So the NFL Draft kicked off Thursday night...As a Browns fan, I'm not thrilled...I'm not totally pissed, but not thrilled...Getting Trent Richardson was good, but trading 3 picks to move up one spot to get him was retarded...The Vikings boned the Browns with that...They weren't taking Richardson, and Other teams weren't throwing that much to move up a couple spots, let alone one...Then with the 22nd pick the Browns took their next starting QB...Their 17th since they returned in 1999...
Brandon Weeden...I think he'll be better then Colt McCoy, but based on what we've seen that isn't saying a lot...I mean McCoy, as you can see from that list above, was one of a long standing tradition of Browns QB's who were running for their lives, and had little talent around them...Weeden may have a better chance, but 22 was too high for a guy who is almost 30 years old...They could have got him at 37, and gotten the WR they need so badly at 22...
Oh, they got a WR...In the 4th round, they picked up a 5 foot 9 inch receiver, that everyone had a boner for...Are you shitting me...We don't need a midget slot receiver, we need a mother fucker who can go down field, and out jump DB's for balls...Oh, and actually catch balls!
At 37 they took California tackle Phillip Schwartz, who will play the right side...Good pick, they needed to fix that side of the line...Then they traded down from 67 to 87, picking up pick 120...At 87 they picked up the #2 DT from Cincinnati...WTF for! This is a guy they could have gotten in the 6th or 7th round...Fucking stupid...The later rounds was nothing sexy, or thrilling...A couple LB's and depth guys for the OL and DL...I'm not thrilled, but I guess these clowns could have done worse...
I wouldn't get into all the details, but looking at the recaps, I like what the Steelers did...Some smart picks, that will make their mini-rebuild easy...I'm not jumping ship, even though they have good looking fans...
Shit, look at this ugly bastard, having fun, just because his asshole team wins...
Oh, and for my blogging brothers, I finally found that pick of JDIN827 chomping on a bone...
Of all the idiotic picks that took place in the draft, there was none more retarded then the Saturday, when the Redskins after taking RG3 # 2overall, then took Michigan State QB Kurt Cousins...What a waste...These dopes traded away so many picks just to get up to #2, they can't afford to be burning another on a QB...But fuck'em...That's why they're the Redskins, and that's why they keep losing their division!
But enough of this draft bullshit!
-The last couple weeks, I had been getting myself ready for my transfer from The Fish House, to one of my company's Steak Houses...Well ain't this a bitch...They put me on the station that cooks all the fucking fish! 8 burners and a flat-top, cooking pastas, fish, chicken, and veal...And this fucking joint sells a bunch of fish at lunch...But I'm settling well, and the crew I'm working with is pretty cool, and has welcomed me with open arms...
-Saturday night the Mrs. and I went out for an early Italian dinner...Great little place right in our neighborhood...After some great food, a couple glasses of wine, and desert, we were feeling good...She was even a little frisky...Then we went to meet up with some old friends of mine for drinks...We had a great time...The Karaoke started, and we had to go...We wanted to stay, but the baby-sitter was starting to cost us a lot...
Sunday, the wife was feeling a bit tired, and well, she just can't hang like she use to...So I took the kids to a park for a couple hours...Molls was loving the swings, as usual!
After that we knocked out some yard work while the kids road their bikes...I had to chop the hell out of a hedge along the driveway, so I can get my new mini-van all the way in the back...Yep, I'm full blown Mr. Mom now, rocking the mini-van...
That's it for now...Have a week...
Later, The Beeze.
The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft got underway on Thursday evening and there is no doubt that when this post hits the blog-o-sphere, the talk will all be about which players were selected where and which teams were winners or losers in the draft. That said this post will not discuss this year’s NFL Draft. I am, after all, a baseball guy and if the draft doesn’t interest me enough to get me to switch away from The Big Bang Theory, than it certainly is not going to deter me from writing about baseball during the baseball season.
A blogger has to have his standard…right?
So I thought about it, maybe I could discuss the draft in a round-about, baseball-related fashion. After all, the NFL Draft does have a solid tie-in to Major League Baseball. There is actually a fairly rich history of players that have either played both in the NFL and MLB or whom were selected in both drafts.
For instance, let’s look at the Kansas City Royals for a moment. For the latter part of the 1970’s and much of the 1980’s, the Royals were one of the strongest teams in Major League Baseball. But how much different would their fortunes have been had they swayed a couple of stand-out quarterbacks, both selected in the 1979 MLB Draft, to forsake their football careers and grab their gloves?
For those unfamiliar with that draft, the two quarterbacks were Dan Marino (4th Round Pick) and John Elway (18th Round Pick). Marino was a stellar pitcher in high school that was said to have considered signing with the Royals, but opted out of it when he learned it would cost him his football scholarship at Pitt. On the other hand, John Elway was a solid hitting outfielder but opted to go to Stanford instead of playing for the Royals. Three years later, he was drafted by the Yankees and actually played 42 games in Single-A while he forced the Colts to trade his football rights.
