My Draft Recap of Teams & Prospects
This is my 2012 draft recap and opinion on players + picks.
The Colts and Andrew Luck.
The Colts draft starts and ends with Luck. He's a franchise QB with upside and room to grow. They have to be considered a major winner in this draft for Andrew Luck alone. I think he's the perfect fit for the Colts. He is my third favorite QB prospect I have ever seen behind Stafford and Rivers. He doesn't have the physical tools of a Matthew Stafford and his deep ball + high arching fade throws are below average for an elite player. People are projecting RG III to have more immediate success by citing the talent around them, but I think Luck will show his toughness, leadership and winning ways from the get go. Will there be struggles? Absolutelty, but Luck is NFL ready and once his deep ball and fade throws improve, along with experience and surrounding talent, Luck will turn into a Pro Bowl QB sooner rather than later. His decision making and ability to move the chains is remarkable, and what I consider his best attribute. He simply knows how to orchestrate an offense. A true leader and a winner.
The additions of TEs Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen in the second and third rounds respecitively are going to provide immediate help for Luck. Fleener is, in my opinion, one of the best TE prospects I have seen, and the best since Vernon Davis and Marcedes Lewis. I think Fleener has great natural talent with impressive physical tools (height, weight, speed). He is a vertical threat and someone Luck already has great chemistry with. I liken him to a Jermichael Finely, flex TE. Allen is more of a blocking TE who will make his receptions as a security blanket on shorter patterns. He lacks speed, quickness and explosiveness. Allen is a good enough route runner with good size and toughness. I think he has very good ball skills and can be a major contributor in the red zone. I think both will contribute right away with Allen getting a lot of action due to his toughness in the running game. Fleener's potential is impressive and I'd give him a Top 20 grade. Allen is a legitimate second round prospect.
TY Hilton has speed and potential as a return man. He can develop into a very good #2 receiving option. Josh Chapman could be a force in the middle of a bad defense. I like both picks, which were positions of need. All in all, the Colts now have promise. The need to build an offensive line, which is now cruical. Andrew Luck is going to be a great player. I don't think he's the type that will put up flashy numbers, but he's going to produce Ws in the win column. This is a bad team devoid of talent and he will make them better than they are on paper.
Washington Redskins and RG III
The Redskins draft literally does start and end with #2 overall pick, Robert Griffin III. The Redskins moved up 4 spots to pick their future signal caller while giving up two future 1st Rounds picks in the 2013 & 2014 NFL Drafts along with a 2nd Round pick in the 2012 Draft in a trade with the St Louis Rams.
RG III is going to a great situation with an offensive mastermind. His footwork will need work, but RG III has physical tools that are off the charts, which are more impressive than Luck's. He has an incredibly quick delivery with a much improved deep ball. He has accuracy and tremendous poise in the pocket. The option of escaping the pocket and turning on his 4.4 speed are something that defenses will have to be weary of. Dedicated, hard worker, but it surely did cost the Redskins to make this move. This trade may prevent them from adding talent via the draft and delay the improvement of the roster overall.
They gotta hope they hit on these mid-to-late round picks, not only this year, but during the next two seasons. I think RG III will be a solid pro who gives the Redskins a fighting chance in a conference full of elite / emerging quaretrbacks. I don't know if he'll ever match up to the quality quarterback of Rodgers, Stafford, Manning or Brees. But in the NFC East, they needed to make a move to obtain an above average quarterback. With Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Tony Romo in the same division, the Redskins had no choice but to make a major move + acquire a signal caller. Griffin wasn't asked to make difficult reads or tough throws in college. He came from a conference where no one played defense. It's a little tough scouting him because there are stretches of game where he doesn't make a throw beyond 10 yards. His upside is far superior to Andrew Luck, but I don't think he winds up being anywhere near as good as Luck, especially long term. He has all the physical tools, but I just don't see an elite prospect since he's been so limited as a thrower from the pocket. More of a Top 5 prospect instead of an elite prospect. Despite having better arm talent than Luck I think there is a clear difference between the two prospects. But don't get me wrong, the Redskins made the right choice drafting him.
The St Louis Rams & Jeff Fisher's Incredible Drafting and Trading
The Rams moved down from #2 overall to #14 overall while adding two future 1st Rounders and two 2nd Rounders this year. The Rams offense was terrible. As long as they drafted offense, they would address some kind of need.
