Oh, the NFL draft. My football oasis in a desert of Basketball and Baseball, how I love you. The intrigue, the anticipation, the surprises. You make my April awesome. Luckily for me, this year was no exception to the rule and last night was awesome. I got to see every pick and waited over three hours for the Vikings to….
…trade their pick to the Lions. Well, the wait begins for tonight.
I think there were definitely some ridiculous picks last night, especially in the top half of the first round, and ill get to those, including my winners and losers of the night. The winners were few and the losers were, well losers, but overall it was pretty damn exciting.
The first surprise was really the redskins going with Williams over Okung, but that pales in comparison to the Jaguars drafting Alualu at ten. Let me explain my reaction with three letters: W. T. F. Seriously, I hadnt even heard of this guy, and I don’t think he was even on the list of the top 100 prospects. This was coming after a Raiders reach of Rolando McClain at 9, and when you overshadow a Raiders reach with a more ridiculous reach, someone needs to get fired. If the Jags liked Alualu so much, and he was going to be a 3rd rounder, they needed to trade down like normal people and stockpile picks rather than giving a guy like that the money a 10 pick gets. Holy shit.
The second surprise was definitely the Chargers moving up to get Ryan Matthews, a player who looks good but I don’t think was worth a 12 pick. Spiller was gone at nine to Buffalo, which left Matthews as the only good RB pick left deserving of first round status, thus putting Seattle in a position to get him. This must have scared San Diego enough to jump, and they did. Matthews should be good, but with Sproles there too, he should be better. The Chargers are a great team, and this could be a nice pick for them, even if it is way too high.
Speaking of Spiller to Buffalo, I would guess this spells the end of Beast Mode in the wing capital of the world. Lynch has had his share of off the field problems, 'natch, and adding Spiller is definitely an upgrade. However, when you have an O-Line like they do and a QB like they do, there are other options they should have considered. Almost all of the 300+ mocks I read had Bulaga going to Buffalo, and I think they will be sad they missed out.
Lastly, I think its surprising to see that all the top CBs went in the first round, many before 30 when I thought the Vikings would have their pick of the litter. Kyle Wilson's stock had jumped so much that a few of the beat reporters were saying that Cleveland was thinking about choosing him as early as 7. Wilson is good, but that good? I don’t think so.
My feelings on Tim Tebow, both as a person and as a player, are widely known around the net. But they focused on him so much that I almost had a stroke. Not just that, but every paper and every website did too. Never in the history of the draft had I ever seen a projected second round pick get more face time than the number 1 pick. When I saw that Denver was posturing again to pick him, and his family started putting on the Broncos hats, I let out a sigh of relief big enough to set off some car alarms in the street outside my apartment. Obviously Denver thought his intangibles were enough to burn a valuable pick on him, rather than focusing on measurables that show exactly why he is such a reach at 25 even. Whether it’s the motion, the accuracy, the offense, the track record of Gator QBs, the deck is way too stacked against him to even consider doing what they did. Do I think Tebow should have been considered a 2nd or 3rd rounder? Of course, because in those rounds, you can pick to develop. In the first round, you pick to better your team immediately. Tebow is not that pick.
Then, when you factor in Denver's recent past, there are even more questions. First you trade away a pro-bowl QB who is young and has a lot of upside. Then you trade away your best receiver, arguably one of the best in the league. You draft Demaryius Thomas who is a raw, unpolished and uproven version of Marshall, and Tebow, who cant even hold a candle to Cutler's jock in terms of skill. Does anyone see the issue with that? I would be rioting in the streets if I was a Denver fan. Add in that they just traded for Brady Quinn and the equation's variables are just ridiculous. Your team blew it worse than any team in NFL history last year, minus the Vikings in 05, and you are downgrading across the board? Like the Jags, someone needs to be fired, and I think when all is said and done, McDaniels is going to be the one getting Tim Te-boned.
