We are in the 3rd year of the Rex Tanny regime, and things have taken a weird turn. I am hearing rumblings from people that think neither Rex or Tanny can evaluate talent. These people think that the poor drafting over the last 3 years, is the reason for us being in the situation that we are in now. Let's take a look at all the draft picks we have taken in the last 2 years.
Shonn Greene: Shonn has had spurts of brilliance. At the end of the year, and in the playoffs, Greene has been a valuable weapon. I still feel he is a decent RB between the tackles. Our problem this year is what lies between the tackles. In 9 out of 10 cases it's a defensive player waiting to make a tackle on him. We can't be too harsh on him for not having great success this year. I doubt even the elite RBs in the league would be able to look elite or even good with the lack of O-line help. I will not fault Greene for this. I do look at him as a role player. He is our round lump that goes bump. He shouldn't have to shoulder the load by himself. McKnight should be used more, but we will get into him soon. My only concen going into this year, with Greene, was can he handle an increase in snaps, and stay healthy. So far, he has. O-line troubles aside, I will give Greene a B 84
Matt Slauson: For a 6th round pick, I couldn't be more happy with the selection of Slauson. After 1 year in our system, he was ready to take over the starting job at LG. Besides being called in to play C against the Ravens, I have barely heard his name mentioned since he took the job. For an O-lineman, not hearing your name is a good thing. Slauson is still a very young player, and growing each year. I won't put him in the same class as D'Brick or Mangold, but he is a decent guard... Because of his value, talent level, and potential to get better, I'll give Matt an A- 90
Kyle Wilson: Kyle Wilson is an interesting case. If I did this last year, I would have given this pick a D-. Ever since Revis took him under his wing, Wilson has made substantial progress in his play. His coverage skills are a lot better. His awareness is a lot better. He has done the work to become a better CB. Everything is not all rainbows and smiles though. We took Kyle in the 1st round, with the intentions of putting him on the other side of Revis. We did not draft him to become a very good nickel CB. Even though he has improved a great deal, he is still not where he needs to be. This is why I have to give Kyle Wilson a C 75
Vladimir Ducasse: Oh Vlad... ugh! I have two conflicting thoughts about Vlad. We took him in the 2nd round knowing very well that he was a developmental player. We knew he would need time to become what we need him to be. The problem I feel is, we have no clue what we want him to be. Do we want him to be a guard, or a tackle. He has been thrown around so much, that it seems like he can't settle down and learn one position. We forget that he is a young, developmental player. Throwing him around like we have has probably stunted his growth in this league. Where we went wrong with this pick was not that we took Vlad, it was that we didn't take anyone else to carry the burden he is carrying now. If we did, he would have the time to develop at one position, and be what we need him to be. For that reason, I'm giving this pick a D 64
Joe McKnight: This is another pick that at the end of last year would have gotten a horrible grade. McKnight was taken in the 5th round to replace Leon Washington. As of right now, LT has taken over the RB aspect of what Leon did for us, but Joe has stepped up nicely this year. He is contributing in places Leon never did. He has become a swiss army knife kind of guy. He has been explosive on ST, with a hundred and something kick return for a TD, a blocked punt, and a forced fumble. He has even come in on defense. He caused the pressure on Flacco that lead to the Harris pick 6. He has been a big bright spot in this early, dark 2011 season. I for one am calling for him to be used more on offense. He has earned the chance to do what he was brought in to do. With his enormous growth, and upside, it's hard to give his pick a bad grade. Until I can see what he can do for us in the running game, he will get a B 86
John Conner: John Conner has some huge shoes to fill. Tony Richardson will be a Hall of Fame FB. To compare 2nd year Conner to him would be horrifyingly unfair. Alas, he is not Tony Richardson. He flew onto the scene with his hard hitting, and neckless demeanor. On special teams he is a beast, that I would never want to run into. As far as his FB role goes, he still has a long way to go, but he is still a good FB. For a 6th round pick, I can't be upset with this pick at all. This is only his 2nd year, and off to a decent start to his career. People might take him down a peg due to the lack of run or pass blocking by anyone. That isn't 1 player's fault. It's on all of them to right that ship. I give the Conner pick a B 84
I'm not going to give grades to this year's draft class yet, because 4 games is not enough time to judge anyone. Heck, Ellis hasn't even seen the field yet, but I am sure that he will as the year goes on. Other than Scotty McKnight, everyone has made the team. I will do another one of these at the end of this year. I won't grade players taken in the 6th round or later that don't make the team in their 1st year. These guys are usually about as good as undrafted guys. I will follow my old high school grading system to help evaluate how I think Tanny and Rex have done with drafting.
This averages out to about an 81. A B- isn't a horrible grade for 2 years. Granted, we have had very few picks in those two years, but it shows that we have made good on most of the ones we have taken. Of course this is only my opinion, but I feel I was as accurate and unbiased as possible. I took a rough look at what the Pats did in 2009-2010 and I came up with an average of 84 B. The Pats have been a little more successful drafting the last 2 years, but not by much. Let me know if you agree.