Richner: 2013 Draft Review
Utilizing our unique, objective approach to player projections and development, PredictionMachine.com presents its 2013 NFL Draft content, including a Mock Draft, Position-by-Position Reports, Statistical Breakdowns and Future Projections for all prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft. Content is FREE from PredictionMachine.com's Paul Bessire and Jonn Ewing as well as NFL Draft Expert Matt Richner.
Here, NFL Draft expert Matt Richner reviews the actual selections from all 32 teams.
Arizona Cardinals: For this first time in a long time, Arizona concentrated on collecting players who were for the most part consistent, productive players in the college ranks. Jonathan Cooper, G, UNC, is an immediate upgrade along their offensive line. Alex Okafor, DE, Texas, a fourth round selection was the fourth rated 4-3 defensive end on my board. Okafor is a tough run stuffer and he has one of the best bull rush moves amongst any pass rusher in the draft. Earl Watford, G, James Madison, is another solid selection, a player who can provide some depth, and youth along the offensive line. A road grader he can handle larger, big bodied interior lineman which the NFC West has an abundance of. Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU, a second round selection, is a smart, instinctive player who will soon take over a leadership role for the Cardinals. A three-down linebacker, Minter is a cerebral player who understands his role and those around him. He had 15 TFL and four sacks in 2012 finishing with 26 impact plays, an average of 2.0 impact plays per game in 2012. The Cardinals obviously felt a need to upgrade their running back position and selected Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford, who was the number one running back on my board. In the sixth round, the Cardinals selected Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson; Ellington was the sixth rated running back on my board. Both backs do complement one another and are going to be weapons in the passing game. This is a team that could use some depth in their defensive secondary, or at outside linebacker. Not sure they needed to use two picks on running backs when they needed depth at other position groups.
Atlanta Falcons: A team that most thought would make a big jump up in the draft and go after a top 15 selection, Atlanta moved up from 30th to 22nd to select Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington. I’m not as high on Trufant as others, he is more suited to play zone coverage than press-man but he should turn out to be a decent NFL player. Levine Toilolo TE, Stanford, is a big body tight end that stands at 6’8” is just another weapon for Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense to utilize. Look for Toilolo to be a target of Ryan’s in the red zone, a matchup nightmare for any secondary player. Second round selection Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisiana, is a small school prospect who had the 9th highest average impact plays per game of any defensive back averaging 1.94 impact plays per game. The Falcons made a concerted effort to add depth in their defensive secondary with two corners and two safeties taken in the seventh round. Fourth round selection Mallichiah Goodman, DE, Clemons, failed to produce at a consistent level in college. With only 12 sacks and 23 TFL, he was the 38th ranked defensive end on my board. Goodman might just end up being a rotational defensive end and special teams player.
Baltimore Ravens: A team that has been built and known for their defense just reloaded with this year’s draft class. Seeing a need up the middle, in the first round they selected the second ranked safety on my board in Matt Elam from Florida. A solid selection, he was a consistent producer who can play both in the box or deep, showcasing a good deal of playmaking skills with 56.5 impact plays throughout his career. With the retirement of Ray Lewis, the Ravens had an opening at the middle linebacker position. With their second round selection the Ravens picked one of the most athletic inside linebackers in this year’s draft, Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas St. In two seasons as a starter for the Wildcats, Brown had 175 tackles, 17 TFL, four sacks, six PB and three INTs. His 14 impact plays last season gave him an average of 1.08 impact plays per game. The steal of this draft class might be Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern State. A classic example of a small school prospect who dominated, Williams had 27 sacks and 52.5 TFL for his career. The Ravens rounded out their class by taking some talented offensive lineman in Ricky Wagner, OT Wisconsin. Wagner was the seventh ranked offensive tackle on my board; he is a technically sound football player who just might win the starting left tackle job coming out of training camp. Lastly, Ryan Jensen, G, Colorado State-Pueblo, a strong, durable, physical player who didn’t give up a sack last season will provide some depth along the offensive line.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills came into this draft with a number of obvious needs, wide receiver, guard, cornerback, and inside linebacker. The selection of EJ Manuel in the first round was a bit puzzling. The Bills have obvious holes and are deficient in many areas, yet by drafting Manuel in the first round they are almost forced to start him right out of the gate. Manuel is not prepared to start right away in the NFL, he was the 4th ranked QB on my board, showed poor decision-making skills while in the pocket, and finished with a paltry 1.68 TD/INT ratio. The selection of Robert Woods, WR, USC, in the second round was a steal. An elite route runner, he will be a playmaker in the Bills offense. Duke Williams, S, Nevada, is a solid strong safety, he had 245 career tackles, seventh amongst all safeties in this year’s draft class. Lastly, Marquis Williams, WR, Texas, a third round selection is an undersized slot receiver who has inconsistent hands along with being a poor route runner. In 50 career games, Goodwin had 120 catches a per game average of only 2.4 catches a game. With Stedman Bailey. Quinton Patton and Ryan Swope still available, the Bills would have been better off selecting one of them.
