Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Last month I took a look a six receivers who have enjoyed their off-season. Now it's time to look at ten NFC players who will look back on the 2009 NFL Draft weekend and smile. Next week we'll look at the AFC side.
1) Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans - Rumors that the Saints were looking at one of the available running backs to replace Thomas were evidently false. This should clear the way for Thomas to be the short-yardage TD guy as well as the workhorse while Reggie Bush plays in the slot. Thomas finished 2008 with 909 yards from scrimmage and 12 TDs. He may not get as many receiving yards (284) if Bush stays healthy, but the touchdowns should remain constant.
2) Julius Jones, RB, Seattle - Here is an example of addition by subtraction. Seattle did nothing in free agency or the draft to add to their running back group and let Maurice Morris jump to Detroit. That make Jones the de facto primary ball carrier in Seattle and a fantasy-worthy player. Assuming that Matt Hasselbeck will be healthier in 2009 than 2008, the threat of an actually passing game will help Jones improve on his workload (just 158 carries in 2008) and touchdown totals (two).
3) Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay - Pre-draft, there were some who thought the Packers were unhappy with their running back situation. Instead the team went for defense with the exception of two offensive linemen (T.J. Lang, Jamon Meredith) and a blocking fullback (Quinn Johnson). If Grant can stay healthy he might be in line for a big season.
4) Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants - Everyone saw what the Giants offense was like without Plaxico Burress - slow and plodding. The Giants saw it too and plucked Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden off the draft board. Neither Nicks or Barden is Burress, but together they should be able to keep the "wolves" away from Jacobs.
5) Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia - Apparently the squeaky wheel does get the grease. McNabb said he wanted some more offensive options and in Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Cornelius Ingram he got them. He also got mammoth left tackle Jason Peters in a pre-draft deal to strengthen the line. McNabb now has three players who can "take it to the house" from anywhere on the field (Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson and Maclin).
6) Sage Rosenfels, QB, Minnesota - From a backup role in Houston, to a starting spot in Minnesota. With the likes of Adrian Peterson, Bernard Berrian and now first-round draft choice Percy Harvin, Rosenfels has a lot of weapons to work with.
7) Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona - So far, they still have Anquan Boldin on their roster. As long as it stays that way, Warner will keep smiling. They also added Chris Wells to replace aging Edgerrin James.
8) Donnie Avery, WR, St. Louis - With Torry Holt gone and no top draft choices used on wide receivers, it would seem that Avery has to be the team's No.1 passing option. They also added Jason Smith to replace the aging and often injured Orlando Pace and free-agent lineman Jason Brown which might give Marc Bulger a little more time to release his throws.
9) Devin Hester, WR, Chicago - The team replaced journeyman Kyle Orton with gunslinger Jay Cutler - enough said.
10) Patrick Crayton, WR, Dallas - Adios Terrell Owens. Crayton will still have to wait in line while Jay Witten gets the most targets, but based on Roy Williams' play last year Crayton might be the second option. Even if Williams returns to fantasy-worthy form as when he was in Detroit, there will still be enough passes for all three to be valuable. Crayton had 39 catches for 550 yards and four scores last year, but when Owens was cut he took 69 receptions for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns with him. Someone has to make up the difference and it just might be Crayton.