They started by drafting Michael Brockers at #14. He has size and run stuffing ability. I consider him a Top 15 caliber player, but a a bit one dimensional at, what I consider, one of the most overlooked positions in the NFL. His potential is there to be a really dominant run stuffing defensive tackle. He is a force inside and takes on double teams extremely well. Needs to develop better pass rush moves and counter moves, but he's still very young. I think Brockers will really upgrade that defensive line. Great motor too. He's going to be a real good player for a long time. Arguably the best interior defensive tackle in the draft. I think he makes Chris Long a better player. He will be a difference maker and a Pro Bowl caliber defensive tackle within five years.
In Round 2 they begin the risk / reward selections. All the picks they made in Round 2 have incredible upside. Brian Quick has little experience, is very raw, but has 1st round caliber physical tools. Loads of potential. One area of major concern from watching Quick ... he's not a natural pass catcher and he will have to improve his hands. Great size and looks very fluid. His body control and high pointing of the football resemble a basketball player. Janoris Jenkins at #39 overall could be an absolute steal, maybe of the entire draft. Jenkins is the best pure cover CB I have seen at the college level since Darrell Revis and Leon Hall. He is a press man corner with fluid hips, uncanny instincts and great physicality in support of the run (as well as press coverage). He is every bit the player, on the field, that Morris Claiborne is. He can play off, in zone coverage and he's actually better and far more advance technically than Claiborne. Jenkins is a true playmaker and a standout. The issue is character and maturity, which is well documented. The NFL lime light and big dollars could turn this Jeff Fisher pick into a Pacman Jones repeat where he runs himself from one team to another. Great upside in both players, but a lot risk as well (for much different reasons). I think Jenkins turns into a Pro Bowl player that, when matched up with Cortland Finnegan, makes the Rams pass defense significantly better.
Also in Round 2, after another trade down, they acquire RB Isaiah Pead. Pead is a very good football player and he should have immediate success to compliment Steven Jackson. I like him a lot. After two rounds, Fisher acquired (4) players in his first draft with the Rams and, if nothing else, added a whole lot of talent at a variety of positions for a team with a ton of needs. This is, realistically, far more impressive than taking a single player at #2 overall. Now they have a greater number of talented players. There chances of all four busting are less likely. This is how bad teams turn their franchises around in a matter of two seasons. It reminds me of Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys of the early 90s. Another notable player was Trumaine Johnson in Round 3. A potential FS who has tremendous ball skills and the size for safety. He could be a huge steal if he can make the position change. Lack of speed may prevent him from playing CB. Another risky player, but great upside.
Overall, this is one of the best draft's anyone had in 2012. The Rams added talent and this is typical of Fisher to draft talented players who will come in a produce. The future got a little brighter in St Louis.
Greg Schiano’s 1st Draft in Tampa Bay
I really liked the aggressiveness and manipulation of the draft order by Buccanneers front office. First they drop down two spots and select Mark Barron, who I believe is the best defensive player in the entire draft and an elite prospect. Barron is a truly great player and every bit on the same level as any other top ranked safety since Sean Taylor - He ranks right along side Earl Thomas and Eric Berry for me. He's a great hitter, great tackler, breaks down in space, can cover the back half of the field, can cover in press man, he has good ball skills to go with great instincts and knowledge of the game. He literally has almost no holes in his game. The pursuit angles to the football are most impressive, and it's why Barron looks like he plays at 4.4 speed. Barron will be an impact player and the cornerstone of that Tampa secondary. I think you can already start penciling him in for a spot on the Pro Bowl. This is one of the best defensive backs I have ever watched. I think he's going to be one of the great safeties in the NFL for a long time. Reminiscent of Steve Atwater.
Doug Martin out of Boise St is a tough, Ray Rice type RB who will compliment what they already have. Behind a great offensive line that they built in free agency, and a deep threat added with Vincent Jackson, Martin could be looking at rookie of the year type season. I wouldn't be surprised if he averages over 5.0 yards a carry his rookie season and pushes 1,400 rushing yards. He's going to be a good player for them. Has a workhorse frame and runs with tremendous balance. His vision and patience are terrific. He'll be a quality producer for the Bucs. He fits this team perfectly. It's a great fit. Another great fit is Lavonte David. An incredibly instinctive player that plays with such great speed and closing ability. Sideline-to-sideline range. Another football player with a high football IQ and great passion to add to this defense. Maybe the best Day 1 and Day 2 of any team in the draft. All three guys will have an immediate impact and all three were worthy of going high in the first round. I expect Tampa to turn things back around very quickly. They have added a lot of talent this off season. Now they have to get Mike Williams and Josh Freeman playing at the level of play they showed early in their careers. This reminded me of the Jets drafting philosophy in recent years where they get aggressive and move up if a player they covet falls.
