Wednesday, May 2, 2012

13 comments 2012 NFL Draft Grades

Now that the NFL Draft is over, I will commence with the useless and overly premature, but extremely fun, task of grading each team's NFL Draft. It was a pretty trade-heavy draft in the first round this year, including the Patriots trading UP not once, but twice. Perhaps this will shut up those people who seem to believe the decline of the "the Patriots Way" is tied directly to their insistence on trading back and accumulating draft picks. Probably not. I'm convinced these people will now complain the Patriots should have traded back in order to gain more picks.

Last year I used two posts to do these grades and I will try to them in one post this year. I'm not calling these teams "winners" and "losers" or anything like that. I give them a grade based on how well I think each NFL team chose players that fit their needs in order to make them a better team. What I find interesting about the NFL Draft is we all get caught up in conventional wisdom sometimes and it is better to look at a team's draft and ignore conventional wisdom. I'll try to do that, especially with players that fall in the draft. For example, over the last five years I can think of three players who "fell" in the draft and my favorite team picked them up. Dwayne Jarrett, Duke Robinson and Jimmy Clausen. What they have in common is two of them aren't with the team anymore and the other is the third string QB. So grading on conventional wisdom is dangerous. I'll try to avoid it.

One last note...I grade on a scale of 0-10.

Arizona Cardinals

In my mock draft I made it fairly clear I thought the Cardinals needed to work on the offensive line. They chose to make Larry Fitzgerald happy by drafting Michael Floyd. So that's going to make this a much better passing team. They waited until the later rounds to draft offensive linemen and I really like the guys they drafted. I had Massie mocked in the first round, while Potter and Kelemente played against good competition at a high level in college. Otherwise, they drafted a late round QB, Ryan Lindley, who will need a few years to even be a competent backuop. Still not sure Floyd was the right pick in the first round. Thought they could have found good receivers later in the draft, especially since Doucet and Roberts have proven to be competent. I like how they addressed their needs on the offensive line, but I'm not sure they put themselves in a position to draft guys who can start next year.

Grade: 5

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons didn't have a first round pick because of the Julio Jones trade. For some reason, more people are impressed with the Jones trade this year as compared to last year. I think this is a product of the Browns draft choices with the Falcons' picks more than anything. I think the Jones trade would look a lot worse for the Falcons if the Browns seemed to be more competent with their picks. For the picks they had, the Falcons did pretty well. I like Peter Konz and he is versatile. I was thinking the Falcons should probably work on getting another tight end to prepare for the end of the road for Tony Gonzalez. Perhaps they thought it was too early for that since Gonzalez hasn't retired yet. It's interesting they drafted a fullback since they struggled on short-yardage against the Giants. It's clear the Falcons want to stay committed to the running game. Overall, this isn't a bad draft, but I'm not sure how much better the Falcons are as compared to a month ago.

Grade: 3

Baltimore Ravens

They traded out of the first round this year, so they didn't pick until late in the second round. Courtney Upshaw fell and the Ravens took advantage of it. I hope I'm not projecting my perceived needs on the Ravens too much, but I think they should have addressed the need to give Flacco more weapons on offense. I don't know if a wide receiver in the 6th round and a slow-ish running back in the 3rd round does the trick. Perhaps I should put more trust in Ozzie Newsome, since he has proven to be incredibly competent. I won't raise my grade based on Newsome's past competence, but will allow perhaps there is something about this draft I am not capable of understanding, which will eventually make it great.

Grade: 5

Buffalo Bills

I am not a Stephon Gilmore fan. He rose in this draft fast. I do recognize the Bills needed a playmaker in the secondary on defense, but I'm not sure Gilmore is the guy. Mark Barron and Luke Kuechly were gone, so they went with a corner. It does make sense. For me, this draft is made with Cordy Glenn in the second round and Zebrie Sanders in the fifth round. I also like Ron Brooks. I don't think he'll be a star, but he got lost in that really talented LSU secondary. The Bills did need another receiver, so if I'm nitpicking (which I obviously love to do), I would say I'm not sure T.J. Graham will be the playmaking receiver I thought they needed to pair with Stevie Johnson. The Bills are trying to become a really good team and I think they have at least three or four players in this draft who will help them get there.

Grade: 8

Carolina Panthers

Kuechly is a somewhat strange pick, but a good one. Kuechly seems like a solid pick and Carolina is obviously (no matter what they say) concerned two of their starting linebackers are coming off major surgery. Seems to be more of a luxury pick over need. Same thing goes for the second round when they took Amini Silatolu. They needed another guard on the offensive line, but they did have a larger need at defensive tackle. I don't get the trade up for Frank Alexander. I'm not sure you give up a 2013 3rd round pick and a 2012 6th round pick to get a guy who is going to merely be a pass-rush specialist. They did get a return man in Joe Adams and I really like Josh Norman. Good draft, but they didn't touch their biggest area of need (defensive tackle). Like their draft, but when a team doesn't meet their biggest need I can't rave about the draft either.

