My 2013 Draft Recap
My yearly draft recap of certain players + teams.
The Andry Reid Era in Kansas City Begins
I think with the #1 overall pick in the draft you can't screw it up. The Chiefs decided long ago that there wasn't a QB that was going to be worthy of the high selection / money / expectations of a #1 overall pick. They went out and got a solid veteran in Alex Smith to lead a talented Chiefs roster.
In a weak draft class at the top, most people might believe Kansas City picked the wrong year to have the worst record in the NFL. Well, I can't say I pity them when they took a great player and the best left tackle prospect (Eric Fisher) I have seen since Eugene Monroe. I would have Fisher sandwiched between Joe Thomas and Eugene Monroe as my three favorite left tackle prospects. If I like the player, the best player in this draft, then why do I feel like the Chiefs missed out?
My problem with Kansas City is that they didn't address the Branden Albert situation. Something has to be done. I'm not a believer in drafting a premier left tackle, who's most comfortable at left tackle, and then moving him to right tackle. It's almost a wasted pick, or a waste of time making Fisher play a different position. Is it going to be for one year? Are you going to sign Albert long term before the start of 2014? Are you going to franchise tag him again if Fisher struggles? Are you letting him walk after one season? I think Albert is a great pro and an underrated player, and someone I was extremely high on when coming out of college, but I feel like you are wasting Fisher on the right side. I think they should have traded him or done something with him. Figure it out long term. This pick and the way they handled the Albert situation seems very conservative. If Fisher ends up on the left side at some point in his career, I think he'll develop into a Joe Thomas type OT. But maybe I'm more confident in Fisher than the Chiefs are.
The Chiefs didn't select again until the 3rd Round (due to the Alex Smith trade where they gave up a second round pick to San Francisco). They drafted offense again with Travis Kelce. I can't find too many picks in the third round (or later) that I like more than this. A complete player that will help the running game early in his career. I think he has tons of potential and he's a better athlete than given credit for. Still raw as a route runner, but loads of potential to be a steal in round three. Great value pick who should pair up well with Anthony Fasano. Their compensation pick in round three was used on Knile Davis. He had a freaky combine and a great freshman year, but has looked terrible since then. An interesting boom or bust player to compliment Jamaal Charles.
All in all, the Chiefs really improved their roster with the additions of Alex Smith, Eric Fisher and Travis Kelce. It didn't take Andy Reid long to improve this team, and address some of the most crucial areas of concern. They wont be picking in the Top 10 next year, and should be much improved. The playoffs in Arrowhead have been sorely missed...
Jaguars and Gus Bradley Formatting the Seahawks Success
The Jaguars took four defensive backs with their first 8 picks in the Gus Bradley era. The headliners are second round draft pick, Jonathan Cyprien, and third round draft pick, Dwayne Gratz. I like Cyprien's potential a lot and I think he can become the best safety from this draft. Gratz has impressive physical tools and looks good in zone coverages. Their premier pick was Luke Joeckle with the second overall pick. I have a similar feeling as I do with Kansas City. You have an above average left tackle in Eugene Monroe, and you are going to stick Joeckle on the right side of the offense? It makes more sense when you watch Blaine Gabbert fold in the pocket like a complete vagina, so they need a clean pocket more than the Cheifs did, but I don't like the philosophy of moving a natural left tackle to the right side... Because you already have a really good left tackle!!! I just don't understand the philosophy. I think the Jaguars added a lot of talent, but using a Top 10 pick on a right tackle is costly. If there was a draft do it, it seems as though it was this one.
Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson are really good college players but I don't know about their future NFL success. Ultimately, the Jaguars franchise is going to need to figure out the QB position long term. Gabbert is well on his way to prolific bust territory. A lot of people have been raving about this draft. I like it, but I only like it as much as I do because of their second round pick. If Cyprien turns into a bust, then I don't what you're getting with this draft. A right tackle? Maybe a RB in Denard Robinson? That would not be a great start for Bradley.
Dolphins Move Up and Create A Splash
Dion Jordan is going to make or break the Dolphins draft (unless they hit on about five picks later in the draft). They only gave up a second round pick to move into the top three overall, so you can't complain about the trade value at all despite the massive jump. One has to question how well Lane Johnson would have fit on this team and solidified their offensive line issues. If Johnson turns into a Pro Bowl player and Jonathan Martin fails at left tackle, which I believe is a very real possibility, then the Dolphins may be kicking themselves if Jordan doesn't turn into a star pass rusher. This is a very risky pick. I don't like it because Jordan, yes very talented, is so raw and simply lacks the production of such high pick that I couldn't justify it if I was working in that front office. I thought Jordan was a late first round prospect because of his potential. He looks good in space, but the Jason Taylor and DeMarcus Ware comparisons are a little too lofty for a guy who didn't even dominate the college level. You're getting a lot of talent with Jordan, but a lot of risk as well. I don't think Jordan turns into a standout player, but I don't think he's going to be a bad player by any means. I'll go on record saying the Dolphins will regret not drafting Lane Johnson. Mainly because Jonathan Martin will be that bad, and Dion Jordan isn't going to be that good.
