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.
Atlanta didn’t have a 1st round pick due to last year’s trade up for Julio Jones but I still think they got some good value, although their needs virtually went unaddressed.
Needs to Produce: Unfortunately the Falcons didn’t really select many players that will see much of the field in the 2012 season. Had they selected a DE earlier than the 5th, or perhaps even a less developmental prospect than Jonathan Massaquoi that would have been my pick. As it stands now the Falcons look to be treading water this year, at least with rookie additions being able to help the team.
Under the Radar Value: Peter Konz C, Wisconsin and Jonathan Massaquoi DE, Troy. Many thought Konz had a chance at being selected in the 1st round, and was far and away the most NFL ready C in this year’s class. Getting him in the late 2nd round is a steal and he should anchor that line for years to come. The aforementioned Massaquoi is a very good get in the late 5th round as well. Some had him as a late-3rd/early-4th round selection so another good value pick there. Massaquoi will need time to develop but he has solid size and good ability getting after the passer. With some good coaching he could become a pretty good DE.
Huh?: Bradie Ewing FB, Wisconsin. Taking Konz’s teammate out of Wisconsin was a bit of a head scratcher in the 5th. It isn’t necessarily where he was selected but the Falcons had bigger needs they could have addressed with that pick, not to mention FBs usually don’t go until the last round or undrafted. Still a 5th round pick isn’t much to give up but with Terrell Manning (one of Mel Kiper’s favorite OLB prospects) and Asa Jackson still on the board Atlanta could have gotten good value at a position of need.
The Panthers had a solid draft as they continue to build the foundation of a perennial winner. This draft reeks of, “we’ll be ready in two to three years” in hopes of all of their prospects hitting their strides at the right time to become a force in the league.
Needs to Produce: Amini Silatolu G, Midwestern St. Silatolu was rated as the third best guard by many and with the top two already off the board it isn’t a surprise he was the next to go. The Panthers could have also selected Cordy Glenn who has versatility to be both G and T but went with the small school prospect. It is no secret the Panthers rely heavily on the running game and Silatolu should help that out hugely. Still it could take Silatolu a little time to get up to NFL speed and with some nice DT prospects available, perhaps the Panthers’ biggest need, there may be some discontent within the fanbase.
Under the Radar Values: Josh Norman CB, Coastal Carolina. Josh Norman was graded by many to be a solid 3rd round prospect, him slipping to the 5th round is great value. I really liked Norman, he has good size and makes some great plays on the ball. He is raw and is an FCS division prospect but I think with the right coaching he could easily become a starting CB in the league. It may take a little time to get there but I really like Norman’s ability and upside.
Huh?: Luke Kuechly LB, Boston College. Their first round pick was somewhat shocking, especially since they have one of the premier MLBs in the game (when healthy) in Jon Beason. Kuechly can play OLB as well, so perhaps the versatility was a factor, however the Panthers had greater needs at DT and CB. Many had them selecting Poe who was a bigger question mark than Kuechly, but they could have also gone Stephon Gilmore who was picked one spot after them. I like Kuechly a lot but I’m afraid he’ll be more in the London Fletcher mold than Ray Lewis, where he allows the play to come to him and uses his great instincts to react as opposed to being able to penetrate and make plays in the backfield.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints didn’t have much to work with either as their 1st round pick was traded to New England so they could get Mark Ingram last year and they had to give up their 2nd round pick as part of the penalty for the Gregg Williams debacle.
Needs to Produce: Nick Toon WR, Wisconsin. Earlier in the whole drafting process many had Toon as a 2nd/3rd round selection. He falls to the 4th round but with the always changing Saints WR situation Toon will probably be pressed into duty early. New Orleans lost Robert Meachem to free agency and Lance Moore and Marques Colston seem to always be banged up so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Toon starting a few games. I think it was a pretty good value pick but Toon will need to perform when pressed into action.
Under the Radar Values: There isn’t a good selection here. Akiem Hicks DT, Regina, Canada and Toon would probably be the choices but neither were great values. If Hicks can develop into what his potential is he would be a great 3rd round pick up but it is going to take some time for him to mature into the NFL game. Seeing as how he played in Canada he might have the biggest jump in competition when compared to any other prospect.
Huh?: Corey White S, Samford. Again this was a 5th round selection so if he doesn’t pan out it won’t be a huge loss but many didn’t have White being drafted. He seems to be slated as a perennial special teams performer as he doesn’t have great size and his upside is limited. However, great special teamers are hard to come by so if he can develop himself into a gunner something along those lines the pick could work out ok.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Almost everyone have the Bucs as big winners from the draft and it is hard to argue with them considering what they were able to accomplish. Still the Bucs have a good amount of work to do and not addressing, perhaps, their biggest need at CB until the 5th round could be worrisome.
Needs to Produce: Mark Barron S, Alabama. They got the guy they wanted and they were able to trade down a couple spots to do so. However, drafting a safety with the 7th overall selection means he is going to need to produce more than most other rookies. Barron will not only need to perform consistently but he is going to have to play more than just solidly. He is going to have to show flashes of why he deserved to be the 7th overall selection. The track record for safeties picked in the top 10 isn’t great so he’ll need to prove his worth.
Under the Radar Values: Lavonte David LB, Nebraska. David’s fall was surprising as many had him being a tweener 1st round selection. David fell all the way to the 26th pick in the 2nd round. Not only should David be able to start right away but it filled a huge need for the Bucs as they try to revamp their defense. He is good in coverage and could be the best Tampa Bay OLB since Derrick Brooks.
Huh?: Doug Martin RB, Boise St. This isn’t really all that bad a pick, and it was clear the Bucs loved Martin and knew the Giants would snatch him up at 32. Their current RB, LeGarrette Blount, is great in between the tackles but is more power than explosion and Martin makes a nice complement, especially as a check down receiver for Josh Freeman. Still though was Martin worth giving up an extra selection? Only time will tell.