Posted: 5/5/2013 4:59 PM
Top needs: CB, QB, G, ILB, TE
Summary: I don't know if it's a good thing, per se, but the guy who will impact the Browns most in 2013 might not be the player they took at No. 6 overall. At No. 68 overall, they took Leon McFadden, a much-needed CB who knows how to operate on an island. As I look at the depth chart, I don't see a reason why McFadden can't break camp as the starter across from Joe Haden. That's not a small deal because it also maximizes Buster Skrine, who will be able to spend more time in the slot, where he's much better. Now, that first pick was Barkevious Mingo, a player I'm at once infatuated with as a talent, but skeptical of because of what I considered production that didn't match up with his talent. Now, Mingo adds depth at outside linebacker, but he's going to need some developmental work because he played with his hand on the ground at LSU. After that, there isn't a lot here that you'll see in 2013. Jamoris Slaughter could provide depth at safety. The lack of a second-round pick really hurt the Browns, who could have used a higher-rated guard -- though I do think Garrett Gilkey has the chance to start eventually -- and I thought would have been wise to add another inside linebacker. But Josh Gordon is developing and Davone Bess should provide Brandon Weeden with another solid target in the passing game. The hope is Mingo becomes a star, and McFadden can perform early. The good news is, both could happen.
Top needs: OLB, G, WR, CB, S
Summary: Bjoern Werner lined up as a 4-3 defensive end at Florida State, and while productive, lacked elite athleticism or size at the position. The Colts will be looking to stand him up in the mold of Bryce Paup and Jarret Johnson, and I think he can develop into a productive player. He just doesn't have that one elite trait, and I think he'll need to find his way a little bit. That said, I had outside linebacker as a top need for this team, and he qualifies. Hugh Thornton was a good pick at No. 86. Pretty good value, and I had guard as the No. 2 need for this team. He has a chance to start this season. Khaled Holmes is also a future starter at center if he can stay healthy. Montori Hughes is an interesting player. If he hadn't been forced to leave Tennessee, we're looking at a guy who could have gone a lot higher. Give him another year of development and you might have something. One pick I think could help now and be a great option for this offense is Kerwynn Williams. He's a speedster, and if they can find him touches you're going to see some explosive plays. Not in love with the first pick, and I'm pretty surprised the Colts didn't get a cornerback or a wide receiver -- I saw both as needs. But they got two of the more intriguing players in the draft with Hughes and Williams.
Top needs: LB, DE, CB, OL, RB
Summary: I had linebacker as a big need for them, but the Giants haven't drafted a linebacker in Round 1 since Carl Banks … in 1984. No surprise they didn't take one, but I'm pretty surprised they didn't take one at all. Justin Pugh is a pretty good player, and will start at guard. From there, the Giants fell in love with value over need in Rounds 2 in 3. In Round 2 they got Johnathan Hankins, at one time a likely Round 1 pick. Hankins runs hot and cold, but is a pretty good depth addition on the D-line. Then they got Damontre Moore, who had one of the biggest falls of the evaluation process we've seen in a few years. He had a great year, but tested out very poorly. They needed a defensive end and Moore could end up a steal. Where I question this draft is I'm pretty surprised they didn't get a corner or a linebacker. I really like Cooper Taylor, and you get a nice backup commodity in Ryan Nassib, I just hope they hold up at linebacker and on the edges. But these are smart evaluators and good coaches.
Top needs: WR, CB, DE, G/C
Summary: The Patriots got a pretty good return from the Vikings to get out of Round 1 at No. 29, assuming Minnesota's second-round pick, then adding picks in Rounds 3, 4 and 7. It was about as Patriots as it gets. Jamie Collins was a productive linebacker for a really bad team at Southern Miss, and provides some needed depth. He's a typical Bill Belichick addition, because he should be pretty versatile, and could move either inside or outside, where he could also provide a pass-rushing presence if needed. Aaron Dobson has a chance to develop, but it's a coin flip if he provides much Year 1 impact. What he does offer is a player who can stretch the field and back up safeties. Same with Josh Boyce. Logan Ryan provides nickel depth now, and they clearly see something in Duron Harmon, who was a huge reach. I think New England could have signed him as an undrafted free agent. The Patriots added some interesting players late. Steve Beauharnais is way too good to be sitting there in Round 7, and Michael Buchanan will get a shot to stick because he has some talent but just hasn't put it all together. I don't see a starter out of this draft in the short-term, but they added players with some really good traits. It's just a matter of development now.
