Commentary

Pats, Bears, Bengals stellar selectors

The Cowboys, on the other hand, didn't take over the draft's Day 2 as expected

Originally Published: April 26, 2009
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- Day 2 of the NFL draft seemed to move slower than Saturday's lightning round.

Teams took most of the five-minute period to make decisions. They spent a lot of time making countless trade-downs, including many curious deals in which 2010 draft choices were used as collateral for trades. The lack of trades involving veteran players was a surprise.

Teams left with plenty of needs, which prompted thoughts that they would go for veterans. They didn't.

Here are the many things we learned Sunday.

1. Although the New England Patriots lost executive Scott Pioli, coach Bill Belichick still runs one of the most efficient drafts in football. Because the Patriots' roster is loaded with role players and veterans, Belichick doesn't have many openings on the current active roster. Getting second-rounders in 2010 from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans for third-round choices in this draft was a strong move, particularly after the Patriots made four decent second-round choices.

Only nine of the 16 draft choices from 2007 and 2008 remain on the team, and the Patriots have produced only two starters from those drafts. But they set up a strong 2009 draft and have started to work on next year's draft.

The Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles do the best job of trading current picks to get better future ones. The Eagles have made trades to have 11 picks in 2010, but the Patriots will have better clout early on with three second-rounders. There were 28 trades during the course of the two-day draft. Ten of those trades involved 2010 picks.

2. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn't own the second day of the draft as billed. Armed at the start of Sunday with a dozen draft choices in the final five rounds, the Cowboys were caught reaching too many times. By comparison, the Chicago Bears had a much better second day.

Their picks were consistent and fit needs. Defensive ends Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton have run the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds and will work with defensive line coach Rod Marinelli on the Bears' pass rush. Safety D.J. Moore had received a higher grade than his third-round selection. The Bears added wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias, who was rated in the round he was selected. Most of the Cowboys' picks were rated two or three rounds lower than their selections.

To be honest, I thought the Patriots won the day.

3. On the flip side, the New York Jets are heading down a slippery slope with their dwindling number of draft choices. No one can argue with the trades the Jets made to add quarterback Mark Sanchez and running back Shonn Greene. Iowa star Greene is the heir to Thomas Jones' starting running back job. USC standout Sanchez is now the Jets' franchise quarterback. But the team has had draft classes of only three in 2009, six in 2008 and four in 2007. Although the Jets have netted good players such as cornerback Darrelle Revis, linebacker David Harris and tight end Dustin Keller in 2007 and 2008, they have left themselves thin on backups. A lack of fill-ins presents a concern for the future.

4. The Patriots' third-round selection of North Carolina wide receiver Brandon Tate was one of the most interesting picks on the second day of the draft. Tate grades out highly for his receiving ability, but he carries some baggage. There have been published reports of a positive marijuana test, and he is coming off surgery for torn knee ligaments. Expect him to spend the season on the physically unable to perform list or as an inactive player on the 53-man roster. Because Randy Moss and Joey Galloway are getting older, Tate could be an interesting developmental player. At his news conference, Tate was apologetic about past mistakes.

5. The Seattle Seahawks' trade with the Eagles to acquire Penn State wide receiver Deon Butler might reveal how the Seahawks will handle their business during the next year. Earlier in the day, the Seahawks dropped the franchise tag from linebacker Leroy Hill, making him a free agent. Hill is the best player on the market and should command a big contract. He'll also become the eighth free agent to leave this offseason and should command a third-round compensatory choice next year. Once Hill signs, the Seahawks will have a net loss of five free agents, so they could get four compensatory picks next year. That's why they had the luxury to trade for a fast receiver.

6. The Buffalo Bills didn't address their need for a tackle after trading left tackle Jason Peters to Philadelphia. This makes you wonder whether the Bills are waiting for the Cincinnati Bengals to cut left tackle Levi Jones. The Bengals will trade or cut Jones because they selected Andre Smith in the first round. Meanwhile, the Bills picked Eric Wood in the first round. Buffalo plans to play him at guard but could use him at center because it drafted guard Andy Levitre in the second round. Jones could offer an option at left tackle that might allow Langston Walker to move back to right tackle. Jones remains on the Bengals' roster, but not for long.

7. You have to wonder whether the acquisition of cornerback Ellis Hobbs from New England signals the Eagles might be willing to part with disgruntled cornerback Sheldon Brown. Brown has asked to be traded because he feels the extension he signed in 2004 is outdated. Brown, scheduled to make $2 million this season, is signed through 2012. Even after the Patriots' trade of Hobbs, they remain overloaded at cornerback with Shawn Springs, Leigh Bodden, Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite and second-round choice Darius Butler.

Hobbs, who makes $2.545 million, can help the Eagles in the slot or on the outside because of his starting experience. In a news conference with Eagles reporters, Hobbs admitted he was blindsided by the trade. He joins former Patriot Asante Samuel in Philly.

8. It was surprising that more veterans weren't traded Sunday. Veterans at virtually every position were available. The St. Louis Rams' Pisa Tinoisamoa could have been traded to a team that needed a linebacker. The Oakland Raiders were willing to give up safety Mike Huff or running back Justin Fargas. The Bills made defensive linemen Ryan Denney and Chris Kelsay and safety Ko Simpson available. You knew thoughts of trades for Anquan Boldin, Braylon Edwards, Brady Quinn and others ended after the first round, but it was surprising to see so few deals when veterans could have solved many needs.

First Draft: Andre Smith

NFL.com Video

The Bengals solidify their offensive line with Alabama OT Andre Smith at No. 6.

9. What's going on with the Bengals? Cincinnati's Day 2 drafting was as solid as its Day 1 selections. There were no reaches, no controversies and even a nice story. The Bengals earned good grades for first-day selections Andre Smith and Rey Maualuga. On the second day, they left themselves without much criticism after taking defensive end Michael Johnson, tight end Chase Coffman and center Jonathan Luigs, who might start. The good story was taking University of Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber, who learned of the selection while golfing. The secret to their success was the Senior Bowl; the Bengals coached four of their draft choices in that game.

10. In-the-box safeties are going the way of the dinosaur. During the past week, Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz said in-the-box safeties have been phased out of the league. They are safeties such as former Cowboy Roy L. Williams, who plays near the line of scrimmage to try to stop the run. From the looks of the Day 2 selections, the position seems extinct. By the end of the fifth round, only three strong safeties had been drafted. Patrick Chung of Oregon went to New England in the second round. The New Orleans Saints took Chip Vaughn of Wake Forest in the fourth. The Cowboys took Michael Hamlin in the fifth. Free safeties didn't fare better. Three free safeties went off the board the first day, and three more (Rashad Johnson to the Arizona Cardinals, David Bruton to the Denver Broncos and Chris Clemons to the Miami Dolphins) went in Rounds 3 through 5.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer