Grading 2009 NFC South draft classes

Marty Hurney and Rich McKay, a couple of general managers I covered back in my newspaper days, used to always say "You don’t judge a draft for at least a couple of years."

I agree with that, even if it means those grades we in the media all do on draft day or the day after are meaningless. You don’t really know what you’ve got for a couple of years. In that spirit, let’s take a look at the 2009 NFC draft classes, rank them and grade them.

Tampa Bay. If you draft a franchise quarterback, you’ve hit it out of the park. A lot of people didn’t think Josh Freeman was a franchise quarterback when the Bucs drafted him. Coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik believed in Freeman and it turns out they were right. That’s why they turned their franchise around. By the way, defensive tackle Roy Miller (third round) and Sammie Stroughter (seventh round) also have turned out to be solid picks. Grade: A+

New Orleans. The Saints only had four picks in this draft and two of them, linebacker Stanley Arnoux (fourth round) and safety Chip Vaughn (fourth round) haven’t been factors due to injuries. But the Saints got it right on their other top picks. First-rounder Malcolm Jenkins showed big-time skills in his first season as a starting safety. Thomas Morstead (fifth round) quickly has become one of the league’s best punters. Grade: B+

Carolina. Second-round pick Everette Brown, who was drafted to be the next Julius Peppers, has produced 6.5 sacks in two years and hasn’t had a big impact. But defensive backs Sherrod Martin (second round) and Captain Munnerlyn (seventh round) have made impacts. Running back Mike Goodson (fourth round) played better than anyone thought he could after injuries to Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams last season and fullback Tony Fiammetta (fourth round) is a starter. Grade: C+

Atlanta. William Moore, who has become a solid starter at safety, saves this class from getting a really bad grade. First-round pick Peria Jerry had a knee injury as a rookie and didn’t have much impact last season. There’s still hope Jerry will come on next year, but he hasn’t done much yet. Neither have cornerback Christopher Owens (third round) or defensive end Lawrence Sidbury (fourth round). Grade: C-