Grade: 6

Chicago Bears

They went defense in the first round. I'm not sure how McClellin fits in with a 4-3 defense as an end. I thought he fit a 3-4 as an outside linebacker more. I thought maybe going offensive line or wide receiver was a better option. That is until the Bears drafted Alshon Jeffrey who could make a good red zone target but has a tendency to be overweight and out of shape...and that was before he got paid to play in the NFL. I'm not a Jeffrey fan. If Jeffrey gets his head out of his ass he will be a steal for the Bears though. Hardin was another guy who looks like a steal on paper. Still the Bears didn't do anything to upgrade the offensive line, so maybe that shouldn't be as big of a concern as I think it should be. Decent draft, but I'm not sure the Bears got any stars.

Grade: 5

Cincinnati Bengals

I like Dre Kirkpatrick, but I'm not sure Kevin Zeitler is ever going to be outstanding. Still, he is an upgrade from what they currently have. Bengals did well to take best player available while filling a need. The Bengals took guys from major BCS schools which I think plays into the high grades they are getting from other draft graders. If I'm honest, I think these BCS school guys are graded higher than guys from smaller schools in these draft grades because they have more name recognition. Having said that, the Bengals did well to get Devon Still, George Iloka and Orson Charles. Brandon Thompson isn't so impressive to me. Seems to me like he's a guy who benefited from the excellent defensive ends Clemson had over the past couple years and he is a rotational-type guy at best. I don't consider him a steal. The Bengals did really well in the draft, no doubt, but I'm not sure it is the homerun other people believe it to be.

Grade: 8

Cleveland Browns

I mocked Richardson to Cleveland and I'm not going to knock them for trading three picks to make sure Tampa Bay didn't get him. They did what they had to in order to get their guy. Now as far as drafting Brandon Weeden...I'm not a Colt McCoy fan, but I don't see Weeden as better than McCoy, except he is three years older than McCoy. I know Weeden plays off his age, but the bottom line is his age doesn't mean he will play better or adapt faster to the NFL. Throwing in the fact the Browns didn't address their wide receiver need until the fifth round and reeeeached for John Hughes in the third round, I have a hard time giving them a good grade. I thought they did a good job addressing their offensive line, but I hated the Weeden pick and the Bengals wasted a pick in the third round they could have used to address the wide receiver position.

Grade: 2

Dallas Cowboys

I really liked the Cowboys move to trade up and get the best corner in the draft. They needed help rushing the passer but better coverage downfield helps too. I don't want to give the Cowboys a higher grade based on choosing one pick, but the Claiborne move was a smart one. The other names aren't impressive, but I think Kyle Wilbur has a chance to at least be a solid backup and James Hanna is an athletic tight end who could potentially be what Martellus Bennett never was...albeit there are physical differences in the two.

Grade: 6

Denver Broncos

Denver traded out of the first round (New England traded up!) to get another second round pick and then traded the 31st pick for an extra 4th round pick. I'm not sure I entirely get this draft. Obviously the Broncos favored Wolfe over other defensive tackles, so that's why they took him once they moved out of the first round. I look and I don't see difference-makers or players who are going to start this year. I know everyone is petrified Peyton Manning will get hurt this year, but Brock Osweiler looks like an NFL quarterback and in no way he is prepared to actually be one. So I don't know if he is anything but a project at this point. The Broncos traded out of the first round, then took a project quarterback in the second round, and probably didn't even get a starter out of this draft. It's bad enough the Broncos played over their heads last year by getting a playoff spot, but now they didn't get an impact player in the draft. There are two guys in this draft I like, Hillman who is a change-of-pace back and Omar Boldin who is coming off a major knee injury. Maybe those are the two impact guys for 2012. If you sign Peyton Manning to win now, you have to do better than this.

Grade: 2

Detroit Lions

It's about time they focused on the offensive line. I know this pick will get beaten up a bit because the Lions defense desperately needed help. Still, they had to upgrade the offensive line. Reiff may not be a left tackle, but at least the Lions drafted a tackle in the first round. The Lions drafted Ryan Broyles, who was a nice risk, but then drafted all defensive players after that. I enjoyed the strategy employed by the Lions. Get a tackle, take a risk on a productive player and then take defensive players. I get the feeling Martin Mayhew attended a lot of Oklahoma games this year since he chose three players from OU. The Lions took a couple chances on small school corners with athletic skill, which you almost have to do going against Rodgers and Cutler four times a year. I don't know if the Lions are a significantly better team now, but their strategy made sense and I like their picks.

