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Sun, Feb 7, 2016

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NFL Draft highlights brainpower gap between haves, have-nots

by | CBSSports.com National NFL Insider

Rueben Randle helps the Super Bowl champion Giants fill a need at wide receiver. (AP)  
Rueben Randle helps the Super Bowl champion Giants fill a need at wide receiver. (AP)  

NEW YORK -- The Washington Redskins had their typical, well, Redskins type of draft. It is filled with brilliant moves and putrid ones. The kind of stuff that makes you wonder if Billy Kilmer is making the draft selections, feet up, six-pack dangling from his finger tips.

The Redskins' selection of quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round will go down as one of the dumbest picks this franchise has ever made. DeMarcus Cousins would have been better. A fourth-round pick is nothing to take lightly. It's moderately high and ignores the team's needs which are, well, everything. They also effectively drafted competition for Robert Griffin III.

This is the kind of move that demonstrates, in one fell swoop, why sometimes the draft, despite its socialist nature, still sometimes fails miserably in flipping the fortunes of the weak, the tired, the downtrodden.

Because there's one thing that can't be accounted for: the incompetence of some of the men doing the drafting.

There were exceptions but this draft saw the rich get richer and the weak continue their trips into oblivion.

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Entering this draft the Patriots and Giants were the best teams in football. Leaving this draft, the Patriots and Giants are the best teams in football. They only got stronger. That's because they know what the hell they're doing. The Patriots' defense last season was like something from a sitcom. So what does Bill Belichick do? He drafts a quartet of defensive players in the first three rounds. Imagine if even half of them catch on. The Patriots went to a Super Bowl with no defense. What happens if they get one?

The Giants lose guard, er, runner Brandon Jacobs so they pick up back David Wilson. They lose Mario Manningham, and get wide receiver Rueben Randle from LSU. That's how you draft.

If there was a one percent in the NFL it would be these teams: Giants, Patriots, Packers, Steelers and Ravens. They stay at the top (mostly) because at times like this weekend, they make the smartest choices, and those choices have a positive impact for years.

The draft comes down to there being a handful of choices. Make most of them wisely, you can infuse your organization with talent for some time. The elite can stay elite despite drafting at the bottom and the downtrodden can remake their entire image. At least, in theory, for the bottom feeders, that's how it's supposed to work.

The reason teams like Washington, Cleveland, Kansas City, Dallas and others have stayed losers (for the most part) for so long can almost entirely be traced to the draft. The Redskins, as an example, didn't need another quarterback (despite cutting John Beck). What if they used that pick to get a stud receiver? Washington has also invited a quarterback controversy should RG3 struggle, which is almost certain to happen.

Future Hall of Famer Bill Polian may have been a tremendous jerk as a person but he was damn talented. There was some fear around the NFL that the Colts would suffer in his absence, and there's still a long way to go despite Indy making the right move and drafting Andrew Luck. Not using any of their first- or second-day choices on defensive players when the Colts last season were absolutely horrible on that side of the football is questionable at best.

The Browns had a shaky draft (that's putting it kindly). The Rams drafted a player in Janoris Jenkins who will either be great or impregnate the city of St. Louis. The Jaguars picked a freaking punter in the third round.

A few of the have-nots did well. The Vikings were able to boost their offensive line and get two good wide receivers and Buffalo did solid work.

You're still going to see this, however. The elite teams will be even better. They'll distance themselves from division competitors. No one in AFC East is going to touch New England, no one in NFC East will touch New York (they had an average record last year and still won the Super Bowl), Green Bay is a notch above Detroit and Chicago and the Steelers (who drafted well but didn't exactly pick high-character guys) and Ravens will do their usual battling.

And the dregs will do their usual dregging because they drafted so horribly.


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