrations with more choreography may have been employed since then, but it is much like the students trying to emulate the master. He was not just a crowd pleaser with his dance.

He was a premier return specialist who took eight kicks to the end zone in his career. He also worked hard to become a threat at wide receiver and he is on the All-Time NFL Team as the only return specialist.




Washington Redskins : Chris Hanburger


The Redskins have a good history on late round picks. Hall of Famer Wayne Milner was part of the Redskins first draft class and just four men selected after him played in the NFL.

Clint Didier, Jimmie Johnson, and others also helped the team. Yet there is no greater Redskins late round pick than "The Hangman."

Hanburger was an 18th-round draft choice of the Redskins in 1965. He was the 245th player chosen that year. He was a 25-year old rookie, due to his service in the Army before going to the University of North Carolina.

Hanburger played right away and was in the Pro Bowl by his second year in the league. He would then begin a string of Pro Bowl appearances until 1969. He then resumed that string in 1972 until 1976.

Sacks and tackles were not recorded in those days, but Hanburger was a play maker. He is considered one of the best of his era.

He was known for his blitzing ability and pass coverage. Ever the complete player, he returned three fumbles for touchdowns in his career to go with two on interceptions.

In 1972, Hanburger captained the "Over The Hill Gang's" defense to a Super Bowl appearance and was named NFC Defensive Player Of The Year. Hanburger was known not only for good speed, but his exceptional quickness.

He had the innate ability to diagnose a play before the ball was hiked. He often would cover the other teams tight end and peel off to knock passes down meant for wide receivers.

Hanburger's nine Pro Bowl appearances are still the most by any player in the entire history of the Washington Redskins. Hanburger was inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

NFL 2011 Best Bargain Free Agents and Nnamdi Asomugha's Top 10 Destinations
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Nnamdi somugha Plaxico Burress NFL NCAA 2011 NFL Draft Oakland Raiders Free Agency Washington Redskins Dallas Cowboys New York Jets NFC AFC

 

As the NFL lock out continues, no one really knows what to make of free agency for the 2011 season.

This includes the players, coaches, general managers, and owners.

Will those being called restricted free agents right now still be restricted if a collective bargaining agreement is reached? That is one of just a few questions everyone will have to wait for an answer on.

Some teams are heading into the 2011 draft in reverse. Some like to fill their biggest holes with the upper echelon free agents, go draft, then fill the rest of the roster with what is left over in the free agency pool.

Since it appears very likely an agreement won't be reached before the draft, along with the confusion of the 2011 definition of free agency, NFL teams will be in a frenzy, whenever this lock out ends, while scurrying to gobble up the talent available as quickly as possible.

The free agency pool of 2011 is a lot like the 2011 draft pool. There is a lot of mediocrity, especially at certain positions. Safety and middle linebacker has few draft prospects, if any, to get excited about. The free agency market is also thin in those areas.

Like the draft, there are quite a few excellent offensive linemen available. If your favorite team has a defense that is already strong in the middle, then the positions your team seeks to fill could very well be solved with good talent.

That is, of course, if the 2011 free agency market is run like it has been for several seasons.



Nnamdi Asomugha


Far and away the top free agent out there this year, if not in many years.

Asomugha appears he could be headed to Canton and truly defines the expression "lock down defender."

He will be 30-years-old when the season starts, but that should not prevent many teams from trying to sign Asomugha to an expensive long-term deal.

Teams like Dallas and Washington are known to spend big on free agents and both need help at the cornerback position. Unless he gets hurt, signing him will be the best value out there because a defense can leave Asomugha alone on an island and worry about other issues at other positions.

Carlos Rogers, Ike Taylor, and Chris Carr are all unrestricted free agents who have started many games.

Carr's 2010 was his first as a full-time starter after having spent much of his five previous seasons as a return specialist.

Taylor has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2003 and has been a starter since 2005. He has earned two Super Bowl rings. Though he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, he will soon be 31-years-old.