Grade: 7

Green Bay Packers

The Packers did go defense, as expected in the first round. They also went defense in every round with every pick until their seventh round pick. It's almost like they spotted a need on defense. Not sure I like Nick Perry as a first round pick and Jerel Worthy was a monster in college some games and other games he wasn't. I've been whining for a few years the Packers need to start to address their secondary and they did that with Heyward and Andrew Datko was a steal in the seventh round. I got to see BJ Coleman in college and I think he is a high talent, hardworking guy who just didn't get very good coaching at Tennessee-Chattanooga. I see him being a quality backup in a couple of years. He just needs someone who is very competent working with him and helping to fix his tendencies. The first couple picks being question marks, the back end of the draft seems much better to me.

Grade: 6

Houston Texans

I wanted to see Kendall Wright and Andre Johnson in the same receiving corps. I guess I don't get my way. I don't know if Mercilus is an inside linebacker (which I thought is what they were aiming for) and if they didn't go wide receiver, I'd like to have seen them improve the offensive line. Kind of a miss in the first round for me because they wouldn't have had to reach to fit a need if they had gone receiver or offensive line. What irritates me the most is they addressed the wide receiver spot in the 3rd round with a guy who I think is a bit overrated, DeVier Posey. I would give this draft a really low grade since they didn't address the tackle position until the seventh round, but they improved the interior of their offensive line with Brandon Brooks and completely thieved Jared Crick (yes, I'm biased). Crick can be a starter as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.

Grade: 4

Indianapolis Colts

They picked a surefire Hall of Fame quarterback in the first round. The only issue is his face is built for radio, so he probably won't have the endorsements the comparatively sexy Peyton Manning received. I thought the Colts did a great job improving their offense. Their offense is going to look really good with Luck under center. I am not sure about drafting two tight ends, but they are both good looking tight ends. The Colts also helped out their special teams by drafting T.Y. Hilton. Boy, the Colts are going to look good on offense. The problem? They drafted two defensive players, one of which fits really, really well as a nose tackle (Josh Chapman) and another is JAG to me (what do I expect in the seventh round though?). So the Colts get two grades from me. As much as I understand building an offense around Luck, I feel like they should have addressed the defense earlier than they did. Not to mention, they waited until the seventh round to draft an offensive lineman? Can't fill all the needs in one draft I guess. I know the Colts had a lot of success with Peyton Manning at center by drafting offensive players higher in the draft and developing defensive players (or that was the perception), but I wish they had paid more attention to defense.

Grade (offense): 10
Grade (defense): 3

Jacksonville Jaguars

It was unfathomable to me the Jaguars would not draft a receiver to help out Blaine Gabbert. I'm glad they did. It's up to Gabbert to perform now. Andre Branch fit their need in the second round as well. I'm not as up in arms about the Jags picking a punter in the third round as others are. It's low-hanging fruit to mock them for drafting a punter. Anger was the best punter in the draft and they chose him too early. I'm more upset they didn't use that pick for more offensive line help, another receiver for Gabbert, or pretty much any other position. So I won't mock the Jags for choosing a punter, but will lower their grade since I think there is more that could have been done with that pick.

Grade: 2

Kansas City Chiefs

I don't like the Dontari Poe choice. This screams of a team desperately trying to fit to a need they have. Poe didn't produce much at Memphis and he was a workout warrior at the Combine. So while they filled the need, I thought it wasn't a wise choice to fill the need in the first round. Of course if he is a great player, I look like an idiot. I'm betting he isn't a great player though. The Chiefs tried to find another Wes Welker with the Devon Wylie pick and De'quan Menzie got lost on an excellent Alabama defense. I think he is capable of being a really quality nickel corner. So while I initially hated this draft, and I'm not sure there are a large amount of impact players chosen, I don't hate it. I think Cyrus Gray will make a good backup to Jamaal Charles. The picks they made make sense to me and though I don't like Poe, it fit a need.

Grade: 7

Miami Dolphins

I could be in the minority on this, but I'm not a Tannehill fan. The Dolphins had to come out of this draft with a quarterback, at least to make it look like they were trying to find a quarterback, since apparently everyone hates Matt Moore. This draft is going to be decided by how Tannehill works out. I keep hearing Jonathan Martin will struggle on the right side, but he did a pretty good job of protecting Andrew Luck at Stanford on the left side. I'm sure he'll figure out the right side and be fine. I wasn't really a huge fan of the rest of the draft. I think Michael Egnew has benefited from every team wanting an athletic tight end on the roster, so he's a bit overrated. The best pick by the Dolphins was Lamar Miller, which makes me wonder what his presence means for Daniel Thomas. I have to admit my grade is very much affected by the Tannehill pick.

