Sunday, May 1, 2011

Comprehensive Draft Recap

Consider yourself served Mel

The typical way that drafts are graded make no sense to the Collective. Giving a team an “A-” or a “C+” seems trivial and random. What we decided to do instead, was evaluate the draft by categorizing teams in ways that make more sense. The categories that we came up with were the following: “The Rich Get Richer”, “Welcome to the Playoff Hunt”, “Mixed Results”, “Pro Bowlers and Practice Team Players”, “Playoff Teams No More”, “From Bad to Worse”, and “Flat Out Bad”. These categories make more sense than the typical format because they take into account draft order and the current state of the team. It is unfair to compare the Cardinals and Jets on an A-F scale. The Cardinals had the opportunity to pick Patrick Peterson and the Jets did not. They were in different positions. In addition, the top teams have the luxury of picking niche players, where bad teams are trying to improve their rosters from top to bottom.

Two things that we emphasized in our analysis were trades and finding players who will end up on the 53 man roster. One thing we didn't emphasize strongly was need. Whether a team “reaches” on a pick is taken into account but not over emphasized like it is by some draft prognosticators. On a stylistic note, you will notice that the round is not included for each player. This was a purposeful way to remove stupid tags like “first round pick” when the pick is 28 or “second round pick” when the pick is 34.

The Rich Get Richer

This category is for elite teams who had elite drafts. These drafts included players who can step in and make sure these teams will stay in the playoffs for a long time. Many of these teams have differing styles but the results remain the same.

1.) Patriots

Call us biased but the Pats killed this draft. They were able to rob the Saint and the Raiders, in the process setting themselves up with two first round and two second round picks in the 2012 draft. In addition to the trading mastery, the Pats also picked six players who we are confident will be rotation players eventually. Solder is a franchise left tackle. We were huge fans of his initially, but fell into the media trap and backed off with our enthusiasm. How stupid of us! This guy is a man mountain with great arms and hands. Brady will no longer need to worry about life after Matt Light. Dowling is great value at pick 33 considering he would have been a top 15 pick if he wasnt injured this past season. Vereen and Ridley upgrade a position in need. Vereen is a young Kevin Faulk while Ridley will be a solid first and second down power back. Mallett is getting a lot of attention right now, but the Pats getting a quarterback in the third round isn’t that surprising. We did not rate Mallett very high, but the more information coming out about him, the better he seems. Maybe the best pick for the Pats was Cannon at 138. He was slated to be a top 50 pick before a cancer diagnosis. The Pats will have the ability to sit him while he recovers during the 2011 season, and then plug him into the starting lineup in 2012.

2.) Ravens

Ozzie Newsome did it again. He got an elite player in Jimmy Smith at a position of need. He then picked up a game changing wideout and a road grading right tackle in Torrey Smith and Jah Reid. Adding Tandon Doss at 123 is a great value pick and helps the depth at an aging position. All of the Ravens first four picks will be contributors, with Jimmy Smith being a pro bowl type player. Picking up Tyrod Taylor at 180 is a great late pick. Taylor is a great athlete and had a fantastic career at Virginia Tech. There is no doubt in our minds that he will be a solid NFL backup.

3.) Chiefs

Scott Pioli you dawg! This draft would be number one in this category if it wasn’t for riskyness of the Baldwin pick at 26. He could be an elite player, but his football character is concerning. Hudson is an elite athlete and could be an all-pro candidate if he can work on his strength. Houston and Bailey are both great picks at 70 and 86 respectively. Both players fit the Chiefs system and will be rotation players right away. What makes this draft remarkable is the picks of Stanzi and Powe at the back end of the draft. Stanzi has the ability to be a starter eventually and Powe is a massive SEC defensive tackle. For the second draft in a row, Pioli drafted an astounding number of impact players.

4.) Steelers

Every year the Steelers have low picks and they sit there, wait until dumb teams take crummy players and pick a stud that fits their system. Cameron Heyward is another example of this approach. He is a steal in our book, and will be a great 3-4 end for the next 10 years. Add in that he fills a need and you see why the Steelers made it into this category. What puts the Steelers below the Pats, Ravens, and Chiefs is their later round picks. We do not love Gilbert, Brown is an OK corner, and the later picks didn’t include gems like Cannon, Doss, or Stanzi.

5.) Jets
Kenrick Ellis should scare all Pats fans
The Jets hit their two top 100 picks out of the park. Getting Wilkerson and Ellis should keep every guard in the AFC East up at night. These two guys win every battle. The Jets just found two great five techniques for the next ten years. What drops them is that they only had two high picks, and Powel and Kerley dont overwhelm us at 126 and 153. Future Republican Congressman Greg McElroy is good value at 208, but in general the Jets didn’t have an especially deep draft. 
Welcome to the Playoff Hunt
This category is for bad or mediocre teams who had transformative drafts. These teams will be playoff teams soon if they can follow this years draft with one or two more good drafts.

1.) Rams

Other than the Patriots, this is my favorite draft. Quinn was the best player in the draft and the Rams got him at 14. Wow. They then got Sam Bradford two great targets in Kendricks and Pettis. We have a feeling that Kendricks could be this seasons Aaron Hernandez, an H-back receiving type who adds a ton to an offense. Pettis is a great rout runner who will work really well with a smart quarterback. The Rams are now the team to beat in the NFC West.

2.) Lions

Adding Fairley to a young, up an coming defense is scary. Suh and Fairly will be an incredible duo for years to come. Add in the fact that NFC North offensive lines are pretty weak and it would make sense if the Lions made the playoffs soon. Young is one of our favorite players. He is a big play waiting to happen. He will be a great slot receiver from day one. Leshoure is a good value pick at 57 and will supplement Javhid Best well.

