So the NFL Draft has come and gone. Football fans don’t have much to look forward to during the off season, so the draft is always highly anticipated. Though we already knew that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were locks to go #1 and #2 to Indianapolis and Washington respectively, there was plenty of movement following their selections. Cleveland started the wheeling and dealing an hour before the draft even was set to start by trading up one spot to insure they were able to draft Alabama’s Trent Richardson. That would prove to only be the beginning of an eventful first day.
Like every year, there are winners and losers of the draft. Some teams do excellent jobs of moving up and down to insure all of their needs are addressed, while others neglect needs or reach for players too early in the draft. Here are my winners and losers of this year’s draft:
Philadelphia had an outstanding draft and an outstanding off season when it came to addressing their needs. Defense was the primary concern going into the draft for Philly, they needed to improve their run defense, especially up the middle. They were able to move up and draft Fletcher Cox in Round 1, the top interior defensive lineman on the board. Plug Cox in next to Cullen Jenkins along with Jason Babin and Trent Cole and you got yourself a hell of a front four, love the pick. The Eagles followed up their first round selection with two great ones in round 2 with Mychal Kendricks from Cal and Vinny Curry of Marshall. With Kendricks you get a guy who you can plug into the starting lineup next to Demeco Ryans and will be an instant upgrade at the instant upgrade at the outside linebacker position. Kendricks is athletic and instinctive and can be used as a blitzer off the edge. With Curry, the Eagles added another pass rusher to the depth chart who also has the ability to hold up against the run. Could we see Philly putting Babin, Cole and Curry on the field in passing situations? Maybe so. With these picks Philadelphia instantly got better on defense, the Brandon Boykins pick in round 4 also gives them a nickel corner option with Asante Samuel going to Atlanta. Would of loved to see them address the safety position, but it was still a great day for Philly.
I can’t remember a draft in recent memory when the New England Patriots weren’t on the list of winners. This is the best drafting organization in my opinion. They do the best at getting the most out of every pick and they are always stockpiling picks. Once again they were drafting twice in the first round of the draft and they did what they usually do, make great picks. The Pats were atrocious on defense. No way around that. Simply put, Vince Young threw for 400 yards on them in 2011… That should never happen and I am a huge VY fan. With their first pick in round 1 they took Chandler Jones out of Syracuse. With Jones you get a guy who instantly improves their pass rush, something the Pats have been lacking the past couple seasons. Athleticism runs in Jones’ family and Chandler has plenty of it. The kid can do it all, rush the passer, stop the run and drop into coverage. Simply put, Jones could have the highest ceiling of any pass rusher in this draft and I expect Bill Belichick to get the most of him when it’s all said and done. The Pats traded with Denver to get back into Round 1 and with that pick they took Dont’a Hightower out of Alabama. Love this pick and fit for New England. The Pats already had Jerod Mayo running the middle for the defense, now you add another BAMF in Hightower and you got a tough time thinking how teams will run up the middle on the Pats. When you watched the Crimson Tide defense the past couple years you had a hard time missing Dont’a Hightower. The guy shows up on film every game and every down, he makes plays. He is a big, tough guy who plays hard and knows how to operate within the defensive schemes, he will fit right in with Belichick. New England got a STEAL in round 7 with Nebraska’s Alfonzo Dennard, a guy who some saw as a 2nd round talent before he assaulted a police officer days before a draft ( This guy is a regular Rhodes Scholar). If Dennard gets his mind right and falls in line with the Patriot way, I can see him pushing for some PT this season. If he doesn’t fall in line, Belichick will have no problem sending him up the road. All and all, every need for New England was met in this draft. They are a winner in my book.
The Pittsurgh Steelers might of got the steal of the draft in round one and it was at a need position. David DeCastro was by the far the best interior offensive line prospect in this draft in this class and it wasn’t even close. He is was easily a top 10-15 guy who slid to #24 when it was all said and done. Pittsburgh offensive line has been bruised and beaten for the past few seasons and they have struggled to keep Big Ben upright. With DeCastro you get yourself a guy who is going to be a Pro Bowler for the next decade. He is as nasty as they come when it comes to playing the game of football and he is a hand in glove fit for Pittsburgh. I can’t wait to see him and Pouncey execute some double teams in the trenches, it’s going to get down right ugly in there. Pittsburgh continued to solidify the offensive line in round two by taking Ohio State’s Mike Adams off the board. Adams is another guy who had a first round grade for some early in the draft process, but slid to the second round. Adams has the ability to play either tackle position and displays great foot work for a guy his size. With DeCastro and Adams in the fold, the Steeler’s offensive line will be worlds better this coming season. Following their first two picks, Pittsburgh grabbed Sean Spence out of Miami and Alameda Ta’amu from Washington. With Spence you get a guy who will most likely fill the void left by veteran James Farrior who was released earlier this off season and Ta’amu will eventually will be the replacement for Casey Hampton who is coming down the home stretch of his career. Another team who did an excellent job addressing their needs in the draft.
The Dirty Birds of Atlanta. They became the topic of many jokes this off season after only putting up two points against the Giants in the playoffs and after trading away multiple first round picks to get Julio Jones in last year’s draft, they were left with limited picks this year. Peter Konz was their pick that I see that improved their team, but there was not a lot of wow and there were still needs that went unanswered.
I don’t think any other team wants the off season to end more then the New Orleans Saints. Bounty Gate has really set this team back going into the 2012 season and anytime you have to forfeit draft picks it sets your team and organization back. I love the Nick Toon pick, he is a big, athletic receiver who has great ball skills and will be utilized quite a bit in New Orleans’ offense… that is if Drew Brees and the brass come together on terms for a deal. How that didn’t happen a long time ago I will never understand. The 2012 season is going to be an interesting one to say the least for Saints fans .
The team that produced the single biggest “WTF” moment of this year’s draft was the Seattle Seahawks. Just when I thought that the biggest reach of the first round would belong to the Miami Dolphins, the Seahawks out did them with their Bruce Irvin pick at #15. I watched Irvin at the combine and saw him put up a blistering forty time, and figured he would shoot up some draft boards… But never did I see him going #15. With guys like Melvin Ingram, Chandler Jones, Whitney Mercilus, Courtney Upshaw and Quinton Coples all on the board Seattle passed on them ALL. I will say this, Irvin could come out and absolutely make us all look stupid, happens every year, but I think he could of been on the board in round two. Only time will tell if this will be a boom or bust pick for Seattle, but my initial reaction on the night of the draft was R-E-A-C-H.
Hope you guys enjoyed my draft recap! Would appreciate any feedback you may have!