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 Cardinals had a very nice draft in terms of value. They didn’t address some of their needs with their higher picks, but you can’t fault them when you see some of their value picks.
Needs to Produce: Bobby Massie OT, Mississippi; Senio Kelemente OT, Washington; and Nate Potter OT, Boise St. OT was, far and away, the Cardinals’ biggest need. While they didn’t address the position until the 4th round (where they selected both Massie and Kelemente) they still ended up getting very nice value on all the OTs they selected. Unfortunately, one of these guys will almost assuredly be pressed into starting duty. My money is on Massie, even though he had a bit of a tumble on draft day(s) (Kiper loved him and thought he had the potential to be a 1st rounder, but still many others had him as a late-2nd/early-3rd round selection), he is still the best prospect to pencil in at the RT position – unless there was a reason for that fall that no one knows about. Counting on any of these guys is worrisome but if any are capable of solid starting football then they would be the steal of the draft.
Under the Radar Values: Aside from the OTs, Justin Bethel CB, Presbyterian. Bethel is an interesting prospect. He has solid size for a CB but is coming from a very small school that is on the fringe of the FCS Division. However, he has very good ball skills that end up allowing him to intercept and break up lots of passes and he had great production regardless. Bethel will probably end up as a special teamer but he could develop into a very nice depth CB and maybe even a spot starter.
Huh?: Jamell Fleming CB, Oklahoma. Fleming probably deserved to go where he went in the mid-3rd round but the fact that the Cardinals don’t have a huge need at CB and could have addressed other needs (mainly DE or OLB) makes this a puzzling pick. The Cardinals run a 3-4 defense and could really use both DE depth and a Rush-OLB. Tyrone Crawford, Jake Bequette and Sean Spence were all selected after the Cardinals picked in the 3rd round and could have made wiser picks (especially Crawford) for their needs.
St. Louis Rams
They win the hot potato award for constantly trading down. They went from 2nd overall to 6th overall to 14th overall. Not to mention they ended up trading some of the 2nd round picks they received as well. Still they ended up with a pretty good draft.
Needs to Produce: Janoris Jenkins CB, North Alabama. We all know Jenkins has 1st round talent and that his very questionable character concerns forced him from the 1st round. If Jenkins can prove that he has ironed out most of those character flaws though the Rams got a real steal. They have a huge need at CB and Jenkins will most likely be a starter from day 1. Jeff Fisher is a strong willed guy and is hoping his built up clout can help him control Jenkins, although that didn’t work with Pacman Jones. Still maybe Jenkins’s fall has humbled him. In any case, if he can produce off the field at a high level he’ll be able to get away with a lot more off the field.
Under the Radar Value Picks: Trumaine Johnson CB, Montana and Chris Givens WR, Wake Forest. Both of these guys received some 2nd round grades (more for Johnson than Givens) but both were great value where they were picked. Johnson has excellent size for the CB position and while he’ll need some time to get to NFL speed coming from an FCS powerhouse, he should still be able to hold his own and could turn into a great beast of a CB in this league. Givens gives Bradford another target on the field where he is still lacking. Givens will most likely receive some early playing time but has great playmaking ability. As long as he can stay healthy we could be seeing a ton of long bombs from Bradford to Givens over the years.
Huh?: Michael Brockers DT, Louisiana St. It isn’t so much the pick of a DT, they do need some interior defensive linemen to shore up that bad run defense. It’s more the fact that they traded down and traded down, thinking that their guy (many assume Blackmon and Cox were the preferred prospects for WR and DT) would be available when they were slated to pick. Instead of trading down again the Rams decided to pick Brockers. It isn’t a bad pick, in fact it is pretty solid but he could end up being overshadowed by all the other picks they made from all their trades.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers had a pretty good draft as well. They addressed their need at WR but with someone who was slated as a later 2nd round pick. It was an offense heavy draft so hopefully this will put them over the hump on that side of the ball.
Needs to Perform: LaMichael James RB, Oregon. James gets the nod over the Jenkins reach because James will probably be pressed into duty more often than Jenkins. With Gore’s injury history and the fact that they don’t have any other viable options at RB James should see a lot of time. He will be an excellent change of pace back to Gore and, if they decide to use him in the passing game, could be a real receiving threat as well. With his speed they might even have him return some kicks/punts. James’s size is the issue here though, and while he didn’t have any harmful injuries to his legs he was somewhat injury prone. Still James was a really nice pickup for the 49ers.
Under the Radar Values: Cam Johnson DE, Virginia. Cam Johnson is the perfect example of physically gifted with little effort. Many had him graded out as a 3rd round pick but he fell all the way to the 7th round due to his lack of effort at times on the field. The fall could help light a fire under his ass though, not to mention Harbaugh and his motivation skills. If the coaching staff can get him to improve his work ethic Cam Johnson could become a great player in any defense with versatility to boot.
Huh?: A.J. Jenkins WR, Illinois. Jenkins was probably the second biggest reach in this year’s draft (only behind Seattle’s 1st round selection of Bruce Irvin). Jenkins was graded by many as a lower-2nd round pick and being selected in the late-1st is surprising. He has pretty good size and very good speed but also has a lot of nagging injuries. He will also need a little seasoning before he is fully prepared to become a starter in the NFL. With other prospects still on the board (including Stephen Hill and Alshon Jeffrey) the Jenkins selection was rather puzzling. I can only assume that the 49ers were hoping Kevin Zeitler had fallen as G was their biggest need, unfortunately he was not (he was picked three spots before).
No one quite knows what Pete Carroll is doing, yet somehow the Seahawks have remained competitive throughout his tenure. This was another puzzling draft.
Needs to Produce: Bobby Wagner MLB, Utah St. Much was publicized on draft day about Seattle’s trade down, only to be outpicked by the Eagles for Mychal Kendricks but then picking the next best MLB who happened to be graded as a 3rd round prospect as opposed to a 2nd round prospect. All I know is that if Wagner doesn’t produce almost immediately those questions will still be popping up into next year’s draft. Wagner has average size but great production for a small FBS school. His strength is tackling, which is probably a good thing since Seattle had trouble tackling at the MLB spot last year. Wagner isn’t a guy that gets into the backfield much so he compares as more of a London Fletcher type. He tackle anything near him. He really needs to produce this year to silence the critics.
Under the Radar Values: There isn’t anything particularly valuable about any of their picks. They really trust their scouting department because, by most accounts, they basically reached on every pick they made. Robert Turbin might be the soundest pick but he is a power back much like Marshawn Lynch and has injury concerns.
Huh?: How about their entire draft? As I just mentioned almost every selection they made was a reach. At least they filled their positions of need, but then of course if the players they select aren’t good enough players those positions are still needed. This is going to be a draft that will have to be proven on the field because, at the moment, no one quite knows what the Seahawks were doing.