After that the Dolphins, most notably, drafted Jamar Taylor, Dion Sims and Dallas Thomas. I think Sims is going to be a good pro, but not a flashy one. He will fill the void left by Anthony Fasano. Better ball skills than most people talk about and he's a Top 5 TE in this draft because of his blocking. I hope I'm wrong, but I feel like Sims might end up being the best player from this draft. And thats mostly because of his in-line blocking. I'll just say this about Dallas Thomas: I hope they don't expect him to be their future left tackle. After a busy free agency where they landed some big name players, and even overpaid for some average ones, I feel like the Dolphins missed a golden opportunity to really improve this team. Whether that be trading for Braden Albert or drafting Lane Johnson, but I'm just not a fan of Dion Jordan that high. I don't think he's going to be the impact player they are expecting.
Chip Kelly and the Eagles Create an Identity?
What are the Eagles going to do on offense? Is Mike Vick the starting QB? Are they going to run a spread option offense? I don't think any of us will know until we see live game action, but three of the top four teams that drafted natural left tackle prospects already have some of the best veteran left tackles in the game. The Eagles have Jason Peters coming off a bad injury, but he was the best left tackle in all Football in 2011. They drafted Lane Johnson 4th overall to play right tackle. Again, I'm beating a dead horse here, but what the **** is up with this trend? Was the top tier of talent really that bad? I know all these offensive lines had issues with their right tackles and their offensive lines collectively, but this is just odd. I don't even know what to make of it. I like all three tackles, Fisher and Johnson, being very worthy of Top 5 selections, but I hate the fits. Not that they are going to be bad right tackles or that they won't help their teams offensive lines improve, but they're left tackles. Johnson is, at the very least, going to be the most comfortable moving to right tackle since he played there at college. This is a good player, but I might have been inclined to draft a different position of need. I don't know. Taking left tackles when you already have a left tackle in place... I'm not sure how we're improving a team when doing that.
In the second round they went with the consensus #2 TE in the daft, Zack Ertz. I think he's the fourth best TE in this draft (from the few I've seen), and more of third or fourth round prospect. He's a really good route runner. He excels against man coverage and looks good flexed out wide against corners. He can simply beat them with route running by creating space. Tyler Eifert has to body out corners and use his size / leaping ability, which is a great attribute that Ertz doesn't seem to posses. Ertz also does little after the catch. His ball skills / high pointing of the football seem below average. I've also seen him drop too many passes for my liking, and he fails to make contested catches on a routine basis. His scheme also helped quite a bit getting busted coverages and open looks on play action. I think he has significant bust potential. He's more of a tweener. A WR in a TEs body. His blocking is going to have to improve if he's ever going to earn an early second round selection. I was extremely high on Colby Fleener last year and he struggled as a rookie; even outproduced by fellow rookie Dwayne Allen. Ertz is in a similar mold as Fleener (just not as gifted), and I did not like the way Fleener adjusted to the pros. Maybe that is clouding my vision with Ertz, but I'm not crazy over this pick.
Bennie Logan and Matt Barkley in the third and fourth round might turn into quality backups / rotational guys. Jordan Poyer in the 7th round is very good value for a smart and instinct zone corner (probably a nickel corner). Barkley looks like he's going to the right system on paper, west coast offense, but I don't think he's any different than the recent USC QBs that have made names for themselves. He's in a similar mold, physically, that John David Booty, Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart came from. I think it's been proven that those players are very limited in the pros. And when you think you're a superstar with no work ethic (Leinart), then you never get a chance to actually start because you suck to begin with. I like Barkley, but not as my long term solution. If I need for a couple starts in the middle of the season? Great pick. If I have any higher expectations? Philly, we have a problem.
With all that said, I'm not sure what kind of team Chip Kelly is ready to roll out there on Sundays. I think everyone has all these questions because Chip Kelly has no idea what kind of offense he's going to run. I'm not expecting Kelly to last any longer than Nick Saban did in the pros. This draft has some solid players, but who are they? I'm not sure Kelly knows. I only see one potential star player, and they are going to make him play right tackle. In five years I think we'll look back and see a rough start to Kelly's tenure in the pros.
