Flash-forward: 2009 NFC South draft review

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jun 13, 2012



By Scott Kacsmar
Cold, Hard Football Facts first team All Pro


The 2009 NFC South may have featured the Super Bowl champions from New Orleans, but it did not showcase any strong drafts to strengthen the division for years to come.
 
In a division known for teams going from worst to first since 2002, we kind of continued the trend with the worst team (Tampa Bay finished 3-13 in 2009) ranking first in the draft ranking. Three years later and the Buccaneers may still be disappointed with the results.
 
Imagine how low that sets the bar for the other three teams.
 
2009 Draft Reviews
Part I: NFC North
Part II: AFC North
 
Notes: Players listed in bold are still on the active roster of the team that drafted them. A player with his games played (GP) and games started (GS) listed in red has appeared in games for a team other than his draft team. “CarAV” refers to data from the Approximate Value system at Pro-Football-Reference.com. References to snap data credited to Pro Football Focus.

4. CAROLINA PANTHER

The playoff loss with long-lasting effects

After a 12-4 season in 2008, Carolina optimistically entered the playoffs with a first-round bye. But against the Arizona Cardinals, Jake Delhomme put on a shocking display with a six turnover performance that rocked the Panthers for the next few seasons.
 
It seemed to even seep into their draft’s war room, as the Panthers came away with very little value. They did not have a first-round pick due to the previous season’s trade that led to taking tackle Jeff Otah.
 
That did not stop them from trading away another first-round pick; this time it was their 2010 selection going to San Francisco in exchange for picks 43 and 111. Carolina used them to take Everette Brown and Mike Goodson. Neither is still with the team. Ouch.
 
At least they found a seventh-round steal to close it out.

The Class

Rnd Pick Player Pos. College GP GS CarAV 2012 Team
2 43 Everette Brown DE Florida St. 31 3 4 Detroit
2 59 Sherrod Martin FS Troy 47 36 14 Carolina
3 93 Corvey Irvin DT Georgia 6 0 0 Jacksonville
4 111 Mike Goodson RB Texas A&M 28 3 4 Oakland
4 128 Tony Fiammetta FB Syracuse 34 17 2 New England
5 163 Duke Robinson G Oklahoma 0 0 0 None
7 216 Captain Munnerlyn CB South Carolina 45 23 10 Carolina
 
Best Pick: CB Captain Munnerlyn (7.216) –First off, what a name. Second, he has been one of the most productive picks of the seventh round. He played 438 snaps as a rookie with four starts, while also returning punts. After flashing in 2010 with three interceptions and a touchdown, this Captain started 14 games last season.
 
Worst Pick: DE Everette Brown (2.43) – One of the worst picks in the top 50, the undersized end started just three games for the Panthers. While his play was not horrible, Brown never managed to make an impact on a defense that was losing Julius Peppers. He failed to make the final roster for 2011, and was signed by San Diego. Brown only played 21 snaps for the Chargers before they released him in March. He is now with the Lions.
 

The Others

FS Sherrod Martin (2.59) - Carolina did rebound some with their next pick being this safety that has started 36 games for the team. He has seven career interceptions and has forced three fumbles.
 
DT Corvey Irvin (3.93) - After spending his rookie season on the practice squad, Irvin got a chance to play in two games late in the 2010 season. He played 56 snaps and made four tackles. Last season he played just 14 snaps in Jacksonville, where he is still currently on the roster.
 
RB Mike Goodson (4.111) - With DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart on the roster, this was a peculiar pick to make. Wouldn’t a receiver like Austin Collie, to help Steve Smith, do a better job? Goodson got three starts and 103 carries in 2010 due to an injury to Williams. He rushed for 452 yards and three touchdowns. Last season he averaged one yard per scrimmage per game (honest). The Panthers traded him this offseason to Oakland in exchange for Bruce Campbell (the football player; not Ash).
 
FB Tony Fiammetta (4.128) - Speaking of Collie, one pick later the Panthers were up again and got Fiammetta as a fullback. He started 11 games for the team before being waived in 2011. He started six games for Dallas in 2011, and is currently with the crowded New England set of skill players.
 
G Duke Robinson (5.163) - After slipping in the draft, Robinson spent time on Carolina’s practice squad, but never has played in a regular season game. He has also had a cup of coffee in Tennessee.
 

3. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Hope you like Malcolm Jenkins and that punter

Looking for some help on defense, the Saints used the No. 14 overall pick to take defensive back Malcolm Jenkins out of Ohio State.
 
Hindsight suggests Brian Cushing (15th pick by Houston) would have been the better option. With Jonathan Vilma at MLB, Cushing could play on the outside, creating a strong duo.
 
