The first round of the NFL Draft last night was certainly interesting; it left some people excited, some indifferent and others angry, depending on what team you cheer for. I ‘m not going to be excessive and breakdown EVERY pick of the 1st round, instead I will go over the winners, head-scratching moves, and picks I refer to as “the jury is still out” from last night.
-Detroit Lions: After years of NFL mediocrity and being the laughing stock of most drafts, the Lions under new Coaching and Management have now had two straight years of solid picks. With the 2nd overall pick the Lions drafted University of Nebraska Defensive Tackle (DT) Ndamakong Suh, the man who I consider the top player in the draft. He can have an immediate impact on defense for this team and will be a force to be reckoned with. Then the Lions traded up for the 30th overall pick and took University of California Running Back (RB) Jahvid Best. Best is a dynamic player who has the potential to be a superstar and can fill a major need for Detroit on offense. The Lions need a RB who can carry and catch the ball, relieving pressure off of QB Matthew Stafford.
-Seattle Seahawks: New Head Coach Pete Carroll got lucky (for lack of a better term) when Oklahoma State University Offensive Tackle (OT) Russell Okung was still available. Many experts consider Okung the best offensive lineman in the draft. Okung has all the tools necessary to be a solid NFL caliber OT. Then the Seahawks got another fortunate break when the Philadelphia Eagles left University of Texas Safety Earl Thomas available for Seattle to draft at the 14th overall pick. Thomas is the best pass defense Safety in the draft and has great instincts. Seattle has everything going their way so far in this year’s draft.
-Arizona Cardinals: For whatever reason team after team let talented DT Dan Williams from the University of Tennessee stay available. When the 26th pick came around, the Cardinals had to be surprised one of the best defensive players in this year’s draft was still out there to be picked. The Cardinals get a solid all-around player who can make an immediate positive impact for them on defense. Williams is everything talent-wise a team could want in a Defensive Tackle.
-Dallas Cowboys: Owner Jerry Jones still regrets he did not draft future Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Randy Moss in the 1998 NFL Draft because of off the field issues. So when the Cowboys saw that Oklahoma State Wide Receiver (WR) Dez Bryant was passed over by four teams that need a WR for the same reason the Cowboys passed over Moss in 1998, they had to go get him. Dallas made a trade with the New England Patriots to get the 24th overall pick and grabbed Bryant. Dez Bryant’s off the field issues are subjective in nature and his abilities as a football player make him a steal for the Cowboys. As I explained to someone today: “Dez Bryant has Randy Moss’ leaping ability, Larry Fitzgerald’s hands, and Miles Austin’s agility”.
-Jacksonville Jaguars: Defensive Tackle Tyson Aluala from the University of California was a good college player. But is he really worthy of being drafted 10th overall? I’m not the only person who doesn’t think so. When you take a player most people don’t even know, you are doing your franchise and fans a real disservice. The Jaguars are a team that has had trouble with attendance in recent years and taking with your top pick a guy who may not make a real impact on your team this coming season really makes me wonder what they are thinking down in Jacksonville. Let’s also consider the fact that the Jaguars last several 1st round picks have not worked out: Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, and Derrick Harvey to name a few.
-Philadelphia Eagles: So the Eagles traded up to make a top talent pick to help their defense. They need a Safety with the ability to start now and also a lot of upside. So what do they do? They draft a player who played Linebacker in college to play Defensive End for them. Right, that makes so much sense (sarcasm). Brandon Graham played outside linebacker at the University of Michigan and was their best defensive player last season. But when one of the top defensive players in the draft is available (Safety Earl Thomas) and you pass on him for a player you could have waited a few more picks to try and grab is a questionable move. Now I think Brandon Graham can be a solid NFL player and is a hard worker who can make a good impact for the Eagles, but the Eagles seem to always pass on the players who are almost guaranteed to be successful in the NFL for guys who have raw talent and need a bit of development.
-New Orleans Saints: The reigning Super Bowl champions picked a player who plays a position they are very deep at right now. The Saints drafted Florida State Cornerback (CB) Patrick Robinson with the 32nd overall pick. The Saints already have four cornerbacks who could start on many NFL teams, so why draft Robinson? Robinson is a good CB but isn’t great at anything. Maybe this was just a safe pick for the Saints. They could have drafted a linebacker who could help them this year instead of a guy who will probably be buried on special teams for a few years.
THE JURY IS STILL OUT
-Buffalo Bills: This is a team that has a plethora of needs at positions such as Quarterback, Offensive lineman, Tight End, and Safety. So the Bills decide to draft at the 9th overall pick a player who they thought was the “Best overall player available”: Clemson University RB C.J. Spiller. Even though this team already has two RB’s on their roster who are talented enough to start, the Bills picked Spillers because of his great overall skills as a RB in comparison to the Running Backs the Bills currently have. Also, the Bills may have made this pick so they can trade RB Marshawn Lynch, who has had legal issues outside of football.
-San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers drafted two players last night that have good upside. Rutgers Offensive Tackle Anthony Davis and University of Idaho Offensive Guard Mike Iupati are good, safe picks for the 49ers. But it is surprising that a team whose Head Coach is Mike Singletary would not draft one of the many talented Linebackers, Cornerbacks or Defensive lineman that were still available at the 11th and 17th overall picks. Singletary is a defense-minded guy because of his background as the leader of the great Chicago Bear defenses of the 1980’s. But the 49ers choose instead two big, strong offensive linemen. Davis of Rutgers has had some question his character because he was suspended in college and others question his work ethic because he twice showed up to August Rutgers’ training camps overweight. On the other hand Iupati of Idaho is the best overall Offensive Guard in the draft and could start this coming season for San Francisco.
-Denver Broncos: Head Coach Josh McDaniels has become a polarizing force among Broncos fans. He traded away Pro Bowlers Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. He says he wants dedicated, character type players on his team. So the Broncos drafted Georgia Tech Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas and University of Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow. These picks seem to be McDaniels way of saying he has a plan for the future of the Broncos, but will he be around to see the fruits of his master plan? No matter what your opinion is of Tim Tebow the reality is that he is a hard worker with many physical skills. Even if he doesn’t become an NFL star at QB he could become a solid contributor on offense whether as a QB or the man who runs the “Wildcat Offense” in Denver. Thomas is a guy who was never able to show all his abilities at Georgia Tech but he has all the skills needed to be a good NFL starting Wide Receiver. He has good hands, can block, and has great speed and agility. Only time will tell if Broncos fans and ownership will be patient enough with McDaniels through the growing pains of rebuilding this team into what he wants it to be.