Fisher & The Rams Continue to Draft Flawed Character / High Potential Players
I was blown away by the Jeff Fisher draft last year. I loved it. This year they get aggressive and draft the best offensive skill position player in the draft @ 8 overall in Tavon Austin after a trade with the Bills. And they kept their other first round draft pick. They paired Austin up with his college teammate, Stedman Bailey in the 3rd round. Fisher made it a point to help Bradford this offseason by signing left tackle Jake Long and adding two wideouts who can work the short to intermediate routes and help Bradford get the ball out quickly. Austin is a dynamic player. With Percy Harvin playing like an MVP candidate last year, that type of rare offensive weapon just became in hot demand. Austin is going to kill defenses in the seems, and his cut back ability to use the entire field is special. I knocked Harvin down my board despite him being one of my favorite college players in recent years. I feared that teams wouldn't use him correctly (returns, out of the backfield), but only as a receiver. His injury concerns also hurt his stock. Harvin was a very well built 200+ pounds and Austin is well under 180, but I have less concerns about injury with Austin because the guy doesn't take any hits square on. He's one of the best players in this draft and a rare weapon on offense. I just hope the Rams use him the way he needs to be used and he'll become one of the most dynamic all-purpose players in the NFL. I'm not expecting too much from Bailey other than a third or fourth string player. I think he's a perimeter player only. Doesn't look great out of the slot and has average speed. His adjustment to the pros wont be as easy as his college teammate.
Alec Olgetree is a need pick in order to get a more athletic player at the linebacker position. He'll be paired up with Jo-Lonn Dunbar and James Laurinaitis. Very athletic and supremely gifted, but he's soft and has terrible characters concerns; far worse than Janoris Jenkins, which the Rams took full advantage of when he slid into round two last year. I trust Jeff Fisher and Les Snead' ability to evaluate talent, but I don't really care for the player on the filed to ignore the problems off it. He plays with no effort, seems to have no idea what he's doing, has no clue how to shed a block... Yeah, fantastic athlete, great sideline-to-sideline speed, looks really good dropping into coverage, but he's mediocre run defender. If they took Arthur Brown... Forget about it. This easily would have been my favorite draft. Instead, I'm kinda mixed about it. I think they're better off just putting TJ McDonald in the box and calling him Olgetree. After all, Olgetree basically is a safety playing linebacker. McDonald is far more physical and really good in the box. Just a thought. McDonald has the bloodlines and he, at times, looked like a future star in college. He could develop nicely and turn into a steal. I like his potential.
Steelers Draft Prototypical 'Steelers Players'
I like the pick of Jarvis Jones in the first round. He fell in the draft for all the wrong reasons. Jones should come in and fill the void left by James Harrison, but it won't be until year two at the earliest. I think it's a great pick, a great player with tremendous burst and closing speed. He's raw and he needs to work on his technique, but he has a knack for creating turnovers and that's exactly what the Steelers have lacked on defense. He might have a mediocre rookie season (struggles against the run), but I'd expect him to blowup in year two or three. He should be a Pro Bowl player by year four, but he will struggle early. I have no doubts about it. He needs to work on his body / strength. The Steelers strength and conditioning program looks like it works.
Le'Veon Bell in the second? I don't hate the pick, but I don't love it. He looks more like a mediocre player that went a round too early. He seems more like a third rounder, and a complementary back. It seems like the Steelers are expecting him to be their feature running back. I'd expect nothing more than moderate success early. I don't get the pick. The NFL is moving away from this type of player, so I'm inclined to believe that Bell was going to be sitting on the board for quite a while. But it's sad when the Steelers are one of the few teams that seem desperate to fill the RB position. This screams of a "need pick" and not the best player on their board. Another player that's going to need to get in the weight room. He's too big. Jones is too small and Bell is too big. If he loses weight and gets more explosive, it could be better than my current expectations.
Markus Wheaton in round three isn't a player I really care for. I think it's a solid pick in round three, but he's not a #1 WR. He's really undersized. He needs to polish up his route running and, most importantly, learn to beat press coverage if he ever turns into a solid #2. Another player to add the crops, but he isn't going to replace the loss of Mike Wallace.
Shamarko Thomas in the fourth is solid value despite some people calling it a steal. He's exactly the type of player the Steelers don't need. Misses too many tackles and has no ball skills. So, he won't create any turnovers, he's going struggle in coverage due to his size and misses a lot of tackles? Simply put, he's a safety / linebacker hybrid that's going to get his ass kicked against the pass. He is a great run defender, but he's going to be playing 10 games a season due to his size and style of play. When people say, "Think Bob Sanders." It's true, but much worse against the pass and not quite as good against the run. And the injuries will be there.