Grade: 4

Minnesota Vikings

I can't believe the Vikings dangling Matt Kalil as "slipping" actually ended up working...sort of. Great job taking advantage of Browns/Bucs love for Richardson to get more draft picks and still get their man. Then the Vikings used their cache of picks to get Harrison Smith. In a division with Rodgers/Cutler/Stafford, they had to upgrade their secondary. Otherwise this was a "Noah's Ark" type draft for the Vikings because they chose two players from Notre Dame, Arkansas, and USC. It was a very top heavy draft and they did a good job meeting those needs with their first three picks. They also did a good job of attempting to add depth to the receiving corps with Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. I'm not enamored with the draft, but the Vikings did a good job meeting needs and gaining picks.

Grade: 6.5 (can't decide between a "6" or "7")

New England Patriots

I'm not a big Chandler Jones fan, but he can be used effectively as a blitzer, so the Patriots are a good place for him to go. I'm still not sure he is a first round pick. Don'ta Hightower is a great tackler and I'm not sure why he wasn't valued higher than he was. Who am I to doubt the rest of this draft? Well, I'm some asshole with a keyboard. Belichick is getting a lot of leeway in the evaluations of this draft based on his resume. I love the value in Alfonzo Dennard. I think he would have been a second round pick if teams weren't afraid he's a turd. I'll probably get some hate for this, but Wilson, Ebner, Bequette, and Ebert seem like projects to me. Perhaps they fit Belichick's system. They'll probably work out and I'll probably look like a moron. I simply feel like Belichick outsmarted himself in this draft.

Grade: 3

New Orleans Saints

The Saints did not have a 1st or 2nd round pick this year. It's hard to grade their draft since they didn't have a shot at an impact player. They traded their first round pick for Mark Ingram, who has yet to prove he's worth that pick, and lost the other pick in Bountygate. Just based on where the Saints were picking, I'll be surprised if two of these players are on the roster in three years. At best, Hicks will be a rotational defensive tackle and Nick Toon will be a #3 receiver. Based on circumstances within the Saints control, this just didn't have a chance to be a great draft.

Grade: 1

New York Giants

I'm a little torn on the David Wilson pick. The Giants did need a running back. I'm not sure Wilson is an every down back, but I don't think he'll be expected to be one either. I expected the Giants to take a linebacker at some point, but they didn't do that. Jerry Reese gets a lot of leeway with his picks, so I'm guessing a lot of draft graders won't mention linebacker was an area of somewhat need for the Giants. Rueben Randle and Jayron Hosley both fell in the draft. Usually there is a reason for that. Hosley's positive test for marijuana explains his, but I don't understand why Randle fell. I really like this draft, but I don't know if I am ready to give it a top grade. I think they filled their needs well for the spot they were in. I'm not quite raving about the draft though.

Grade: 8

New York Jets

The knock on Coples is he didn't give 100% last year...or ever. Those who defend him say that UNC had given up on the season, so that is why he didn't go full speed, while I ask why this gives him permission to play at half-speed? Is he going to play at high-speed at times in the NFL when he doesn't think there is much to play for? He could be Vernon Gholston or could be an absolute steal. Then the Jets took Stephen Hill who could be a star or could be a bust. Very risky draft in my opinion. So the two players drafted earlier in the draft that are most likely to make an impact are both risks, while the rest of the draft contains a goal line back at best (Ganaway), safeties that don't appear to make the impact the Jets need (Bush/Allen), and their third round pick is a linebacker who has been described most places as "developmental." If Hill and Coples hit, this is a "9" draft. At least they have QB Jets on the roster to play on special teams. What could go wrong?

Grade: 4

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders didn't pick until pick #95. On a positive note, they do have Carson Palmer and Terrelle Pryor as their quarterbacks. Who needs draft picks? I have a small amount of sympathy for Reggie McKenzie not having high draft picks this year. He inherited (or chose to take on) the mess, he didn't create it. The third round pick used for Terrelle Pryor looked silly even before the Raiders traded for Carson Palmer. There are probably two guys from this draft who will contribute, Juron Criner and Tony Bergstrom. I like Criner as a #3 receiver. He doesn't have a ton of speed, but I'm surprised he fell as far as he did.

Grade: 2

Philadelphia Eagles

I think Fletcher Cox was a steal at #12. He helps the Eagles pass rush. I really like the Eagles draft. They needed help at linebacker, in the secondary, and in the pass rush. Yes, I realize that is nearly the entire defense. They got four guys who I believe had first or second round talent. Kendricks was a great choice and so was Vinny Curry. I'm not a Nick Foles fan, but I can't blame the Eagles for using a pick on him. It isn't like Vick is prone to staying healthy and Foles was worth a pick. I like the late round pick of Bryce Brown also. Talent has never been his issue. That's a low risk pick with high upside. I think he has the talent to backup LeSean McCoy. This was probably my favorite draft because the Eagles met their needs on defense and didn't stretch to draft a player.