Top needs: G/C, S, DT, RB, RT, DE
Summary: I'm pretty sure I described the Dallas draft as "a little all over the place" when I was asked about it midway through. But looking at all the picks together, I'll tell you it certainly improved in my eyes as we got into the later rounds. I was a little critical of the first-round pick, just because the Cowboys drafted a player I thought they could have taken at least 30 spots later. Travis Frederick was my 87th-ranked player. And yet they should get credit because he'll be a starter at a position where they were a total mess in 2013. Gavin Escobar is a good tight end and a great catcher of the football, and he can learn from Jason Witten, but Witten can still play. Similar story with Terrence Williams, an extremely productive wideout for Baylor, who offers depth with the potential to start. Now, those are players I like, but taking two pass-catchers without addressing safety or an aging defensive line seemed really odd to me. Then it got better. J.J. Wilcox has the potential to become a starter and was my No. 5-ranked safety. B.W. Webb is also a prospect at corner out of William & Mary. My concern with both of those picks is the jump in competition, so they'll need seasoning. Randle is a get at a need position late. The Cowboys made some good picks, but no help on the defensive line or depth at tackle out of this draft is disappointing.
Top needs: LB, G, RT, WR, CB
Summary: A few weeks ago I projected Kyle Long to the Bears at No. 20, but I projected that believing there's no chance Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert would still be available. I know they added Martellus Bennett, and maybe this is where he realizes his full talent, but this is also his third team. This is a huge year for Jay Cutler, and I love the idea of adding a versatile tight end like Eifert who you can never really cover well because of the way he attacks the ball. Last year, Brandon Marshall was the passing offense. My issue with Long isn't that he's short on talent -- he's not. I just wasn't in love with the value, even if you project him at tackle on a team needy for O-lineman. I see him as a better fit at guard, and that means the Bears took the fourth guard in the draft at No. 20 overall. But it got better. Jonathan Bostic and Khaseem Greene are very good linebackers, and Greene at No. 117 is one of the steals of the entire draft. Both of those guys will come in ready to play. Three months ago the Bears looked like a disaster at linebacker. They look a lot better today. Jordan Mills has a shot to stick, and while I admitted I probably overrated Cornelius Washington because he was such a workout freak, his tape wasn't bad enough to have him fall to the sixth. I'll want to find out why he fell so far. Marquess Wilson at one time was seen as a likely second-rounder. If he shows up to work consistently, he could be a steal. The Bears did some good things, and went for big needs, I just think they missed on value with Eifert.
Top needs: S, CB, ILB, RT
Summary: The Redskins get a bump here because RG III is technically part of the value component when we grade what they got from this draft. But he is also coming back from an injury and we'll see how they utilize him differently in 2013. He's still a fabulous player, but there's at least a little we don't know. In terms of hitting needs, this was just OK. They need help all over the secondary, and David Amerson was a slight reach for me in Round 2, but at least offers depth. He was exceptional in 2011, but had some ugly games in 2012, so if he cleans up his play they get a good player. Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo offer depth at safety, with Thomas close to being ready to start. I wouldn't be surprised if he does. Jordan Reed gives them a potential matchup threat at tight end, though I might have targeted an offensive lineman first. Brandon Jenkins is an interesting guy because if he's 100 percent he's a really good pass-rusher. Chris Thompson could be yet another good late-round RB story for Mike Shanahan, but he'll need to stay on the field. I think Washington should have taken an inside linebacker, but didn't. Not a bad draft, because the Redskins added depth at need spots.
Top needs: CB, DT, FS, RT, WR
Summary: The strategy was pretty clear for the Panthers: find some players that can help stop the run. Last year, even with the addition of Luke Kuechly, they were simply awful up front. Well, Star Lotulelei was the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in this class, and is the definition of a player that can clear the runway for your linebackers to make stops at the line of scrimmage. Running in the A-gaps is not happening with Lotulelei around. Kawann Short is a nice depth addition as well, and can spell Dwan Edwards. Earlier this year I had Short going a lot higher, but this was a pretty good class of D-tackles at the top. Edmund Kugbila provides depth at guard, but I didn't have that as a big need. Kenjon Barner is a pretty complete running back in a smaller package. My big question: Where is the help at cornerback? I think it's a pretty big need, and there were a couple corners available I thought could have been taken ahead of Short. It's hard to hit all your needs, but I thought they did a great job on one big one, but totally neglected another.
Top needs: QB, WR, LB, G, CB, DE
Summary: The Bills got a lot of value back when they moved down from No. 8 to No. 16 overall. That's the good. The bad is I just think the No. 16 pick was way too high for EJ Manuel. For me, there's simply too much projection here. He needs to prove that he's capable of getting through progressions quicker and getting the ball out. He was my No. 6-ranked QB. But that was a need position, and you take the guy you feel can pan out. It's just remarkable in hindsight to see the top QBs still available into Round 4. Robert Woods is a capable player and brings NFL readiness. He was an impact player for USC from the moment he stepped on campus, and he has the chance to start in Week 1. Kiko Alonso has the chance to start as a rookie, perhaps over Nigel Bradham, but that's no guarantee -- and Arthur Brown was still on the board. Marquise Goodwin is maybe the most explosive straight-line runner in the entire draft, he's just a bit of a project when it comes to the finer points being a WR. He'll be good for some big plays if he can stick. The back-to-back safety picks were a little odd, especially since that wasn't a big need. They got the best kicker in the draft in Dustin Hopkins. Getting Chris Gragg in the seventh is a good value as well. I'm surprised they didn't get a better guard prospect, given the departure of Andy Levitre. The Bills hit needs, I just think they made a major reach with the biggest need of all, so that value gained from the added picks was in some ways squandered on Manuel. Hopefully, with a year behind Kevin Kolb, Manuel can take over and prove me wrong.