Terry Hawthorne in round five is their most intriguing player, and I think he has a lot of potential. I think he could develop into a really good #2 corner with potential to be a very solid #1 CB to eventually replace Ike Taylor. Hawthorne has a lot of talent, he just needs to put it all together. Overall, I think it's a mediocre draft and the Steelers seem to continue struggling on draft day, which is why the talent on their roster is declining along with their age. They better hope the really bad Pro Day for Jarvis Jones doesn't reflect towards his transition to the next level. The Steelers have been really bad as of late in the first round forcing picks. The last value pick they made, Reshard Mendenhall, blew up their face. They really need to hit a home run with Jones in round one. I really like Jones, but there is no question that he won at the college level based mostly on talent and hustle. His technique and strength needs a lot of work. If the Steelers can't develop those attributes, then I don't think there's a team in the NFL that could.
The Bills Have a Great Draft With EJ Manuel the Highlight in Round One
I don't necessarily like the "value" of EJ Manuel in round one, but I love the conviction of the pick. Is there any question that the Bills drafted their #1 rated QB? Manuel has all the physical tools you look for combined with the character and makeup to be a solid pro. EJ Manuel surprised me the most during the Senior Bowl. He looked like he was head-and-shoulders better than every other QB out there. He really showed me something. In a class of QBs that lacked a true standout, that week was enough to push him up the board for me; making him a second round player and the top ranked QB in this class for me. Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson earned money and recognition that week. Manuel did the same. In a class of QBs where no one stood out all year long, Manuel finally did. He has as much potential as any QB in this class. He has athletic ability and quality intangibles. His tape was too inconsistent and he made some throws that had me shaking my head, but he has almost everything you look for in a 1st round pick. I think he'll wind up being the best QB from this draft class. And a very good pro that can lead the Bills back to the playoffs. In two or three years no one is going to be talking about the Bills reaching on a QB, they'll simply being talking about their franchise player. I don't think he turns into an elite player, but I think he's a winner. And the Bills have been desperate for someone like him. After Manuel in round one? I really like their picks.
Kiko Alonso is just as talented as any linebacker you are going to find. Disturbing character concerns and lack of maturity knocked him down into the second round, but his game tape is indicative of an impact player and a mid first round draft pick. He looks so fluid dropping into coverage and he attacks behind the line of scrimmage in the run game. He could wind up being one of the biggest steals in round two. I think he's going to turn into a really good pro if he continues to show maturation off the field. Robert Woods is going to be a solid player and some help for Manuel, but I'm not expecting a superstar. The team still needs a true #1 WR. Woods will be a productive player, but I don't see a Pro Bowl player, just a solid pro. Duke Williams' potential is through the roof. I like this pick in round four as much as any. I thought he was a fringe second round value. Safeties are always the toughest to scout for armchair scouts, but I really like the physicality and speed he has.
In the end, this draft will weigh heavily on the success of their #1 pick. I think EJ Manuel will turn the franchise around, but the last three names I mentioned will all add quality players to their roster. The Bills finally look like a team that's on the rise. This might be my favorite draft of any team.
Vikings Blow Up Day 1
For as long as I have been watching the draft I don't think I have ever seen a team make three selections in the first round. But that's exactly what the Vikings did when they watched Sheriff Floyd "fall" into their laps @ 23, selected Xavier Rhodes @ 25 and then traded back up into the first round Cordarrelle Patterson @ 29 overall. I gave all three players first or second round grades. I like them all, but the Rhodes pick does give me pause. He's a press man corner and I don't know how well he's going to fit into their system, which is heavy on zone coverage, and if Rhodes has a major weakness, it is zone coverage. Not really the best fit. Floyd should be a good addition and went more in the area where he should have; if anything a little higher than he should have. Patterson disappears for large stretches of games so Tennessee decided to hand him the ball. He has the most significant bust factor, but more potential than all three first rounders. He could go either way. Boom or bust prospect.
So, with three picks, I can't say I have any conviction for any of them turning into Pro Bowl players. Floyd has a lot of potential to become a really good player even though I like Rhodes' ability in man coverage. After signing Greg Jennings in free agency the Vikings obviously felt like they needed to make an impact by moving up into round one once again. And Patterson is a bigger version - although less impressive version - of Percy Harvin. I think most people came out saying the Vikings won the draft after day one, but, in the long run, I think it's going to lack that one true standout. I see two players turning into solid players and Patterson having significant bust potential. But, at the same time, he could wind up being a Pro Bowl player. The Vikings added talent. Serious talent. But I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to see none of these guys working on this team. In five years all three players could be on different teams.