Grade: 10

Pittsburgh Steelers

Okay, this may be my second favorite draft. I wanted Carolina to take DeCastro at #9, so I think DeCastro lasted way too long. He'll be a Pro Bowler and Ben Roethlisberger has to be happy for Pouncey and DeCastro to be right beside each other on the line. Throw in the talented, but troubled (I think that will be his name in the NFL, The Talented but Troubled Mike Adams, perhaps I will call him TTBTMA for short), Mike Adams and it is absolutely clear the Steelers have been listening to my harping on them fixing their offensive line. They won't have to work hard to find a role for Chris Rainey either. He's fast and they just need to get him the ball. He's a great scat-back type player. Two issues that lower this grade for me. First, I'm not in love with the late round picks, and second, Adams does have some issues that could make him non-productive. Plus, I would like to know why Ta'amu fell as far as he did. Is there something I don't know?

Grade: 9

San Diego Chargers

Yeah, the Chargers needed a pass rusher. Melvin Ingram seems to have been a great choice. I think the offensive line was a need for them and they waited until the fifth round to take a guy who is going to miss the entire 2012 season with an injury. At least they drafted the self-proclaimed "best" center in the draft in David Molk. It's clear the Chargers are trying to find the next Antonio Gates with Ladarius Green. I'm also partial to Brandon Taylor, though I am concerned he is going to struggle in pass protection. The Chargers also ignored the minor need at cornerback and drafted a small running back (Edwin Baker) who plays slower than he is timed at. They probably got a couple starters out of this draft, so I can't pan it, but I am disappointed in some of the needs they addressed (or didn't address).

Grade: 7

San Francisco 49ers

Conventional wisdom says the 49ers should have taken Hill/Randle before AJ Jenkins. I'm not sure any receiver drafted here would be a #1-type guy, but they needed another wide receiver. I like how the met some of their needs while picking up draft choices for next year. I do wish they had taken a defensive end at some point in the draft earlier than the seventh round. The 49ers had a need at guard which they clearly seem to believe Joe Looney could be the answer at guard. I liked the A.J. Jenkins pick because I think he'll fit in well with the receiving corp next year as a slot guy, but I didn't like the LaMichael James choice in the second round. I will say I don't know if Jenkins has as high of a ceiling as some guys drafted before him, which makes me question the pick just a little bit. As far as James goes, I know Frank Gore has injury issues, but James seems a bit like Kendall Hunter to me. Maybe the 49ers have bigger plans for him than I am capable of understanding.

Grade: 5

Seattle Seahawks

Conventional wisdom is to bash the Irvin pick, but Greg Cosell (I think) made this point...the 49ers used Aldon Smith in predominatly pass-rush situations last year and he was incredibly productive. I don't think Irvin is a three-down linebacker, but he's a great pass-rusher. I don't like the pick in the first round, but I see what Seattle is thinking. Mel Kiper was wrong in my opinion to have come down on them so hard. Irvin can rush the passer and the way the NFL is trending, those guys have value. Bobby Wagner was a solid choice in the second round and the Seahawks have their OLB needs covered. I would have liked for them to have sought help at defensive end, but I can forgive that. I get the Russell Wilson pick. I wouldn't favor drafting Tannehill, but Wilson is talented enough to push Flynn, but requires enough work to where he probably won't start in 2012 and the Seahawks can see what they have in Flynn. Somehow I stumbled on to a couple Utah State games this year and I really like Robert Turbin. Overall, not a bad draft as long as you have an open mind about the Irvin pick.

Grade: 6

St. Louis Rams

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems the Rams wanted Fletcher Cox or Justin Blackmon and missed on both. Brockers meets a need but he is a more developmental pick in my opinion. The same thing goes for Brian Quick. As an ASU alumni, I wish it weren't true, but I am not sure Quick is going to have an impact his first year in the NFL. Of course how many first year wide receivers do have a big impact their first year in the NFL? Then there is a Janoris Jenkins, who has question marks about him as well. Trumaine Johnson was the first pick I thought was a safe, solid pick that will help the Rams become a better team this year. Don't get me wrong, I think this was a good draft, but I'm not screaming from the rooftop about it. Quick, Brockers, and Jenkins all seem like non-immediate impact guys or have personality questions. I don't see Isaiah Pead as Steven Jackson's successor as the Rams do and I still think the Rams have half-assed giving Sam Bradford offensive weapons. In three years, this could be a brilliant draft if Brockers/Jenkins work out, but I'm not seeing it right now.

Grade: 5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I thought the move to get Mark Barron was a okay one. He's needed in the NFC South against Brees/Ryan/Newton. I'd like to have seen them take a corner over Barron. I think Claiborne was a better pick than Barron. The trade up for Doug Martin surprised me, but I think it reflects what the new staff thinks of LeGarrette Blount. The Bucs did a good job of trading around and meeting their needs though. I do love Lavonte David in the second round. The last four picks strike me as special teams guys at the most. Still, they got three starters out of this draft, which is a really good for them. I would like for them to have stuck with Claiborne to cover up for the terrible Eric Wright signing (he will have 6-8 interceptions this year because teams are going to love throwing at him), but Barron wasn't a bad pick.