Carolina Panthers: Finishing with only five draft selections, the Panthers upgraded the interior of their defensive line. Acquiring one of the nation’s top run stuffers in the first round with the selection of Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah, who many thought was a surefire top-5 pick, dropped down to the Panthers with the 14th overall selection. In the second round, the Panthers were able to select the top interior pass rusher in Kawann Short, DT, Purdue. Short had 19.5 sacks and 49 TFL in his career. The addition of these two interior beasts will allow their young, dynamic linebackers the opportunity to fly around the field and make plays. The Panthers still need to add some weapons on offense. The selection of Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon, in the sixth round will help, but the one position the Panthers had depth was at running back. They missed out on a handful of quality wide receivers in the fourth and fifth round.
Chicago Bears: The Chicago Bears pulled one of the more shocking moves in the first round with the selection of Kyle Long, OG, Oregon. With only 4 career starts on his resume, Long is a raw, undeveloped prospect that has the versatility to play either guard or right tackle in the NFL. The Bears needed to upgrade their offensive line, but I’m not sure the best way to go about doing that was to select a developmental type prospect in the first round. Khaseem Greene, ILB, Rutgers, is a solid prospect. A former safety, he led the Big East in tackles the past two seasons. From a pure statistical evaluation. Seventh round selection Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State, ranks as the 9th rated wide receiver with 189 career receptions and 23 touchdowns. Wilson consistently showed he can be an elite wide receiver against some stiff competition. If he can get his head screwed on right and commit himself to football, the Bears might have found themselves a nice hidden gem in Marquess Wilson.
Cincinnati Bengals: Recently, the Bengals have been one of the league’s top teams in terms of finding quality, productive NFL calibers players in the NFL Draft. This year is no different as they made a concerted effort to upgrade their offensive skill positions. Their first round selection, Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame, is another weapon to match up with former first round pick, tight end Jermaine Gresham. In the second round, the Bengals selected running back Giovanni Bernard. The North Carolina running back is a home run threat every time he touches the ball. He averaged 5.87 YPC throughout his career. Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M, finished his career with 204.5 tackles, 34.5 TFL and 14.5 sacks. He should step into the weak side linebacker position; this will allow him to utilize his strength as a pass rusher. The only questionable selection for the Bengals was second round selection, Magnus Hunt, DE, SMU. Hunt, a raw athlete who made some developments as a pass rusher last season turns 26 before the start of the season. He had 17 career blocked kicks so the Bengals should expect to see some immediate results on special teams. That said, you don’t take special teams standouts in the second round.
