Monday, April 28 at 11 a.m. ET

NFL Draft Analysis

Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Columnist
Monday, April 28, 2008; 11:00 AM

The Post's Mark Maske was online Monday, April 28 at 11 a.m. ET takes your questions about how teams fared in the NFL Draft.

A transcript follows.

Mark writes the NFL Insider blog, and is the author of the new book War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football's NFC East.


Mark Maske: Hey, everyone, I hope you had a good draft weekend. Let's get right to it.


Fairfax, Va.: How can anyone, even Mel Kiper Jr., say whether a team did well or not this soon after the 2008 draft? Won't we know for sure a few years down the road?

And what do you think of Long now being the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL without ever taking a snap?

Mark Maske: No one can say for sure which players will end up being good and which won't. You have the injury factor. You have plain luck. But it is fair to evaluate whether a team drafted a player too high or got a steal, based on the player's generally accepted value on draft day. That's the only way in which these draft evaluations and draft grades are fair. For example, Joe Flacco might end up being a very good quarterback in Baltimore, and in hindsight using the 18th pick in the draft on him might have been well worth it for the Ravens. But to me, they didn't have to use the 18th pick to get him or another quarterback of comparable draft-day value, so I grade them down for that.


Charlottesville, Va.: What are your thoughts on Colt's transition to the NFL? His motion is better then Vince Young's.

Mark Maske: It's really hard to say. I just don't know how much of what Colt Brennan did in college translates to the NFL, given the offensive system in which he was playing at Hawaii. I'd say it's a real long shot for him to have much NFL staying power, even as a backup.


Naples, Fla.: I like the common sense approach Coach Zorn is using to prepare for the season. I don't understand taking the second big wide receiver. How good/bad were the next three defensive ends selected right after Washington's second pick?

Mark Maske: I really like both Calais Campbell and Quentin Groves as pass rushers, and they're two of the guys that you're talking about. I don't understand taking two wide receivers like that, either. To me, the thing to do would have been to stay put at No. 21 in the first round and get your defensive end by taking Phillip Merling, knowing you'll get one of the wide receivers in the second round because none of them had been taken at that point. I'm not saying the Redskins had a bad draft. I don't think that at all. I just think it could have been better with one fewer wide receiver and one more defensive end up top.


Virginia Beach, Va.: With the Keebler Elves at WR injured as much as the O-line, two big WRs make sense to me. But a pass catching TE and another dwarf nickel back? Aren't we planning on starting the season without an OLB and CB due to injuries? Should we have addressed those needs?

Mark Maske: You can't address every need. The tight end pick doesn't bother me, even with Chris Cooley on the roster. Fred Davis is a good prospect and should help. I just think two wide receivers was one too many and the Redskns passed on a very good defensive end, in Merling, who would have made a difference on their team.


Gaithersburg, Md.: Can you explain what caused Erin Henderson to fall from a projected 3 or 4 round pick to a free agent?

Mark Maske: No, I can't. I really don't know. I had sensed he was falling from the third-round grade that he got from the draft advisory board when he decided to enter the draft. But I thought that meant falling to the fourth round, not out of the draft entirely. Maybe injury issues were a concern.


Falls Church, Va.: More surprising: Colt Brennan to the Redskins or Andre Woodson to the Giants? I thought both teams already had their long-term QB situations secure, ie Campbell/Collins and Manning/Carr.

Mark Maske: I would call Brennan more surprising. Woodson has some physical tools and some skills that seem to translate better to the NFL game. I'd call him a better prospect. I don't fault a team for using a late-round pick on a quarterback with some promise, even with its quarterback situation settled. You never know when you might need a guy.


New York, NY: Am I the only one that thinks the drafting of Georgia Tech punter Durant Brooks was a fantastic pick for the Redskins? With Frost being so inconsistent getting a punter who could potentially be a pro-bowler within a year or so in the 6th round seems like a steal. It's good to see the Redskins are still investing blue chip talent in the Special Teams and could pay dividends in those close field position battle games that so often happen.

Mark Maske: That's a pick you can make when you actually retain a full slate of draft picks. I, too, think that's a pretty good move.