Grade: 7

Tennessee Titans

I really, really like Kendall Wright. I don't know if this was the biggest need the Titans had, but I like the player. The Titans have done a good job building an offense. At worse, Wright is an excellent slot receiver. At best (which I think), he is a #1 type receiver. Other than that, I'm not so excited about this draft. I thought the Titans would reinforce the inside of their offensive line, which they didn't do, and Zach Brown is an underachiever. Maybe he'll prove me wrong, but I see him that way. I thought Mike Martin was a really good pick in the third round and I can see him as a starter, but I'm not as excited about Coty Sensabaugh as Mike Mayock seems to be.

Grade: 4

Washington Redskins

Well, they got the quarterback they wanted. I was talking about Griffin, not Cousins, but I can see how one would be confused. Now it is up to the two Shanahans to allow Griffin to develop by running the offense to his strengths and not try to show off their offensive genius. This draft will be judged by how Griffin plays in the future. My two biggest issues with the Cousins picks was (a) they had other needs to address and third string quarterback should have been down further on that list and (b) I don't get why they put additional pressure on Griffin like that. I think it puts some additional pressure on Griffin and shows the Redskins have hedged just a little bit. I simply don't like the idea of picking two rookie quarterbacks in the first 102 picks. I have to acknowledge they did a good job of meeting their offensive line needs at guard and tackle. They gave up a lot to get Robert Griffin and in a few months we'll see if it is worth it. If he busts, this draft looks bad.

Grade: 6


Justin Zeth said...

The Browns would have been better off drafting DeCastro at #4 than Richardson.

More later, but I just felt like venting that. Spending a top-ten pick (much less top-five, much less trading up in the top five) on a running back is a horrible, horrible waste.

rich said...

I know Weeden plays off his age

The Weeden pick was monumentally stupid for a variety of reasons:

1) Besides Joe Thomas their O-Line is shit. Weeden is going to get killed and turn into David Carr.

2) When the NFL season starts he'll be 29. If you are starting a rookie QB who is 29 you either are the worst team in the league or you have a great team and this was the final piece of the puzzle.

3) They had much more pressing needs they could have filled at that spot.

Back to point 2 though. You have a 29 year old rookie with a crap line and no receivers. Your best offensive weapon is a stud RB who will die behind the aforementioned shitty line.

How exactly does this work? Even if Weeden comes in and has an Andy Dalton type rookie year, that's not significantly better than what McCoy did.

More realistically, by the time Weeden adjusts fully to the NFL... he'll be old enough that the Browns will have to draft another QB to replace him.

So by the time the team might compete (assuming they improve) for a division title... you now have a good team with a shitty QB.

So the Browns are getting screwed on multiple levels here. Absolutely mindnumbing pick.

New York Giants

The draft completely baffled me.

A team with a history of successfully getting RBs late in drafts (Jacobs, Bradshaw)... using a first on a smallish back is iffy to me.

The Randle pick was really confusing to me, but I'm slowly warming up to it. The guy put up pretty good numbers with two horseshit QBs throwing to him, so he's got talent.

Then you get to the third round and the Giants go CB.

Those three picks in terms of talent is pretty good. In terms of "ya, that guy will be producing for us for years to come"... not so much.

We got a backup RB, a third string WR and a fifth string CB.

On a team where WR and CB are the deepest positions on the team, to use two more damn picks on them is odd to me.

The thing about the LB is that yes, the Giants need an improvement at the position. The issue is that:

1) They're playing a bunch of relatively young guys, who played much better at the end of the year.

2) Had significant injuries to others (Sintim for example).

3) Reese has used a ton of mid-round picks on LBs in the past.

Basically, once it got past the third round, I knew they weren't going LB because they've already used a lot of those picks on LBs in the past. Adding another fourth round LB to a roster full of them isn't a smart move.

What bothers me is that the biggest issues were at TE (due to injuries) and OL (due to age). Reese drafted a "project" from Cincy and waited until I think the fifth to grab OL.

Basically, we had two positions with immediate needs and drafted three guys who will need a few years to develop.

I wouldn't give the Giants an 8. I think a 6 is more appropriate given that they spent 7 picks and got 1 backup, 1 backup to the backup, 2 backup to the backup to the backup and the rest will be on the practice squad.

In Jerry we trust.

Bengoodfella said...

Justin, not a fan of running backs in the very early first round I see? I don't hate the pick because the Browns are going to need a running game since they have given up on the QB position it seems. I think the Browns should have taken a OL/WR with their other first round pick, but what do I know? You sound like Pete Prisco. He hates running backs in the very early first round. I'm not a fan, but I think Richardson is a great talent, so I can see how he would be worth it.

