Assessing the winners and losers through three rounds of the NFL draft

Four rounds and 157 picks remain in this three-day extravaganza known as the 2010 NFL draft, but we’re not going to let that stop us from declaring some early winners and losers. So let’s go to the scoreboard:

Ndamukong Suh should be key piece to Lions' rebuild.
Ndamukong Suh should be key piece to Lions’ rebuild.

Winners

1. The Lions. They picked up two key rebuilding blocks in the first round, taking Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh — perhaps the best player in the draft, period — and Cal running back Jahvid Best.

Add those two to the veteran players Detroit has picked up this offseason, such as guard Rob Sims, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and wide receiver Nate Burleson, and the Lions suddenly look like a team that could be on the rise. Second-year coach Jim Schwartz has something going in the Motor City.

2. Tim Tebow. Many coaches seemed concerned about his throwing mechanics, but Denver’s Josh McDaniels wasn’t one of them. The most overanalyzed player perhaps in the history of the draft, Tebow was the second quarterback off the board as the Broncos took him at No. 25.

With Kyle Orton already in place, the lefthanded Tebow should get the time he needs to develop into an NFL quarterback in Denver.

3. Dez Bryant. The much-maligned wide receiver from Oklahoma State probably couldn’t have landed in a better place than Dallas, which appears poised to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2010. How high are the Cowboys’ expectations for Bryant? High enough to hand him the fabled No. 88 jersey formerly worn by Drew Pearson and Hall of Fame wideout Michael Irvin.

4. The Big 12. Former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford started a conference parade when he was selected by the Rams with the first-overall pick. Four of the next five picks and nine overall in the first round have Big 12 pedigrees.

"It hit me right in the face when I was watching those first five or six picks," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "It goes to show the type of athleticism and athletic ability that’s out there on the field every weekend. It’s a great conference."

5. Football icons. Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees (Saints) and Hall of Fame players Jim Brown (Browns), Dan Marino (Dolphins) and Floyd Little (Broncos) were among the special guests who walked up to the podium at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and announced picks for their former teams in the first two rounds.

Losers

1. Jimmy Clausen. As if it wasn’t frustrating enough to watch his contract hopes sink by the millions when no team selected him in the first round, the former Notre Dame quarterback had to suffer the further indignity of waiting for nearly 90 minutes in the second round until the Panthers took him with the 48th-overall pick.

The draft experience had to be more painful for the former Golden Domer than playing against USC with two torn ligaments in his toe. Teams might have had more questions about Clausen than we thought.

By almost all accounts, Jaguars reached big time for Tyson Alualu.
By almost all accounts, Jaguars reached big time for Tyson Alualu.

2. Marshawn Lynch. If the emergence of Fred Jackson (1,062 rushing yards last season) wasn’t a sign that Lynch’s time in Buffalo might be short-lived, the selection of Clemson’s C.J. Spiller with the ninth-overall pick should have been.

Consider Ralph Wilson’s introduction of Spiller Friday to the Buffalo media: "It’s with great honor, C.J., to present you with the No. 1 number because you’re going to be the number one guy that’s going to get us going."

3. The Jaguars. GM Gene Smith can rationalize the selection of Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu from now until the start of the 2010 season, but Jacksonville fans aren’t going to buy it. No one — not Mel Kiper, not Mike Mayock, not Russ Lande — projected Alualu to be picked in the first round, much less with the 10th overall selection.

Don’t be surprised if there’s not a run on season tickets in Jacksonville.

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

Four rounds and 157 picks remain in this three-day extravaganza known as the 2010 NFL draft, but we’re not going to let that stop us from declaring some early winners and losers. So let’s go to the scoreboard:

Ndamukong Suh should be key piece to Lions' rebuild.
Ndamukong Suh should be key piece to Lions’ rebuild.

Winners

1. The Lions. They picked up two key rebuilding blocks in the first round, taking Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh — perhaps the best player in the draft, period — and Cal running back Jahvid Best.

Add those two to the veteran players Detroit has picked up this offseason, such as guard Rob Sims, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and wide receiver Nate Burleson, and the Lions suddenly look like a team that could be on the rise. Second-year coach Jim Schwartz has something going in the Motor City.

2. Tim Tebow. Many coaches seemed concerned about his throwing mechanics, but Denver’s Josh McDaniels wasn’t one of them. The most overanalyzed player perhaps in the history of the draft, Tebow was the second quarterback off the board as the Broncos took him at No. 25.

With Kyle Orton already in place, the lefthanded Tebow should get the time he needs to develop into an NFL quarterback in Denver.

3. Dez Bryant. The much-maligned wide receiver from Oklahoma State probably couldn’t have landed in a better place than Dallas, which appears poised to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2010. How high are the Cowboys’ expectations for Bryant? High enough to hand him the fabled No. 88 jersey formerly worn by Drew Pearson and Hall of Fame wideout Michael Irvin.

4. The Big 12. Former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford started a conference parade when he was selected by the Rams with the first-overall pick. Four of the next five picks and nine overall in the first round have Big 12 pedigrees.

"It hit me right in the face when I was watching those first five or six picks," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "It goes to show the type of athleticism and athletic ability that’s out there on the field every weekend. It’s a great conference."

5. Football icons. Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees (Saints) and Hall of Fame players Jim Brown (Browns), Dan Marino (Dolphins) and Floyd Little (Broncos) were among the special guests who walked up to the podium at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and announced picks for their former teams in the first two rounds.

Losers

1. Jimmy Clausen. As if it wasn’t frustrating enough to watch his contract hopes sink by the millions when no team selected him in the first round, the former Notre Dame quarterback had to suffer the further indignity of waiting for nearly 90 minutes in the second round until the Panthers took him with the 48th-overall pick.

The draft experience had to be more painful for the former Golden Domer than playing against USC with two torn ligaments in his toe. Teams might have had more questions about Clausen than we thought.

By almost all accounts, Jaguars reached big time for Tyson Alualu.
By almost all accounts, Jaguars reached big time for Tyson Alualu.

2. Marshawn Lynch. If the emergence of Fred Jackson (1,062 rushing yards last season) wasn’t a sign that Lynch’s time in Buffalo might be short-lived, the selection of Clemson’s C.J. Spiller with the ninth-overall pick should have been.

Consider Ralph Wilson’s introduction of Spiller Friday to the Buffalo media: "It’s with great honor, C.J., to present you with the No. 1 number because you’re going to be the number one guy that’s going to get us going."

3. The Jaguars. GM Gene Smith can rationalize the selection of Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu from now until the start of the 2010 season, but Jacksonville fans aren’t going to buy it. No one — not Mel Kiper, not Mike Mayock, not Russ Lande — projected Alualu to be picked in the first round, much less with the 10th overall selection.

Don’t be surprised if there’s not a run on season tickets in Jacksonville.

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

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