The Jets Draft a QB; What Does it All Mean?!?!?!?!?!?
If you watched Rich Eisen on NFLN, then you know where my Jets title comes from. Before I get into that, lets talk about the first round. Why did the Jets have two first round picks? They traded the best corner in the NFL, Darrelle Revis, and one of the greatest of all-time, to the Bucanneers. New General Manager, John Idzik, came in and decided that it was best to depart with Revis instead of paying him 16M a year. I don't know if I can blame him when I look at the Jets roster; bare of talent. In essence, they traded Revis for Sheldon Richardson, who they took @ 13 overall (the Bucs selection). Then @ 9 overall they drafted Dee Milliner to fill the void left by Revis. This is the three steps backwards, one step forward approach to improving your team. A lot of people look at the picks, both on defense, and say this is a Rex Ryan draft. Well if it is, then all I can say is that they might have made the best of a terrible situation. Would Tyler Eifert have been a better selection? I think he's going to be a great pro and I love his potential, but the Jets just added two extremely talented players on the defensive side of the ball. Granted Milliner won't be Revis, and he's actually similar in a lot of ways to Antonio Cromartie, who played like a Top 5 CB after Revis went down, but he still has very good potential. As much as I think Milliner might be overrated, I'm not sure he could have went to a better situation. You're plugging him into a great defense, you're not asking him to be the #1 CB, but you expect him to play well in man coverage across from Cromartie. It's ideal. Even though it might not be great "value" in my eyes, I still can't bash the pick. They addressed a need with a good player. I'm also a firm believer in bolstering a strength - defense in this case - as much as possible. If they feel like they can go from a Top 5 defense to an elite defense with Richardson and Milliner, then they made a couple of great picks.
The Richardson pick is what most people seem to take exception with. He's the third defensive end the Jets have drafted in the first round in the last three years (Coples and Wilkerson before him). Again you can't bash the pick because they made the mistake of drafting Coples last year. Richardson is my top ranked defensive player in the draft and I think he's one of two elite players in this draft. His motor, quickness and athleticism is as good as I've ever seen coming out of the college level. I think it's great value and I believe he's going to be a Pro Bowl caliber 34 end. And, even from the inside, Richardson is going to be disruptive and help their pass rush, which was needed. So with two picks I think they drafted two very good players to help this defense. Are two really good players better than one great player (Revis)? I kinda think so... That is - of course - if they live up to their potential. Richardson I don't doubt. Milliner is a little more risky in my mind. Would Eifert have been a better pick? I think he would have been much better value than Milliner, but it all comes back to making a strength and even greater strength. Turning a good defense into a potential great defense? I can't argue with it.
And now onto Geno Smith in round two. I think the Jets found themselves in no mans land with the amount of offensive linemen that went off the board in the first round. The skill position players, if anything, were a major weakness in this draft. Tyler Eifert and Tavon Austin were the only first round caliber receiving options on offense. Patterson had high bust potential at the end of round one, so the cubbard was bare when they picked in round two. It seemed like a QB was quickly becoming an obvious option as Day 2 rolled on. Do I like the pick? No, not really. For two reasons.
Reason one: They need to make a decision on Mark Sanchez. Either he is your guy, or he isn't. You don't bring in the Tim Tebow circus to put him on special teams. You don't draft Geno Smith a year later after he just made headlines for his free fall on draft day. Either you need a QB, or you don't. Either help Sanchez or don't. Figure it out and go with it. Bringing in Smith does nothing to help the team unless you think he's going to start over Sanchez. And if he is? Then why not try to restructure Sanchez' deal? He's so aloof that he just might go for it. Or try to trade him for a 7th round pick. Or maybe just cut your ties of him completely, even if it costs you.
Reason two: I don't care for the player. Yes, Geno has talent. Some games he looks like he has put it all together, but his scheme and talent at WR did a lot of the work for him. The more you watch the more you see a player missing throws, missing open players, focusing on his two best options, failing to read the defenses and make the best decision possible. He's got arm talent - a lot of it - he's got ability, and in some games he looks like a second round pick. But there's something missing. If they drafted him in round three, I have less of a problem with it, but it seems like a waste of a draft pick. I would have loved Larry Warford there. When teams draft QBs in round two or three and expect future starters... It rarely works. Drew Brees used to be the exception. Colin Kapaernick and Andy Dalton might have given some people second thoughts, but when you draft a player in round two at QB, like Kellen Clemens, then you are basically wasting valuable draft picks. They could have went in several different directions, maybe none of them have to do with offense, but it's at least something that can help your team. You were better off just trading the second round pick for Alex Smith. There were better options than Geno Smith. He's a starting QB, but I don't think you're getting a Top 15 QB in the league.