The Bengals Improve Greatly
Dre Kirkpatrick and Kevin Zeitler in Round 1. Devin Still and Brandon Thompson in Rounds 2 & 3. Sanu, Marvin Jones and Orson Charles added to their WR and TE corps. Zeitler is going to be a stud for a long time. A mauler who I had a Top 20 grade on. He was one of my favorite prospects in this years draft. He fits in perfectly with the AFC North. Still and Thompson both have great potential that they'll add to an already young and very talented front 4. I think those are first round talents they acquired. Great value. The Bengals really improved in the trenches with these three players. Marvin Jones could be a steal in round 6. He's a natural receiver with good athleticism. There were times when he looked like a future star at Cal. Kirkpatrick is going to be a very good CB that can compliment a healthy Leon Hall in the future, but he's best suited to be a teams #2 CB. He might struggle early in his career as he has some technique issues, but he stuck to receivers like glue at the college level. George Iloka is also a very intriguing 5th round draft pick. This is one of my favorite drafts of 2012. They got a bunch of damn good football players. Jones, Thompson and Still could be the real surprises from this class.
Tell me how Bruce Irvin goes in Round 1 with his past and Janoris Jenkins, a top 10 caliber talent, falls to Round 2? How does that happen? I don't like Bruce Irvin and hate his attitude even more, but did Seattle use a luxury pick on a raw, pass rush specialist? In the top 15? And then follow it up with Bobby Wagner? Wagner ... I don't know what position he plays because he has no instincts for any of the spots on the field he normally lines up. I don't know what he is. Is he a MLB? A DE? What is he? Then you add Russell Wilson in Round 3. He's 5'10''. Do I need to go any further? The only pick I liked was 4th round draft pick Jaye Howard. In that defense I think he will have a lot of success. This was a WTF draft from top to bottom. This reminds me of Oakland's draft when they took DHB at #7 overall and Mike Mitchell in round 2. They better turn Irvin into the best pass rusher in the draft that puts up double digit sack numbers on a yearly basis. I don't think you can deny his talent, but that's all he is. Talent and physical tools.
I don't know what Pete Carroll is thinking. I have liked his previous two drafts where they've picked up Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Kam Chancellor, John Moffitt, James Carpenter and KJ Wright. I liked all those players, and some have had more success than others, but all are solid contributors. Now it looks like their drafting special players, as if they've had back-to-back 13 win seasons on a team with no holes.
The Cleveland Browns Revist their 2007 Draft Stragety
Like 2007 when the Browns had the #3 overall pick in the draft they selected an elite prospect and then came back with a QB at #22 overall. Joe Thomas turned into a perennial All-Pro while Brady Quinn has turned into a hysterical bust and backup QB. This year they moved up one spot and drafted Trent Richardson. Like Thomas in '07, Richardson has almost no bust factor. He will turn into a good-to-great player on a terrible team. Richardson is a powerful runner with good vision. He has terrific balance, toughness and he plays with great pad level. He is a powerful, workhorse back that reminds me of Marshawn Lynch in the open field. One thing I question is ability to stay patient. He played behind the most dominant offensive line college football and he usually had two gaping holes to chose from. Nothing about him really stands out as elite with the exception of his ability to break tackles and run with power. I go back-and-forth about whether or not Richardson is an elite prospect. Sometimes I just don't see it. Sometimes I do. Richardson is a need for the Browns when they compete against the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals defenses on a yearly basis. Richardson will provide that smash mouth mentality. It was very good pick and Richardson should play like one of the top RBs in the AFC. He's one of the odds on favorites to win rookie of the year. He is a future Pro Bowl player and he alone should help level the playing field.
Brandon Weeden was then selected at #22 overall. The Browns have been looking for a starting caliber QB since they took one of the biggest draft busts of all time, Tim Couch. They have had nothing that resembles a franchise QB since 1999 and they desperately need one. It wasn't Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Bruce Gradkowski or, apparently, Colt McCoy. They have wasted premium draft picks on QBs ever since the '99 Draft. They've missed on Couch (#1 overall), missed on Quinn (#22 overall), missed on McCoy (who was considered a steal in round 3) and the other free agent mistakes / mid-to-late round draft picks invested in average talent. With Weeden they draft a QB with the size and arm strength to play in Cleveland. The physical tools are far superior to everyone they've had in Cleveland. But at 28 years old and coming from a simplified offense involving step, rock and throw type patterns ... it gives one pause to believe that Weeden is finally the guy that's going to change the franchise. Weeden had a tendency to stare down targets and force throws into the best WR in college football. He also forced throws when pressured and offers little pocket mobility. He's not the type of player that can make a play outside the design of the offense. And when you consider the fact that he might 30, 31 or 32 years old when he's finally ready reach his full potential, then you realize that no matter what kind of success Weeden has, the Browns will be looking to draft another starting QB high in the draft within the next two to five years. He's already older than Aaron Rodgers. This looks like it has the potential to be another wasted draft pick by the Browns. The rest of the draft? Typical of the Cleveland Browns. After round 1, you wont find much to look at. To me, this looks like a potentially terrible draft for a terrible franchise. Weeden is the wildcard. The Browns have to hope his simple offense with 5 receiving targets, up tempo pace that exploits defenses are something that wont overwhelm him when the field is shortened and there are less receiving options. I think Weeden is going to be similar to Colt McCoy. He might be good enough to start, but not good enough to win. The kind of guy you are always looking to upgrade / replace.