Ever since the Washington Redskins drafted Rogers in the first round of the 2005 draft, some fans have spent most of that time lamenting his small amount of interceptions. He has eight in his career and has never had more than two in a single season.

Yet Rogers is solid in run support and has the ability to cover just about anyone in the NFL. Washington is thin at cornerback, so losing Rogers will be a big blow unless they have a replacement in line.

A starter his entire career, Rogers will get offers once the lock out ends. His return to Washington is questionable, but he would immediately upgrade a questionable secondary if he does.

Josh Wilson is a restricted free agent who is excellent on special teams, even if the Baltimore Ravens rarely used him there after acquiring him in 2010. He did help upgrade the Ravens secondary and quickly became a starter.

Wilson returned an interception for a touchdown in his third straight season. He grew up in Maryland, attending the University of Maryland like his dad did. Wilson has stated he would like to return to the Ravens, but he will get many offers if they choose to not bring him back.

Johnathan Joseph, Brent Grimes, and Brandon Carr are all restricted free agents expected to stay with their current teams.







Jammal Brown


The 2010 season was one of frustration for the two-time Pro Bowler, especially after having missed all of 2009 because of injury. Though Brown started 14 games, he played much of the season dinged up with nagging injuries while playing right tackle for the first time since his rookie year.

The Washington Redskins allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent despite the fact their offensive line needs a lot of help. Brown is just 29-years-old, but 2011 might be a make or break season as far as being a starter.

Though Washington might try to bring him back, Brown's history of excellence will warrant quite a few offers. Offers that the Redskins may fail to match, thus depleting the offensive line even more.

Matt Light is coming off a Pro Bowl year, his third, for the New England Patriots. He has started at left tackle for the Patriots since 2001, but will be 33-years-old before the 2011 season begins.

Though it seems unlikely he will leave, especially with unrestricted free agent guard Logan Mankins certainly going, it is doubtful the unrestricted free agent is offered anything but a short-term deal. If a team offers more years, Light might leave a team he has won three Super Bowls with.

Tyson Clabo had an amazing journey to becoming a 2010 Pro Bowler. He went undrafted in 2004, then bounced around on practice squads until he signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2006. He earned a starting job as a guard in his rookie year, then moved to tackle. Clabo plays with a mean streak that teammates like, and he had good size and mobility.

Despite the late start on his career, he will be only 30-years-old in 2011 with little wear and tear on his body in comparison to others his age. An unrestricted free agent, he will get offers but might not want to leave the one organization that gave him a chance to play.

The 2010 season was the first since 2000 where Alan Faneca failed to go to the Pro Bowl. He will be 35-years-old this season and the unrestricted free agent is said to be contemplating retirement. The Arizona Cardinals, with whom he played with last year, has stated they want him back.

Faneca is probably headed for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day, but there is a chance a team entices him with an offer to suit up in 2011. While he might not be the same player he was in his prime, he is still a starter and better than many others.

Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks are a pair of young and excellent guards who are restricted free agents.

Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood anchor the right side of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive line and both are free agents. Losing either one could be devastating to a young team like the Bucs. Both will be 28-years-old in 2011 and were drafted in the first and second round of the 2006 draft to become mainstays.

Joseph has been named to the Pro Bowl once as well. Nicks has just three years under his belt. His 2010 season saw him go to the Pro Bowl. The New Orleans Saints are said to want to re-sign Nicks to a long-term deal.

The Atlanta Falcons could be in trouble in 2011 with the prospects of losing the right side of their offensive line. Harvey Dahl, like Clabo, went undrafted. After barely playing for the San Francisco 49ers in 2006, he joined the Falcons in 2007 and earned a starting job the next year.

Dahl is known as maybe the meanest and nastiest offensive lineman in the NFL. He got in a shouting match with 49ers ex-head coach Mike Singletary in 2009. The Hall of Famer purportedly became so enraged that he spit on Dahl.