Brian Winters in round three is the type of linemen I root for, but I'm not sure he's a starting NFL tackle. I know he's not. I think he'll be on the team for a while and contribute, but I'm not holding my breath expecting a future starter. Like the player, like the position of need and I hope he pans out, but Larry Warford would have been better. Overall, I think this draft will produce two quality starters on defense and one rotational offensive linemen. The QB situation will probably be addressed again within the next few years. The Jets also traded their 4th Round Pick for Chris Ivory. I can't express how much I like the trade for Ivory. He's a very underrated player, and he should really improve with more consistent touches. The Jets still need to address their offensive line. Overall, the Jets had a good draft but it could have been better if they used their second round pick more wisely.
Charges Add Name Recognition In First Three Rounds
The Charges have, seemingly, for the longest time, boasted one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. But the days of Landanian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson have come and gone without producing one Super Bowl appearance. Since then the Charges have slowly deflated year after year behind an aging / untalented offensive line, a middle of the pack defense and a lack of weapons for Philip Rivers to throw to. Mike McCoy has inherited an average football team. Talent sprinkled throughout, but no real strength or identity that the Chargers can hang their hat on. The offense, which had been the strength under Rivers, has since become one of the most glaring issues of inconsistency and poor play. There have pressing issues at offensive tackle, a lack of a true #1 WR, a future Hall of Fame TE who's little more than an injury plagued shell of himself and stable of running backs that are either average players or constantly injured; or both, and yes I'm talking about Ryan Matthews.
The Chargers opened the draft by taking DJ Fluker @ 11 overall. Maybe I'm just completely wrong about DJ Fluker, but the Top 10 hype is more of a result of the top three offensive tackles going so fast off the board. He looks nothing like a high first round pick to me. I think I heard Mayock compare him to Philip Loadholt. A good player, but a run heavy right tackle only. The difference between Lane Johnson and Fluker is very big to me. He does have heavy feet and he's going to struggle with speed. He's more scheme specific. More of a late first round prospect, not a lottery pick. A good player, and he'll be an effective run blocker, but @ 11 overall it seems like they drafted based on need; not talent. Granted, right tackle was a major need, but so isn't left tackle. I would have liked to see the Charges be more aggressive and trade up with Oakland to take a left tackle. Flukes arm length will off set his foot speed. I don't want to sound like I'm bashing the pick, because, at the end of the day, they got an above average starter a position that was, arguably, their biggest need. Philip Rivers and Ryan Matthews benefit from this greatly.
Manti Te'o must have been a player the Chargers coveted, because not only did they take him in the second round, but they traded up 7 spots to assure themselves of drafting Te'o. His instincts are as good as any linebacker I have ever seen at the college level. He is limited physically (also struggles to disengage from blockers) and had the very odd catfish saga, which, all combined, probably dropped him into the second round. But he's going to be an above average pro for a long time. I consider him a fringe first round player, and he should be a great fit in San Diego. Te'o might get compared to Rey Maulaga, James Lauranities or Paul Puzluzy because they were decorated college players at major programs and believed to be potential Top 10 draft picks who fell into the second round. I think Te'o is the most talented of the bunch, and I think he's going to have the best pro career. I'd be surprised if he didn't go to a Pro Bowl at some point in the prime of his career. His instincts are phenomenal. Kiko Alonso is going to be a much better player if he doesn't have any off field problems.
Keenan Allen in round three is great value and another weapon to help Philip Rivers regain his past success. I think Allen is a solid first round prospect and he'll be a very good Pro. I think Te'o is the only player they drafted that will make a Pro Bowl (during the prime of his career), but all three players will be solid players who help this team get back to what they once were; legitimate playoff contenders. Mike Mayock was using baseball terms to describe drafts, and he said the Chargers hit two solid doubles after taking Fluker and Te'o. And I agree with this theory. They wont get a star player out of this draft, but I expect all three to be good starting players at positions of need. Allen will be a very good pro. Great route runner and a solid athlete.