Cleveland Browns: The Browns are a team with a lot of needs, but I guess they figured it would be best to fill those needs next year since they only drafted five players this year and acquired two extra picks in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Browns first round selection, Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU, is a long, athletic defensive end with more potential than college production. Mingo’s average impact plays per game ranks him 19th amongst draft eligible defensive ends. While he had a good redshirt sophomore campaign, he never quite reached the same level of production this past season where he finished eighth on his own team with 38 tackles and fourth for TFL with seven. Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State, is a two-time first-team all-conference cornerback who has the ability to be a lock-down defender at the next level. He has the competitive nature and physical strengths the Browns are looking for in a nickel cornerback position.
Dallas Cowboys: The most shocking selection of the first round came courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys with their selection of Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin. Frederick wasn’t the top rated center on my board, Barrett Jones earned that spot. The Cowboys had a need to fill at the center position and decided the bottom of the first round was the most logical place to fill it. One of the absolute steals of the draft is third round selection Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor. He averaged close to 140 receiving yards a game last year. Fifth round selection, Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State, is a versatile running back that can be a weapon out of the backfield. A bit undersized, he is a liability as a pass protector.
Denver Broncos: After suffering a heartbreaking late game playoff loss last season at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, the Denver Broncos went out and signed the NFL’s most dynamic slot receiver in Wes Welker. For their first round pick the Broncos selected Sylvester Williams, DT, UNC a player who is stout and rarely ever gives up space. Williams can slide past slower offensive linemen with speed usually reserved for outside speed rushers. A power rusher as well, he can dominate a game with a freakish bull rush. In 25 career games, Williams had 34 impact plays, an average of 1.36 impact plays per game. In the second round the Broncos picked a running back that has a definite nose for the end zone in Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin. The NCAA’s career leader with 77 touchdowns, Montee Ball tied Barry Sanders’ single-season mark with 39 TDs during the 2011 season. A patient runner who displays good vision, Ball is capable of running in between the tackles, averaging 4.9 yards per rush inside the tackles on the season. The sleeper pick for this draft class is fifth round selection Quanterus Smith, DE, Western Kentucky. Although he played at a smaller school he did have a few opportunities to play against some top competition. In two games against Alabama, Smith has registered three career sacks. A quick athlete off the line of scrimmage, he’s a natural pass rusher that can rapidly turn the corner. Smith tore his ACL in late November so he might night the whole season to rehab, but he’s the type of player the Broncos can afford to take a risk on.
Detroit Lions: There are some teams that understand how to locate and find talent and there are other teams like the Lions that make the same consistent mistakes year in and year out. They look for the classic height, weight, speed type of players and fail to go after productive college players. First round pick Ezekiel Ansah only started nine games and only produced 4.5 sacks in his college career. Though he might be the most athletic defensive end in the entire draft, he was unproductive and not deserving of the number five overall selection. The Lions had the opportunity to select one of the best cover corners in the draft in Johnthan Banks, but chose to take his teammate Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi St, in the second round. Slay had 6 INT and 10 PB in 26 career games and an impact per game rating of 1.50. The third round selection of guard Larry Warford is a quality pick. He is a mauler along the offensive line who should open up a few holes for newly acquired running back Reggie Bush.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers are the definition of a team that knows how to locate, acquire and develop talented football players. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA, is a powerful defensive end who can hold his edge against the run. Similar to the role Justin Smith plays for the 49ers, Jones can do the dirty work while pass rush specialists Clay Matthews and Nick Perry fly around the field and get after the quarterback. Needing an upgrade at the running back position, the Packers selected two of the top five running backs on my board in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. Both of these players will complement one another really well, a power and finesse combination.
Houston Texans: First round pick DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson, is the type of big bodied explosive wideout the Texans have been looking for to play opposite of Andre Johnson. Hopkins had 206 receptions, 3020 receiving yards and 27 TD’s in his career. The Texans are hopping he has just scratched the surface of his talents and can take some of the pressure away from Johnson. In the third and fourth rounds they were able to pick up two of the better pass rushers in this year’s draft class with the selection of Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU and Trevardo Williams, DE, Connecticut. Williams, a pass rush specialist, had 30.5 career sacks, but lacks the size to be a three down lineman. Chris Jones, DT, Bowling Green, a sixth round selection is a solid, small school prospect. He had 28 career sacks, highest amongst all draft eligible defensive tackles in this year’s draft class.