Posted: 5/5/2013 5:02 PM
Top needs: WR, RT, LB, NT, FB
Summary: I thought the Texans would go with DeAndre Hopkins at No. 27, and they did. Andre Johnson will be 32 in Week 1 of this season, and soaked up an absurd 58 percent of their wide receiver targets in 2012. Hopkins gives them a legit No. 2 while they wait for DeVier Posey to come back healthy. That selection checked off what I considered the No. 1 need. Ed Reed is now at safety, but he's not the same player he was five years ago, and they need depth. D.J. Swearinger can play right away, and knows how to take angles and deliver hits. He'll just need to learn how to play by Roger Goodell's rules. Brennan Williams could develop for them at right tackle but was a little of a reach. Trevardo Williams was a steal for me. Wade Phillips can get him on the field because Williams can rush the passer and was hugely productive. David Quessenberry was a pretty good value at No. 176; he could develop and at least has the ceiling of a starter. Sam Montgomery has some makeup questions, but he plays with a high motor and could turn into a really good value. I'm not sure he has the size to hold up as a 3-4 DE, but Phillips could develop him. Keep an eye on Alan Bonner, who could make the team as a return man. That's what put him on the radar of teams. I think the Texans did pretty well overall.
Top needs: OT, ILB, FS, WR, DE
Summary: It still seems remarkable that an offensive tackle out of the MAC was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Remember, the highest we'd seen before this was Byron Leftwich, who went No. 7. The Chiefs needed a tackle, and they took the one they thought had the best chance to be a long-term answer on the left side. If Fisher works out well, Andy Reid can do a lot more with this offense, because it really doesn't lack for weapons. I don't have a problem with the Fisher pick, but the next two were odd. Travis Kelce is a good tight end, but they already have Tony Moeaki and Anthony Fasano on the roster. And Knile Davis is explosive, but he's not a steal in Round 3, and has had both injury and fumble problems. I like the next two picks, however. Nico Johnson can start as an inside linebacker, and Sanders Commings provides some corner depth. Eric Kush could step in at center in a pinch as early as 2013. They got the guy they wanted at No. 1, but there's a lot of "we'll see" with the rest, with one caveat: I don't think this team has the personnel issues of most teams picking at No. 1, and it showed. Remember, they also got Alex Smith, a proven starting NFL QB, with their second-round pick.
Top needs: CB, DT, TE, LB, DE
Summary: Like the Seahawks, we need to factor into Tampa's grade the fact that they now have Darrelle Revis on the roster. Cornerback was a huge need and they used this draft to get a guy they coveted. But I'll say this, he's also making $16 million this year (about $13 million more than the Round 1 pick will make) and he's coming off an ACL injury, so it's something far less than theft. Johnthan Banks, who they drafted at No. 43, gives them some extra cover in the secondary. He'll see plenty of the field in nickel situations. Mike Glennon can backup Josh Freeman, but I think fans are way overstating it if they think Glennon can provide actual competition at this point. He needs some time. Akeem Spence provides a rotation D-tackle, but William Gholston is merely depth now. After that you won't see much from this class in 2013. If Revis is Revis, we're all happy. After that, I thought they just did OK.
Top needs: OLB, OT, G, S, DE, QB
Summary: Last year the Cardinals allowed a sack on one out of every 11.7 drop-backs. This offseason, there's been almost a hysteria about their need to get better on the offensive line, with tackle mentioned often. But very quietly, rookies Bobby Massie and Nate Potter played a lot better on the edges toward the end of the season, and Levi Brown is also returning. That's why I had guard as a bigger need. The Cardinals drafted a future Pro Bowl one in Jonathan Cooper. Historically, No. 7 is extremely high to take a guard (there hasn't been one taken inside the top 10 since 1997), but if Arizona didn't take him, there's no chance he would have gotten past the Jets at No. 9. Cooper could also be a stud at center if Arizona chose to go that way. Kevin Minter gives the Cardinals a very capable inside linebacker, but he probably slots in behind Daryl Washington. At one time Alex Okafor would have been a steal in the fourth round, but his motor runs hot and cold. He could be an effective situational pass-rusher as an OLB, which was the No. 2 need on my board. Anybody else? Oh yeah, only Tyrann Mathieu, the Honey Badger. We know Mathieu is headed for the slot, but depending on the sub-package, he could essentially take on the role of safety on a lot of plays. Now, what I like about Mathieu landing here (aside from having him with a late second-, early third-round grade) is the familiarity with teammates. Both Minter and Patrick Peterson know Mathieu well. The Badger can also take on some return duties for Peterson. Earl Watford could be a future starter at guard, and Stepfan Taylor offers some depth at RB, though I had a handful of players ranked higher at the position who were still available. That said, Andre Ellington (a guy Todd McShay really likes) provides some speed. Nothing remarkable about this class, but Carson Palmer's chance to succeed has improved with the presence of Cooper, and there's plenty of sleeper potential.
