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2010 NFL Draft: The Biggest Losers

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Usually, I prefer to focus on draft winners, because it’s easier to accentuate the positive and focus on the teams who will be more competitive in the future thanks to strong draft classes.  This year, that just doesn’t make practical sense.  There are seemingly logical defenses for every team’s draft.  Yes, even the Redskins

So the way I am going to approach this list of draft losers is to suggest that there were teams that got completely screwed over by the market conditions and that the strategies they took into the draft ended up backfiring.  This is not to say that they won’t come out with a successful draft in a few years, but that they got played by the other teams, who swiftly and intelligently positioned themselves to win the draft.  These teams: eh, their drafts just sort of got lost in the moment.

1. St. Louis Rams Usually, the team with the first overall pick sets the trends for the entire first round, but thanks to the existence of Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy at the top of most teams boards, the Rams didn’t set any trends by taking Sam Bradford first overall.  In a year where the top three or four quarterback were as closely packed together as ever, the market revealed the Rams’ pick on Bradford at no. 1 to be unecessary.  Bradford would not have gotten out of the top ten if the Rams had passed on him, in fact, he probably doesn’t get out of the top five.  But that’s missing the point: there weren’t four teams in this draft that decided that they needed to come out of it with a quality quarterback, and the Rams were one of those teams.  If the Rams had correctly gauged the intention of the 31 other teams, they could have snagged Jimmy Clausen at no. 33, and added Ndamukong Suh with the first overall pick.

This might have been the textbook definition of “getting too cute” in landing your quarterback in the eyes of many, but it appears that the vaunted right to choose a quarterback is going to cost the Rams 70+ million dollars in salary at the position, and having Suh on their roster as well.  That makes them a clear cut draft loser, at least until Bradford can prove he’s head and shoulders above the rest of this class.

The Rams also fall further behind a division that had a very strong draft.

2. New York Giants There comes a point where targeting a single position ceases to be a strategy (see: 2009 and 2010 Jaguars drafts) and becomes an obsession.  This is the tipping point for the New York Giants.  This team really needed to grab a quality runner above all else to maintain offensive balance, and instead, ended up taking Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph with their first two draft choices.  I’m not certain that Jay Alford, Barry Cofield, and Osi Umenyiora were responsible for the Giants missing the playoffs last year, but the Giants are convinced they were, so here comes expensive competition.  As for linebacker and RB, the two weaknesses on the Giants roster: Phillip Dillard, LB out of Nebraska is the only help.  The offensive line needed young blood, so the team added Guard Mitch Petrus from Arkansas, who will not project as a tackle at the next level as David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie age.  I don’t have much of a projection on anyone in this class for the Giants, so whether they get any help whatsoever is in doubt.

3. Minnesota Vikings Minnesota picks up some nice parts in Toby Gerhart and Chris Cook, but even with the landing of a value pick in Everson Griffen (at DE, the team’s strongest position), this is a remarkably weak haul.  Gerhart will be a nice player and a fan favorite, but I don’t know what he brings to the NFL that made him worth jumping up for.  Cook became the 6th CB off the board, and while he projects as a NFL starter eventually, he’s clearly behind anyone taken in front of him, and a few that weren’t.  Griffen could be a nice pickup in the fourth, but when exactly will he see the field?  Then: Chris Degeare, Nathan Triplette, Joe Webb, Mickey Shuler, Ryan D’Imperio…just a whole lot of boring.

The Vikings are a team that really isn’t built around the draft at all, so maybe they will continue to win independent of a weak draft class.

4.  Atlanta Falcons Almost avoided making this list because I think LB Sean Weatherspoon will be a superstar in this league, but the pick they gave up prior to last year for Tony Gonzalez is coming back to bite them here because I don’t think they believed that they would miss the playoffs in 09.  They took DT Corey Peters at value in the third round, and they took G Mike Johnson at value, but they needed to be more aggressive with their two third rounders when they were missing a 2nd round pick.  The rest of their draft was special team based, and there’s usually good value there in the later rounds, but if the Falcons bettered themselves at all during this draft, it will be because of the upside of Weatherspoon as a starting LB in the NFL.

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