Archive for May, 2014

I started this post on Friday, hence the title. I thought about changing it, but I have plans to do a fuller breakdown of rounds 2-7 (hopefully early next week) so I’m keeping it until I think of something better.

1. Texans selected OLB/DE Jadaveon Clowney
I would have been shocked if it was anyone else, Clowney has a support system already in place in Houston, the owner loves him and he’s got a great coaching staff to bring out his best. Playing alongside J.J. Watt means the double teams that restricted Clowney’s effectiveness as a junior should all but disappear. Word is that Crennel sees Clowney fitting into the hybrid DE/OLB role that Patriots great Willie McGinest once played in Crennel’s New England days.

2. Rams selected OT Greg Robinson
I really thought Khalil Mack had a shot here, but there’s no arguing with the pick. Robinson is an ideal fit in St. Louis where he’ll likely start out at Right Tackle or Guard with the intention of sliding back over to the Left Tackle spot he played at Auburn as early as 2015 if Jake Long fails to regain his form after suffering a torn ACL late last season. (Long is under contract through 2015, but the Rams can cut Long for minimal financial loss after the 2014 season if they need to.)

3. Jaguars selected QB Blake Bortles
I did not expect the Jags to pass on Khalil Mack or Sammy Watkins, and they passed on both. I didn’t think taking any QB this high was wise, but by the end of the process I was convinced Bortles would go top 5 (had him going to Browns at 4) and if the Jags were sold on getting a top QB, I think Bortles was the best choice. He’s pretty much a local having played at UCF, so he’ll help sell tickets and he’s really the only QB in this draft who checks all the boxes (namely: size, mobility, arm talent.) I’ll like this pick a lot more if the Jags can land a top WR in the second and a quality pass rusher in the third (or vice versa.) Could they have moved down and still gotten Bortles? Probably, but they would have to move past 2 if not 3 teams with a need at the position and that is a very risky place to be.

4. Buffalo Bills trade w/Cleveland Browns to select WR Sammy Watkins
Love the player, like the fit, but my gut reaction was that the Bills gave up too much (9th pick this year, plus 1st and 4th rounders next year.) I actually like the deal much better now that the Bills have traded Stevie Johnson to the 49ers for a conditional 4th round pick next year that could become a 3rd rounder. Granted, coming from the 49ers it will be a pick late in the round, but it showed me that the Bills had a plan in place to deal with what had suddenly become a crowded WR spot. The Watkins trade was about getting younger and giving EJ Manuel a true #1 and go to WR to pair with a strong supporting cast of Mike Williams, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and TJ Graham.

5. Oakland Raiders selected OLB Khalil Mack
Mack fell to the Raiders and they did not hesitate. It’s being assumed that Mack will play the ‘Von Miller’ role in Dennis Allen’s defense and I’d say he’s well suited to it. I really like the direction the Raiders are moving in this offseason and I’m especially excited to see what this revamped defense can do, with Mack as it’s centerpiece.

6. Atlanta Falcons select OT Jake Matthews
Nice pick by the Falcons, you sort of knew they would be going tackle with Mack and Clowney off the board, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that they got an exceptionally talented player at a position of dire need. Like Robinson, Matthews will probably start his career on the right side, though Sam Baker has been inconsistent at best on the left side new line coach Mike Tice might be willing to give him one more shot while Matthews builds up his strength and gets acclimated to the NFL.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers select WR Mike Evans
I had really started to sell myself on the Manziel to Tampa hype, but that was always conditioned on Mike Evans being off the board by the 7th pick. Tampa needed a receiver and they got a great one. Evans isn’t a polished route runner yet, but he’s a big bodied WR who knows how to box out defenders and make the catch in coverage. Vincent Jackson should provide a good role model for Evans while also taking pressure off the veteran. It also means Josh McCown and Mike Glennon won’t have to worry much about overthrowing their top targets.

8. Cleveland Browns trade w/Minnesota Vikings to select CB Justin Gilbert
Shades of the 2011 draft when Minnesota scared the Browns into trading up from number 4 to number 3 to select Trent Richardson, but that aside I love this pick. When the ‘Lions looking to trade up for Sammy Watkins’ rumors were at their peak I actually thought the Browns might try to trade down to #10 to take Gilbert (whom I and many other people speculated would otherwise be taken at the 10 spot by Detroit.) Instead it was the Bills who made the trade, but the result is the same the Browns filled a trouble spot on their roster opposite Joe Haden, and added a dynamic punt returner. The Browns defense is another unit I look forward to seeing in action this season.