Germantown, Md.: Mark-

Seems that every year, Dallas has a top ranked draft. Yet, they haven't won a playoff game since the middle of the Clinton administration. What's their problem?

Mark Maske: The problem isn't a lack of talent. This was another very good draft for the Cowboys. Getting both Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins really upgrades two positions of need for them.


Warren, Mich.: Isn't the draft something in the retentive world of the NFL? In a league that regulates if shirts are tucked in, the color of tape and coaches that watch more videotape in a day than normal people watch television in a week, the draft appears. The first round is always repletes with bigtime busts and horrible flameouts. How do you rate the Packer draft? After a 13-3 season still going with quantity over quality. Eschewing a first round pick! Shades of George Allen!

Mark Maske: I liked the Jordy Nelson pick in the second round. He's a guy that a lot of teams liked more and more the closer we got to the draft. I didn't understand the Brian Brohm pick. Yes, he was worth the 56th overall pick in the draft. But aren't you undermining the young quarterback that you already have, Aaron Rodgers, by using a second-round pick on a quarterback before Rodgers even gets to start a game?


Baltimore: The Redskins aren't considering trading next year's draft picks for Jason Taylor, are they? They ignored their porous defensive line except for one late-round project. I'm terrified they'll give away a sure top 10 pick for an aging defender just because they're desperate, like they did with TJ Duckett.

Mark Maske: There's a big difference between Jason Taylor and T.J. Duckett. Jason Taylor was the defensive player of the year two seasons ago and he's still very, very good. He might be on the down side of his career, but he's still a top pass rusher and he still should have some very good seasons left. I'm not saying I think it would be a good move for anyone to give up a first-round draft pick for him, but it's not in the T.J. Duckett category.


Taneytown, Md.: Your analysis of the Ravens' decision makes no sense to me. It doesn't matter how many rounds passed after the Flacco pick before another QB was picked. If the Ravens decided Flacco was their guy, AND they thought a team with a pick before 26 was going to take him, then I understand; but if no team in front of them was interested in Flacco, then I agree that trading up to 18 was a bad move. Did Ozzie think someone was going to pull the trigger?

Mark Maske: Most people had Flacco, Brian Brohm and Chad Henne rated as very comparable prospects. All three were still available. All three weren't going to be gone by the 26th pick. Two of the three weren't going to be gone by the 26th pick. Obviously the Ravens thought someone was going to trade ahead of them and take Flacco. But to me, you shouldn't care. You shouldn't flinch. You should stay put and, if Flacco is gone, take Brohm. To me, in terms of their values on draft day, Flacco wasn't that much better of a prospect than Brohm to merit trading up to use the 18th pick on him. That's all I'm saying. It may turn out that Flacco becomes a very good quarterback and is well worth the 18th pick. But the chances are just as good that Brohm will develop into the better quarterback of the two. We don't know the answer to that. What we do know is that, in terms of their values on draft day, Flacco's worth as a prospect wasn't so much greater than Brohm's worth to justify the trade up.


Arlington, VA: So let me get this straight. According to Jason LaCanfora of the Post, the Redskins dumped Brandon Lloyd because he was unproductive, clashed with coaches, training staff and other players.

So they replace him with a guy who, after running 4.7s in his Pro Day workout, says this:

"Certain people have tried to hold me down, and they know who they are. I wouldn't say the whole OU coaching staff, but certain people, I would say that."

Your Washington Redskins, ladies and gentlemen!

Mark Maske: Malcolm Kelly is a talented player. He was a productive receiver in college. Despite the things you bring up about his pro day, I think he was worth a pick in the middle of the second round. I just don't think the Redskins needed to get both him and Devin Thomas.


DC: A lot of people seemed to mock the Skins picking a punter. Did NFL executives?

Seems to me there's a case to be made for picking a specialist with a 90 percent chance of starting for you over a position player with a 10 percent chance of even making the team.

Mark Maske: No, I think most people around the league view that as a justified pick in the sixth round, especially for a team that had the number of picks the Redskins did.


Hartford, Conn.: Hi Mark. As a Patriots fan, did this draft make them stronger next year, or are they heading for an 8-8 or 9-7 season. The Pats have seemed very good at balancing talent and cap room.

