So I realize that this is a little late (like a month late), but after a month of analysis following the NFL Draft, I thought, why not look into some of the bigger surprises of the draft? What I mean by surprises is players who were picked earlier than expected, players who were picked by teams that didn’t need them or scenarios that just left people wondering.
– It All Began With the 3rd Pick – RB Trent Richardson was the guy that Cleveland wanted and Minnesota was the only team that stood in their way after QB’s Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were picked 1 and 2, respectively. So, what does Minnesota do? They calmly play it off like they don’t know who they want and say they are willing to trade out of their 3rd pick. The result? Cleveland gives Minnesota the 4th pick in the 1st round, a 4th round pick, a 5th round pick and 7th round pick just so Cleveland can move up to the 3rd overall pick and acquire their guy in Richardson. That is essentially 3 extra picks that Minnesota acquired for free since they still got the guy the wanted in LT Matt Kalil… well played Minnesota… well played…
– On That Note… – Dallas made the move of the first round when they made the jump to pick 6 to snag CB Morris Claiborne. They made the move by giving up their 1st and 2nd round picks (14th and 45th overall) in order to select the last “elite-tier” prospect remaining on the board. The pick should help solidify a secondary that had its fair share of struggles last season.
– Trades – There were 16 picks that were traded in the 1st round alone, which is a new record. The reason for this sudden increase of trades is thanks to the new rookie wage scale, which finally gave teams the freedom to trade around without ruining themselves financially.
– Bruce Irvin – This was the first pick that made my mouth drop. I get it. He has a phenomenal skill set as far as pass rushing is concerned, but how could overlook his inability to play in pretty much any other possible situation? Well Seattle did just that with the 15th overall pick (after trading from 12 with Philadelphia). When you look further into this pick, it makes some sense. The league is getting so dependent on getting after the quarterback that the value of pass rushers is soaring and if Seattle feels that Irvin is good enough to change games from that spot then it may be a fantastic pick. Another interesting nugget is that Seattle apparently wasn’t the only team enamored by Irvin. The New York Jets and Head Coach Rex Ryan, according to some reports, were going to pick Irvin with the 16th pick, right after Seattle. According to NFL.com, Jets Draft Headquarters actually called Seattle after they took Irvin to curse them out for taking their guy.
– Melvin Ingram – I actually thought that Ingram could slide come draft day because of the value of other positions, the depth at defensive line and the outstanding physical measureables of some of the other DL prospects. With all that said, I am surprised that he fell down to 18 for the Chargers. Ingram is versatile, talented and plays one of the most valuable positions in the game as a pass rusher (a good one at that). It also surprised me who was valued above him. Seattle opted for, what I would call at this point, a “one trick pony” in DE Bruce Irvin and the New York Jets took the very athletic and very inconsistent DE Quinton Coples. From everything I have read, Ingram is a good locker room guy and his tape speaks for itself, so I was surprised that he dropped.
– The Patriots Moving… Up? – The New England Patriots moved up twice in the 1st round for defensive players. I’ll let that sink in for a second. The Patriots traded up for players that they wanted. This doesn’t happen often, but they saw the players that they wanted in DE Chandler Jones and ILB Donta Hightower. Both picks are great picks, but after years of trading back, the Patriots decided to mix it up and move up to get their guys.
– J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! – The Jets entered the offseason in turmoil after a season that ended much earlier than they wanted it to and began an offseason of players calling out teammates anonymously leading to many questions about the state of the Jets locker room. New York then went out and traded for the circus that is Tebow Mania in an effort to “bring in a solid locker room presence”. What does this have to do with the draft? Well after an offseason of question marks, you would expect New York to make moves in the draft to take players that can reliably contribute to the team. Instead, they went out and took North Carolina DE Quinton Coples who has enormous potential, but questionable work ethic and then used their 2nd round pick on WR Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech. Hill has size (6’5″ – 206 lbs) and speed (ran a 4.36 at the NFL Combine), but played in a run-oriented system where he only caught 28 passes in his final season as a Yellow Jacket. While he has the physical ability to be a top WR, he is still raw and seems to be anything but a sure thing. I personally find it surprising that the Jets would take these sorts of chances after an offseason where they really just need solid, reliable players if they are to really turn the teams fortunes around.
– St. Louis Rams Chances – The Rams needed everything. They needed help with defense, help with offense and there were even some questions about the future of QB Sam Bradford before they traded their 2nd overall pick to Washington. So when the draft began, St. Louis had hundreds of possibilities at their disposal. They began to stockpile picks in an attempt to add multiple game changing players. The trade with the Cowboys gave St. Louis the 14th overall pick and Dallas’s 2nd round (45th overall) pick in exchange for the Rams 6th overall. Dallas chose CBMorris Claiborne and St. Louis used the 14th pick on DT Michael Brockers from LSU. Brockers is a developmental talent that needs work if he is to live up to the first round grade he received. Then St. Louis used the first pick of the 2nd Round on WR Brian Quick from Appalachian St. in an attempt to shore up a receiving crew that has hindered Sam Bradford’s growth. Again, Quick has ability, but needs time to develop and may struggle to ever get his game to a NFL level. The next 3 picks by the Rams were troubled CB Janoris Jenkins, RB Isaiah Pead and CB Trumaine Johnson. Of their first 5 picks, the only player that doesn’t have a criminal record or questions about if they will adapt to the NFL game is Isaiah Pead. All of their picks could pan out and be incredible players, for example, Brockers is a physical talent that new Head Coach, Jeff Fisher, may develop into a terror on the defensive line. Quick has drawn comparisons in his play to WR Terrell Owens who made the jump from Tennessee-Chattanooga to the pros pretty well. Jenkins and Johnson have a lot of talent and if they can avoid the temptations that come with NFL money, they could be special. Pead is one of my sleeper picks to be a very successful player from this draft class. Again, each player could pan out and be huge in the return of the Rams, but the question marks that sit with each player make me wonder how St. Louis could essentially put their future into the hands of risk players.
– Kirk Cousins – This was a surprise for many so I need to comment on it, but personally, I don’t think that it is as surprising as what many are making it. Washington selected Baylor QB Robert Griffin III with the 2nd overall pick. Then Washington went out and used their pick in the 4th round on Michigan St. QB Kirk Cousins. I understand why this would confuse people. Griffin was selected to be the future of the franchise and Cousins has enough talent to contribute in the NFL where people asked if Washington had just created their own quarterback controversy. Others argued that having Cousins isn’t the problem, but knowing that Washington could have spent their pick on a player that could have contributed to a team that still needs pieces, frustrated some. While I see why people wanted Washington to draft a player that wouldn’t be holding the clipboard on Sundays, there is no guarantee that a 4th round pick will contribute or even be relavent to a team in the years to come. Plus, what is the value of a good backup QB? Peyton Manning went down with injury, didn’t play last season and the Colts ended up with the 1st pick, in part, because QB Curtis Painter wasn’t even close to a suitable replacement as a backup. While no backup QB can come close to replacing Peyton Manning, a good backup is capable of keeping the offense upright. Cousins is capable of being a solid QB in this league and while I love Robert Griffin III, he could get injured where a solid backup is necessary. Personally, I think that while the pick could have been used for something else, the Redskins will ultimately be happy with picking up a player who plays the most important position on the field, backs up a player who the teams success rides on and maybe in the future will be worth a couple early draft picks.