Top needs: WR, CB, MLB, DT, DE
Summary: The Vikings got a gift when Sharrif Floyd fell to them at No. 23. We heard going into Thursday that he might tumble a little, but that was a pretty big drop. My guess is they'll rotate him in with Kevin Williams, who will be 33 when the season starts. The top two needs on my board for the Vikings were wide receiver and cornerback, and that's where they went with the next two picks. Xavier Rhodes at No. 25 made sense, because several teams after that could have targeted corner. The Vikings then gave up a tremendous amount to move into Round 1 again at No. 29 overall, where they got Cordarrelle Patterson. He needs work in terms of learning how to play the position, but Patterson is a player who can create explosive plays once he gets the ball, which is what they lost when they dealt Percy Harvin. Thing is, Patterson needs to work out because they sent New England a few picks to get him. But the strategy makes sense: They saw a chance to add a starter and took it. Jeff Locke was the best punter available, so I don't mind the use of a fifth-round pick to get him. Gerald Hodges, who they took at No. 120 overall, could push to start at middle linebacker. Hey, they got starters, but they needed to add impact in this draft considering they dealt Harvin and had a few pretty big needs. I also thought they should've found a way to get their hands on Manti Te'o in this draft.
Top needs: OLB, WR, RB, TE, S
Summary: The Steelers got a little bit of their bite back. I love the selection of Jarvis Jones in Round 1. We're talking about the most productive pass-rusher in college football over the last two seasons, and he did it against the best competition. Jones fits the system, and OLB was the top need on my board. Hard to beat that pick -- a guy I had at No. 1 on my Big Board before some really poor workouts still there at No. 17. Wide receiver was the No. 2 need for me, and Markus Wheaton is a pretty good player with plenty of burst. Shamarko Thomas was a great value pick in Round 4. The guy can really hit and is a fantastic athlete. If he was taller, he'd have gone earlier. The Steelers also got a running back, I just thought Le'Veon Bell was a bit of a reach. I'll say this for him, however: Bell played behind some pretty awful blocking last year and still managed to be productive. Get him behind Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro and we might see something better. Terry Hawthorne could stick. Not a bad draft at all.
Top needs: CB, G, LB, DE, TE
Summary: Thomas Dimitroff isn't afraid to make aggressive moves on the draft board. The Falcons were extremely desperate for help at cornerback, and once the Raiders had taken D.J. Hayden at No. 12 overall, I think the Falcons felt there was a chance five cornerbacks could be off the board by the time they drafted at No. 30 (Indianapolis, Denver and New England were among teams who needed a CB). So they moved up to No. 22, giving up a third-round pick to get Desmond Trufant. I thought it was a reasonable price to pay for an immediate starter, which is what they need. Trufant lacks elite traits, but he's very good in all areas. The great get for Atlanta was a second-round double down, when the Falcons took another corner. Robert Alford was a CB I had rated higher than Darius Slay and David Amerson, so he was a steal on my board all the way down at No. 60. The loss of the third-rounder hurt, however, because the Falcons have a need at guard, and that's a great range to get one who can help early (the Jets got a really good guard in Round 3 with Brian Winters, for instance). The pick of Levine Toilolo makes sense as another red-zone threat and a big target to develop behind Tony Gonzalez. The guy is basically a power forward in pads. Malliciah Goodman was my No. 12-ranked defensive end, and he has the upside of a starter. Stansly Maponga also could stick. The Falcons get a good mark for really crushing that huge need, but it's hard to assume a great deal of impact after that.
Top needs: FS, TE, DL, CB, WR
Summary: Trent Baalke has done such a nice job of constructing this roster that drafting can be tricky, because the 49ers just don't have a glut of needs. That's why it's nice to have so many picks -- they are able to maneuver as needed to get the guys they want. They moved up to No. 18 overall to grab safety Eric Reid. He's a kid they really like, and I'd pencil him in as the starter, I just thought he wasn't as good as maybe five other safeties that went after him. But you have the picks, you get who you want. And if Reid plays like he did in 2011, not 2012, they got a player. Vance McDonald gives them needed depth at tight end with Delanie Walker gone, and Tank Carradine and Corey Lemonier were both good values. Quinton Patton has a chance to stick because he's a smart route-runner and finds ways to create separation. Marcus Lattimore should be redshirted, but landed in a reasonable value range in the 4th round. Frank Gore's success following his collegiate injury offers perspective. The 49ers also dealt to add picks into next year. I'd like this draft a little more if they got a safety I had rated higher, but they did well, just as you figured they would.