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts saw immediate results out of their draft class last year. This year they focused on improving their pass rush and the interior of their offensive line. First round selection Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU, will play the same role former Baltimore Ravens defensive end Paul Kruger played in head coach Chuck Pagano’s defensive while he was the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. Werner had 23.5 sacks and 35 TFL, with an average impact per game rating of 1.94. Fourth round selection, Khaled Holmes, C, USC, is an experienced lineman with the strength to hold his point of attack against bigger defensive tackles, yet athletic enough to handle inside speed rushers. A smart player, he has experience making line adjustments and should pair well with Andrew Luck.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags started off the draft getting the top rated tackle on my board in Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M. Joeckel will be a cornerstone left tackle for the next 10 years. He should have no problems handling the NFL elite pass rushers. In the second round the Jags took another quality player in Johnathan Cyprien, S, FIU. A bigger safety who possess the speed and playmaking ability new head coach Gus Bradley is looking for in a starting safety, Cyprien had 289 career tackles. With only one career sack, he is an in the box run stuffing safety. The Jaguars rolled the dice on former Michigan Wolverines QB turned running back/wide receiver, Denard Robinson, with a fifth round selection. Denard is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, the question is going to be how to get it to him. He has limited experience as a pass protector and as a receiver. He could develop into a special teams standout similar to a Devin Hester.
Kansas City Chiefs: Having the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Chiefs chose to take the player who they believe has a higher ceiling in Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan over Luke Joeckel. I believe both these players will be quality NFL starting left tackles. While Joeckel has shown he can consistently shut down the nation’s top pass rushers, Fischer played in the MAC Conference and never went up against a top tier pass rusher. Third round selection Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati, is an athletic tight end that has the speed to be a downfield threat averaging 14.8 YPC during his career. Fourth rounder Nico Johnson is a solid player who should be a special teams standout and a rotational player at the linebacker position. The selection of Knile Davis is a bit peculiar considering the Chiefs have Jamaal Charles and last year they drafted Cyrus Gray, Davis has failed to regain his form after suffering a devastating injury two years ago. Davis has issues with ball security, he fumbled the ball 13 times on 381 touches a rate of once every 26 touches.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins went with the classic boom or bust selection with their first round selection Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon. I’m not a fan of Jordan and I don’t think a player with 14.5 career sacks, while not being an every down player in college is worthy of a top three draft selection. The Dolphins moved up the draft board to select him with the expectations that he will play in a traditional 4-3 defensive end position opposite pass rush specialist Cameron Wake. Second round selection Jamar Taylor is a competitive, physical bump and run corner who was the fourth ranked corner on my board. In 48 career games, Taylor had seven INT, six FF and 18 pass break ups; he’s tied for the second most career sacks of any defensive back in the class with four. He had 74 career impact plays, an average of 1.54 impact plays per game. I will never understand why teams select kickers and punters in any round other than the seventh round, Miami selected Caleb Sturgis, PK, Florida, in the fifth round. They still need an offensive tackle to take the spot of Jake Long along with depth at the wide receiver position after trading Davone Bess and they somehow decided to select a special teams player. Kickers can be found in the later rounds or even as undrafted free agents. The Dolphins passed up on some quality slot receivers such as Ryan Swope and Connor Vernon.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings made a splash in the first round with their three selections. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida, was the top run stuffer amongst the defensive tackles. The big bodied defensive lineman will clog up the middle and should have no problems making an immediate impact. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State, was the top rated cornerback on my board. In a division with some of the league’s best wide receivers, the big, physical corner can play press coverage and has the size to match up one on one with them. Trading back into the first round to select Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee, the Vikings were desperate to find a replacement for Percy Harvin. With only one season of major college football experience, Patterson is physical wideout, who can be a dangerous return man. Against Alabama and going head-to-head with one of the top-rated cornerbacks in the nation, Dee Milliner, Patterson finished with only one reception for 25 yards. In fact, his only game with over 100 receiving yards came against Troy University, which ranked 94th in the country in pass defense this past season. There are a number of examples of wide receivers who were just like Patterson; a dynamic one-year wonder in college who turned out to be an NFL draft bust. Players such as Robert Ferguson, Devin Thomas, Dexter Jackson, Chad Jackson and Greg Little come to mind. The Vikings were able to pick up some quality depth along the offensive line with the additions of Jeff Baca, G, UCLA, in the fifth round and Travis Bond, G, UNC, in the seventh round.
