A football is seen on the field before the Indianapolis Colts take on the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) is seen on the field before the Indianapolis Colts take on the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
FIRST ROUND (No. 4 overall) - Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland
With QB JaMarcus Russell gone and WR Derrius Heyward-Bey showing offseason improvement, all eyes turn to McFadden as Oakland’s latest potential draft bust. He rushed for 164 yards in his second NFL game, but has battled injuries ever since. The Raiders hope he stays healthy enough to spell starter Michael Bush and serve as a pass-catching threat (he’s received snaps in offseason camps split as a wide receiver). - Alex Marvez
FIRST ROUND (No. 5 overall) - Glenn Dorsey, DT, Kansas City
No player was hurt by the team’s 2009 shift to a 3-4 defense more than Dorsey. Drafted by a previous regime to play defensive tackle in a 4-3, he lacks ideal size (6-foot-1, 297 pounds) for nose tackle or end in a 3-4. Dorsey, though, did show improvement in 2009 after working himself into better shape. “Dorsey’s a key guy,” Chiefs coach Todd Haley recently told FOXSports.com. “He’s got to play good for us. He’s got some unique quickness and disruption ability.”
FIRST ROUND (No. 6 overall) - Vernon Gholston, LB, New York Jets
The Jets are trying to make chicken salad out of a player who laid an egg in the sack column the past two seasons. Gholston’s being converted from OLB to DE. New York signed ex-Miami starter Jason Taylor to provide the pass rush Gholston couldn’t muster in his failed shift.
FIRST ROUND (No. 29 overall) - Kentwan Balmer, DE, San Francisco
The 49ers made no significant additions to their defensive line this offseason, but that doesn’t mean Balmer’s roster spot’s safe long-term. He has only 19 tackles combined in two NFL seasons with no starts. He’s also missing offseason practices after undergoing shoulder surgery. He’ll battle Ray McDonald, Ricky Jean Francois and Demetric Evans for snaps behind starters Justin Smith and Isaac Sopoaga.
FIRST ROUND (No. 31 overall) - Kenny Phillips, S, New York Giants
Phillips’ chronic knee problems are severe enough that the team’s taken precautionary steps in case he can’t return during training camp. The Giants signed two veteran free agents (Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant) and also drafted LSU’s Chad Jones in the third round this year. Phillips showed excellent potential as a rookie, but his long-term NFL future’s in question.
SECOND ROUND (Nos. 34 and 51 overall) - Devin Thomas & Malcolm Kelly, WRs, Washington
Thomas and Kelly had the same number of starts (10) and catches (25) in 2009. While that marks progress after unproductive rookie campaigns, both need to show strong improvement under Mike Shanahan. They’ll be pushed for snaps in camp by a slew of veterans that include Joey Galloway, Mike Furrey, Bobby Wade and Santana Moss, who could be facing a steroid suspension for his alleged use of HGH.
SECOND ROUND (No. 41 overall) - James Hardy, WR, Buffalo
The Bills are desperate for a complement to Lee Evans, whose production continues to get stymied by constant double teams. They’d hoped Hardy would fill that role, but he played in only two games last season because of a knee injury. Now healthy, the big-bodied Hardy (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) will have a chance to replace the departed Terrell Owens in the starting lineup.
SECOND ROUND (No. 46 overall) - Jerome Simpson, WR, Cincinnati
Because he played at a small college (Coastal Carolina), the Bengals knew Simpson would need extra time to develop. However, the club’s clearly run out of patience, signing free-agent Antonio Bryant and drafting Texas receiver Jordan Shipley in the third round. With just one career catch, Simpson must show something in camp or he’s a likely goner.
SECOND ROUND (No. 47 overall) - Trevor Laws, DT, Philadelphia
Laws is fighting for his future in Philadelphia after being a healthy inactive for the club’s final five games last season. The 6-foot-1 Laws now weighs 315 pounds after adding 15 through offseason workouts. He hopes the bulk will help produce playing time on running downs behind starters Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson. Snaps in passing situations will be harder to come by as the Eagles usually shift their quicker ends inside.
SECOND ROUND (No. 60 overall) - Pat Lee, CB, Green Bay
Having played in just five career games because of injuries, Lee knows the clock’s ticking on his time with the Packers. “I have a lot to prove,” Lee recently told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I feel like this is it for me if I don’t.” He’ll have his chance for snaps while Al Harris tries to return from a major knee injury. - Alex Marvez