It is easy to say that the Royals have been bit by the NFL the most times, but they are hardly the only ones. Both Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan followed in Jackson’s footsteps and became two-sport stars. Sanders was the more productive of the two, but found splitting the time between both was hampering his ability to play either. When he finally turned his back on baseball, he truly earned his hall of fame stripes in the NFL.
Another player that was selected in the MLB Draft was Tom Brady, who was an 18th round pick of the Montreal Expos in 1995, where he was drafted as a catcher out of high school. He would choose to play football for Michigan instead and the rest they say is history.
There is also a bevy of baseball players selected to play in the NFL Draft.
Dave Winfield is often considered on the all-around best athletes of all-time. Aside from his Hall of Fame baseball career, Winfield was a 17th round rick of the Minnesota Vikings in 1973 despite never playing college football. His selection by the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and Utah Stars (ABA) made him just the third person to ever be drafted by three different professional sports.
Kirk Gibson is best known for his fist-pumping, game-winning home run in the first game of the 1988 World Series, but few know that the reigning National League Manager of the Year was a 7th Round Pick of St. Louis Cardinals in 1978. However, he stuck with baseball and despite an injury-plagued career, put up a solid 17-years in the majors.
See, the weekend doesn’t have to revolve completely around football…right?
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.
- 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 +
- 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
- 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 +
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 -
- 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 -
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 +
- 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
- 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
- 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 +
- 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 -
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 -
- 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 -
- 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
- 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 -
- 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 -
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 +
- 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 +
- 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 -
- 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 -
- 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 -
- 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 -
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 +
- 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
- 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 +
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 +
- 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
- 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 -
- 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
- 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 +
- 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 +
- 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 -
- 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 +
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 +
- 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
- 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
- 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 -
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
34 Packers 24
Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans
Neither teem needs dis, but I tink da Texans finish strong.
27 Titans 17
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars
A battle of bottom feeders.
17 Colts 14
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins
Too teems goin nowhere after dis.
17 Dolphins 16
Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
Da disappointing Eagles strong finish mite save Andy Reid's job.
31 Redskins 16
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
Da Saints go marching into da playoffs wif dere heads held up high.
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!
23 Rams 9
Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots
Da Pats want momentum headin into da playoffs.
37 Bills 31
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings
13 Vikings 10
Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos
Denver needs dis, but Kyle Orton makes dem regret choosing a weak-armed fullback over him.
27 Broncos 13
San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders
Da AFC West has always been wacky. Three teems go 8-8 dis yeer.
28 Raiders 20
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
24 Seahawks 21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons
Da erratic Falcons knead dis.
34 Buccaneers 13
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
As David Byrne chirped,"Same as it ever was."
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.
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.
30 Giants 24
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.
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 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
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
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-
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
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 -
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 -
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
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 +
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
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 -
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 -
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
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
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
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 -
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
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
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
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 +
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
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
OK. See ya! As dey say in Ol' Mexico= A.M.F.
Even though NFL teams are supposed to be largely inactive during the lockout, they still keep abreast of news that is filled with football players being arrested, released from jail, or carrying the weight of questionable character in their pasts.
As soon as the lockout ends, most of these players will be invited into a training camp somewhere. The hope is to try and squeeze one drama free season out of them, as well as production on the gridiron.
While the list may get longer with oft-troubled wide receiver Kenny Britt, there are still plenty of specimens to choose from.
Over the next few weeks, we will profile a few that is followed by their possible destinations whenever the NFL resumes play.
He will be 34-years old if the NFL has a 2011 season. He just got released from jail after having served two years incarcerated on weapons charges.
Burress might take awhile to get into shape physically and mentally, an area he has mostly struggled in throughout his career, but the wide receiver still stands 6'5" and weighs at least 232 lbs. He has experience on winning teams and owns a Super Bowl ring.
Though the team he last played for, the New York Giants, has never said he wasn't welcome back, it looks more unlikely these days because that team is loaded with young receivers full of talent.
With 505 receptions since being drafted in 2000, it is obvious he had many productive seasons. Teams will gamble he has a few left until Father Time steps in.
There will be a pretty long line of suitors, especially since Burress is expected to be on his best behavior to avoid returning to prison.
Here are a few teams that may be the best fit for him :
Why Carolina? Simple. It is not that far from his family and friends in southern Virginia and the Panthers wouldn't mind seeing him and veteran Steve Smith help 2011 top draft pick Cam Newton.
Smith has not had help since Muhsin Muhammad retired several years ago, and he has battled injuries the past few seasons. Having the large Burress opposite the diminutive Smith might be appealing for both the Panthers and Newton.
The rich get richer? It is possible, especially with fellow ex-convict Michael Vick pleading with the front office to sign him. Vick is now the Eagles starting quarterback, so carrying such weight could impact this move.
Having DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin at wide receiver already, Philadelphia already has one of the top duos in the league. That is even before tight end Brent Celek is added into the mix.