New England Patriots: The Patriots are a team always looking to move down the draft board to pick up extra draft selections and this year was no different. Dropping down the board and out of the first round, the Patriots picked up four extra draft selections. Second round selection Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Mississippi, is one of the best outside pass rushers in this year’s draft class. Collins had 21 sacks, 45 TFL for his career, and a total of 97 impact plays which was an average of 1.87 impact plays per game. With their other second round selection, the Patriots took Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall. Dobson, a taller wideout than the Patriots typically go after, averaged 14.5 YPC throughout his career he should be a nice weapon for Tom Brady in the red zone. Josh Boyce, WR, TCU, a fourth round selection isn’t blessed with exceptional speed but is able to get decent separation from defenders. His average reception came at only 5.6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers, played in over 50 games in his career, yet only had 6 INT and 8 PB which is far below what you would expect from the 91st overall selection in the NFL Draft. Averaging only .45 impact plays per game, which ranked him 50th amongst the safeties in this year’s draft, Harmon had an undrafted grade in my rankings.
New Orleans Saints: Still reeling from the loss of picks due to Bountygate, the Saints who had the NFL’s worst defense last year needed to make the most use out of their five draft picks. First round selection Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas, is an athletic safety who most in the media thought was the best safety in this year’s draft class. We, here at PredictionMachine.com, were not of the same mindset. Vaccaro, my third ranked safety played in 50 career games, yet only made five INT and had only 19 return yards on those interceptions. He also had only 49 career impact plays, an average of .91 impact plays per game. While he will be an upgrade at the position over Roman Harper, the Saints could have traded down, picked up a few extra draft picks and selected Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State, in the second round. Second round selection Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, is the most impressive athletic offensive lineman in this year’s draft. A small school prospect who reminds me of a younger Jason Peters, he will need time to develop. I don’t think he is ready to be left out on an island to protect Drew Brees. If he continues to develop he could be a great steal for the Saints. Third round selection John Jenkins, DT, Georgia, is a massive, big bodied defensive lineman weighing close to 350lbs. His main role will be to clog the interior rushing lanes. I would have expected him to be a dominant force in stopping the run last year but Georgia was ranked 77th in country last year in rush defense, giving up 2,550 rushing yards, and average of 182.1 yards per game. Not the typical results you expect from a highly touted defensive tackle.
New York Giants: General Manager Jerry Reese does a fantastic job at sticking to his draft board and consistently selects competitive, productive players in the draft. First round selection Justin Pugh, G, Syracuse, reminds me of current Denver Broncos offensive guard Zane Beadles, who also converted over from left tackle in college to guard in the NFL. Pugh is a smart, instinctive player who should give the Giants some much needed flexibility along their offensive line. They scored a couple of major difference makers along the defensive line with second round selection Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State, and third round selection Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M. Hankins is a big bodied defensive tackle who was the third ranked defensive tackle on my board. This mammoth, run-stuffing defensive tackle/nose tackle held opponents to 3.6 yards-per-carry for the season. Moore was the top rated 4-3 defensive end on my board, a player I had pegged as a top five selection. For his career, Moore had 90.5 impact plays in 38 career games, an average of 2.38 impact plays per game. A combination of Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, and Damontre Moore should be a lethal pass rush combination the Giants will unleash on opponents next season.