Rich, I didn't get the Weeden pick either. I lived through the Chris Weinke era and it stunk. Weinke was put in the lineup with a coach who didn't give a shit because he was getting fired after that season on a 1-15 team. It's not like Carolina could sit him, he was older so he needed to be out there. It's a weird dynamic to have a guy who is a rookie but you get the feeling he HAS to start now. Of course Weinke got the last laugh because he is now a well-respected quarterbacks coach at IMG. I think he'll be an NFL QB coach soon.

The Wilson pick surprised me too. He's not a starter in my opinion, but I think the Giants wanted to avoid having injury issues at the position. I didn't think it was the best pick in the first round. I'm a Randle fan. He had no one throwing him the ball in college.

I think it was a really good draft, but it is getting raves around the league which I don't think it deserves. I didn't think they would go TE since they signed Bennett, but I also forgot Ballard was out. I thought they may have tried to get Lavonte David. In fact, I mocked him there in the 1st round originally to the Giants.

You are right if they had drafted a LB later in the draft it would have been adding to what they already have. Reese has been really good though, so he seems to know what he is doing.

Justin Zeth said...

Running backs just don't matter that much in the NFL. This is a common misconception because running backs matter a ton in college, and in high school running backs dominate--in high school the best player on the field is usually the running back. But the higher the level of competition goes, the less rushing success depends on the running back and the more it depends on the o-line. In the NFL, rushing success is mostly o-line, and the best running backs in history (by counting stats) are simply the most durable guys.

We get tricked about this because occasionally we see a running back break some tackles, throw a sick juke, break a play and we think "Wow, I wish my team had a guy like that!" And in college and especially high school this is true. But studying the data very quickly shows that in the NFL the o-line is much more important, the difference between consistent 3 yard gains (the Ravens) and consistent no gains (the Browns).

There is a very strong correlation, if you look it up, between the quality of your quarterback and winning games or championships. Extremely strong, stronger than any one position in sports except maybe #1 starting pitcher in baseball. If you look at the quality of, say, the #1 wide receiver, the correlation between that and winning is a lot weaker than with quarterbacks, but still noticeably strong.

There is no correlation between the quality of your running back and winning.

This is easily seen a hundred ways. Draw up a list of the top ten quarterbacks, receivers and running backs of the past ten years; your list, you decide who to put on it. Count the wins, or count the championships. Or just look at the rosters of championship (or even division-winning) teams of the past 10 or 20 years and see for yourself.

There is a minimum talent level you need in order to play running back in the NFL. But beyond that it just doesn't matter who your running back is. That is why spending high picks on running backs, or devoting a large chunk of cap space to one, is a very serious blunder.

Justin Zeth said...

I should be more specific--I am talking specifically about success at running the ball. There actually is a very significant difference from one running back to another in terms of the very useful and underrated RB functions of pass blocking and catching passes. That's actually where value is found in the NFL when it comes to running backs--finding cheap guys that can gain 4.1 yards per attempt and also can pass block and catch passes. This is why (to pick a Steelers example) I like Chris Rainey's chances of being useful a lot more than I liked Rashard Mendenhall's.

It's also why, given the choice between one career and the other, I would not hesitate to take Kevin Faulk over Jerome Bettis.

Bengoodfella said...

Justin, I understand what you are saying. The NFL has turned into a passing league. I can see why you believe Richardson was a waste. I'm thinking the Browns missed out on a franchise quarterback in this draft, so taking Richardson, who could take some pressure off McCoy was a good move. Of course, you do bring up good points about how championships aren't won by running backs, but quarterbacks. Your points are persuasive. Of course my favorite team has two strong running backs and has a large chunk of cap space in one of them, so that sucks.

Would you think Richardson would be worth the pick if he can catch the ball, pass block and also run the ball at an efficient clip? Probably not, but if the Browns surround him with a good quarterback, would you like the pick better then? Probably, because as you suggested, it is a QB that wins titles. I guess I don't like the pick on its own, but I am assuming they will find a competent QB to play with Richardson and then he would be an even greater asset.

You sound a lot like Pete Prisco.

Justin Zeth said...

My opinion is that the only running back picked in the top five in the past 20 years that was worth the pick is Marshall Faulk. That's exactly because he was elite at everything, including blocking and receiving.

Obviously quarterbacks are the most important thing, but what I was trying to show is that running backs are just about irrelevant in the NFL. If you look at WR, OT, DT, LB, even relatively minor positions like safety or OG, you'll find at least some correlation between the quality of the player in that position and winning. With running backs you find none, putting them in a category with kickers and punters

And in my opinion, that makes them about as valuable in terms of draft picks and cap space as kickers and punters. In all those cases--RB, K, P--it's not that the positions themselves are irrelevant; obviously they all are important. It's more that (a) there's a relatively small gap in value between "good enough to play in the NFL" and "top five in the world" and (b) there are, relatively, a lot of players available cheap that can do the job adequately.