But the Saints felt the secondary was a bigger concern. Jenkins has been a starter, but with that high of a pick on a player that eventually moved to safety (the thought of him being a shutdown cornerback a la Charles Woodson sounds laughable now), it has been a bit disappointing.
 
What’s not disappointing is winning a Super Bowl, which is exactly what the Saints did in 2009 regardless of their rookie class’ lack of contributions.
 
Keep in mind the Saints traded a conditional 2009 pick in the third round to get Vilma in 2008. They also traded their second and fifth round picks to get Jeremy Shockey, who caught the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLIV.
 
Given those trades, it was not as bad of a draft.

The Class

Rnd Pick Player Pos. College GP GS CarAV 2012 Team
1 14 Malcolm Jenkins DB Ohio St. 44 36 19 New Orleans
4 116 Chip Vaughn DB Wake Forest 3 0 0 None
4 118 Stanley Arnoux LB Wake Forest 9 0 1 None
5 164 Thomas Morstead P SMU 48 0 0 New Orleans
 
Best Pick: P Thomas Morstead (5.164) – He averages an elite 45.8 yards per punt. He is a punter. Enough said.
 
Worst Picks: The two Wake Forest defenders in the fourth round who could not stay healthy - Chip Vaughn and Stanley Arnoux are no longer on active NFL rosters. Vaughn spent his rookie season on injured reserve, and was then waived in final roster cuts in 2010. He never played for the Saints, and has played in just three games with the Colts (all on special teams). Arnoux also spent his 2009 on injured reserve because of a torn Achilles tendon. He played 14 defensive snaps in nine games in 2010 for the Saints, but once again suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Arnoux has not played in the league since.

The Other

FS Malcolm Jenkins (1.14) - Struggled at corner his rookie season. After two bad games to end his regular season, Jenkins only played a total of 36 defensive snaps during the Super Bowl run in the postseason. Jenkins improved with a move to safety in 2010, intercepting a pair of passes for 105 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Last season was more of a struggle on what was a subpar defense unable to generate big turnovers like they were known for in 2009.
 

2. ATLANTA FALCONS

A draft class with staying power, but not star power

In year two of the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan era, the Falcons were looking to build on their playoff performance from 2008. They heavily targeted defense, using seven of their eight draft picks on that side of the ball.
 
While the class has produced one underrated player, no stars, and lots of depth, the staying power it has is the most impressive part. Seven of the eight players Atlanta drafted are still with the team.
 
They may not all make the final 53-man roster this year, but still being on the team three years later is a real accomplishment as you should have come to learn by now.

The Class

Rnd Pick Player Pos. College GP GS CarAV 2012 Team
1 24 Peria Jerry DT Mississippi 34 6 6 Atlanta
2 55 William Moore SS Missouri 30 26 12 Atlanta
3 90 Chris Owens CB San Jose St. 46 11 6 Atlanta
4 125 LawrenceSidbury DE Richmond 38 0 4 Atlanta
5 138 William Middleton CB Furman 39 9 6 Jacksonville
5 156 Garrett Reynolds OT North Carolina 20 7 4 Atlanta
6 176 Spencer Adkins LB Miami (FL) 24 1 2 Atlanta
7 210 Vance Walker DT Georgia Tech 42 2 5 Atlanta
 
Best Pick: SS William Moore (2.55) – The hard-hitting safety almost reminds you of Bob Sanders, which is only bad in that he often finds himself injured. He only played 615 snaps last season, which was the best of his career. Moore is a player to keep an eye on, assuming he’s on the field enough to watch.
 
Worst Pick: DT Peria Jerry (1.24) – As some people have looked to use the “bust” label, there is no denying Jerry has been one of the least productive (and active) picks of the first round. After missing 14 games in his rookie season (knee injury), Jerry lost his starting job to a rookie. He has started six games for the Falcons, which is bad news for your first round pick in three seasons. With just 15 career tackles, Jerry has been a ghostly presence in Atlanta’s defense.

The Others

CB Chris Owens (3.90) - Perhaps not as good as Jerraud Powers (3.92), Owens has been a solid contributor to the secondary with 11 starts in his career. Atlanta has looked to upgrade the position in recent years with Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel, but Owens was a good pick based on what was available late in the third round.
 
DE Lawrence Sidbury (4.125) - With five career sacks and a fumble returned for a touchdown, Sidbury has been more of a threat than first-round pick Jerry for the Falcons’ defensive line. He is coming off a 2011 season where he got a career-high in playing time and four of his sacks.
 
CB William Middleton (5.138) - As the only player that did not catch on with the Falcons from this draft class, Middleton has played in 39 games with nine starts for the Jaguars.
 
OT Garrett Reynolds (5.156) - After moving into a starting position at right guard last season, Reynolds struggled and was replaced after seven games. He only played sparingly the rest of the season (48 snaps).
 