Top needs: DT, OLB, OL, WR, TE
Summary: We can't forget one very important point: The first-round pick of the Seahawks is named Percy Harvin, and he's going to have a major impact on this offense in 2013. I (perhaps unfairly) remain concerned about Harvin's ability to stay healthy, but the stats show he's been durable. The selection of Christine Michael was a little bit of a luxury pick for me, but they lack that type of explosive back on the roster, so he offers a different look. They needed to add some rotation depth at defensive tackle and accomplished that with Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams, though I know a number of teams are concerned that Williams will have durability problems. Michael Bowie could stick as depth at tackle, as could Ty Powell at linebacker. I don't know that Seattle added a starter among their picks, but they certainly added one in Harvin.
Top needs: CB, OLB, S, RB, G, QB
Summary: Once you can divorce yourself from the reality of what Geno Smith is headed into, you take a step back and realize the Jets just took the guy I think is the best quarterback in the draft, and they did it at No. 39 overall. We're grading a draft, not the QB situation they have. The Jets really needed a corner now that Darrelle Revis is in Tampa, and they got the best one in the draft at No. 9. I wanted them to get a pass-rusher, but they might have done it in another way. With Sheldon Richardson, I expect them to do some new things up front, potentially shifting Quinton Coples to the edge. This is the makings of an extremely good defense up front, and Rex Ryan is a master at creating pressure with whatever he has. Brian Winters is a starter at guard, and Oday Aboushi could play either right tackle or guard. Tommy Bohanon (T-Bo!) should stick. I wanted the Jets to get a safety, but I still think they deserve a pretty good grade for hitting a few big needs. Now, they need to be patient with Smith.
Top needs: OLB, LT, DE, SS, NT
Summary: Welcome back, New Orleans. Last year, the Saints were basically shut out, with no picks in either Round 1 or 2. This year, they got some pretty good players at a few different spots. Kenny Vaccaro is the best safety in what is a really good draft class of safeties, so getting him at No. 15 was by no means a reach, particularly when that's a big need for this defense. Terron Armstead was a pretty good value at another need position all the way down at No. 75. He's an extremely athletic left tackle prospect. The problem is he needs time to develop, and that position looks really shaky headed into 2013. John Jenkins is a huge, high-effort defensive tackle who can play immediately. If there's a big question for New Orleans, it's whether it should have taken Jarvis Jones at No. 15, because the Saints could use a pass-rusher. But they got better over these three days.
Top needs: DE, CB, OT, WR, OLB
Summary: The strength of the Lions on defense is up the middle, with Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh. Ezekiel Ansah is an unfinished product as a defensive end, and I have questions about how much he can contribute in 2013, but he converts speed to power well and that power can take tackles into the pocket, where QBs will step up into the strength of the defense. Or at least that's the hope. But the bottom line is DE was the top need, and the Lions got the top 4-3 option in the draft. Darius Slay was a slight reach on my board at No. 34, but I don't mind the pick at all. Huge need, and I have him penciled in as a starter. Same story with Larry Warford, who should start at guard after being taken in the third. I know tackle is also a need, but the Lions could use a blocker who can move people inside so they can run the ball more effectively. Devin Taylor can jump into the rotation as a pass-rusher, and they also got a needed punter. The pivot point for how we see this draft in three years will be Ansah. If he's great, then it looks good. If he's not, and Dee Milliner thrives with the Jets, fans will wonder. But Detroit checked off needs.
Top needs: DE, OT, CB, WR, FB
Summary: The Dolphins didn't give up a ton when they moved from No. 12 to No. 3. They sent a second-rounder to Oakland, and they had an extra one to give. They took the player they really wanted, which was Dion Jordan. I certainly can't call it a reach because Jordan is one of the top five players on my Big Board. He's a gifted athlete that can help their pass rush. But I can't totally disagree with Jon Gruden, who was critical of the move during our broadcast. I'm not sure you cast him in a 4-3 DE role, because he could be a physical liability against the run. But I don't think Miami will. They'll use plenty of sub packages and use Jordan opposite Cameron Wake, and try to make life hard for opposing quarterbacks. Jamar Taylor at No. 54 is a pretty good value for a player that can probably start. Dallas Thomas at No. 77 is a player Miami might actually think can start at left tackle. If so, good value. But I think he's likely more of a versatile backup. If he starts as a rookie, the Dolphins could have a tough time in pass protection. I'm a fan of Jelani Jenkins, who can cover really well for a linebacker. Dion Sims can't separate very well, but he's good depth at tight end. Caleb Sturgis being drafted could mean Dan Carpenter is out. They could get three good players from those first three picks, but they did give up value for Jordan, so the onus is on them to make that pick become a success.