Mark Maske: They did address cornerback and linebacker, which they absolutely had to do. I don't know that I think Jerod Mayo was worth the 10th pick, but he's a good player and he'll help them. They certainly haven't replaced Asante Samuel, and for that reason I think they're not as good as they were last season. But they're still plenty good, and against that easy schedule, I have a tough time seeing them winning fewer than 12 games next season.


Washington, D.C.: Who do you think will be starting at WR with Moss and Randle EL?

Mark Maske: I would think Devin Thomas would end up being in the top three. But it's very, very early to be worrying about that.


Atlanta: Which of these does not belong with the others?: Michigan. Virginia. BOSTON COLLEGE. Arkansas. Louisiana State. Ohio State. Southern Cal. Tennessee.

Last time I checked, in the NFL you don't get bonus yards on 3rd and goal for your quality as a "spokesmodel." Ridiculous.

Mark Maske: There are some very strong anti-Matt Ryan sentiments out there, obviously. I'm torn on that one. I know the guy threw 19 interceptions last season in college, and the game only gets faster and more complex at the next level. But I happen to be a guy who thinks that if you don't have a franchise quarterback and you have a chance to get someone who could be one, you have to do it. I think the Falcons made the right move. They simply could not go into next season entrusting their quarterback job to Chris Redman and Joey Harrington.


Sacramento, Calif.: The way I saw how this draft unfolded for the Skins was that the offense was pretty much taken care of and that there is good balance between young, in their prime and older players on that side of the ball. As for the defense, I'm hoping that is can remain stable for one more year before and influx of players, via both free agency and the draft, is conducted. What do you think?

Mark Maske: I think your analysis is correct. I just don't know if the defense will be able to do its part. There are some holes there that haven't been filled.


Herndon, Va.: Mr. M: Do you see any big losers or winners in the NFC East? I thought the Giants did well for what they had to use, but am surprised they didn't make a deal with Shockey.

Mark Maske: I thought the Cowboys, as I said before, were big winners. I agree with you about the Giants. They did well for what they had. Getting Kenny Phillips with the final pick of the first round was very fortunate. Mario Manningham in the third round is a risk, but he has the potential to help. I didn't think the Eagles particularly helped themselves. The Redskins did help themselves, although I think they could have helped themselves even more.


Mclean, Va.: Mark: I think you have to consider the salary cap when evaluating the draft and that makes me think the Redskins had a dumb draft. They now have six guys (Cooley, Moss, Randle El, and the three top draft picks) who all basically play pass-catcher. They're never going to get more than four of them on the field in most cases and they're all going to make a lot of money. That means you're taking money that could be used to help other parts of the roster (LB, DE) to pay guys to be backups. That's dumb, it's something the 'Skins have done consistently under Dan Snyder and it will come back to bite them again.

Mark Maske: Yes and no. The contracts given to drafted rookies depends on their draft slots, not the positions they play. A wide receiver taken with the 34th pick is going to get the same contract that a defensive end taken with the 34th pick would get. The differences in money will come with their second contracts. But that's years down the line and the circumstances of your team might have changed by then. I know what you're saying about how much money you're pouring into certain positions. But rookies, in terms of the cap, are relatively cheap, particularly from the second round on, so I don't know that this really applies to what the Redskins have done.


Falls Church, Va.: After I heard about Malcolm Kelly blaming the OU staff for his poor 40 times, I said: "that young man will be a Redskin." Perfect Dan Snyder player.

Mark Maske: I don't have a problem with drafting Malcolm Kelly, other than the fact that they also drafted Devin Thomas in the same round.


Baltimore: Laughing at Atlanta for taking Matt Ryan, leaving Joe Flacco to us. Ryan is a third-round talent at best. More importantly, the ultimate Wonder Bread quarterback has to go play for a fan base that loved Michael Vick. The Falcons already had Joey Harrington -- wasn't once enough?

Mark Maske: You can dislike the Matt Ryan pick. But don't go overboard. He has first-round talent. You might not think he has the talent to be a top-five pick, but he is a very good quarterback prospect.


Mark Maske: I'm going to run, folks. Thanks for your questions and I'll be talking to you soon.


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