9. Minnesota Vikings select DE/OLB Anthony Barr
If you read my re-mock just before the draft, you already know I love this pick. Barr is still unpolished, but he is such an explosive athlete who will be a great fit in Mike Zimmer’s offense, and will hopefully take some of the sting out of losing Jared Allen to the division rival Bears this offseason.

10. Detroit Lions select TE Eric Ebron
I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite buy the Lions interest in Ebron, but I was also willing to place my faith in Joseph Fauria as the pass catching TE in Detroit. It’s a pick that makes the Lions scary, giving Matt Stafford another weapon and creating match-up problems for teams outside of Calvin Johnson. He’ll probably get split out wide a lot and he’s a dangerous target to have over the middle. It’s not the pick I would have made, but I won’t knock it, he’s a good fit and Jim Caldwell likes to throw to the TE.

11. Tennessee Titans selected OT Taylor Lewan
I never really bought that Tennessee would go CB in the first round, but it seemed like the offensive line had been addressed last year and in a deep class they might look for a swing tackle later in the draft. But, once again it’s hard to argue with the pick, Lewan was arguably the best player on the board and current left tackle Michael Roos is 31, and on the right side Michael Oher does not necessarily inspire confidence. Lewan’s talent should dictate that he wind up starting, whether it’s through the clearing of a roster spot or winning a position battle. This move likely gives the Titans one of the strongest O-lines in the league.

12. New York Giants selected WR Odell Beckham
This was probably the biggest surprise of the night for me. I like the fit and I love Beckham’s skill set, but the Giants are just not a team that drafts position players this high, so to see Beckham go to the Giants at #12 in a deep class of WR was a little bit of a shock. But like I said, it’s a good fit, Beckham can play inside as well as outside and he can stretch the field as well as anybody. Hakeem Nicks left big shoes to fill, but I think Beckham will prove he’s up to the task.

13. St. Louis Rams selected DT Aaron Donald
With the offensive line addressed the Rams go for the top player on their board, the tenacious 3 technique out of Pitt, Aaron Donald. Donald’s stock blew up from late round flier to best DT in the class and I’m still not sure I trust it. Donald is undersized with short arms, but it’s hard to argue with the production, and starting on a front 4 that includes Chris Long, Robert Quinn and Michael Brockers will make it easy to forget about the 6’0 tackle shredder (that is of course until he’s ripping the opposing QB to the dirt.) In short, I’m not sold on him as a dominant individual, but he’s a great fit in St. Louis.

14. Chicago Bears selected CB Kyle Fuller
Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are both back, but their on the wrong side of 30 and it’s unlikely Tillman plays past the 2014 season. Enter Fuller a rangy 6’0 corner with 4.5 speed who’s not afraid to come up and make tackles in run support. He’s likely to start inside at the nickel spot in 2014 while learning the NFL game from Jennings and Tillman before likely taking over for the latter in 2015. There were some other needs on defense, but with 5 pass rushers already off the board and only one corner gone the Bears get a guy they know will fit their scheme.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers selected OLB Ryan Shazier
Dennard was the popular pick here with Shazier pegged more for the later round, but in the past two seasons the team has lost franchise legends James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley at the OLB spot and those shoes can’t be filled by just anybody. Shazier is a little small, but he’s an exceptional athlete who plays fast and is extremely competitive. The Steelers are hoping he gives last year’s first round pick, Jarvis Jones, a running mate for the next ten years. Cornerback is deep enough that it can be more easily addressed in the later rounds, and adding a speed rusher like Shazier will make things much easier on whoever they decide to play in the secondary.

16. Dallas Cowboys selected OT Zack Martin
Jerry Jones wanted Manziel, and honestly I don’t blame him if you gave me the ages and scouting reports with the names and fan response redacted, but Romo is Romo and Manziel is Manziel and Zack Martin is the 16th overall pick. Tony Romo has to love this, Cowboys go offensive lineman in the first for the second year in a row, and as much as Travis Frederick was panned for being a reach he played very well in his rookie season. Martin was another quick climber who the Dolphins were really hoping would fall to them. He’s a polished blocker who dominated at the Senior Bowl, has the flexibility to play multiple positions on the line and should slide immediately into the starting line up as a RT or Guard.