Top needs: DE, MLB, DT, CB, S
Summary: Sylvester Williams was one of the better values of the first round. I could have seen him go as high as No. 14 to Carolina, and Denver got him all the way down at No. 28. (In fact, I felt it really hurt the Cowboys, who could have taken him at No. 31.) Denver is a good team, so getting a potential impact starter in Round 1 is good value. Defensive tackle was one of the top needs I had for the Broncos. Where they need more, however, is in the pass rush after losing Elvis Dumervil. Quanterus Smith could be a sleeper, but he won't help the pass rush in 2013 between the jump in competition and recovery from an ACL tear last season. Montee Ball has a lot of wear on the tires, but why should we be worried about his playing career window when Peyton Manning is at this age. Denver needs to win now; I had RB among its needs and Ball transitions easily. Kayvon Webster is technically a need pick at CB, but he was a big reach. I had him ranked No. 34 among corners, and they took him in Round 3. Tavarres King could help if he can become more consistent, and Zac Dysert can get better just hauling Manning's luggage around.
Top needs: CB, DT, DE, OL, WR
Summary: The Raiders were smart to move down, but I'm a little surprised they took D.J. Hayden at No. 12 overall. I knew he could go that high, but I still consider it a bit of a risk given this was once the No. 3 overall pick. Hayden is coming back from a pretty terrifying injury, and while he's a really, really talented corner, it's hard to project exactly what he'll be in 2013. Even then, I like Oakland moving back to get more players, even though the Raiders got only a second-round pick to move down nine spots from No. 3. That ain't much. Menelik Watson was a pretty good value in Round 2, especially considering the massive run on offensive lineman. Sio Moore is a guy I liked all the way up to the end of Round 1, so at No. 66 overall he's a good get. I don't mind taking a good backup in Tyler Wilson in the fourth round. What happens if Matt Flynn gets hurt? Nick Kasa can help them at tight end, where they're pretty thin. From there it's mostly just depth. I think the Raiders didn't get enough out of what started as a No. 3 pick, but they got better this weekend. Not bad.
Posted: 5/5/2013 5:04 PM
Top needs: ILB, S, LT, TE, WR
Summary: The Ravens needed to come out of this draft with an inside linebacker and a safety, and with their first two picks, they got two really good players at those positions. Matt Elam has played high-level football at Florida, can move around (particularly up to the line of scrimmage) and make hits. He plays with fearlessness, can make plays in coverage with his good instincts and long arms and slotted in next to Michael Huff at strong safety, provides immediate impact. Baltimore used its pile of picks to move up and take Arthur Brown, a player the Ravens really liked. He's a steal at No. 56 overall and takes over the void left by Ray Lewis. Brandon Williams gives them a rotation player at nose tackle and gives them depth behind Terrence Cody. Kyle Juszczyk is the best fullback in the draft, and makes plenty of sense in the fourth round. Ricky Wagner is an interesting pick because if you asked me a year ago I'd have told you he probably lands in Round 2 this year. He just didn't play to that level this season, but you have to wonder if he can get back to that point. I see his future at right tackle, or even guard. Tackle was a need, and we'll see if he helps there. I think it's a good bet on upside. John Simon is an interesting player, because it's hard to say what position he'll play. For now he provides depth at linebacker and should be a good special-teamer. The Ravens had another excellent draft because they needed starters at some key spots and pulled it off. That's not easy to do when you're slotted in at No. 32.
Top needs: S, OLB, RB, CB
Summary: The Bengals somehow didn't address a pretty big need early (and they don't have many) and still really impressed me. The pick of Tyler Eifert is just a steal (I had him No. 8 on my final Big Board). You have a good QB, but a limited one -- Andy Dalton isn't going to carve teams up down the field. But with A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham and Eifert, you have guys that don't need to be open to be thrown to. Try dealing with all three on the field in the red zone. Eifert to Cincy is a great case of a team simply pouncing when the value gets too good. Giovani Bernard gives them a new dimension in the run game, ironically because he can actually catch the ball. He was the most versatile RB on my board, and getting the first RB taken at No. 37 overall isn't bad. The Bengals D-line continues to be filled with long, athletic freaks with the addition of Margus Hunt. I know Hunt's a project, but he's a great bet at No. 53 overall. He can almost block enough kicks to justify that pick given how weirdly effective he is at it. They did get their safety in Round 3. Shawn Williams has a chance to beat out Taylor Mays. Sean Porter can back up James Harrison, who's now 35. Cobi Hamilton has a chance to stick. And Reid Fragel could be a steal in the seventh. The Bengals seem to be a groove with the draft, the only downside being the picks that came via the Carson Palmer deal are now spent. It was fun while it lasted.
Top needs: S, WR, RB, G, OLB
Summary: The Rams really needed to add a wide receiver (or two), and they really needed to add a safety. I thought they could use a running back, and if they had a guard available, that would be good. Well, the Rams did well. We can sit and remind ourselves that they don't have Robert Griffin III and that's part of the reason they have the ability to maneuver so well, but we forget the Rams improved as much or more than the Redskins last season, and we don't know exactly what RG III will do early in 2013. St. Louis crushed the WR question, adding Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. (Know who caught 113 passes to Austin's 111 at West Virginia last year? That was Bailey.) Alec Ogletree is an impact performer. Put him next to James Laurinaitis and throw away the key. T.J. McDonald wouldn't have been my safety choice at No. 71, but he wasn't much of a reach and they clearly like the fit. He'll start, too. Barrett Jones is your depth at guard, and I think Zac Stacy could see some action at running back. I really liked this draft, and found myself in agreement with my colleagues. Oh, and they still have an extra first-rounder next year. The NFC West arms race is not just a two-team affair.
