- John Clayton, NFL senior writer
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NEW YORK -- Franchises spend millions in scouting, and the first two rounds of the draft are critical to their success or failure. When you designate draft losers, you are really pointing to teams for which things didn't go exactly right. It could be a trade that falls through or one that doesn't net the desired results.
The winners are evident. They get breaks. The right player falls in the right place.
This year's draft is shaping up to be a boon for running offenses. No wide receivers and only one tight end went in the first round. Six running backs and eight tackles dominated the first two rounds.
Obviously, quarterbacks Chad Henne and Brian Brohm were losers because they didn't go in the first round. Wide receivers were losers because none went in the first round. The fans were winners, though. The 10-minute window between first-round picks and the seven-minute second-round gap made for a more entertaining first day.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: The plan was to find a pass-rusher to replace Jared Allen, who was traded to the Minnesota Vikings. The Chiefs made out even better, getting perhaps the best defensive player in the draft, LSU's Glenn Dorsey, at No. 5. Some feel Dorsey might be the best defensive player to come around in years. Now he's
the anchor of Kansas City's improving defense. The Chiefs also were able to get the offensive lineman of their choice in Virginia's Branden Albert, and they got a good break toward the top of the second round when CB Brandon Flowers fell to them. For a team hoping to find five or six starters out of this draft, Day 1 was a bonanza.
2. Miami Dolphins: Give Bill Parcells some credit. He was patient and made great decisions. First, he signed OT Jake Long to a five-year contract. The left tackle who will anchor the line will be at every minicamp and every day of training camp. In the second round, Parcells got 276-pound defensive end Phillip Merling. Parcells likes big bodies on defense, and Merling fits the job requirements. The bonus was getting Michigan's Henne with the 57th pick. The fact that Miami didn't take Henne at the top of the second round was a vote of confidence for John Beck. Parcells got the best of both worlds, because Henne can push Beck and veteran Josh McCown.
3. Baltimore Ravens: If you believe in Joe Flacco, the Ravens are winners. If you don't, well, they go in a different category. Steve McNair's retirement blindsided the Ravens, so they had to get a quarterback in the first two rounds. They feverishly tried to trade up for Matt Ryan, but he went to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 3. To get Flacco, the Ravens traded back with Jacksonville from No. 8 and then traded up with Houston to No. 18. Most people thought Henne was the Ravens' No. 2 quarterback option because general manager Ozzie Newsome doesn't draft small-college players (Flacco is only the second small-college player taken by Newsome in the first day of a draft). Flacco has a great arm, and the Ravens are a solid organization. They won't rush him onto the field.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers: You've got to be kidding me. Ben Roethlisberger wanted a big receiver and he got Limas Sweed in the second round. Running back Rashard Mendenhall was a steal at No. 23, and combined with Willie Parker, the Steelers should have a dynamite one-two punch in the backfield. The Steelers play the toughest schedule in football this year, and after decades of focusing on defense, they stocked up with some great offensive weapons this year. Roethlisberger now has Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Nate Washington and Sweed at receiver, and the talented Heath Miller at tight end.
5. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys wanted a running back and a cornerback at the top of the draft. They ended up getting more than that. Felix Jones is a perfect back to augment Marion Barber, a physical back who tends to wear down. Jones can be physical, but he's also a receiving threat out of the backfield. Cornerback Mike Jenkins was a bonus. Most teams expected Jenkins to go in the top 20, but the Cowboys were able to trade up to get him at No. 25. Now they have Terence Newman, Anthony Henry, Jenkins and Pacman Jones, if he's reinstated. A once-thin position is now deep.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals did well under the circumstances, but they didn't get the defensive tackle (Sedrick Ellis) they coveted. Cincinnati tried all offseason to get a defensive tackle, but trades for Shaun Rogers and Dewayne Robertson fell through, and Ellis went to the New Orleans Saints when they traded up to No. 9. Cincinnati got a break when the Patriots traded down and didn't take linebacker Keith Rivers, who was a great choice for the Bengals. But they needed a defensive tackle.
Round 2 was a scramble for a wide receiver, and the Bengals ended up with Coastal Carolina's Jerome Simpson, who wasn't the biggest name available.
2. Houston Texans: Things went horribly for the Texans, who wanted one of the top offensive linemen. Branden Albert or Chris Williams would have worked, but they were gone, so the Texans traded down. They might have been able to pull out cornerback Mike Jenkins, but he went to Dallas with the 25th pick. The Texans ended up with Virginia Tech offensive lineman Duane Brown, whom many thought was a second-rounder.
3. New England Patriots: Thanks to the 49ers' horrible 2007 season, the Patriots ended up with the seventh pick in the first round. They hated it. It was a horrible spot for the Patriots, a franchise that mastered the team concept.
The seventh pick probably would have received the third- or fourth-highest salary on the team, so it was evident the Patriots would trade down. They dumped the pick to the Saints and got moderate value. With the 10th pick, New England drafted Jerod Mayo, who probably would have fallen to the Redskins at No. 21. Mayo could end up being a Pro Bowler for the Patriots -- he's smart and can play inside or outside. But he's going to get a max contract worth around $4 million a year. At least the Patriots got out of the No. 7 spot, which would have cost them more than $7 million a season.
4. New York Giants: This may sound strange to list the Giants because they went 8-for-8 in the draft last year and got the player they wanted in the first round: safety Kenny Phillips. But they got greedy on a proposed Jeremy Shockey trade. Saints coach Sean Payton wanted to give them a second-round pick. The Giants wanted more, so there won't be a Shockey trade. The Giants had five second-round options at tight end, but they took cornerback Terrell Thomas. Sure, those tight end options wouldn't have been as good as Shockey, but he's clearly not a happy player. They should have made the trade.
5. Tennessee Titans: Running back Chris Johnson is lightning fast, but he's not Felix Jones or Rashard Mendenhall. The Titans got a bad break when Jones and Mendenhall went to the Cowboys and Steelers at No. 22 and No. 23, respectively. Most teams knew the Titans, who picked at No. 24, were leaning toward taking a running back.
Jones was their guy and they had to be tempted by Mendenhall.
John Clayton, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame writers' wing, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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