And again, none of this has *that* much to do with the NFL being a passing league. It's more that the NFL is an offensive line league (as opposed to a running back league), when it comes to rushing.

Justin Zeth said...

I'm not sure if the Prisco comp is a compliment, insult or something in between, but I guess it's just one point on which we agree. I think Barnwell over there at Grantland has also caught on that running backs are not worth high picks or much cap space. I think as time goes on your more alert football junkies will slowly figure this out.

Bengoodfella said...

Justin, I was going to use Marshall Faulk as an example, but I knew he was the outlier. I do see your point, though it makes me sad to think Jonathan Stewart isn't as good as I believe him to be. I do tend to agree with you that a good offensive line can open holes for an average running back and make him look better than he is. Maybe the Browns can get an excellent offensive line together with a great quarterback and they will be in business. I have to say, perhaps they should have worked harder to get RGIII.

The Pete Prisco comparison isn't an insult. I like Prisco and he brings up really good points about the value of running backs. I tend to enjoy his writing.

sptrfn said...

As a Denver fan, Ben, I don't know if I would rate our draft a 2, but it wasn't more than a 5, that's for sure.

For one, they made a mistake trading down twice and only getting one additional second round pick. Then, when they were at 31, I heard that they liked Doug Martin, but they somehow got it in their head that he would be there later, so they traded down with TB.

When that happened, I knew that the Bucs were going to take Martin. They apparently didn't see that.

In Round 2, they took Derek Wolfe, who was a reach who might have been there in Round 3. Maybe they didn't like Thompson or Jerel Worthy, but Wolfe was still a reach. They would have been better off drafting Philip Blake in Round 2 than Wolfe.

Speaking of Blake, him and Bolden will be their biggest steals. Osweiler could be as well, but he is a down the road pick if things work out. Also, Hillman, the RB, has ability, but why him over Polk? Lamar Miller? I don't get it.

I give it a 5, and I think that Blake and Omar Bolden will be the best out of this class when it's all said and done. Blake should start over Walton this year, and Bolden could be the starter next year if Porter leaves. Osweiler also could be a great pick as well.

BTW, here is another article dealing with your boy:

Bengoodfella said...

Sptrfn, I can see how you think my grade is a bit low for them. If it is any consolation to you, it's all a guess anyway!

Most of my grade comes from the Wolfe pick and the Osweiler pick. I get they want to prepare for life after Manning, but I am not sure Osweiler is worth a second round pick. Of course, I am terrible at evaluating QB's. Woody Paige actually called the Ronnie Hillman pick if I'm not wrong. It seems like the Broncos are trying to win now, but their draft sort of seemed to pick more developmental players. They probably have a plan I'm not aware of, but I thought they could get better players than they did. Bolden seems like a popular guy as a pick among Denver fans. I thought you guys liked Walton? Guess not, you probably know better than I do.

I am proud of Bill for not voting for MVP, but I think it is funny how he whined his way into getting a vote and then had it taken away. Shouldn't he have known if he bets on the MVP then he can't vote for the MVP. This is a case where the fact he is a nationally recognized writer collides with the sports fan in him.

sptrfn said...

Some of Denver's sports talk show hosts on 104.3 The Fan were perplexed. They didn't understand the Osweiler pick because Elway said that there was no Plan B, and that they wanted to win now.

Nate Lundy, a radio host on that station, was bashing the Osweiler pick big-time. He basically said that Brock went to the NFL because he realized he couldn't have another good year outside of the Dennis Erickson offense.

All that being said, I don't think that Brock was a big reach. He had a second round grade by most everyone. Derek Wolfe was a bigger reach, but I did hear that he was moving up draft boards, so, maybe it wasn't as much of a reach as people think.

Bengoodfella said...

I see where Osweiler is worth a 2nd round pick, I am just not sure it was worth to the Broncos to choose him in the 2nd round. I wouldn't call it a reach, more like a poor use of draft picks, since like most other teams they will be screwed if their starting QB goes down. I thought they could have done more with that pick to improve the team with Manning having only a few years left.

I don't know if I believe that's why Osweiler went to the NFL. I don't listen to sports talk radio and most of the reason is because they end up speculating and trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Not that Lundy was doing that, but it seems like that's speculation.

I thought DT was a big time need for the Broncos, so I liked they went that way. I felt there were better players on the board at that point.

I've decided not to call players "a reach" since I don't know teams' draft boards to know if a player was a reach. I thought the Broncos should have allocated their picks better than they did. I could look smart or like an idiot down the road, I guess.