This is about the dumbest article that I write every year. But at least I admit it. The truth is, despite how dumb it is, there’s very little else to write about and you’ll probably read the whole damn thing after google-searching draft grades all day because, let’s face it, doing that, no matter how asinine, is better than doing your job.
I’ll start with the AFC North and AFC South today, and move on from there.
Picks: First Round-Jimmy Smith, CB; 2nd-Torrey Smith, WR; 3rd-Jah Reid, OT; 4th-Tandon Doss, WR; 5th-Chykie Brown, CB and Pernell McPhee, DE; 6th-Tyrod Taylor, QB; 7th-Anthony Allen, RB
Analysis: The Ravens came into the draft with questions about their vertical game, and answered them with Torrey Smith and Doss, both good values where they were selected. They botched a trade with the Bears, through apparently no fault of their own, but still landed a very good player in Jimmy Smith. Jah Reid was an oustanding value in the 3rd, and could step in to immediately man the starting RT spot, making this Ravens’ o-line bigger, younger, deeper and more versatile. The one question I have concerns their pass rush, which could still use some help. With 2010 draft pick Sergio Kindle’s long-term status in serious doubt, the Ravens could have still used a re-tool at rush LB.
Picks: First-A.J. Green, WR; 2nd-Andy Dalton, QB; 3rd-Dontay Moch, DE; 4th-Clint Boling, OG; 5th Roberts Sands, S; 6th Ryan Whalen, WR; 7th-Korey Lindsey, CB and Jay Finley, RB
Analysis: I like it that Cincy skipped on drafting a QB too high, but I still would’ve passed on Dalton in the second round and held out for a top pick in next year’s draft. Robert Sands is a huge, monster hitter and one of my favorite mid-round safety prospects. Likewise sack-specialist Dontay Moch will play rush linebacker for them in nickle situations, vastly improving their pass rush. The offense was much more inept than the defense last season, so the ‘Gals hope with 4 of their first 6 picks going to that side of the ball that they’ve made some immediate improvements. But of this group I see no future superstars except perhaps Green, who will most likely be expected to contribute right away.
Picks: First-Phil Taylor, DT; 2nd-Jabaal Sheard, DE and Greg Little, WR; 4th-Camreon Jordan, TE and Owen Marecic, FB; 5th-Buster Skrine, CB and Jason Pinkston, OT; 7th-Eric Hagg, S
Analysis: If any team needed to reach on Julio Jones it was Cleveland. I know they’re the big winners in the trade game this year, but they were very close to relevance last season and could have really used a playmaker like Jones. Drafting Greg Little as a consolation prize is nice, but Torrey Smith went one pick higher; with all those stocked up draft picks you’d think they could have gotten something done for him if they wanted him, and I think he’s leaps and bounds better than Little. I also am not a Phil Taylor believer, nor do I think Sheard is fast enough to play rush LB in the league. Overall average draft in my opinion. They get the “plus” because of their huge return in the trade with Atlanta.
Picks: First-Cameron Heyward, DE; Marcus Gilbert, OT; 3rd-Curtis Brown, CB; 4th-Cortez Allen, 5th-Chris Carter, OLB; 6th-Keith Williams, OG; 7th-Baron Batch, RB
Analysis: Heyward will be perfect in Pittsburgh; he’s just the type of player they like on defense, and was a solid value at the end of the first. But the real prize in this draft, to me, is Marcus Gilbert. Gilbert’s a legit NFL tackle with very few true weaknesses, and he’ll bolster a line that’s become sub-par over the lasf few years. Even Keith Williams was a decent late value. The one questionable decision in this draft, to me, is the Steelers’ inability to secure safety depth. But the safety class was pretty dismal. Good draft.
Picks: First-J.J. Watt, DE; 2nd Brooks Reed, OLB and Brandon Harris, CB; 4th-Rashad Carmichael, CB; 5th-Shiloh Keo, S and T.J. Yates, QB, 7th-Derek Newton, OG and Cheta Ozougwu, ILB
Analysis: I don’t get all the Texans love from the pundits. I mean, yes, they addressed their horrible defense with their first five draft picks, but they also are inexplicably jumping on the 34 bandwagon this year and they don’t have the personnel for it up front. Watt will be a 5-tech and they expect Reed to be an edge-rusher. I would’ve forgone Watt and grabbed Amakumura in the first, then targeted a 43 NT who could put on weight in the 2nd.
Picks: First-Anthony Castonzo, OT; 2nd-Ben Ijalana, OG; 3rd-Drake Nevis, DT; 4th-Delone Carter, RB: 6th-Chris L. Rucker, CB
Analysis: My Colts answered the criticism about a lack of size and toughness along their offensive front, adding legit LT prospect Castonzo and mauling LT/G Ben Ijalana. Nevis is also a scheme-perfect player for Indy’s gap-shooting system. Carter and Rucker where uncharacteristic, but both have potential. The Colts had several chances at a safety to replace Bob Sanders and possibly even starter Melvin Bullitt who is a free agent, but didn’t take advantage. That blown opportunity could be this draft’s biggest question mark for the Colts.
Picks: First-Blaine Gabbert, QB; 3rd-Will Rackley, OG; 4th-Cecil Shorts, WR and Chris Prosinksi, S; 5th-Rod Issac, CB
Analysis: I’d like the Jags’ draft a lot better if they didn’t trade out of so many picks. This strategy would have worked, by the way, if they didn’t have a ton of poblems on defense, but primarily traded to fix the offense. I don’t buy Rackley, even if the Jaguars convert him to a guard. Same for Gabbert, at least for right now. I like that Jacksonville took some risks and I like their mid-round picks, but they’re going to be bad for a while as a result of this draft, especially if they try to force Gabbert into a starting role. He’s not ready.
Picks: First-Jake Locker, QB; 2nd-Akeem Ayers, OLB; 3rd-Jurrell Casey, DT; 4th-Colin McCarthy, OLB and Jamie Harper, RB; 5th-Karl Klug, DT; 6th-Byron Stingily, OT; 7th-Zach Clayton, DT and Tommie Campbell, CB.
Analysis: With Jeff Fisher gone, I was sure the Titans would have some trouble nailing down “Fisher-like” players, but they didn’t. Ayers is a good leader who should be a defensive captain within a couple years, Klug and Casey will both get looks at under tackle and defensive end, and both are likely athletic enough to play both spots. Jamie Harper, though considered a reach by some, will get a chance to fill the power RB void left by LenDale White two years ago. Harper’s a bit on the slow side, but he’s drawn Michael Turner comparisons with his size, power and downhill style. All-in-all, besides Locker (which smelled like a panic move) I think this was a good draft for Tennessee.