He is a restricted free agent and it is rumored the Falcons are intent on keeping both him and Clabo. If they cannot, there are always several teams looking for a guy who brings character to the locker room.

Lyle Sendlein is a restricted free agent, but he is the only center worth mentioning in the free agency pool. The Cardinals would prefer to keep the fourth-year undrafted player who has started the past three seasons.

Yet there are no great centers in the draft or in free agency. Sendlein is far and away the cream of the crop and that might entice a big bid for his services.






Cullen Jenkins


The 29-year-old Jenkins is about to get paid large. In a fairly weak free agency class, the defensive line is deep in mediocrity and sparse in guys who are able to make the big play.

Though the 2011 draft has a few defensive tackles ready to go in the first round, Jenkins might head the free agents list. An unrestricted free agent, he can play anywhere on the defensive line.

Jenkins is average defending the run, but he can get after the quarterback. He played just 11 games, yet still got a career high seven sacks in 2010. His 29 career sacks show a consistent force no matter where he lines up.

The defending champion Green Bay Packers would love to keep Jenkins, especially since the reserves are youngsters C.J. Wilson and Jarius Wynn. Matching the offers he is expected to receive might be an issue.

Jason Babin is an unrestricted veteran who was looking like a journeyman who flopped as a first round pick until last year. Selected by the Houston Texans in 2004, he had played for four teams before signing with the Tennessee Titans in 2010.

He got 12.5 sacks last year after getting 19.5 in his previous six years. Tennessee has expressed interest in signing him to a long-term contract, but Babin might test the waters as well.

When the Carolina Panthers used a third round pick on defensive end Charles Johnson in 2007, then-head coach John Fox brought him along slowly so he could learn behind veterans like Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker.

Johnson was used as a pass rusher his first three years, but was inserted into the 2010 starting lineup after Peppers joined the Chicago Bears. He responded with career best totals of 11.5 sacks and 62 tackles.

Now a restricted free agent, it will be interesting to see the language of the new collective bargain agreement whenever the lock out ends.

If Johnson is set free, Carolina will need to decide if they should sign him to a long-term deal or watch other teams bid for Johnson's services.

Shaun Ellis will be 34-years-old when the 2011 season starts. He has a lot of mileage on him, but Ellis did earn a Pro Bowl bid in 2009. Though he isn't quite as an effective pass rusher these days, Ellis has always done a decent job against the run. Veterans like him are always welcome on a roster, so the unrestricted free agent won't have to wait long for an offer. His leadership skills just make him more valuable.

Barry Cofield is a restricted free agent who has started since the New York Giants drafted him in 2006. He has said he will request a trade unless he is offered a long-term deal.

Coming off his best season, Cofield has nose tackle ability as well. If the Giants decide to go in another direction, he should find himself very much sought after.

Paul Soliai and Brandon Mebane are restricted free agents.

Soliai is a nose tackle who excelled in his first year as a starter in 2010. Since there are only a few nose tackle prospects in the draft, he could be highly sought after. The Miami Dolphins put their franchise tag on him, so it appears unlikely he will go anywhere.

Mebane has started since he was a third round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 2007. While his 10 career sacks show he is an average pass rusher, many teams like Mebane's ability to defend the run.

Kedric Golston earned a starting job as a rookie for the Washington Redskins in 2006 after being chosen in the sixth round. He was moved to defensive end last year when Washington switched to a 3-4 base defense.

He is a plugger who clogs the lanes and allows his linebackers to clean up the leftover mess. Golston is a high character guy with good strength, so teams looking to upgrade the interior of their defensive line will look hard in his direction.






Plaxico Burress


Burress will soon be released from prison after having served 20 months for weapons violations. Despite the fact he will be nearly 34-years-old, teams will look into signing him.

Some look how well Michael Vick played in 2010 after having spent two years in jail. Burress has stated he will play again and has been working out four days a week in preparation.

He is 6'5", so a tall receiver like him will always garner interest. Before his sentencing, his inconsistent hands frustrated many though four of his nine seasons saw him gain over 1,000 yards.