49ers Address Needs After Losing Pieces of Super Bowl Team
The 49ers obviously felt the need to replace Dashon Goldson by moving up in the draft and selecting Eric Reid of LSU @ 18 overall. Reid is one of the most talented safeties in this deep safety class, but when you add in his size and speed combination, then the potential for this being a great pick really starts to take form. Reid is a physical player that can play in the box or drop into coverage. He'll fill in admirably for Goldson, but his potential could exceed that of Goldson' play three or four years into his career. Reid is a terrific safety and one of the better prospects at the position in quite some time. I was surprised he never garnered more buzz as a potential Top 10 pick. He had all the physical attributes to do so. And his game tape was indicative of a 1st round prospect.
The 49ers also signed Nnamdi Asomugha to help round out their pass defense. If there was an area of need on the 49ers: it was in the secondary and at WR. Even though the loss of Goldson will sting, getting in return two very good players could mitigate the loss. Reid's play was inconsistent and his tape shows him getting burned more than you'd like to see. He appears to be much better attacking downhill where he really shows off some closing speed. In the end I think Reid is going to a perfect place. The mental lapses and getting caught out of position will need to come to an end before he becomes one of the elite players at his position. The talent is there, but he never made the amount of plays he should have. A bit of an underachiever and that's probably why they got him at #18 overall. He's better in the box, but can drop into deep coverages very well. He'll be a very good player and he might turn into a perennial Top 5 safety in the NFL.
In round two the 49ers drafted two players: Tank Carradine and Vance McDonald. Carradine should be a rotational player at linebacker, or having the ability the kick inside with his hand in the dirt on passing downs. If he develops he also gives the 49ers flexability if one of their current outside pass rushers get too pricy. He's very smart with a great motor and solid strength at the point of attack. He lacks the explosiveness off the ball that his college teammate and first round draft pick Bjorne Werner has. He's going to be a really good player and he'll take snaps away from Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks when they line up in 4 down linemen fronts. McDonald is expected to be the eventual #2 TE and the replacement for Delanie Walker. McDonald is very versatile and the 49ers had a major hole in their offense with the loss of Walker.
Corey Lemonier, Quinton Patten and Marcus Lattimore round out their 3rd and 4th round selections. Lattimore is the most intriguing. His future is so up in the air. No one expects him to be ready to play at the NFL level in year one, but if he comes back at 80% then the 49ers got a complete steal. If he was healthy he wold have been a first round draft pick. Patten is an edge player that I'm not expecting much out of even though he's a fan favorite. More of a college wide receiver that won't have much success in the pros. Lemonier could be a really good pass rush specialist to add to the rotation. This was a much better draft for the 49ers compared to last year where they didn't make one pick that looked like a potential starter.
Bengals and Panthers Look to Bolster Strengths in First Two Rounds
The Panthers first pick was #14 overall. Star Lotulelei is a Top 10 talent and shouldn't have been on the board when they picked, but he slipped in the draft and fell into their laps. He's going to be a great fit in that defense. A stout run defender who has pass rushing potential. He is an immediate upgrade that will help bolster that defensive line. In round two the Panthers drafted defensive tackle once again with Kawann Short. Short looked great at the Senior Bowl. He's more of a pass rusher and compliment to Lotulelei's stoutness against the run. This is a great fit. I love the value of the pick once again - I had him ranked as a late first round draft prospect - but the fact that they came right back to the same position of need and added another young player into the mix? I can only applaud the philosophy. This is what great drafting is. They turned an average front four into - potentially - a great one. The combination of Star Loutelei, Kawann Short, Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy could turn into one of the best front fours in all of football. Johnson is a top tier defensive end, and Hardy has developed into a nice edge player opposite of him. If Hardy continues developing at the pace he's shown thus far, then he may challenge Johnson as their best defensive end. When you add it these two big boys up front, then this line could become dominant. When you add in the fact that Luke Kuechley is on his way to becoming the best linebacker in the game. These two first round picks only make their stars players even better. I love this draft because the Panthers front seven has a real chance to become dominant. I don't know if they're intentionally trying to follow the same blueprint that took them to their only Super Bowl appearance, but the building blocks are in place. I'm not familiar with much else in the draft, but you win or lose via the draft in the first three rounds. And the Panthers are winners.
The Bengals offense has some really nice weapons. They just added two more. Tyler Eifert is one of the best TE prospects since Vernon Davis. He has great ball skills and play making ability. The Patriots had a dominant offense with two tight end sets. With Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert you could be looking at the best tight end tandem in the NFL. And I fully expect Eifert to become a better player than Gresham. The more and more I watched Eifert the higher and higher he went up my draft board. He's just a great competitor who can block and catch. That alone would have helped Andy Dalton immensely down the road. In round two they came right back to the offense and drafted Giovani Bernard. Bernard looks much faster and quicker on tape than he showed at the Combine. He has good agility and can make people miss in the open field. He should also come in add some pass catching ability out of the back field - another safety valve for Dalton. The Bengals have one of the most talented teams in the NFL. Their offense is now loaded with very good skill position players. They did what everyone always says you need to do with a young QB - surrounded him with talent. The Bengals have surrounded Dalton with as much talent - in a short amount of time - as possible. Now the pressure is on Dalton to show that he has enough ability to push the Bengals over the top. It's either that or he starts to be criticized for holding the Bengals back, which may become the narrative in the postseason.