New York Jets: With a lot of needs to fill on their roster, specifically speaking at the offensive skill positions, the Jets decided it was best to focus on the defensive side of the football. First round selection Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama, is an obvious replacement for the recent departure of All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. Milliner, a solid player but not the highest rated cornerback on my board, isn’t the same type of physical corner that Revis is. The Jets other first round selection, Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri, is a prototypical five-technique player, where he can utilize his speed and quickness to quickly get upfield, Richardson has good power and stays low, which helps him win battles with his leverage. A one-year wonder with only 24 career games played, Richardson made the most of it with 83 tackles, 18.5 TFL, six sacks, four forced fumbles and four pass breakups. He had 36.5 impact plays for his career, an average of 1.52 impact-plays-per-game. I’m not sure how he is going to fit in the Jets defensive scheme, he is more suited to a one gap system. The second round selection of Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia, is a good value selection. Yes, the Jets have six quarterbacks on their current roster, but none of them are players who you can build a solid franchise around. Mark Sanchez never was, and never will be a top tier NFL quarterback. Smith can sit for a season, learn the basics of the West Coast offense from offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and next year take over the reins of the offense. The Jets could make the mistake of playing Smith early. If he can develop into a well-rounded quarterback, the Jets just might have found themselves the steal of the entire draft.
Oakland Raiders: The old days of the Oakland Raiders mortgaging their future to select prospects based on speed are over. General Manger Reggie McKenzie has an eye for talent and is becoming a maestro in the draft. With a shortage of picks, the Raiders traded down in the in first round and were still able to get the second ranked cornerback on my board in DJ Hayden, CB, Houston. Hayden, a difference maker on the outside, is a big physical corner who had six INT, with 229 career INT return yards and three of those INT returned for TDs. He had a career total of 73.5 impact plays. He had the highest impact-plays-per-game average of any defensive back in the draft at 3.34. Third round selection Sio Moore, OLB, Connecticut, will turn out to be a key difference maker for the Oakland Raiders in the years to come. In 37 career games, Moore, the third ranked 3-4 pass rusher on my board, had 220 tackles, 43 TFL, 16 sacks and four forced fumbles. He had 85 impact plays, an average of 2.30 impact plays per game, third highest amongst all the linebackers in this year’s draft class. The Raiders were a team that needed depth all across the board and they did a great job at finding some hidden gems and building for the future.
Philadelphia Eagles: I said going into the draft that the Eagles were the team I was most anxious to see what direction they would take in the draft. Head Coach Chip Kelly understands his offensive system and knows that he needs big, mobile, athletic players to run his offensive effectively. First round selection Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma, has the athleticism and physical nature Kelly is looking for in his tackles. With, Johnson having the speed to quickly get outside the hashmarks and upfield to make a key block, don’t be surprised to see the Eagles lead the league in the number of quick screen passes. Second round selection Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford, was the top rated tight end on my board. Ertz, an athletic, big bodied receiver, was split outside on over 70% of Stanford offensive snaps last season. Ertz finished his career with 122 receptions, 1,434 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns; he averaged 7.4 receptions per touchdown throughout his career. Kelly now has plenty of weapons on offense to play with. Seventh round selection, Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State, the seventh rated cornerback on my board, consistently shut down the Pac-12 top rated receivers over the past couple of seasons. While he doesn’t have the measurables teams are looking for in an elite defensive back, he can cover the slot receiver utilizing his strength and power to consistently jam them off their routes. The selection of Matt Barkley, QB, USC, in the fourth round might seem a bit puzzling considering he was one of the least mobile of the highly ranked quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Barkley is an accurate passer, a good decision maker and someone who is a student of the game. He might not have the quickness and mobility to run the read-option, but he can quickly diagnose and shred a defense with the best of them. This past year Barkley and the USC Trojans put up 51 points in a loss to the Oregon Ducks. He threw for 113 touchdowns in his career at USC. With Chip Kelly, it is best to expect the unexpected.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Some teams just have it too easy. Last year, the top rated offensive guard David DeCastro fell to the Steelers in the bottom half of the first round. This year, the top rated pass rusher on my board, Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia, dropped right into the Steelers lap. Ranked first in the SEC and fifth in the nation last year in sacks, Jones continued to impress scouts, leading the nation with 14.5 sacks this past year. At 6’3” and 241 lbs, he is well-suited to play the outside linebacker role in a 3-4. The Steelers have been able to find quality, productive wide receivers in the later rounds of the draft and third round selection Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State, should be able to step into the big play, vertical threat role left behind by the recent departure of Mike Wallace. Fourth round selection Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma, is a big bodied, pocket passer who should develop into a quality backup to Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers have been relying on Bryon Leftwich and Charlie Batch for too long. Jones is an accurate quarterback when given time in the pocket and will be a dependable long term backup.