Top needs: OT, G, ILB, CB, NT
Summary: The Chargers really needed a tackle, and while I think D.J. Fluker will need to stay on the right side if you want to see the best of him, the guy can pass protect pretty well over there and will simply maul in the run game. Fluker can collapse the edge. Manti Te'o fills an immediate need at linebacker, and I don't think San Diego could have expected to get this kind of a player at No. 38 overall. He will step in and start immediately, and now you look at a corps with Melvin Ingram, Te'o, Donald Butler and Jarret Johnson. Not bad. Keenan Allen wasn't a huge need, but he's got the tape of a first-rounder, so expect impact from him. He's got a lot of ability and is a couple years younger than many of the other top wideouts in this draft. Both Steve Williams and Tourek Williams are useful backups, and Brad Sorenson has a chance to make the depth chart.
Top needs: S, RB, DE, OT, WR
Summary: I love what Green Bay got out of this draft, particularly at two spots -- defensive end and running back. Datone Jones is a perfect scheme-fit for the defense. He's the penetrating 3-4 defensive end who should line up to the right of B.J. Raji. The Packers improved their pass rush last year after a disastrous 2011, and Jones is going to provide yet another player who can cause some problems for opposing quarterbacks. I know some teams have health questions with Eddie Lacy, but getting the guy I had as the No. 1 RB in the draft all the way down at No. 61 is terrific value. The Packers build their offensive portfolio off Aaron Rodgers' arm, but it'd be nice to see that 43-game streak of no running backs reaching 100 yards come to an end. Remember, Rodgers also took plenty of hits over the last two years, so a little more reliability in the run game is key. Adding to that, Johnathan Franklin will produce if called upon. That position is now a strength. There isn't a lot else here that will factor into the 2013 plans. J.C. Tretter can give them reps, but won't be needed early. One sleeper here is Charles Johnson from Grand Valley State. I thought he might come off much earlier than No. 216. Green Bay did well with its early picks, and that's plenty.
Top needs: CB, G/OT, S, DE, QB
Summary: The Eagles really did well at the No. 4 spot. Lane Johnson has the best combination of upside and athleticism in the draft, and while he's an unfinished product, he's the perfect tackle to develop in Chip Kelly's fast-paced system. After that, we saw a kind of fun theme develop -- a head coach who gets a say in personnel decisions, taking players he should know really well. It started in Round 2, where the Eagles took my No. 2-ranked tight end. Well, Zach Ertz caught 11 passes against Kelly's Oregon Ducks last year. Matt Barkley also piled up huge numbers versus Oregon, and was the first pick taken in Round 4 (I once said I thought Barkley was a future first pick -- maybe I meant in Round 4?). Kelly wants competition at QB, and Barkley is going to come in ready to compete. Bennie Logan fits as a potential 3-4 DE or even a nose tackle, and Earl Wolff offers some depth at safety. They needed a corner and got another guy Kelly knows, Jordan Poyer from Oregon State. Joe Kruger isn't fast, but he could provide a pass rush in this system. Overall, I like what the Eagles accomplished.
Top needs: CB, DE, QB, RT, OLB
Summary: Jacksonville Jaguars I haven't given them the best grades in recent years, not because they didn't take good players, but because they seemed to lack some sense of how the board was lining up. Well, they deserve a good grade this year. Luke Joeckel was the No. 1 player on my Big Board, and while I didn't have left tackle as a top need (in part because they have many needs), right tackle is a problem. With Joeckel's arrival, Jacksonville is now better at both tackle positions. Either Joeckel starts there and Eugene Monroe remains on the left, or they swap. Either way, they got better on the O-line. Johnathan Cyprien was one of the best safeties in college football last season, and should be the starter at strong safety in Week 1. Dwayne Gratz is a physical corner who should also start immediately. Then the Jags turned up the offensive intrigue factor, adding Denard Robinson and Ace Sanders. Neither will be confused with a really refined route-runner, but this offense has lacked playmakers, and these guys are dangerous in space. Josh Evans could become another starter at safety. The big gripe is they really need another pass-rusher, and they didn't even add a developmental one in the draft. But overall, they did pretty well -- the roster is easily more talented than it was on Wednesday.
Top needs: DE, G, CB, WR, S
Summary: Tennessee Titans The Titans may not have any idea what will become of Jake Locker. I don't know either. But they sure as heck should be better running the ball in 2013 behind the line they're building, and between whatever pressure that takes off Locker and the addition of yet another receiver, they can say they gave him a chance. Chance Warmack is one of the more dominating run-blockers to enter the league in years. Between him and Andy Levitre, the Titans are really good at guard. Tennessee also added a nasty center in Brian Schwenke in Round 4. Justin Hunter gives them another deep threat, so they now have Kenny Britt, Hunter, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and Delanie Walker, as well as Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene. If Locker struggles early, maybe it's Ryan Fitzpatrick's team, because somebody can work with this offensive talent. Blidi Wreh-Wilson gives them the corner they needed. I had defensive end as a big need and Lavar Edwards was a steal in the fifth. I thought they did pretty well overall.