Burress would give the Eagles that tall wide receiver, since Maclin is six-foot tall and Jackson stands somewhere around 5'10" and weighs maybe 175 lbs. Though Maclin and Jackson are huge threats, Burress would immediately become the teams top red-zone option.
Plus having Vick play catch with Burress would remind fans of the movie "The Longest Yard". Who can resist that?
Saint Louis Rams
Yes, the Rams have young receivers like Donnie Avery, Austin Pettis, Marty Gilyard, and Greg Salas for sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford to chuck it to. Free agents Danny Amendola, Mark Clayton, and Laurent Robinson might have a shot of returning as well.
Yet most of these receivers are small in stature. Getting Bradford, the 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year, a tall target could help a lot. Critics believe Burress will only go to a team with a chance to win their division, something the Rams almost pulled off last year.
Burress could get them over a tiny hump that exists in the weak NFC West. It could also help buy some time as their young receivers develop.
Then there is the fact that Burress probably will not get in trouble in Saint Louis, as the team seems to never have players in trouble with the law in that city.
A long shot, but Burress did grow up in Norfolk, Virginia. The Redskins have also been searching for a tall receiver since Hall of Famer Art Monk left after 1993.
The team might not be ready to compete for the NFC East, so Washington might have little shot at Burress even if they are interested and have an owner known for paying heavily for veteran free agents.
Even if Burress grew up a Redskins fan, which so many young men in Virginia have.
Get ready to see this team listed often. Raiders Hall of Fame owner Al Davis loves to take chances on players with questionable character, something he has come out smelling like a rose more often than not.
The current group of Raiders receivers could certainly use a boost in talent as well. There are a lot of speedsters, but none are the hulking presence that Burress is.
New York Jets
Why? Head coach Rex Ryan plays by his own rules and will do what is needed to get his team to the Super Bowl.
Starting receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes are free agents that may be the Jets top priority, but Burress would help whether both are signed or not. Plus Burress lives in New Jersey, so he wouldn't have to uproot his family that has been reacquainting themselves with him lately.
Then there is the plight of Pryor. The 6'6" quarterback recently withdrew from college and there is speculation he will try his hand at professional football this year.
Regardless of whatever charges Ohio State or Pryor may face down the road from NCAA rules infractions, the size and athleticism will have a team intrigued enough to look at him.
He is a project with suspect mechanics that will take time to refine. Murmurs of his lack of character will be put through a test if he wants to get to the next level. A team will have to be patient, as Pryor will need to be as well.
He has already rejected the advances of the Canadian Football League, even though the wide open CFL game may be the best fit for his game right now. The UFL may be an option to play a game similar to the NFL while learning his position more.
Though there are certainly no guarantees he could earn a starting job in the UFL, some speculate Pryor will sit this season out and put is name into the 2012 NFL Draft. Then there is a chance he is involved in a supplemental draft or try to latch onto a team via free agency.
Assuming he is allowed to sign with any team as a free agent, the questions begs on who would give him a shot.
Here are a few possibilities :
The Bengals quarterback situation is still up in the air because no one knows where starter Carson Palmer will play when play resumes. Palmer has made it quite clear he has no intention returning to Cincinnati.
The cerebral Andy Dalton was drafted in 2011, but he has questionable arm strength and athleticism. If Palmer leaves, the current quarterbacks on the Bengals roster is Dalton and the untested Dan LeFevour.
Even if the Bengals re-sign Jordan Palmer, Carson's little brother, they will then have three quarterbacks with no real NFL experience.
If Carson Palmer comes back to the Bengals, taking a flier on Pryor certainly could not hurt. The worst that can happen is they cut him, while the best scenario is that one day Pryor marries his abilities with the mechanics he will soon be taught.
Again, Al Davis loves outcasts. He also loves excellent athletes. Pryor is certainly both right now.
He could put Pryor at third-string to learn behind veterans Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski as Oakland takes their time learning what type of player Pryor will eventually be.
Pryor grew up not too far away from Pittsburgh and the Steelers do like to mold a young quarterback as a third-string player. Ask Dennis Dixon, a player no one wanted because of an injury in college during his senior year. Dixon, now a free agent, started a few games and earned a Super Bowl ring.
Men like Jim Miller started out in Pittsburgh before becoming productive starters elsewhere. With veteran Brian Leftwich as the primary reserve. maybe molding Pryor will more of an attractive scenario than bringing back Dixon?
John Skelton showed promise in his 2010 rookie year, as did Max Hall, but it still is unknown if either can hold onto the starting job at quarterback. Derek Anderson's confidence appears shot as well.
This could be one of the few NFL teams Pryor has a shot at starting right away. Especially if Skelton and Hall play poorly. Arizona appears to be a team Carson Palmer may want to go to.
The Cardinals also may be one of the teams willing to spend a few years developing Pryor, so this could be a good fit. Especially if Pryor becomes the player some think he can be.
Next week, we will look at a few crazy old farts who still think their shit doesn't stink and the NFL is obliged to give them a roster spot and fat paycheck.