So who really did well at the NFL draft? Who knows. After all, every draft expert loved the Packers' pick of Tony Mandarich way back when, and he's an all-time flop. The real way to grade the draft is this: how do the picks look at this time next year.
Last year, in giving the Giants a C- grade, ESPN draft "expert" Mel Kiper, Jr. said this about the Giants' draft:
I would have gone differently with the Giants' draft. Cornerback Aaron Ross has very good ball skills but not great catchup speed. I was surprised they didn't take left tackle Joe Staley because they need someone who can protect Eli Manning's blind side. The Giants took offensive tackle Adam Koets in the sixth round and even passed on left tackle Jermon Bushrod. If they had taken Staley, they could have drafted Eric Wright from UNLV instead of WR Steve Smith. I would rather have had Staley and Wright, but Smith is a good receiver and will be someone who holds onto the ball. Zak DeOssie was a really good long snapper in college and, at worst, will be a backup linebacker in the NFL. Kevin Boss (fifth round) is a natural pass-catching tight end with speed and has a chance to make an impact in the passing game. Safety Michael Johnson was a good pick in the seventh round but needs to be more physical.
And yet . . .
And yet every one of the Giants' picks in the 2007 draft PLAYED IN THE SUPER BOWL. Some played big roles: Boss had a 45-yard reception that jump-started the Giants' first TD drive. Third-round pick Jay Alford (not mentioned) sacked Tom Brady on the Pats' desperation drive at the end of the game. Ahmad Bradshaw (not mentioned) was the #2 running back for the Giants throughout the playoffs. And that Steve Smith pick that Kiper critiqued -- absolutely crucial. Smith had key receptions throughout the playoffs, especially on third down passes; most notably, the third down catch that set up Plaxico Burress' game-winning TD. And we won't forget to mention that Aaron Ross is now likely a starting corner for the Giants whose ballhawking skills are crucial in a blitz-heavy defense.
So forget a grain of the stuff -- go out and buy a salt-lick to take with the analysts' analyses of the draft. If Matt Ryan turns into Peyton Manning II, the Falcons are geniuses. If Mario Manningham, who has 1st round talent but some off-the-field issues, turns out to be the next Tim Brown, the Giants are brilliant for taking him with their third-round pick. My only disappointment is that the Giants left Dan Connor on the board when they could have taken him in the second round.