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Old 03-24-2008, 03:06 PM   #1
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Default AFC North progress report: A look back at the 2007 draft

The Steelers got a number of solid contributors from the 2007 draft. While none of them appear to have star-quality, they all have the ability to fill key roles.

First- and second-round linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley did not start, but they each showed glimpses of what they could be capable of in the future.

Timmons had 13 tackles in limited action and Woodley tallied four sacks in his limited playing time.

Matt Spaeth and William Gay, meanwhile, also made the most of their time on the field. Spaeth got five starts when the Steelers opened with two tight ends, and finished the season with three touchdown catches. His blocking was also notable. Gay had 19 tackles and two passes defensed and was a valuable nickleback.

The most productive of all the Steelers' draft choices was punter Daniel Sepulveda. It is rare that a punter gets drafted as high as the fourth round, but Sepulveda showed why he was with a solid rookie season. He finished tied for 11th in net punting average and was eighth in dropping punts inside the 20.

Cameron Stephenson is no longer with the team and Ryan McBean and Dallas Baker were stashed on the practice squad.

2. Cleveland
The 2007 class

The Browns had a very useful draft and got a nice blend of potential superstars and solid contributors for the future:

* -- Practice squad, ** IR, *** -- Cut
Player Position Games Round
Joe Thomas OT 16 1
Brady Quinn QB 1 1
Eric Wright CB 14 2
Brandon McDonald DB 16 5
*Melila Purcell DE 0 6
*Chase Pittman DE 0 7
Syndric Steptoe WR 0 7
The Browns surprised many by going 10-6 last season and coming within one game of making the playoffs.

A main reason for their success was the 2007 draft class they put together.

Joe Thomas, taken third overall, showed he was worth the hype and instantly became one of the better offensive tackles in the league. His play combined with the emergence of QB Derek Anderson, WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow made the Browns one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.

Unlike Thomas, Brady Quinn, the team's other first-round choice, saw very little playing time due to Anderson's strong play. Quinn was very impressive in the preseason, though, and the backup role allows him extra time to learn the offense. If Andeson gets hurt, the Browns appear to have a solid reserve in place with Quinn.

Defensively, the Browns also nabbed a pair of potential difference makers.

Although the team ranked 24th in pass defense, rookies Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald were forced to play extensively and played relatively well. Wright had 76 tackles, 11 passes defensed and an interception, while starting 13 games. McDonald finished with 24 tackles, 10 passes defensed and two interceptions, while starting two games and playing in all 16.

The rest of the Browns' draft picks were put on the practice squad and could still find their way onto the roster in the future.

3. Cincinnati
The 2007 class

The Cincinnati Bengals did not get a ton of production from their rookie class, but a few players made noise:

* -- Practice squad, ** IR, *** -- Cut
Player Position Games Round
Leon Hall CB 16 1
**Kenny Irons RB 0 2
Marvin White S 15 4
Jeff Rowe QB 0 5
*Matt Toeaina DT 3 6
Dan Santucci G 2 7
Chinedum Ndukwe DB 14 7
The defensive back bookends of this draft were the most productive players in the class.

First-rounder Leon Hall and seventh-rounder Chinedum Ndukwe both put up some impressive numbers in their rookie seasons. Hall tallied 68 tackles, 12 passes defened and five interceptions in 10 starts. Chinedum Ndukwe, meanwhile, amassed 44 tackles, six passes defensed and three interceptions.

It must be kept in mind that Hall and Ndukwe's gaudy stats came for a pass defense that ranked 26th, but both players showed they could be potential building blocks in a secondary that also includes rookie Marvin White who started three games and had four passes defensed.

None of the other players the Bengals tabbed in the 2007 draft had much impact in 2007, but they remain with the team and could compete for jobs this season.

RB Kenny Irons suffered a torn ACL in training camp and his future is tied to his improving health.

4. Baltimore
The 2007 class

Drafting well has become a routine for the Baltimore Ravens and their 2007 rookie class produced a few contributors:

* -- Practice squad, ** IR, *** -- Cut
Player Position Games Round
Ben Grubbs OG 16 1
Yamon Figurs WR 14 2
Marshall Yanda OT 16 3
Antwan Barnes LB 14 4
Le'Ron McClain FB 16 4
Troy Smith QB 4 5
**Prescott Burgess LB 8 6
The Ravens always expect their draft classes to be the basis for their team's success and 2007 was no different.

While the Ravens struggled to a disappointing 5-11 season, the rookies were not to blame.

Offensive players G Ben Grubbs, T Marshal Yanda and FB Le'Ron McClain all got significant playing time and showed they have the potential to develop into possible cornerstones.

QB Troy Smith also played well when getting two starts at the end of the year, and if his progression continues, the fifth-rounder has the ability to become the signal caller the Ravens have been looking for ever since moving from Cleveland.

WR Yamon Figurs demonstrated impressive return skills and gives the special teams a jolt of excitement, while LBs Antwan Barnes and Prescott Burgess figure greatly into the future of the defense with stars like LB Ray Lewis aging.

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Old 03-24-2008, 04:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: AFC North progress report: A look back at the 2007 draft

Already posted: http://forums.steelersfever.com/show...841#post379841
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