There may be a bidding war for his services, though the thought of teams avoiding him because of his past is certainly fathomable. The question of 34-year-old legs after years on inactivity will certainly bring skeptics.

With older receivers like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Laveranues Coles, Santana Moss, Brandon Stokley, Brian Finneran, T.J. Houshmanzadeh, and Dennis Northcutt out there looking for jobs, taking a chance on Burress seems like a fine decision







Quintin Mikell


Mikell was a Pro Bowler in 2009 who happened to be even more productive last year. The strong safety is not only very good supporting the run defense, but he has done an excellent job defending the pass.

The Philadelphia Eagles would love to bring him back, but the unrestricted free agent will get a ton of offers. Considering how the Eagles are trying to re-sign quarterback Mike Vick, the scenario of being outbid is certainly possible.

Mikell also has free safety experience, yet he will be 31-years-old whenever the season starts. He spent his first four years on the bench before earning a starting job in 2007. He has 328 tackles and nine interceptions the last four years.

Donte Whitner is coming off the best season of his five years in the NFL. Some say he has never shown the Buffalo Bills a reason why drafting him in the first round of the 2006 draft was a good idea, but he did get 138 tackles last year.

Buffalo would like him to return, but the unrestricted free agent has started since he came to the NFL and that type of experience makes the 26-year-old desirable.

Dawan Landry and Eric Weddle are restricted free agents. Weddle has already stated he wants to stay with the San Diego Chargers but would "leave the team in a heartbeat" if contract talks do not go well.

The Chargers have three safeties up for free agency, but Weddle is the most important. The free safety has scored a touchdown in each of the last three years while showing solid all-around play.

With the 2011 draft having almost no NFL-caliber safeties, free agents at this position have their importance doubled. Especially Weddle, the best free safety in the pool.

Landry has been the starting strong safety of the Baltimore Ravens ever since they lucked into him during the fifth round of the 2006 draft. He missed most of 2008 from an injury, but Landry has scored a touchdown in three of his other four years.

Coming off a career high 108 tackles in 2010, Landry will be sought after if the restricted free agent tag is removed and he is allowed to sign anywhere. The Ravens would prefer to keep Landry, who is one of their most important players on defense.







Michael Bush


Bush was drafted in the fourth round of the 2007 draft by the Raiders even though they knew he was recovering from a broken leg and couldn't play until 2008.

Since 2008, Bush has shown exactly why Oakland selected him. He has increased his rushing attempts and yards each year, and he scored a career best eight times in 2010.

He offers the power back feature that compliments Darren McFadden's slashing running skills. Bush would start on many teams, but he has been forced to back up McFadden. Though the 2008 first round pick has battled injuries much of his career, Oakland seems committed to McFadden as the starter.

If a team wants a guy who would do anything to win, even if it means being a blocking back, Bush is worth a look. His being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving a few months ago might force Oakland to part ways with the restricted free agent.

With recent rumors of the Raiders being interested in drafting Shane Vereen, Bush's days as a Raider could be ending. If this happens, there are a ton of teams that will vie for his services and possibly get a 1,000-yard rusher in return.

Joseph Addai and Tim Hightower are a pair of running backs who are restricted free agents expected to re-sign with their teams.







Rocky McIntosh


McIntosh is not flashy, but he is very productive. After spending the first four seasons of his career as an outside linebacker, the Washington Redskins moved him inside last year and got a career best 110 tackles.

But he also had 180 tackles as an OLB the previous two years, showing McIntosh can stop the run wherever you plug him in. While he has shown good blitzing ability, the Redskins did not ask that from him often.

He is not great in pass coverage, so McIntosh usually was replaced by extra defensive backs in obvious passing situations.

He has also shown durability and toughness, willing to play injured. Washington already has huge depth issues at linebacker, let alone much quality past Pro Bowlers London Fletcher and Brian Orakpo.

