Posted by Will Brinson
NEW YORK -- The grind of the NFL Draft -- and don't let anyone tell you otherwise, three days of straight picks is definitely a grind -- is finally over. Which means we should probably take our time to sit back and reflect on who did well and do not do well. Or, alternately, we can just start calling people names right ... now!
Atlanta Falcons: Been flopping on these guys all weekend long it feels like -- I like Julio Jones a lot, but I didn’t like all the picks the Falcons needed to get him. I do, however, freaking LOVE Jacquizz Rodgers. They got a steal when they landed a lot more offensive explosiveness in the seventh round. Couple that with a few more solid adds in Andrew Jackson, Akeem Dent and K/P Matt Bosher and it was a good haul for Thomas Dimitroff. Good enough to have me thinking about picking them to win it all. Again.
Peyton Manning: Not only is the best quarterback in the NFL going to get real paid as soon as we get a new CBA, but he’s going to have two new guys -- Anthony Castonzo and Benjamin Ijalana -- in town to help keep him healthy.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills started off their draft with a good blueprint: DEFENSE. And they stuck to that blueprint throughout the rest of the draft too, only diverting twice to pick up Chris Hairston from Clemson to beef up the offensive line and Johnny White for backfield depth and special teams. Da’Norris Searcy out of Chapel Hill could be a steal for them in the fourth.
Wade Phillips: Not that you expected the Texans to actually go out and get anyone that’s an an offensive player early in the draft, but did a great job with their first five picks, particularly in trading back up to grab Brandon Harris. Given all the limitations on that defense and the switch they have to make, it’s good for him to at least get a head start out of the draft.
Cleveland Browns: Giving up a top-10 selection when you’ve got a young quarterback that needs weapons is no easy move ... unless you’re getting five picks in return and turn those into serviceable offensive products and some defensive standouts. Buster Skrine’s value fell post-Combine but he could be a good find, Jason Pinkston out of Pittsburgh will help and already-physical offensive line. Phil Taylor/Jabaal Sheard immediately improve the defensive line and Greg Little and Jordan Cameron give Colt McCoy some guys with good hands and upside.
Ryan Mallett: My man Freeman thinks Bill Belichick might have taken too big a gamble, and there’s a good chance he might be right. But if Mallett goes anywhere else, you would have heard everyone saying that about the GM that grabbed him. (Can you imagine the reaction if Carolina took him or, dare I say, the Bengals?) The pressure of falling in the draft because of character issues and having to play/perform well at an early time is lifted with his move.
Green Bay Packers: Not that it’s hard to “win” if you’re Green Bay, coming off a Super Bowl-winning season and sitting on a young, stacked roster. But “In Ted We Trust” applies here, because Thompson beefed up the Packers’ offensive line depth, got a superb second-rounder in Randall Cobb to potentially replace and just generally marked everything he needed off his checklist. Standard Packers draft, really.
Arizona Cardinals: They had a good first two days nabbing Patrick Peterson and Ryan Williams and then fared quite well in the later rounds, particularly with their selection of Quan Sturdivant, a pretty stupendous value in the sixth round. Some would argue they didn’t address their QB need and that’s fair, but they’ll be the leaders in the clubhouse for a veteran or a Kevin Kolb trade.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The rich get richer, per usual. Cameron Heyward is the future at defensive end, Marcus Gilbert -- a reliable offensive lineman -- is exactly what the Steelers need, and the Steelers stepped up and addressed their cornerback issues early on Day 3 of the draft by grabbing Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen.
America: For awesomeness’ sake, I’m going to hold out eternal hope that the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, Ricky Stanzi ends up shirtless in a downtown BBQ joint with an American flag as a cape, holding a huge turkey leg while belting out the “Star Spangled Banner” in celebration and this scene makes its way onto YouTube. America needs that.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers were a classic example of how trading early-round picks and finding yourself extremely weak at certain positions can kill you: in a draft with ridiculous defensive line depth, they still couldn’t add to a weak position until the third round when they picked up a pair of undersized defensive tackles in Terrell McClain and Sione Fua. Kealoha Pilares was a good grab at the top of the fifth, though. And, of course, they were essentially forced to take Cam Newton at the top spot. If he busts, this draft is a total nightmare. It might even be a situation of Carolina just taking their medicine in the best-case anyway.
Carson Palmer: Marvin Lewis says the Bengals have “moved on” for Palmer too; you gotta think they’ll try and trade him just to get something in return, but it’s shame because the best scenario for him might actually be returning to the ‘Nati and helping to bring A.J. Green and Stanford product Ryan Whalen into the fold of Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley. Those are nicer weapons than he’ll find in retirement.
Jacksonville Jaguars: I think Blaine Gabbert will end up being pretty good. If he’s great, this ranking could change, but if Jack Del Rio’s job is on the line, how does he not convince Gene Smith to go out and get him some freaking secondary help before fourth round? (Caveat: Smith has killed drafts since he got to J-Vegas, so if he thinks Gabbert’s “the guy” going forward, more power to him.)
Ronnie Brown: There was some talk Brown might stick with the Dolphins even after they took Daniel Thomas out of K-State in the second round. Nabbing Charles Clay -- even if he’s a fullback -- probably means Brown is done with the ‘Fins. (And it might also mean they’re not as set on paying DeAngelo Williams whatever he wants too.)
Washington Redskins: All weekend long, the Redskins looked like winners as they kept avoiding making huge mistakes by trading down and piling up picks. But did they really end up getting anything of substantial value for it? Leonard Hankerson could be a nice pull in the third round, certainly, but for all the Redskins’ surprising patience, they didn’t once address their (very serious) quarterback issue or linebacker issue.
Reggie Bush: Sean Payton’s saying that he’s open to Bush coming back. That might be true. And it might not be true. But what he’s not doing is making a dumb, knee-jerk reaction on Twitter simply because his team drafted Mark Ingram. Which is what Bush did and it’s not going to help him in the short or long term.
Denver Broncos: The Broncos accumulated a lot of picks, and added a linebacker trio that could be dominant in a few years (Von Miller as the pass rusher, Nate Irving as the tackler and Virgil Green as the cover guy). But two tight ends and not a single defensive lineman? Did someone show John Elway the wrong depth chart before this thing kicked off on Thursday?
Oakland Raiders: Al Davis didn’t have a first-rounder, so it’s okay to temper expectations a little bit, but Al really isn’t going to stop over-drafting athleticism until the day he dies. And considering how hot it was in Radio City Music Hall when they played “California Girls” for the second time on Saturday, I can’t imagine hell’s freezing over any time soon.
David Akers: With the Eagles’ decision to reach up into the fourth round and grab Alex Henery out of Nebraska, as well as the fact that Akers wasn’t happy about his transition tag, it’s pretty obvious that the incumbent kicker’s days as a Philly legend are numbered. (You could also add Henery as a loser here, too: having to come in and kick in front of Eagles’ fans sounds worse than listening to drunk Jets’ fans boo everything for eight-straight hours.)
Seattle Seahawks: Maybe Pete Carroll’s drafts are just too “zany” for me to understand, but the James Carpenter pick strikes me as possibly the biggest reach of the first round, maybe even ahead of Jake Locker and Christian Ponder. Unless bring Matt Hasselbeck back or land another veteran QB in the offseason, it’s almost impossible to imagine them sniffing the playoffs again.
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