My Draft Grades
Eric Fisher : CENTRAL MICHIGAN (OT)
Sheldon Richardson : MISSOURI (DL)
Tavon Austin : WEST VIRGINIA (WR)
Lane Johnson : OKLAHOMA (OT)
Bjoern Werner : FLORIDA STATE (DE)
Jonathan Cyprien : FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (S)
Tyler Eifert : NOTRE DAME (TE)
Star Lotulelei : UTAH (DL)
Chance Warmack : ALABAMA (OG)
Datone Jones : UCLA (DE)
Jonathan Cooper : NORTH CAROLINA (OG)
Luke Joeckel : TEXAS A&M (OT)
Matt Elam : FLORIDA (S)
Arthur Brown : KANSAS STATE (LB)
Eric Reid : LOUISIANA STATE (S)
Ezekiel Ansah : BRIGHAM YOUNG (DE)
Xavier Rhodes : FLORIDA STATE (CB)
Jarvis Jones : GEORGIA (LB)
Larry Warford : KENTUCKY (OG)
Tank Carradine : FLORIDA STATE (DL)
Kenny Vaccaro : TEXAS (S)
Keenan Allen : CALIFORNIA (WR)
Kiko Alonso : OREGON (ILB)
DJ Hayden : HOUSTON (CB)
Cordarrelle Patterson : TENNESSEE (WR)
Desmond Trufant : WASHINGTON (CB)
DJ Fluker : ALABAMA (OT)
Dion Jordan : OREGON (LB)
Travis Frederick : WISCONSIN (OL)
Kawann Short : PURDUE (DT)
Manti Te’o : NOTRE DAME (MLB)
Justin Pugh : SYRACUSE (OL)
Dee Milliner : ALABAMA (CB)
EJ Manuel : FLORIDA STATE (QB)
Barkevious Mingo : LOUISIANA STATE (DE)
Sharrif Floyd : FLORIDA (DL)
Christine Michael : TEXAS A&M (RB)
Eddie Lacy : ALABAMA (RB)
Giovani Bernard : NORTH CAROLINA (RB)
Travis Kelce : CINCINNATI (TE)
Robert Alford : SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA (CB)
Gavin Escobar : SAN DIEGO STATE (TE)
Brian Schwenke : CALIFORNIA (C)
TJ McDonald : USC (S)
Hugh Thornton : ILLINOIS (OL)
Sylvester Williams : NORTH CAROLINA (DT)
Malliciah Goodman : CLEMSON (DE)
Johnthan Banks : MISSISSIPPI STATE (DB)
I was impressed with the Steelers draft. Pittsburgh always drafts good football players and can care less with combine numbers for the most part. Last year they got a steal in DeCastro and this year Jones drops to #17 after running a 4.9. Wheaton was a great 3rd rounder IMO. DeCastro was hurt last year so that's like a bonus 1st rounder for the Steelers.
I agree with you on the Rams. Combining Austin and Bailey was pure genius. This team is on the rise in what has become the best division in football.
San Francisco, Minnesota, Tennessee and Miami also had excellent drafts.
The 49ers got the best safety IMO in Reid, a great value in Carradine and a big steal in Patton. They were the perfect team to gamble on Lattimore. Of all the teams, this may be the best draft.
I love the Jordan pick for Miami and would be very surprised if he doesn't become an impact pass rusher. I was surprised how he was used at Oregon as he often dropped into coverage. But, I think that makes him a more complete player. Ireland hit a home run IMO with Jordan and Taylor. Thomas will be a LG. I do wish the Dolphins would have gotten Wheaton with that pick or Patton instead of Davis. I still think there's room on the roster for another quality receiver.
Jarvis Jones dropped for a reason, and it's not due to his 4.9 40 time. It's still his health concerns.
Teams may have been impressed with his neck, but that doesn't mean the Steelers are out of the woods yet.
The Steelers have been less than impressive in the early rounds of recent drafts so to act like they know-all isn't an accurate assessment anymore
Your support of Buffalo's draft has me feeling pretty good.
Overall good analysis/work.
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