The free agency market does not appear to have anyone better than him right now, so re-signing McIntosh could be a Redskins priority once the lock out is resolved.

Graybeards Mike Peterson, Julian Peterson, Mike Vrabel, Scott Shanle, Keith Bulluck,and Takeo Spikes should all have no trouble finding a training camp because there are few linebackers out there whose production can be relied upon. None are what they once were, but they have the savvy to still do the job.

James Anderson and Prescott Burgess are restricted free agents who will garner interest.

Anderson has the size and finally seemed to put it together in 2010 after four less-than-stellar seasons for Carolina. He had 126 tackles and 3.5 sacks. A SLB who certainly will help on run support.

If the term "restricted free agent" is dissolved in the new collective bargaining agreement, he possibly becomes the top outside linebacker available.

Burgess has played special teams for the Baltimore Ravens in his three seasons, something he does a good job at, but he also has learned under the wing of Ray Lewis. That alone should draw interest.

Dhani Jones, Barrett Ruud, and Paul Posluszny are all veteran inside linebackers. The 32-year-old Jones is the only unrestricted free agent of the group.

After playing outside linebacker in his first seven seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals moved him inside and Jones has collected 352 tackles the past three years. His consistency and versatility will get him an offer, let alone the experience from being a starter in nine of his 10 seasons.

Ruud is said to be irked over his contract situation with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though many think he will stay because Ruud is one of the leaders on a young team.

Posluszny is coming off the best season of his four-year career. He had 151 tackles, despite missing two games, and has 371 in his last three years.

What scares teams about Posluszny is the fact he has missed games because of injury in three seasons. The 19 games missed in his career should make any offered contract laced with incentives, which is a bargain if he fulfills them.







Bruce Gradkowski


Gradkowski is a restricted free agent, but it remains to be seen if the Oakland Raiders bring him back now that Tom Cable is gone.

Oakland was the third team he played for in his five seasons, but Gradkowski developed a small fan following when 2007 first round pick JaMarcus Russell flopped and lost his starting job. Gradkowski took the starting job from a struggling Jason Campbell last year, but got hurt and was lost for the season.

Campbell seized the opportunity by helping Oakland have their best season in many years. Though he has plenty of starting experience, Gradkowski could be replaced for a backup who costs less.

If that happens, Gradkowski might soon be on the verge of starting again with the Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans, Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, or Minnesota Vikings, all non-committal on who will handle the snaps in 2011.

A gritty but injury-prone player, he shows the leadership skills one likes from a quarterback.

With veterans like Marc Bulger, Alex Smith, and Billy Volek amongst a deep free agent pool of average quarterback with starters experience, Gradkowski could be the guy who is the most successful .

 

 

Nnamdi Asomugha is a free agent that any NFL team can try to sign whenever business resumes for the league.

It was a startling move when the Oakland Raiders decided to let the best defensive back in the NFL hit the market despite coming off his third Pro Bowl and second First Team All-Pro season in 2010.

Every team could certainly use a player of his caliber on their squad, but few will be able to afford him.

Plus the team interested should have Super Bowl dreams because most of Asomugha's years in the NFL have been with losing teams.

What sets him apart from most others is his philanthropy. He helps orphans and widows while trying to provide a higher education to students in need of extra help. He won the 2009 Byron "Whizzer" White Man of the Year Award for his work.

Whenever the lock out ends for the NFL, Asomugha will find his phone soon ringing off the hook with teams trying to recruit him. This probably will include the Raiders as well.

Here are 10 teams he might best fit for various reasons, though it is impossible to guess where he might be headed yet.


Dallas Cowboys

While the real problem of the Cowboys pass defense in 2010 was a subpar pass rush by anyone not named DeMarcus Ware and pretty mediocre safety play.

Adding Asomugha could allow Dallas to move Terence Newman to free safety and replace Alan Ball. Newman had a career best 79 tackles and five interceptions last year.

That is 34 more tackles than Ball, a converted cornerback, had last season. It is also 10 more tackles than what strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh provided.

