I will have a more in-depth analysis article sometime later in the week, but this Sunday is for kneejerk reactions to the happenings of the last three days. 253 football players have new NFL teams and scores more will be hoping to get invites to camps this summer.
Here is a team-by-team look at how the NFL franchises fared in this year’s draft:
I’m not sure I buy into the Cards thinking they need Michael Floyd and the pick still feels a bit like a little kid drooling over the new toy in the window, but I can see how he will contribute from Day 1. I believed Arizona should’ve gone tackle with their first pick even after resigning Levi Brown. Luckily, the Cardinals took three of them later in the draft including a huge steal in Bobby Massie in the fourth round. Also, don’t be surprised if Ryan Lindley competes for a starting job with John Skelton and Kevin Kolb.
Peter Konz and Jonathan Massaquoi were excellent values for where they were taken but I don’t like the Lamar Holmes pick. There were so many more-talented option at tackle at that point that I find it hard to explain the pick to people. Others will gripe about the three other lesser-knowns taken by the Falcons, but it’s hard to call anyone taken in the fifth round or later a “stretch”.
I love what Baltimore did in this draft. They moved out of the first round to help their draft picks later in the draft and still picked up a first round talent in Courtney Upshaw. At 35th overall, Upshaws value is IMMENSE. Kelechi Osemele later in the round was another great pick up and I’m a huge fan of the late-round additions of Asa Jackson and Tommy Streeter. Streeter has a size-speed combination that creates major matchup problems almost like a tight end.
It’s hard to shed criticism on a team that gets to first-round talents and only one first round pick. Anyone who thought Stephon Gilmore was a bit of a stretch was quieted when the Bills picked up Cordy Glenn in the second round. The rest of their draft board is pretty much straight forward and Zebrie Sanders was a nice find in the fifth round. I’m not sure the Bills needed to take kicker John Potter with their last pick late in the seventh round and I personally would’ve liked to see them take a flier on quarterbacks Kellen Moore or Case Keenum.
I love the Luke Kuechly pick but that won’t stop me from questioning what they did later in the draft. I had Amini Silatolu as more of a third-round talent but maybe I had him too low and Joe Adams was an okay pick up except when you consider who else was still on the board. I did like Josh Norman with the 143rd pick though and he was a solid find in the top of the fifth round.
Chicago’s draft board is heavy on sleepers and light on established prospects. Shea McClellin and Alshon Jeffery may end up doing just fine in the NFL but I can shake the fact that there were so many other more promising prospects available in those positions at those times. Other than them, the rest of their pickups are pretty bland and how could you not address the GLARING need on the O-line? Even in the late rounds.
I won’t dwell on the fact that I don’t think Kevin Zeitler was a first round talent because Devon Still definitely was. From a value perspective, from my point of view, those two picks offset one another. Dre Kirkpatrick was a guy a lot of people thought was headed to Cincy and he ends up landing with the Bengals. He will immediately bring stability to that secondary. Also, Mohamed Sanu was a great find in the middle rounds of the draft to get A.J. Green some help.
Most of Cleveland’s draft board is pretty factory-issued so let’s focus on the first two picks. I like Trent Richardson a lot but I still don’t get the Browns interest in him. The team has so many glaring needs that I feel Peyton Hillis and Chris Ogbonnaya are good ENOUGH for right now. Cleveland skipped on getting a wide receiver like Justin Blackmon in the first round and didn’t address the position until Travis Benjamin in the fourth round. Accordingly, there is still a glaring need at the position. I actually thought the Brandon Weeden selection was a pretty smart pick up once Luck and RG3 were off the board. I like him as sort of a stopgap measure to bring in some competition for Colt McCoy.
Dallas effectively took themselves out of most of the early stages of the draft by spending a ton to go up and get Morris Claiborne. Whether or not that move works out remains to be seen but I still think Dallas could’ve spent significantly less to move not as far up the draft board to get Mark Barron and still satisfy a major need. The Cowboys didn’t find any mega steals with their mid- and late-round picks and it’s worth noting that Danny Coale probably isn’t an effective replacement for Laurent Robinson. I did like the pickup of James Hanna in the sixth round, though.