In the 2012 NFL draft the Cleveland Browns selected running back Trent Richardson from the University of Alabama with the 3rd overall pick in that year’s draft. The only two players taken ahead of him were QB’s Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. On it’s surface it seems like just another draft day gaffe for Browns (who are actually off to a really solid first 3 rounds this year) but the fact is Richardson was the consensus top running back in that year’s draft with rumors that if Cleveland didn’t take him the Buccaneers or someone else would. The Browns even swapped their original #4 pick with the Vikings pick at #3 to keep another team from jumping ahead of them for the right to land the man being touted as the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. By the end of the 1st round that year 3 running backs had been taken (David Wilson to the Giants, and Doug Martin to the Buccaneers.)

For those of you not familiar with the story, Richardson had trouble staying healthy his rookie year and revealed at the end of the season that even when he was on the field he was playing through pain. Which really only made his 950 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns more impressive. But the next year the honeymoon was over, Cleveland had hired a new staff of coaches who weren’t thrilled with what Richardson brought to the table and he was dealt to the Indianapolis Colts, for a 1st round pick in this year’s (2014) draft. At the time, the Colts seemed to have made out like bandits, getting such a young and talented player at a position of sudden need with Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw injured. But Richardson’s struggles continued last season in Indianapolis, blame fell on a lack of time to adjust properly to the new scheme and the Colts remain confident Richardson can be a steady contributor to their offense, but the takeaway is that no one has any idea how well a RB will transition to the NFL and their careers are considered as good as done by the time they’re 30.

Now, I’m not looking to put all the blame on Richardson. David Wilson and Doug Martin also had very promising rookie season’s with Martin finishing as one of the leagues top rushers before injury wiped away an unimpressive start to his 2013 season. David Wilson combined injuries with ball security issues to find himself on the Giants bench for most of 2013. And even still, I’m not looking to place the blame squarely on these 3 young men, but if Trent Richardson ran for 1500 yards and 10 TDs in 2013 with another 250 receiving yards and 2 TD catches I would be willing to bet there would have been a RB taken in round 1 this year.

You might be saying to yourself, well, look at Eddie Lacy he had a great year for Packers, if my theory holds true, shouldn’t that have boosted the draft stock of a guy like Bishop Sankley? (Who had to wait almost as long for his name to be mentioned in this article as he did to hear his name called at the NFL draft) And the answer is, sort of. This year, NFL teams were all in a staring contest at the running back position. There was no clear cut number, so no one wanted to be the first to blink and take a guy in the 2nd only to watch a guy you had rated just as highly go 2 rounds later to a division rival who also added two more, presumably, better players at other positions. This is why once Sankley came off the board at number 54, two of the next three picks were Running backs (Jeremy Hill at 55 to Cincinnati and Carlos Hyde at 57 to the 49ers.) It’s not so much that running backs are being devalued as it is no one in the NFL has any idea how to value them. A good running back can change your franchise. As good as their defense is and as much of a story as Russell Wilson is the Seahawks don’t make it to the Superbowl without Marshawn Lynch. The 49ers would not have made the playoffs the last 3 years if not for the efforts of Frank Gore. Teams understand the importance of a good running game, they just haven’t quite figured out how to get one.

For now at least, the 2nd round seems to be where the value is, and it makes sense. No matter what their injury history was in college the running back position in the NFl is physically demanding enough that every player at the position carries a higher than average injury risk, and that hurts their value. Most teams employ some form of running back by committee or another so the fact that this is a player that won’t see the field on every offensive snap even when full healthy also hurts their value matched up against other positions. And of course, it’s no coincidence the last few years draft classes have been heavy on offensive lineman as teams are finally realizing that everything starts with the big men up front. All the talent in the world won’t make you an effective runner if there’s a linebacker meeting you in the backfield as soon as you touch the ball. So, as the value of offensive lineman and defensive lineman rises the value of running backs fall necessarily to balance it out. We’re actually seeing something similar at the QB position, but there’s still enough of them being taken in the first round to stave off the rumors that their value is also dropping.

We are less than a week away from the draft and it seems like we’re no closer to a consensus on where any of the top players in this year’s class will land. So, I guess that means my guess is as good as any, right?

1. Houston Texans select DE/OLB Jadaveon Clowney
He’s got a ready made support system in Houston and is widely regarded as the premiere talent in this class. The work ethic concerns seem to be a product of frustration with the consistent double and triple teams he saw and I don’t expect it to carry over into the pros. I’m still giving Greg Robinson a shot as a draft day surprise, but the fact is Clowney makes the Texans defense scary good and puts them right back in the playoff mix (yes, even with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB.)