Newman will turn 33-years old during the 2011 season, so Ball could battle Bruce McCann for a roster spot while Mike Jenkins handles the other cornerback and Orlando Scandrick mans the nickle back.

Asomugha also has free safety experience, having played there in college.

Asomugha's addition would allow Dallas concentrate on bolstering the trenches in the draft, an area of need.

They have three picks in the first 71 selections, so grabbing a defensive end, offensive tackle, and safety can be hit on with cornerback now taken care of.

Cowboy's owner Jerry Jones has never been shy at tossing extra money to get what he wants. Getting the best cornerback on the NFL is something he should want.




New York Jets

Imagine Asomugha and Darrelle Revis bookending each other.

OK, now wipe the drool from your chin Jets fans.

A combination that could potentially be the greatest cornerback duo in NFL history is a thought the Jets should think about.

It could possibly bring Rex Ryan that Super Bowl ring he keeps talking about.

With the pair of excellent young cornerbacks Dwight Lowery and Kyle Wilson in reserve, they could match any package a pass happy team tries to throw at them. It would force opponents to run the ball more, an area the Jets defense is very stout.

The Jets probably can't swing this signing because they have a lot of important free agents to sign. Receivers like Braylon Edward, Santonio Holmes, and Brad Smith are needed, so it may force them to re-sign cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

If they could coerce Asomugha to take less for the prospect of winning a Super Bowl, then the Jets would instantly become the favorites to win it all.

Any team attempting a pass on Asomugha and Revis would be near suicidal.




Oakland Raiders

Asomugha is said to like the recent direction of the Raiders and wants to see things through.

He has all of his business set up in Oakland, so uprooting might not be an option he wants to explore.

Still, it was odd to see the Raiders give six-year cornerback Stanford Routt $31 million, with $20 million guaranteed, while declining to pick up the option on Asomugha's contract despite the fact Routt has spent four seasons as a reserve and was coming off a pretty mediocre 2010 campaign.

Yet the Raiders are expected to continue their recent improvement after firing Tom Cable and replacing him with Hue Jackson as the head coach.

It is possible they sign Asomugha for less than expected to keep the NFL's top cornerback on a team he has spent the last eight years trying to turn into a winner.




Baltimore Ravens

This is not typically the type of signing Ravens general manager Ozze Newsome does, but the Hall of Famer always is looking to help his team get better.

Baltimore has had 2010 starting cornerbacks Josh Wilson and Chris Carr become free agents, as well as starting strong safety Dawon Landry. Domonique Foxworth is returning after missing the entire 2010 season because of a knee injury.

Newsome has a huge pile of free agents to sift through on his team alone. But the thought of Asomugha teamed with future Hall of Famers Ed Reed and Ray Lewis behind the immensely talented Haloti Ngata would certainly be a force to be reckoned with.

The Ravens haven't had a lot of stability at cornerback since Chris McAlister left after 2007 following a nine year run as a starter. McAlister's three Pro Bowls are the only time in Ravens history a cornerback has accomplished that feat.

Asomugha might end that drought, but he certainly would bring the team an immediate and much needed upgrade to their suddenly thin secondary.




San Francisco 49ers

Shawntae Spencer is a fine cornerback, but he doesn't exactly strike fear in opposing receivers.

Nate Clements is the Niners top cornerback and has had a fine career, but he will be 32-years old soon and might work best now as the second corner.

Going to San Francisco is a very short drive from Asomugha's home, so his lifestyle would go uninterrupted.

He and Clements would instantly become one of the best duos in the NFL, if not the very best.

The 49ers could upgrade other areas of the team with the addition of Asomugha while making them a favorite to win the NFC West. A pair of solid veteran cornerbacks could take them a long way.





San Diego Chargers

This move would infuriate Raiders fans because the Bolts have had a rivalry going with Oakland since 1960.

It intensified when Hall of Famer Al Davis left the Chargers to join the Raiders in 1963 and started a tradition of excellence that just won baby!

