What is better than the NFL Draft? How about taking the draft cap off and putting it back on? Here are some of the more interesting picks from this year’s draft.
The Bills draft strategy consists of two words: The South (the area of the US that is below the old Mason-Dixon Line and no further west than Texas). While they did get two prospects outside of this geographical area, they were very late round picks that probably won’t make the team anyway and one was a kicker, which you can’t count as a true prospect anyway.
Needs to Produce: Stephon Gilmore CB, South Carolina. Many believe Gilmore was the most physically gifted CB in the draft. And while the Bills did have a slight need at CB, the additions of DEs Mario Williams and Mark Anderson could have made a fairly pedestrian defensive backfield look pretty good this year (we all know that the key to stopping the pass is a pass rush more than shutting down WR routes). Still, Gilmore was probably the best prospect on the board at 10 overall and because no OT prospect was graded near him the pick makes sense. If he can progress early the Bills pass defense should easily be in the top 10 this year.
Under the Radar Values: Nigel Bradham OLB, FSU and Zebrie Sanders OT, FSU. The Bills’ two biggest needs this offseason were OT and OLB, with WR being a very close third. The best part about both of these guys is that the Bills got excellent value (Bradham was picked in the 4th and Sanders in the 5th). Both Bradham and Sanders were considered by many to have 3rd round grades, so the fact that the Bills lucked into having these two fall to where they did was the highlight of the draft. Since the Bills’ 2nd round pick of Cordy Glenn is a questionable OT in the NFL I would not be surprised to see both Bradham and Sanders starting by the end of the year.
Huh?: Mark Asper C/G, Oregon. Honorable mention has to go to the trade up for T.J. Graham in the 3rd round but my real huh pick is Asper. Not only could he have probably been had as an UDFA but the fact that the interior line for the Bills is one of their best units makes it even more questionable. Not to mention that the Bills still need WR help and one of my favorite prospects, Marvin McNutt, was still available just makes me question the whole pick. It would be a shock to me if Asper somehow made the final roster, he has practice squad written all over him.
The Dolphins’ draft really just depends on your opinion of Ryan Tannehill. If you think he has the capability of becoming a top 10 NFL QB then their draft was good, if you don’t then you probably aren’t a happy camper right now.
Needs to Produce: Michael Egnew TE, Missouri. It’s sort of odd to say that a mid-3rd round pick needs to produce early but in Egnew’s case he does. The Dolphins haven’t had a decent TE since Randy McMichael was above average years ago. Couple that with the fact the ‘Phins don’t really have many pass catching options and have some young QBs and that makes the TE position all the more important. I think Egnew could end up becoming pretty good but I don’t know it that’ll happen as early as Miami needs it to.
Under the Radar Values: Jonathan Martin OT, Stanford. The knock on Martin was that he needed to add core strength and didn’t have the tenacity you would like to see from an offensive lineman. If he has the desire to become stronger and block harder though Martin could become one of the steals of the draft. There were many that had him slotted to go off the board as high as 10th overall to the Buffalo Bills, so we’ll see if the new Miami coaching staff can light a fire under his ass and turn him into the great player that his potential dictates.
Huh?: There really isn’t a player that could fit this for me. As mentioned above, it depends on what you think of Ryan Tannehill. I am glad my favorite team, the Bills, didn’t have to make a decision about selecting Tannehill but that doesn’t mean I think he’s a bad prospect. If there was another QB in this draft Tannehill wouldn’t have been picked so early but I think he has the physical tools to become a top 10 QB in this league.
New England Patriots
The Patriots focused heavily on the defense in this draft as they try to keep Tom Brady’s Super Bowl window open for as long as possible.
Needs to Produce: Chandler Jones DE, Syracuse. Forget the fact that the Patsies traded up to get him (something they NEVER do, this must really be the year of the apocalypse). After a defensive resurgence last year the Pats lost Mark Anderson in free agency and Andre Carter was constantly injured and had far and away his best season last year. It remains to be seen if Carter can repeat that or if it was just an anomaly. Enter Jones, who many consider to be one of the rawest prospects in the draft. If Jones can’t produce early the Pats’ defense might be more reminiscent of the 2009 and 2010 years than last year.
Under the Radar Values: Alfonzo Dennard, CB Nebraska and Jeremy Ebert WR, Northwestern. Dennard’s character concerns coupled with his below-average capabilities as a ball-hawk made him slip to the 6th round. He still is a very valuable pickup though, especially with a strong locker room there to help build character. Ebert is a typical Patriots WR pick, a little undersized but with great production. He was a catching machine over at Northwestern and I suspect they will groom him to be the next Wes Welker.
Huh?: Tavon Wilson S, Illinois. The Patriots always seem to make one huge reach every draft and Wilson was this year’s. The Pats’ need for a safety probably factored into this decision, but Bellichek usually picks players that fit into his system so it will be hard to judge Wilson until we actually see what he can do on the field.
New York Jets
Another typical draft for the Jets. They love the high potential guys and love the trades.
Needs to Produce: Stephen Hill WR, GT. Plaxico couldn’t do anything when he wasn’t in the red zone last year and with another year he probably will end up being less effective than last year. The Jets drafted Hill to be the fly route WR that can stretch the field. Hill isn’t very proven at WR considering he is coming from a triple option offense at GT but if he can make some plays downfield early the Jets offense should be more effective.
Under the Radar Values: Terrance Ganaway RB, Baylor. The Jets love to run the ball and the 6th round pick of Ganaway should help them do that. Ganaway is a massive man and the Jets are hoping he provides the power that their ground and pound offensive attack has lacked since Rex Ryan became the head coach. Unfortunately for them Ganaway isn’t as North-South as many would like him to be and if he dances around behind the line, which he is known to do, the Jets still may be looking for a power back in next year’s draft.
Huh?: Really all of their picks could be considered questionable. Coples is your typical physically gifted but lacking consistency and drive first rounder. Hill is very unproven. While I love Demario Davis, I would have loved him more in the late-3rd/early-4th. Ryan and the Jets will hope they can coach these guys up into the players they want them to become and not the players they have been so far.