Posted: 5/5/2013 5:10 PM
Posted: 5/5/2013 5:31 PM
Posted: 5/5/2013 5:43 PM
Posted: 5/5/2013 5:46 PM
NickSINYC wrote: "Jets just took the guy I think is the best quarterback in the draft, and they did it at No. 39 overall" This must be a mistake has Kiper been taken off the talking points list? Did he not get the memo on the constant cell phone usage by Geno? Maybe his hair got in his eyes and he could not see it for himself.
Posted: 5/5/2013 5:48 PM
danfran wrote: Nice to hear. Will they be patient with Smith though?
Posted: 5/5/2013 6:30 PM
Posted: 5/5/2013 7:52 PM
Jetman55 wrote: danfran wrote: Nice to hear. Will they be patient with Smith though?Were the Seahawks patient with Wilson? Yes, they didn't play him till he proved he was better than all others at his position. We need to be patient just like Seattle.
Posted: 5/5/2013 8:22 PM
danfran wrote: Jetman55 wrote: danfran wrote: Nice to hear. Will they be patient with Smith though? Were the Seahawks patient with Wilson? Yes, they didn't play him till he proved he was better than all others at his position. We need to be patient just like Seattle. I'm not sure what they have in Smith now. Could he beat out the rest of the QBs in camp 2013? Highly unlikely.
Jetman55 wrote: danfran wrote: Nice to hear. Will they be patient with Smith though? Were the Seahawks patient with Wilson? Yes, they didn't play him till he proved he was better than all others at his position. We need to be patient just like Seattle.
Posted: 5/5/2013 10:50 PM
I agree, 100%, with everything Kiper says here, and why, despite the fact that I don't like Geno Smith as a potential NFL starter, I still think we had a great draft overall! (I'm deferring to Kiper on his draft ranking of Smith)
"Summary: Once you can divorce yourself from the reality of what Geno Smith is headed into, you take a step back and realize the Jets just took the guy I think is the best quarterback in the draft, and they did it at No. 39 overall. We're grading a draft, not the QB situation they have. The Jets really needed a corner now that Darrelle Revis is in Tampa, and they got the best one in the draft at No. 9. I wanted them to get a pass-rusher, but they might have done it in another way. With Sheldon Richardson, I expect them to do some new things up front, potentially shifting Quinton Coples to the edge. This is the makings of an extremely good defense up front, and Rex Ryan is a master at creating pressure with whatever he has. Brian Winters is a starter at guard, and Oday Aboushi could play either right tackle or guard. Tommy Bohanon (T-Bo!) should stick. I wanted the Jets to get a safety, but I still think they deserve a pretty good grade for hitting a few big needs. Now, they need to be patient with Smith."
Last edited 5/5/2013 10:52 PM by Jetman83
Posted: 5/7/2013 11:02 AM
The draft is a crapshoot. You can pick an absolute stud and one bad step or hit and they are never the same. You can trade up for a guy you love and he can never pan out. Or you can take a guy who you don't love and he can turn into a HOF player.For me, its all about taking perceived value at your spots. The Jets walk away with the consensus top CB and top QB in the draft, plus get a top 5 interior DL and a possible starting OL in Winters. That is a very good draft in itself. The other guys are gravy.Of course, I hope our draft picks become monster players, but their development as pro players is really separate from the scouting/draft picking side. No one has a crystal ball to know today if a guy reaches his potential AND stays healthy. I was pleased with the draft. I think the circus atmosphere reporting was totally overblown and I am glad Kiper recognized that after sleeping on it a week or so.
Posted: 5/7/2013 5:56 PM
Posted: 5/7/2013 6:43 PM
Posted: 5/8/2013 4:07 PM
BlindsideBrick wrote: Let me preface this by saying I really like the Geno Smith pick. But...There are far more Vince Young's and Joey Harrington's drafted in round one than there are RG3's and Andrew Luck's. Russell Wilson was lightning in a bottle for Seattle. I don't think even they anticipated how good he was going to be. Geno should be included with Sanchez and Gerrard for training camp and pre-season snaps, no doubt. But I think the coaches are gonna know one way or the other pretty quickly whether or not Geno's ready for the starter role. I think he is a backup for one year. And if the Jets start sucking really bad by mid Nov, we'll hopefully get a good look at him at that point. When there's nothing to lose, and he can take his lumps.
Posted: 5/8/2013 4:28 PM
Posted: 5/8/2013 5:54 PM
Posted: 5/8/2013 6:07 PM
broadwayjoe2 wrote: What do the three different grades mean for each team?Am I missing something?
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