2. St. Louis Rams select OLB Khalil Mack
Credit to the guys at for this one, where their sources believe the Rams are leaning towards Mack as the best player available if they can’t deal the pick (which would be their first choice here at #2.) Mack played in a 3-4 scheme at Buffalo, but he has the size, speed and cover skills to survive in a 4-3. Like Clowney, his addition makes the Rams defense scary good. I’d hate to be the Tackle lined up against Robert Quinn with Mack peeking over his shoulder.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars select WR Sammy Watkins
The Jags get saved from a tough call here with Mack off the board. Cecil Shorts is solid and Mike Browns showed some flashes, there is a desperate need for a true #1 receiver. Watkins is only 6’1 but he plays big. He can give the Jags all the promise of Justin Blackmon without the suspensions. As a bonus he’s a sexy pick that can excite the fan base without the risk of jumping at a QB early.

4. Cleveland Browns select QB Blake Bortles
The Browns GM has said that taking a QB at #4 isn’t ideal, and well, it isn’t, but Sammy Watkins is off the board and Bortles actually seems like a solid fit. I see Bortles as Matt Schaub 2.0 for Kyle Shanahan, he’s got the size and the arm, but he’s also got mobility. Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews could be in play here to play RT opposite franchise stalwart Joe Thomas, but locking up Bortles early frees up that #26 pick to be used on the best available player at RT, CB or WR, all fairly deep positions of need for the Browns expected to still have top talent available at that #26 spot.

5. Oakland Raiders select WR Mike Evans
Another credit to the guys at Walter Football. I still really like Anthony Barr, especially with all the veterans Oakland brought in, but there’s pressure to hit with an immediate impact player at #5 and Evans is the best combination of talent and need. The signings of Penn and Howard take pressure off the tackle spots, especially in a deep class when you’re still waiting to see what Melenik Watson can do. Evans is a big-bodied Red Zone threat who can make plays down the field opposite James Jones and give Matt Schaub an Andre Johnson-type receiver to work with and make life infinitely easier for Matt McGloin or whichever rookie they end up drafting.

6. Atlanta Falcons select OT Greg Robinson
The Falcons need help on the line and they’re thrilled to get Robinson here at #6. The thought is that Robinson will line up on the right side for his rookie season, but if Sam Baker continues to struggle on the left Robinson could be plugged in as Matt Ryan’s blind side protector. Either way he improves the line as a unit and brings a forceful run blocking presence to a team that had trouble gaining yards on the ground last season.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers select QB Johnny Manziel
I just can’t get this idea out of my head. It’s a perfect fit for both team and player. With veteran QB Josh McCown acting as a mentor and offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford as his teacher Manziel could be great. I feel bad for Mike Glennon, but with the Texans and Vikings both looking for pocket passers with prototypical size and arm strength and a draft class that lacks in that area the Buccaneers should have no trouble getting at least a 2nd round pick this year or/and next year which is still a nice return on a 3rd string QB that doesn’t fit your system.

8. Minnesota Vikings select OLB/DE Anthony Barr
Barr has already been approached about possibly playing DE by the Cowboys and said he’s all for it. Barr is unpolished, having only played on the defensive side for a year, but new Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer knows how to work with raw talent and there seems to be little question about Barr’s work ethic. He may struggle early, but I’d expect him to be a truly disruptive force by the end of his rookie season.

9. Buffalo Bills select OT Jake Matthews
The Bills probably never thought Matthews would be available this late in the draft, but here he is, and while Eric Ebron and Haha Clinton-Dix are tempting, Matthews is the most talented prospect still on the board. Matthews would likely slide in at RT, and give the Bills two powerful bookends, equally adept at protecting EJ Manuel, and creating holes for CJ Spiller.

10. Detroit Lions select WR Odell Beckham
Beckham’s stock has been steadily rising for months and I think this is where he lands. The Lions heavy interest in Sammy Watkins early in the draft process says that they’re starting to prepare for life without Calvin Johnson. Beckham is an ideal pick as he can easily play inside while he gets up to pace in the NFL and give the Lions another speedy big play weapon that can create plays in space. Beckham’s versatility and work habits also make him ideal for a Jim Caldwell run offense.