San Diego Chargers: A team that had a number of needs, specifically along the offensive line, were able to find some quality players starting with their first round selection D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama. A massive 6’6” and 335 lbs., physical and tenacious, he can man-handle just about everyone who gets in his way. Once he is able to get his hands on a defender, it is lights out. He will move his opponent to whatever side of the field he wants to move him to. The biggest headline of the entire draft was the Chargers second round selection of Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame. The Chargers will have a solid core of linebackers next season with last year’s first round pick Melvin Ingram, Donald Butler, Jarrett Johnson and now Te’o. Fifth round selection Steve Williams, CB, California, is a tough and willing run defender who does a nice job of wrapping up and limiting production after contact. While he lacks elite size and measurable he had 6 INT and 22 PB in 37 career games.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers are one of the few teams in the NFL where they are stacked at almost every position on the roster. I was not in favor of trading up to select Eric Reid, S, LSU, in the first round. While Reid is a physical safety who can play the deep centerfield role or be an in the box type of safety, there were a couple of safeties I had rated higher on my board and Reid was not worthy of a first round grade. I liked the next five picks starting with second rounder Tank Carradine, OLB, FSU. Carradine, a dynamic force off the edge with his speed and athleticism, was one of the elite pass rushers in the draft and should be a perfect complement to Aldon Smith. Third rounder Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn, had a fantastic junior season with 9.5 sacks. This past season his production dropped to only 5.5 sacks. A prototypical 3-4 OLB, he will be used primarily in sub-packages and as a pass rusher to start his career. Lastly, the fourth round selection Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina, is an absolute stud of a running back when healthy. He will have an opportunity to take his time and rehab without the pressure of needing to be the team’s feature back. With Frank Gore, LaMichael James and Lattimore, the 49ers will have a three-headed monster at the tailback position.
Seattle Seahawks: Trading their first round selection to the Minnesota Vikings for WR Percy Harvin, the Seahawks are another team with few needs and open roster spots. I’m not in favor of their selection of Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M, a player who never had a thousand yards rushing in a single season during his career. He averaged only 69.8 rushing yards per game. The Seahawks already have two bruising tailbacks in Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin; wasting a second round pick on a similar style of player seems a bit excessive. Fourth round selection Chris Harper, WR, Kansas State, is a big bodied receiver who is a physical route runner and is someone who will go across the middle to make the tough grab. He reminds me of current 49ers wideout Anquan Boldin. Both are physical run blockers on the outside. Fifth round selection Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama, is the run stuffing defensive tackle head coach Pete Carroll needs to operate his defense. This powerful, wide-bodied defensive tackle is more than capable of holding his ground, even when two or three offensive linemen try to push him out of his gap. One of the strongest players in college football, Williams can bench press over 600 lbs.