The Chargers offer Asomugha a reason to stay in California near his charities, friends, and family.

If the Chargers lose free safety Eric Weddle to free agency, they could move physical cornerback Quentin Jammer into his slot and have Asomugha bookend the up and coming Antoine Cason.

This is a very unlikely scenario since San Diego has a long list of free agents and we saw how they treated stars Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill much of 2010.




Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell is famous for having a tight wallet, yet he sometimes shocks people.

Arizona has a ton of free agents to re-sign, but their cornerback situation needs help.

Dominique Rogers-Cromartie is their top cornerback and a 2009 Pro Bowler. The other corner is Greg Toler, who could move to nickle back status if Arizona grabs Asomugha.

Signing him also gives them the opportunity to draft linebacker Von Miller to help with the pass rush.

A duo of Asomugha and Rogers-Cromartie would be downright scary for the rest of the NFC West. Their ability to blanket receivers will also help the pass rush, an undervalued aspect.

Some expect the Cardinals to struggle on offense in 2011, so a big time defense could lead them to a division title.

It would also allow Asomugha to stay relatively close to his home base to monitor his charities.





New England Patriots

An unlikely scenario to some who expect the team to use at least one of their nine draft picks on a cornerback, six of which come in the first three rounds.

Yet their needs are in other areas and head coach Bill Belichick has never been adverse to adding a proven veteran to his roster.

What New England is adverse to, for the most part, is giving huge contracts to players.

Devin McCourty is coming off a great 2010 rookie campaign, but the other cornerback slot was a defensive weakness most of the year. Darius Butler has been a disappointment and the other cornerbacks on the roster are nothing worth mentioning.

Asomugha would immediately cure that woe for the Patriots while getting to mentor a young secondary.

Getting the ball in the hands of quarterback Tom Brady as often as possible is the Patriots best path to success.

Asomugha's addition to the New England roster would certainly give Brady more opportunities to win his fourth Super Bowl, an area for quarterbacks that only Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana have reached.




Chicago Bears

"Da Bears" were one win away from the Super Bowl last year.

They head into 2011 in pretty good shape as far as free agency goes.

They do have four starters on defense to re-sign. Defensive tackle Anthony Adams, strong safety Danieal Manning, linebackers Nick Roach and Pia Tinoisomoa are all unrestricted free agents Chicago will have to consider bringing back.

The team could use an upgrade in the secondary. Asomugha could replace an average Tim Jennings in the starting lineup, forming a very nice tandem with Charles Tillman.

The Bears are stout against the run and have maybe the best pair of passing rushing defensive ends in the league. Asomgha and Tillman would force opponents to run the ball more and give Julius Peppers and Israel Adonije even more time to hit the quarterback.

When you get so close to winning it all, sometimes you need just a little extra push to reach the pinnacle of success.

Asomugha would make an already excellent Bears defense even better.

The one question is if he would go to the Windy City. He has played under the warm California sun most of his life, so a move to Chicago would be more than just a culture shock.




Washington Redskins

With the Redskins set to lose Carlos Rogers and Patrick Buchanon to free agency, as well as already being thin in a secondary that was picked on much of 2010, this would seem a good signing on paper.

DeAngelo Hall is now Washington's top cornerback, and he actually played with Asomugha in 2008.

Hall got $8 million for eight games before being cut because he struggled in the Raiders man-to-man coverage schemes.

While the Redskins ran a zone scheme in 2010 that Asomugha can easily play, he may prefer to play in man coverage to best accentuate his abilities.

He will also cost a lot to sign, and Washington's roster just has too many holes to fill.

Being with the Redskins means Asomugha could rub elbows with politicians as he runs his charities. Yet he does this anyways, so that angle seems less enticing.

Asomugha wants to be on a winner and the Redskins are rebuilding. This is the big money signing Redskins owner Dan Snyder has been known to make, but "The Dan" may want to let this one go.



 

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