Commentary

Five needs addressed in draft

Originally Published: April 29, 2008
By Floyd Reese | ESPN.com

Entering the draft, every NFL team has the same objective: Improve the roster.

This might involve taking the best player available, the best player at a specific position or a combination of the two. You don't want to take the 15th-best player in the draft with the No. 10 pick because it lessens the strength of your team and increases the strength of at least four of your opponents.

Getting the highest value for each selection is vital. In assessing how teams reacted to needs, I am not passing judgment on the selection; I am looking at the methods and results. Here are five ways teams addressed needs in the 2008 draft:

Overkill


[+] EnlargeDerrick Harvey
Paul Spinelli/Getty ImagesDerrick Harvey had a solid career while at Florida, but did the Jaguars give up too much to draft him at No. 8 overall?
The Jacksonville Jaguars had a need at defensive end. In the first round they drafted Derrick Harvey, and in the second selected Quentin Groves. Both of are adequate players and they will have fine futures. To move up to the No. 8 spot for Harvey, Jacksonville traded picks Nos. 26 (first round), 71 (third round), 89 (third round) and 125 (fourth round). To move up for Groves at No. 52, they gave up picks Nos. 58 (second round), 158 (fourth round) and a seventh-round selection in 2009. That's seven picks, or the equivalent of a full draft, traded for two unproven rookies. In addition, reports prior to the draft claimed Miami was asking for the No. 26 overall pick in exchange for Jason Taylor. Taylor is arguably one of the most productive defensive ends of the last decade. To justify the cost, these rookie defensive ends will both have to be superstars for years.

Underkill


Quarterback is one of the most vital positions for a team in all of professional sports. The quarterback-need rule -- if you need a quarterback you had better draft a quarterback -- is true from the first to last pick. Still, at the end of the draft, the Chicago Bears had only two quarterbacks on their roster -- Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton. Both have been promoted, demoted, maligned and embattled. They have been called just about everything except franchise quarterback, so I question the unwillingness to draft someone. The Bears passed on 13 quarterbacks over the weekend and chose to use their 12 selections on just about every other position on the field.

Not adding to your assets


Vince Young was the 2006 Rookie of the Year and in 2007 led Tennessee to a 10-6 record and a playoff birth. During both the 2006 and 2007 unrestricted free-agency periods and drafts, the Titans have failed to measurably improve the receiving corps. Touchdown passes dropped from 13 in 2006 to nine in 2007. Young has taken the brunt of criticism for the NFL's No. 27-ranked passing attack while quarterbacking the NFL's No.5-ranked running game. Judging from their first-round selection, the Titans either doesn't believe the past two second-round picks, LenDale White and Chris Henry, will pan out, or they didn't like the 18 receivers taken before they drafted Lavelle Hawkins at the No.126 overall pick.

Work the Board


In spite of what Baltimore says, it had at least one eye on Matt Ryan. However, when Ryan was drafted No. 3 overall, the Ravens immediately turned their attention to Joe Flacco. Because of the differing opinions on Flacco, no one knew exactly when he would be drafted. An educated guess was late first round or early second round. Even though many claim it was impossible for the Ravens to trade and improve their selection, they scalped Jacksonville and moved down to No. 26. Again, either due to intelligence or fear, they jumped up to No. 18 and were still able to draft their man. This is an outstanding example of the Ravens' working the board to ensure they get their choice and value for the pick. This maneuvering set the tempo for the entire weekend and a solid draft for Baltimore.

When it all comes together


Seldom during draft weekend do you get it all: Luck, trades and the ability to fill needs. The 2008 draft belonged to the Kansas City Chiefs. Through trades and stockpiling draft picks, they entered the weekend with the most selections. Right off the bat, arguably the best player in the draft, Glenn Dorsey, fell to them at the No. 5 overall pick. They then traded from 17 to 15 for only a fifth-round selection and picked up Branden Albert, an elite offensive lineman. Then, the Chiefs fell into a traditional draft mode and picked an additional 10 players, including standouts like Brandon Flowers, Jamaal Charles and Brad Cottam. Quality, quantity, stars and depth, the Chiefs drafted at least six starters. This is a great example of intelligence, experience and hard work.

Former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese contributes to ESPN.com.

Former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese contributes frequently to ESPN.com.