Day 2 winners, losers
The Bengals rebuild their offense; the Patriots are still short a pass-rusher
NEW YORK -- This may have been a draft dominated by big players but what happened to the quarterbacks was the most fascinating part of the first two days.
To no one's surprise, the Cincinnati Bengals landed TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, which will allow them to give Carson Palmer a one-year sabbatical because he refuses to play for the Bengals and they refuse to trade him. The San Francisco 49ers traded up to get the perfect quarterback for coach Jim Harbaugh to develop, Colin Kaepernick, who has 4.53 40 speed and a raw but strong arm. Hey, at least someone in the NFC West outside of the St. Louis Rams (with Sam Bradford) got a quarterback to help rebuild the position for the division.
And then there's Ryan Mallett. Let's get into the winners and the losers from NFL draft Day 2.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: You've got to be kidding me. Last year, the Bucs rebuilt their defensive line with the additions of defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, their top two draft choices in 2010. After getting a pass-rushing defensive end in Adrian Clayborn in the first round Thursday, the Bucs landed Da'Quan Bowers in the second round. Bowers has talent to become rookie of the year, but he has knees that might not allow him to last through a five-year contract. No problem for the Bucs. They will sign him to a four-year deal at second-round money. Drafted with the 51st pick, Bowers will be eager to prove his worth. To make life even better, the Bucs added linebacker Mason Foster in the third round.
2. Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer, take the year off. Chad Ochocinco, tweet your goodbye to Cincy. The Bengals are going with young guns on offense. They didn't have to trade up for quarterback Andy Dalton, standing pat and getting him with the 35th pick. Their new passing offense will feature A.J. Green, this year's No. 1 wideout, and Jordan Shipley, last year's slot receiving sensation, at wide receiver. Add tight end Jermaine Gresham and this has the makings of an exciting offense. At some point, Cincinnati must re-sign veteran running back Cedric Benson, but the Bengals definitely have new stripes on offense.
3. Washington Redskins: Like the New York Jets, the Redskins often have only three to five selections in some years. Under Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen, the Redskins kept trading back and now have 13 picks. That's fine, but they also got some pretty decent players they liked while making those moves. Jarvis Jenkins, a second-round pick from Clemson, is a big body to put on the 3-4 defensive line. The Redskins considered taking wide receiver Leonard Hankerson with one of their two second-round picks. They ended up trading down and still getting him, in the third round. Ryan Kerrigan, the first-round pick, will be the team's left outside linebacker. And to make it official, the Redskins had no plans to draft a quarterback in the first three rounds. The abundance of young players should add depth and help on special teams
1. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett: It's bad enough for a first-round talent with an incredible arm to drop to Round 3 because of his off-the-field question marks, but he landed with the New England Patriots, a team dominated by Tom Brady. If Mallett would enter the witness protection program he would be more visible than he will be for the next four years. As a third-rounder, Mallett eventually will get a four-year contract, the same length as Brady's deal. Brady won't concede playing time, so Mallett will be lucky if he gets a cameo in one or two regular-season games. For the Patriots, it's a fine move. What's to lose? Mallett will get good coaching and maybe some team will see him in the preseason and decide to offer a high draft choice package to get him. You never know. Mallett thought he had convinced teams that he could be the quarterback of their franchise. They didn't buy his sales pitch. Welcome to the abyss.
2. New England Patriots: The Patriots entered the draft with six picks in the first three rounds, but they made a few moves too many. They have a plan every year to load up on first- and second-round picks for the future, but this was the year to cash in. My one criticism is that they didn't get a pass-rusher. Had they drafted Jabaal Sheard, a defensive end from Pitt, or Brooks Reed, a linebacker from Arizona, I'd make them my big winners. They added three Pro Bowl defenders in the first three rounds of the four drafts previous to this, but this year they needed a pass-rusher. According to ESPN Stats & Information, opposing quarterbacks had a 103.2 passer rating when the Pats sent five or more pass-rushers. That's third worst in the league. They added a nice tackle in Nate Solder. Ras-I Dowling is an intriguing corner. Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley are role-playing running backs. Mallett is a bargaining chip for the future. But they didn't get that pass-rusher. Instead, they worked deals that allowed the Saints to get a pass-rusher, Cameron Jordan, and running back Mark Ingram. They let the Jets get maybe the next Trevor Pryce in Muhammad Wilkerson. Sure, the Pats got an extra first- and second-round picks next year, but they need to take care of current business.
3. Undrafted players, veteran free agents and Kevin Kolb: The 8th Circuit Court of Appeal's decision to give a temporary stay to the NFL puts transactions on hold until next week and probably until early July. Two of three judges voted to review the NFL's appeal to the lifting of the lockout. More than likely, there will be a majority willing to hear the Tom Brady case, and if that happens next week, hearing schedules will tie up everything through the month of June. The NFL came within a conference call and a three-judge panel decision of implementing a free-agent plan that could have started as early as Monday. Now, in effect, the lockout won't be lifted. Players probably won't get a chance to work out at team facilities and fans won't have their offseason.
John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
2011 NFL DRAFT
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