What All This Means For Tonight
Because the Vikings have basically said that they arent sold on Clausen and there are a lot of teams who are, expect a lot of action at the top of tonight's round two. I think the Vikings will shop their pick they got from the lions to beef up later picks, or just end up taking Cody or Price with number 34. Although I think Clausen would be a great move for the Vikings, considering that he would have a year under Favre before needing to play, it doesn’t look like he is the answer. This is one of the weakest drafts in the last few years, and I think they may even want to try to build for next year's class if they don’t need to pick someone at the current slot. I would expect both Clausen and McCoy to be picked very close to the beginning of the show tomorrow, probably to Cleveland or Buffalo. Unlike Tebow, both Clausen and McCoy are much more NFL ready, and arent a project like Tebow will most definitely be. When you look at who else is available, these guys should become coveted picks early on.
Another guy I would watch for is Golden Tate, who looks to be slotted right now at Tampa Bay with the 3rd pick. Tate is a beast of a receiver and should be on the field from day one. I expected him to go to Denver or Dallas in the first round, but when Denver chose a less upside-y style guy in Thomas, Dallas jumped at the opportunity that Denver threw into their lap.
Its obvious that teams like Detroit made themselves a lot better by drafting Suh and Best, but that kind of stuff was expected. Haden and Berry were great pickups for Cleveland and KC, but again, those were no surprises and had been projected. I think the true winners of this first round came later on, mainly thanks to WTF picks from Oakland, San Fransisco and Jacksonville.
The first winner was Green Bay who managed to snag a ridiculous player in Bryan Bulaga at 23. Bulaga is the player they needed to shore up their pourous offensive line that got destroyed last year, and I am shocked that Bulaga fell all that way. Instead of settling for a guy like Anthony Davis or even Iupati, they got one of the best Tackles in the draft. This is bad for the NFC north, and I think Green Bay could end up being a Super Bowl team pretty quickly here.
The second winner was Dallas, and it was only because other teams were too stupid. Dez Bryant is the best receiver in the draft, and I would expect his off the field issues wont be a factor early on enough for teams to pass him up like they did. I remember last year, he was widely expected to be the top pick, and for Dallas to add him to their corps as late as they did is criminal. Jerry Jones had a chip on his shoulder after passing on Randy Moss, and the announcers even made light of it during the broadcast. This one is a great pick, and Dallas should be extremely happy.
The biggest loser of the night was definitely Jacksonville who may have had the biggest draft reach I have ever seen. Top ten picks are always coveted items, and for them to not trade down or even out of the ten pick is inexcusable. At ten, you expect your picks to be NFL ready and impactful, and I don’t think Alualu is either of those. Jacksonville just showed the entire league why they need to be moved to another city that can actually sell those tickets.
Denver is a huge loser after last night, mainly from the reasons I explained above. They spent most of the night working trades, and ended up with two players that probably wont help this season, if ever. I am a person who is rooting against Tebow from the beginning, and to think that he was taken in such a reach pick makes my feelings even stronger. I think this is going to come down to the Derek Jeter argument, as Jeter is beloved because of those same intangibles that Tebow is projected to have. Like Jeter, Tebow is thought of as a winner, but being a winner has nothing to do with actually producing anything measurable. When you factor in that Florida's system is likely to be more of a contribution to Tebow's intangibles than his skill, Denver just banked a good portion of their future on a guy who cant throw, cant hit his receivers and probably cant function, all because he won games with a great system in college. Give me a fucking break - losers.
I also think that Oakland surprised everyone by drafting the way they did as well, although McClain will not be a terrible player. The question is not about his skill as a linebacker, but more about why the Raiders chose to address that need over others they obviously are in desparate need of. I think one of the ESPN guys put it best last night:
You drafted a QB in 2007, you need a QB. You drafted a RB in 2008, you need a RB. You drafted a WR in 2009, you need a WR.
The Raiders have become the new Jets of the draft. Thanks for playing.