LB Spencer Adkins (6.176) - Finally getting some real playing time in the last two games of 2011, Adkins is a solid depth choice at linebacker for the Falcons.
 
DT Vance Walker (7.210) - The first pick of the seventh round, this late-round addition has managed to appear in 42 games for the Falcons. His playing time has continued to increase, with 249 snaps as a rookie, 297 in 2010, and 389 last season.
 

1. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Bucs getting a franchise quarterback…maybe

After Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez, it was Kansas State’s Josh Freeman considered to be the third best quarterback prospect in the draft. He is a big man at 6-6, weighs over 240 pounds, and he can still scramble if necessary.
 
Tampa Bay seemed intrigued enough to trade with Cleveland so that they could move from 19th to 17th, ensuring they would get their guy. The cost was merely the 191st pick in the draft, which is a bag of peanuts.
 
Freeman impressed as a rookie with big comeback wins over the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints. He had a breakout season in 2010 with 25 TD and 6 INT. He also led five fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives as Tampa Bay finished 10-6.
 
Last year was a major step in the wrong direction, as Freeman threw 22 interceptions and the team finished 4-12.
 
Still, if the Buccaneers are to right the ship under the new regime, it will be this draft that set the foundation for success. Tampa Bay might actually have a quarterback for a change.

The Class

Rnd Pick Player Pos. College GP GS CarAV 2012 Team
1 17 Josh Freeman QB Kansas St. 41 40 23 TampaBay
3 81 Roy Miller DT Texas 47 20 11 TampaBay
4 117 Kyle Moore DE USC 19 7 5 Buffalo
5 155 Xavier Fulton T Illinois 0 0 0 None (CFL)
7 217 E.J. Biggers CB West. Michigan 32 12 2 TampaBay
7 233 Sammie Stroughter WR Oregon St. 31 4 5 TampaBay
 
Best Pick: QB Josh Freeman (1.17) – With the franchise desperate for a quarterback seemingly since they started in 1976, this pick was a no-brainer. Freeman had his growing pains and his flaws, but with Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and new coach Greg Schiano in the mix, it could be a real bounce-back season for Freeman in 2012.
 
Worst Pick: DT Roy Miller (3.81) - Before the third-round run on wide receivers, Tampa Bay went with Miller out of Texas. He has been one of the lowest rated defensive tackles on Pro Football Focus in each of the last two seasons (83rd in 2011; 75th in 2010).

The Others

DE Kyle Moore (4.117) - One hundred picks after Freeman, Tampa Bay went with USC’s defensive end prospect. After battling some injuries, Moore played 15 games with seven starts for Tampa Bay. He was released before the 2011 season began, and has since been on Detroit’s practice squad, and is now with Buffalo.
 
OT Xavier Fulton (5.155) - After tearing his ACL in the preseason as a rookie, the Buccaneers released Fulton before the 2010 season. He has had stints with the Colts, Redskins and 49ers, but has never played in a regular season game. Fulton is now in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
 
CB E.J. Biggers (7.217) - Careful not to say his name too fast. Biggers had a rough season at corner last year for one of the worst defenses in the league. He has made 12 starts in the last two seasons. His rookie season ended abruptly on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
 
WR Sammie Stroughter (7.233) - He has been a marginal receiver with 59 catches for 625 yards in his career. Stroughter did return a kickoff for a touchdown as a rookie, and may provide Tampa Bay more value as a return man than a wide receiver.
 

SUMMARY

Team TampaBay Atlanta New Orleans Carolina
Players 6 8 4 7
Still on team 4 7 2 2
Total GP 170 273 104 191
Total GS 83 62 36 82
Total CarAV 46 45 20 34
 
What’s the difference between Malcolm Jenkins and Carolina’s Sherrod Martin? That would be 45 draft slots and several million dollars.
 
While you could argue they cancel each other out, and Captain Munnerlyn beats a punter, the fact is New Orleans spent their picks wisely to get veterans like Vilma and Shockey. They did not blow a high-second round pick nor a third like Carolina did, which is why they are last.
 
The Falcons got the most games out of their players by far, but they do not have a lot of starter-level talent after Moore. Tampa Bay got their quarterback, and we know how important that is.
 
That makes it good enough for Tampa Bay in the top spot; a place they know little about.
 
Up next: find out which rookies helped Indianapolis chase perfection, only to pass on it against the Jets.
 
Scott Kacsmar is a football writer/researcher who has contributed large quantities of data to Pro-Football-Reference.com, including the only standardized database of fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. He appreciates Captain Munnerlyn being the only NFL player actually named “Captain” something. You can send any questions or comments to Scott at smk_42@yahoo.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @CaptainComeback.

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