What a brain fart of a pick Derek Wolfe was. He might be the least-talented prospect the Broncos picked up and, thanks to that gaffe, there is still a major need across the defensive line. Ronnie Hillman was also another major stretch with plenty of more promising running backs still available. In fact, their best prospect, quarterback Brock Osweiler, is being brought in to be a backup. My first thoughts here are easy: this was a disastrous draft for the Mile-High city.
The Lions should pat themselves on the back heavily for landing Riley Reiff in the bottom of the first round. Reiff was EASILY a Top 10 talent and he will immediately fill a major need for Detroit. But after that steal, not too much excites me about the Lions board. Ryan Broyles is fine as a marginal NFL talent but there were better receivers still on the board in the second round. Also, the Lions biggest need was cornerback with the departure of Eric Wright and the team didn’t address the position until late in the third round. Dwight Bentley might end up becoming a solid contributor but I’m less optimistic about Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green. Plus, how could you pass up Alfonzo Dennard THREE times?
Green Bay Packers
The Packers were surprisingly active during this year’s draft. Clay Matthews needed some help in the worst way and Nick Perry was a solid addition (thought he wasn’t the best option on my board at that time). Jerel Worthy was a fringe first-round talent that the Cheeseheads stole in the middle of the second round and Casey Hayward was just fine as a second round selection. What I really like here is the dedication and discipline the Pack’s war room. Defense was clearly the weaker side of the football in 2011 and Green Bay spent their first six picks trying to address that problem. Plus, you shouldn’t sleep on B.J. Coleman. He should make a suitable replacement for Matt Flynn.
A lot of people thought the Texans were going to get Andre Johnson some help in the first round but instead hopped on the fact that a deep, deep defensive line pool was going largely untouched. I think Houston would be kind to remind you they lost a little guy known as Mario Williams to free agency and Whitney Mercilus may come in and do just fine as a replacement. We’ll see whether or not the “One Year Wonder” label applies here. Houston then got two wide outs in DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin in the second and fourth rounds respectively. I still think there were better receivers available. But if those were the guys they liked, I won’t nit-pick. Oh, and by the way, Jared Crick was a MONSTER steal at the very end of the fourth round.
What more can you say? The Colts got their boy Andrew Luck then did him a solid by drafting teammate Coby Fleener. Both were obviously glaring needs for the Colts and, in both cases, they got the best available. So kudos to them. But there were needs on the defensive side of the ball as well and I think taking a second tight end in Dwayne Allen was a bit overkill. Indy also lost Pierre Garcon but this franchise is an expert at finding underrated talent at wide receiver. T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill may prove to be just that. Lastly, if you wanted to take an uber-athletic second quarterback with the last pick in the draft, Chandler Harnish is fine but how could you pass up Darron Thomas or Jacory Harris?
At approximately 8:45 P.M. on Thursday evening, Justin Blackmon’s career ended. Okay, maybe that was a bit mean, but I would’ve liked to see him go elsewhere. I get a bit of a Terrell Owens-esque ego from Blackmon and a struggling quarterback and struggling offensive line may bring out the worst in his character. Jacksonville is betting heavily on him being the playmaker they DESPERATELY need. Also, Andre Branch was a nice find at the top of the second round and, if their offense continues to struggle, at least they have a brand new punter in Bryan Anger.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs needed a prototypical 3-4 defensive tackle, so you could see why they would reach past some other players available to nab Dontari Poe. Now we will find out which Poe (the mediocre one at Memphis or the monster at the combine) is the real Poe. Kansas City also got two solid tackles in Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson as well as some help for Dwayne Bowe in Devon Wylie and Junior Hemingway. It’ll also be interesting to see if running back Cyrus Gray becomes a contributor if Jamaal Charles proves not be the same backfield force coming back from injury.