New York Jets and thier Craving for the Media
That's what the Jets have become under Rex Ryan, attention whores. They make a trade in the off season for Tebow because Tebow is the biggest media sensation in sports. You bring him to New York and Tebow-mania takes on a whole new level of attention. Not only that, but a dysfunctional locker room just got worse once a QB debate ensues, and it will happen. Ryan's shtick wore thin very early during his tenure with the Jets. His bravado and confidence, at first, was a delight to see from a head coach. He was instantly one of my favorites. Now he's become all talk and no game. And the Jets have gotten worse under his watch. He raved about the chance to coach up colossal draft bust, Vernon Gholston, and then found out that Vernon didn't care about anything other than lifting weights to improve his physique. Did Gholston care about football? Not one iota, he just didn't care. Ryan then got rid of him after it wasn’t working.
The way he handled Vernon Gholston; and the way that he has handled Mark Sanchez (and now Tim Tebow) just shows that he's delusional. He doesn't have confidence in his team, he's overconfident about himself. He believes that he can turn any player into a great player because he's the best coach in the NFL. He talks about Sanchez like he's a great QB when he knows he's not the answer. Yet he will continue to talk about beating the Patriots and winning the Super Bowl every August. And then Sanchez will suck, and then the locker room will divide and it will be a complete mess. But the media will eat it up and that’s what Ryan seems to want more than anything, just to be talked about.
Now he drafts Quinton Coples in the first round (#16 overall). Coples senior season is about as bad as it gets for college tape. He was non existent and a complete non factor in the majority of the games he played this past season. His junior tape, which landed him on the scouting map, wasn't that impressive either. Coples is very similar to Tyson Jackson, but with concerns regarding laziness, bad motor and maybe a lack of desire to play football. Does he have terrific size? Is he solid against the run? Yes, but he's not anywhere close to a second round pick, let alone a Top 20 pick. I think the Coples selection was worse than the Bruce Irvin pick just before it. Irvin, at the very least, shows rare speed and explosion. Irvin has a special trait. It's something you can hang your hat on. Coples has ... size and ... well, that's about it. Coples has no pass rush ability from the edge due to a lack of explosiveness. He’s not a great pass rusher from inside either. Coples struggles to get off blocks due to poor technique and a lack of counter moves. He’s not a playmaker and he isn’t half the player Muhammad Wilkerson was last year. If you think Tyson Jackson is worthy of the #16 overall pick based on his NFL resume, then I guess you like a less motivated version of that. I think Coples turns into nothing more than an average player who’s best known for stoutness against the run.
The additions of Stephen Hill and Demario Davis are both picks that I like a lot. I think both are talented players and good athletes. Hill is a deep threat early due to his size and speed, but he will need a lot of coaching. He has a lot of untapped potential. I’m not sure I like him paired up with Mark Sanchez, but that’s because I don’t think any WR will have success with Mark Sanchez. Hill was good value and I think he’ll be a solid player for them once he develops. Davis might have been the best pick they made. A solid ILB with good instincts and great closing speed. A down hill LB that really attacks. A good blitzer that can rush off the edge and up the middle. I don’t think he’s a pure pass rusher, but more of an ILB with above average pass rushing skills. I think Davis may wind up being the most productive player out of the Jets draft class.
I think this one of the best draft classes I have seen since 2007. I think there were some rare players and outstanding prospects. The top of the draft was heavy on great talent while players matched the appropriate size, speed and athleticism. I considered 11 players with a Top 5 grade to go along with 35 1st rounders.
My draft grades.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Top 3 Prospects
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Top 5 Prospects
Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Top 10 Prospects
Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Top 20 Prospects
Harrison Smith, FS, Notre Dame
Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State
Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise St
Derek Wolfe, DT/DE, Cincinnati
Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
Doug Martin, RB, Boise St
Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Oliver Vernon, DE, Miami (FL)
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Kendall Reyes, DT/DE, Connecticut
Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (FL)
Brandon Brooks, OG, Miami (OH)
Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
Early Second Prospects
Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech
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