St. Louis Rams: I was wondering if Sam Bradford was running the draft room instead of G.M. Les Snead. The Rams traded up in the first round to select the most dangerous offense weapon in this year’s draft, Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia. Austin, along with third round selection Stedman Bailey, will transform the 25th ranked offense into a high-powered potent offense, similar to what Sam Bradford ran in college. The selection of Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia, in the first round is a boom-or-bust selection. While he is an incredibly gifted athlete, he has yet to deliver on potential. He played inconsistently against the run, failing to understand his gap responsibility and playing out of position. He doesn’t have the strength to fight through blocks; he looks to run around would-be blockers, rather than slip through them. The best value pick possibly in the entire draft came with the fourth round selection of Barrett Jones, C, Alabama. Jones was knocked down draft boards for his perceived lack of strength and power. An incredibly intelligent, young man, Jones has mastered the playbook and makes all the offensive line calls. He is a leader amongst his teammates and a player who executes the little details that help his teams win games. Physically, he can handle bigger, stronger bull rushers. He didn’t give up a sack against the nation’s top-rated defensive interior linemen, including Sheldon Richardson, John Jenkins, Bennie Logan and Kwame Geathers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trading for Darrelle Revis leading up to the draft left the Bucs without a first round draft pick. In the second round, the Bucs selected Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State, who was the player I had projected them to select in the first round before they made the trade for Revis. Most teams tended to shied away from the tall, lanky Banks, only throwing his direction on average 4.8 times a game last season. The Bucs have quickly rebuilt their entire secondary in just one season. Third round selection Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State, was a reach that is a major developmental project that won’t be ready to push incumbent quarterback Josh Freeman for playing time for at least three to four seasons. Glennon had only 15 wins a starter through two seasons in a sub-par conference. He trusts his arm more than he trust his eyes, continually throwing off his back foot on deep passes. His career Net Points total was 237.81, ranking him 27th amongst all draft eligible quarterbacks. Fourth rounders’ Akeem Spence and William Gholston should improve the depth along the defensive line. Both players are above average interior pass rushers.
Tennessee Titans: The Titans clearly emphasized upgrading the interior of their offensive line this offseason by signing guard Andy Levitre away from Buffalo and using their first round selection on the overall top rated player on my board, Chance Warmack, G, Alabama. Warmack is a dominating run blocker whose size and speed allow him to get out in the open and overpower linebackers. His footwork and movement skills are elite. Warmack plays with brute strength and power; he’s a player who looks to move piles and won’t back down from anyone. Second rounder Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee, is a bit of a project. Standing 6’4”, Hunter has the speed to quickly get upfield to stretch a defense. His main issue, albeit a big one, is he has a hard time consistently catching the football. He isn’t a tough run blocker and lacks the physical traits you would expect from a bigger wideout. Fourth rounder Brain Schwenke, C, Cal, is a solid prospect who plays at either guard spot or at the center position. Having played all three interior positions, Schwenke has the versatility and experience the Titans are looking for.
Washington Redskins: The Redskins traded away their first round selection to the St. Louis Rams last year to select RGIII. With their first selection of the draft coming with the 51st pick, the Redskins selected David Amerson, CB, N.C. State. At 6‘1” and 205 lbs, he has the length and size to jam and disrupt his opponents coming off the line of scrimmage. For all his faults, there is no denying his ability to be a ball hawk on the outside. He has both the ability and the experience to match up against the top wideouts. In 39 career games, he had 18 INT, one FF and 17 PB. He had 86 career impact plays, an average of 2.21 impact plays per game. The steal of draft might be the fourth round selection of Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno St. Thomas was the number one ranked safety on my board. He possesses an elite level of ability to read and react to the quarterback, understands route combinations, and shows a great deal of football intelligence. In 41 career games, Thomas had 13 INT (four of which he returned for a TD), 17 TFL, four sacks, 15 PB and six forced fumbles. He had 78 career impact plays, an average of 1.9 impact plays per game. This is the second-highest total amongst all the safeties in this year’s draft class. Fifth round selection, Brandon Jenkins, OLB, FSU, is an intriguing young prospect. He was a two year starter who was consistently productive and at times downright dominant. Used primarily as a pass rusher, Jenkins finished his career with 37.5 TFL, 22.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He had 66 career impact plays, a per-game average of 1.69.