I won’t dwell too much on the Ryan Tannehill pick because we all knew it was going to happen. I thought Jonathan Martin would be gone in the middle of the first round so he was a great value for Miami but how much did they really need him? After parting ways with Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins are back to having virtually no weapons in the passing game. Knowing this, how do you wait until the SIXTH round to draft a wide receiver? Miami is clearly banking on B.J. Cunningham becoming the next Tom Brady of sixth round selections.
This was just disciplined drafting by Minnesota. They needed help on the O-line and they got Matt Kalil. They needed help in the secondary and they got Harrison Smith and Josh Robinson. Were there other available? Maybe, but there weren’t any real stretches here. The Vikes took the guys they wanted and filled some major holes in the process. Now we get to find out whether or not Christian Ponder really is a franchise quarterback.
New England Patriots
This is the first thing I want to say here: Alfonzo Dennard in the SEVENTH round might be the biggest steal of the ENTIRE draft. Yes, there are red flags with him but that didn’t stop teams from taking guys like Bruce Irvin and Mike Adams early. Bill Belichick will straighten this kid out and have yet another playmaker scrounged up in the later rounds. At the beginning of the draft, New England also found solid help in Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower. I’m not as high as some other people on Jones but I know New England knows what they are doing, so odds are I probably am wrong.
New Orleans Saints
Strange draft for the new villains of the NFL. There punishment effectively took them out of the first half of this draft and they didn’t do anything too exciting in the second. Akiem Hicks was fine for a third round pick up and Nick Toon is a solid receiving prospect, but how many more receivers do the Saints need? Meanwhile, there were some GLARING needs in the secondary with some premier receivers in the division and all New Orleans has to show for it is fifth-round pick Corey White? Yucky.
New York Giants
This was a very solid draft by the defending champs. New York had only one first round pick and it was at the very end. And yet, they managed to get two (or three) first round talents. Rueben Randle and David Wilson will help ease the loss of Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs. Cornerback wasn’t a huge need for Big Blue, but with a plethora of premier passers and pass catchers (including newly-added Robert Griffin III) in the division, is there such a thing as too many? Jayron Hosley was a solid late third round find. But with two huge undrafted free agents in Jake Ballard and Victor Cruz, the best additions for the Giants may be yet to come. Who knows?
New York Jets
Is there a more “Jets-ier” player than Quinton Coples in this draft? A kid with tremendous talent and an even bigger ego who often has problems giving it all on every down? This guy will fit right in with this squad. Okay, maybe I’m being a little unfair, but Rex Ryan has certainly added to what I think I’m going to start calling “The Bronx Zoo 2″. Look for it in a theater near you. On the plus side, I’m a huge Stephen Hill guy and he should make an excellent addition opposite Santonio Holmes. I guess there’s just another obstacle in the way of Plaxico Burress and his comeback career now.
Thanks to Carson Palmer, the Raiders didn’t have too much to do at the beginning of this draft. And thanks to the Oakland Raiders war room, the Raiders didn’t do too much in the second half, either. Tony Bergstrom in the third round? Miles Burris in the fourth? What’s wrong, was JaMarcus Russell not available? The only bright spot here was a solid value pick in Juron Criner but even that isn’t enough to account for some huge, huge stretches.
All I can say is, “Holy crap, the Eagles made out like bandits in this one.” Fletcher Cox twelfth overall. Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry in the second. Brandon Boykin in the FOURTH. I even like the addition of quarterback Nick Foles. There was value after value here from beginning to finish and Philadelphia is easily the frontrunner for having the BEST draft of 2012. I think the Dream Team just got dreamier.
