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.
After having their most successful season in the history of their franchise the Texans produced a fairly average draft. They may be the poster child for a typical average draft, with a few headscratchers, some good value and never addressing a specific need.
Needs to Produce: Whitney Mercilus DE, Illinois. Mercilus comes into a team that played some darn good defense in their first year running a 3-4 alignment. Not only that but Mercilus has some pretty big shoes to fill with the departure of fan favorite Mario Williams (although the defense didn’t lose much when Mario was injured in the 5th game last year). Still with some good OT prospects left on the board at 26th overall you can assume Mercilus will have a little extra scrutiny if it takes him a while to get up to NFL speed.
Under the Radar Values: Jared Crick DE, Nebraska. Crick was considered to be one of the better DE/DT prospects before the 2011 college season but after a pectoral tear and some extra film study ended up slipping. To me Crick had mid-3rd round value and is versatile to where he could play DE in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. He won’t get a ton of pressure in the backfield but is a stout run defender.
Huh?: Devier Posey WR, Houston. They picked Posey in the early 3rd round after trading their 2nd round pick with the Bucs. I can only assume that the Steelers picking Mike Adams was the catalyst for that deal but using the 3rd round pick acquired from Tampa Bay to select an above average WR two rounds too early is where the questioning begins. Posey was pretty good but not great at Ohio St. and there was a much better WR prospect in Reuben Randle available when the Texans were originally slated to pick in the 2nd round.
The Colts had a very solid rebuilding draft. They lucked out yet again by getting the #1 overall pick when the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning happened to be coming out, but they made sure to surround him with familiar weapons. A very offense heavy draft to begin the climb back to the NFL elite.
Needs to Produce: Coby Fleener TE, Stanford. Wait a minute, you would think Luck would be the guy that would have to produce in order for the Colts to be competitive, and he does but Fleener might be more important. Luck already has found his favorite target on the Colts and if Fleener can’t make a quick transition to the NFL with all the passes that will be thrown his way it could end up being an even longer season for the Colts, not to mention the pick of Fleener that early in the 2nd round could come into serious question.
Under the Radar Values: Lavon Brazill WR, Ohio and Chandler Harnish QB, Northern Illinois. Brazill could end up contributing early, he has good speed and pretty good size. Not only that but he is more than willing to go through traffic over the middle, picking him in the late 6th round was a steal. Harnish was incredibly productive during his time at NIU and is a strong armed prospect but is fairly raw as well. He could develop into something down the road and end up becoming a Matt Flynn-esque backup with serious trade bait potential.
Huh?: Dwayne Allen TE, Clemson. Don’t get me wrong, Allen is a very nice prospect and it wasn’t a reach to take him in the 3rd round. However, after using their 2nd round pick on a TE the Colts using their very next pick on another TE deserves a “huh?” Yes, the NFL is a copycat league and we all saw how effective the Patriots’ offense was last year with their two stud TEs so it isn’t as surprising. Still though, selecting two TEs within the first 64 picks is a tad head scratching, especially since the Colts don’t have any reliable WRs outside of Reggie Wayne. I’m just going to assume they were hoping Reuben Randle would continue to fall.
The first draft under new owner Shahid Kahn was certainly eventful. Unfortunately it seems that need outweighed value for the Jags this year.
Needs to Produce: Andre Branch DE, Clemson. The Jags have been searching for DEs that can rush the passer for the entire millennium it seems like. Branch is a speed rusher that is a tad undersized to be a 4-3 DE. Not only that but he wasn’t nearly as consistent as many would have liked him to be this past season. It’s always tricky to ask a speed rusher to bulk up, especially in his rookie season. If Branch can, at the very least, get some pressure on the QB early though the Jags’ defense should reap the benefits.
Under the Radar Values: There aren’t any? After leapfrogging the St. Louis Rams to select Justin Blackmon at 5th overall, and taking the aforementioned Branch there really isn’t a guy that can be considered a good value. They better hope that Blackmon pans out (and I believe he will).
Huh?: Bryan Anger P, California. There’s nothing to say about this that hasn’t already been said. The only way this pick is justifiable is if he turns out to be a Hall of Fame punter. They must have been worried he would go in the 4th round where they didn’t have a pick because they traded it to Tampa Bay to move up to 5th overall.
The Titans’ draft can only be considered a high-risk, high-reward type of draft, much like their offseason. It seems like they went the best player available (BPA) route as opposed to drafting for need.
Needs to Produce: Zack Brown OLB, North Carolina. As one of the only early picks that actually filled a need, the selection of Brown in the 2nd round means he must produce early. The knock on Brown was that he was more potential than proven commodity though so counting on him is a risky proposition. Still, he is a physical specimen at OLB and if he can get coached up quick could end up being a stalwart defender for years to come.
Under the Radar Values: Coty Sensabaugh CB, Clemson. Like many of the prospects in this draft Sensabaugh was a guy that could have gone as early as the 2nd round and as late as the 6th. Getting him in the 4th isn’t quite a steal but is still a value pick. This is yet another player that filled a position of need as well. He has good speed and quickness but could use to become a little tougher. He could become a solid starter with some seasoning but don’t expect too much this year.
Huh?: Kendall Wright WR, Baylor. This pick reeks of, “Oh crap the guys we really wanted were just selected ahead of us. I think Wright will end up being a very good WR in this league but with much bigger needs, mainly CB and DE, this pick doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense…unless Kenny Britt’s injury is more serious than anyone expects. Couple that with the fact that both Chandler Jones and Whitney Mercilus, both DEs, were still on the board and it becomes more of a head scratcher.