Rosenthal: ’Hawks, Raiders emerge as draft winners

By Gregg Rosenthal
|  Monday, Jul 26, 2010  |  Updated 1:24 PM PDT
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Winners and Losers in the NFL Draft

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Yeah, we know. You need three years to evaluate a draft and all that. That’s no fun.

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Yeah, we know. You need three years to evaluate a draft and all that. That’s no fun.

Draft classes need time to breathe, but the reality is that the NFL is a year-to-year league. Many decision makers and coaches won’t be around to see the players they selected develop unless they win now.

Here’s a quick snapshot of some winners and losers from the first ever three-day NFL Draft extravaganza. Full draft grades come Sunday night.

WINNERS

Seattle
Pete Carroll has often said his stint in New England didn’t go well because he didn’t get a chance to pick the players. This weekend showed he may have a knack for it.

Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, and Golden Tate were picks that married talent, value, and need. On the draft’s final day, Seattle stole Leon Washington from the Jets. Washington has health concerns, but he cost virtually nothing to acquire. Adding such a dynamic player to a blah backfield was a low-risk, high-reward move.

Carroll is undergoing a massive rebuilding project, but this draft started a solid foundation.

Chiefs
Kansas City drafted a collection of versatile, smart, and tough players who love the game. This is a team on the rise.

Dallas
After a quiet offseason and a 2009 draft filled with role players, the Cowboys needed some difference-makers. Dez Bryant and linebacker Sean Lee are talented enough to crack Dallas’ lineup right away.

Raiders
How weird is this? After years of being a punch line on draft weekend, the Raiders may have improved their team more than anyone.

The key to Oakland’s draft was admitting a colossal mistake from three years ago. It may take some time, but the acquisition of Jason Campbell signals the end of the JaMarcus Russell era. Expect Russell to get cut before next season.

Campbell came at a bargain basement price (a fourth-round pick in 2012) and immediately gives the Raiders offense credibility. This is no longer a terrible roster. Campbell provides hope that the rest of the talent on the roster won’t be wasted.

Oakland’s draft picks were also unusually sound.

Linebacker Rolando McClain was a safe, smart selection to upgrade the team’s rush defense. Second round defensive lineman Lamarr Houston will add flexibility to a defense that will show multiple looks in 2010. The Raiders eventually took their size and speed guys in tackle Bruce Campbell and wideout Jacoby Ford. But those picks came in the fourth round, instead of the first. That’s the place to gamble.

Ravens
General manager Ozzie Newsome is always happy to take talent that drops because of perceived shortcomings. Sergio Kindle could be the next great Ravens linebacker and only cost a second round pick. “Mount” Terrance Cody found the perfect home. The Ravens will use him as a rotational player to help their rush defense. The rest of the collegiate picks were rock solid, while the team smartly used two mid-round picks to acquire Anquan Boldin early in the offseason

Patriots
The team finally rebuilt their sagging linebacker group, and got a nice value in tight end Rob Gronkowski in the second round. They selected four players in the first two rounds and have an extra first- and second-round pick next year too. They also lead the league in former Gators. That has to be worth something.

LOSERS

Carolina
They mortgaged yet another future pick, sending a 2011 second-rounder to convert quarterback Armanti Edwards into receiver. They are paying Jake Delhomme huge money this season, but had to spend two picks at quarterback to replace him. Third-round wideout Brandon LaFell also was taken to fill a gaping hole. This is a team drafting for need based on bad mistakes. That type of short-term thinking gets people fired.

Matt Moore
Carolina’s starting quarterback watched the Panthers draft competition in Jimmy Clausen in the second round. And then Tony Pike joined the party in the sixth round. With John Fox’s job on the line, very little is certain about the Panthers in 2010. That includes their Week 6 starting quarterback.

Buffalo
This is a team that has had its share of problems in their scouting department. The selection of C.J. Spiller was the perfect antidote to an offense without playmakers, but the draft went off the rails after that.

The Bills arguably had the league's thinnest group of quarterbacks and offensive tackles. They didn’t get a tackle until the fifth-round and didn’t add a quarterback to the mix until the seventh. Oh, and they never found a trading partner for running back Marshawn Lynch.

Cincinnati
The Bengals are the guy at your fantasy draft that takes boom-or-bust players with every single pick. Most of the Bengals’ picks — from Carlos Dunlap to Jermaine Gresham to Jordan Shipley to Brandon Ghee — are swing-for-the-fences picks. That approach sometimes results in a lot of strikeouts.

Albert Haynesworth
He wanted out of Washington, but no one wanted to give up a good pick for him despite an affordable contract. This remains a situation to watch.

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