The Steelers made a pretty interesting statement by taking Mike Adams. After failing the drug test many front office staff refer to as the “stupid test”, Adams managed to talk his way back into the hearts of the Pittsburgh war room. And, after drafting David DeCastro, the Steelers now have two wholly talented new offensive linemen. Sean Spence isn’t the prototypical interior linebacker the Steelers were looking for, but he was an excellent pick up in the third round and should find a spot to start in before the season is over.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are yet another team that found some first round talent outside of the first round. After happily letting Melvin Ingram (arguably a Top 10 pick) fall to them, the Chargers also picked up Kendall Reyes. But my real intrigue hear is tight end Ladarius Green. At 6’6″ and tipping the scales at 239 lbs., Green is a monstrous middle-of-the-field matchup problem waiting to happen. And, if he lines up opposite Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers may have a new vertical threat to play with.
San Francisco 49ers
If the Niners felt they still needed help at receiver even with the additions of Mario Manningham and, yes, Randy Moss, I’m not sure A.J. Jenkins was the guy they should’ve been looking at in the first round. Jenkins is plenty good, but there were plenty others still available including Reuben Randle and Stephen Hill. However, I like the LaMichael James pickup a lot and he should help ease the load on those vulnerable knees of Frank Gore. San Fran also waited until the last round to address their needs on the defensive line but stealing Virginia product Cam Johnson helped wipe some of the sweat of their brow.
I’m so glad the Seahawks are so loaded that they can afford to spend their first round draft pick on a one-down role player with some serious character concerns. Oh, they’re not that good? Then they just whiffed on the pick. His pass rushing skills aside, I would LOVE for Pete Carroll to explain to me why Bruce Irvin is a better prospect than Quinton Coples or Melvin Ingram. On the plus side, I like Robert Turbin a lot and he was just fine as the 106th overall pick. I’m not convinced Russell Wilson is an NFL quarterback and I still don’t get the double standard in prototypical passer height between him and Kellen Moore, but at the very least he brings some quality depth to the position.
St. Louis Rams
Rams fans are probably upset they don’t Justin Blackmon or Fletcher Cox or Morris Claiborne, but St. Louis wanted to get some more picks and Michael Brockers is a solid pick in the middle of the first round. Not to mention that, after him, the Rams continued to have a very solid draft. Brian Quick wasn’t the best available wide out on my board but others seem to love the kid. Isaiah Pead is a nice change-of-pace back for Steven Jackson and should help ease the workload for one of the most used running backs in the NFL on a yearly basis. Oh, and by the way, Janoris Jenkins AND Trumaine Johnson? St. Louis now has some impressive depth in the secondary.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs spent a lot to climb up to the top of the draft early and often. First they moved back and got Mark Barron who should be their Week 1 starting safety then they moved back into the first round to snag Doug Martin. I don’t know how LeGarette Blount feels about that one, but it’s not a half-bad pick up to me. Then Tampa Bay grabbed Lavonte David in the second round. He’s not a super-sexy pick but a solid football player nonetheless. As for that litter of late round picks in rounds 5-7, there’s not much excitement there.
They wanted Kendall Wright and by golly they got him. With Kenny Britt back and healthy Matt Hasselbeck and/or Jake Locker are going to have plenty of toys to play with. I would’ve liked to see them pick up a versatile tight end at some point before Taylor Thompson in the fifth round, but beggars can’t be choosers. Zach Brown has some solid value as a second round pick and Mike Martin may be a bit one-dimensional as a pass rusher but that is what the middle rounds of the draft are for (you hear me, Seattle?).
The Redskins took their first Top 5 drafted quarterback since Heath Shuler and I think this one will work out for them. Unfortunately, making that move cost them much of their early draft picks the next couple years. In the later rounds, Mike Shanahan once again proved he likes marginal, journeyman-type offensive lineman because he took three with his eight picks not named “RG3″. Where Josh LeRibeus may have been a bit of a stretch in the third round, Tom Compton was a solid addition late in the sixth. People are going to read too much into the addition of quarterback Kirk Cousins but they shouldn’t. The Shanahans’ plan is probably to carry three quarterbacks this season and develop Cousins as the third-stringer.