3.) Browns
  21  Phil Taylor

The reason the Browns are so high on our list is because they set themselves up in the future with a great Hershel Walker type trade with the Falcons. Mike Holmgren also didn’t do too bad with who he picked. Taylor is fantastic at taking up blockers and will be a perfect fit in the Browns 1st and 2nd down base defense. Sheard dominated the Big East and should provide some much needed pressure. Little is the Browns best pick. At pick number 59 the Browns found Colt McCoy a legitimate number 1 receiver. Although the Steelers and Ravens will be tough to take out, the Browns will be nipping at their heels shortly.

4.) Bucs

The Bucs twin strategy is something we endorse completely. After taking their two defensive tackles of the future in 2010 they picked their two defensive ends this year. Clayborn was underrated and should have gone ahead of Watt and Kerrigan. Bowers is a risk, but at 51 was one worth taking. Luke Stocker and Ahmad Black are great value picks at 104 and 151. Both of these SEC standouts will be contributors. We also like the Allen Bradford pick at 187. He was highly rated in high school but was caught in the running back logjam at USC. Bradford is good in the passing game, and could become a solid change of pace player opposite LeGarrette Blount. If you add up the last two drafts the Bucs have built a foundation that will make it the NFC South champions within the next two seasons.

5) Cardinals

Peterson was the second best player in this draft other than Quinn. He can cover exceptionally well and will be an elite returner. Ryan Williams was a productive back two seasons ago and has all the skills to be a solid back in the NFL. Williams at 38 seems a bit high but getting a good player is what matters. Acho was a terror at Texas and could be a very good situational pass rusher in the NFL. The Cardinals also had one of the better late round picks in the draft with Quan Sturdivant. He was a top 40 player during part of the year, but was inconsistent during his final college season. Sturdivant should be a starter right away, which is incredible value for the 171st pick. The Cardinals still need a quarterback to be a playoff team, but adding this draft will make them one of the stronger teams in the NFC West.  

Good But Not Great

This category is for teams that had some good drafts from top to bottom, but had a few too many questionable decisions to be considered great.

1.) Giants

This draft was very close to be included in the “rich getting richer” section. Amukamara at 19 is solid value. We were extremely high on him not long ago, but recent analysis on his college career raises some question marks about his NFL prospects. Marvin Austin is a FANTASTIC pick at 52. He has the potential to be an all pro player. Jernigan will add to a stable of wide receivers at Eli Manning’s disposal. He is great after the catch and will be a solid slot receiver from day one. Jones and Sash are really solid picks at 185 and 198. Jones was extremely productive at Michigan State and will be a solid strong side backer for the Giants. Sash is a hard hitting Iowa safety who is a solid athlete with great ball skills. At the very least he will be a good special teams player. This draft was the hardest to categorize and very well could end up being elite.

2.) Colts

Castonzo and Ijalana are solid picks.  Both players will start from day one and be solid players in the NFL for years to come. Neither one seems like they are destined for stardom like some of the other offensive line prospects. Nevis fits really well as a 3 technique in the Colts scheme. This draft was hampered by the fact that they only made five picks and non of them will end up being elite.

3.) Bengals
It was 10 degrees when this picture was taken
Green will be a great wide receiver for years to come. He will allow the Bengals to have a field stretching talent which they have been lacking since Ochocinco has slowed down. Moch is a supreme athlete who was a good value pick at 66 and Boling is an INCREDIBLE pick at 101. A productive SEC road grader at 101 gives us goosbumps. The reason this draft isn’t rated higher is because Dalton is not a franchise quarterback. Putting faith in him as your franchise quarterback is an extremely risky proposition.

4.) Chargers

We would never doubt A.J Smith’s talent evaluation but the pick of Liuget instead of Wilkerson at 18 is highly vexing. The Gilchrist, Mouton, Brown, Wright foursome is textbook drafting. If we were gm’s we would live in the 50-89 range because players thats where you build championship squads. Dartmouth Massachusetts native Jordan Todman is a great value pick at 183.


Brooks Reed will be a great pass rusher for the Texans and Harris is a fantastic value pick at 60. Both these players fill an important need. T.J Yates will be a great backup. The reason this draft falls a bit is because J.J Watt was not the best pick at 11 when the Texans could have gotten Fairley or Quinn. I am afraid the folks in Houston will be second guessing this pick for years to come.

6.) Bears

The Wisconsin Meat Hook and Paea bring an awful lot of strength to the Bears lines. They both fill an important need. This was a really strong start for the Bears, but unfortunatley they only had three other picks, all of which were not impressive. 

Pro Bowlers and Practice Team Players

This is a category designed for bad drafting teams who had the opportunity to draft great players. After the first round, however, these teams missed horribly.

1.) Bills

Dareus is a monster Hippo who will be a force for years to come. After that, however, the Bills didnt bring much to the table. Williams isn’t a good 34th pick, and will be a nickle back at best. Sheppard could be OK, but again, is not a good pick at 64. Non of their late picks are impressive.

2.) Miami

Pouncey is a monster and will help the Dolphins right away. After that, only Thomas has the ability to be a difference maker. Thomas runs hard but will never be a great back. Gates, Clay, Kearse, and Wilson just made me throw up in my mouth.

3.) Falcons

Julio Jones will be a physically imposing force for the Falcons. Atlanta gave up way too much to get him and didn’t make another good selection. Rodgers is awesome as a guy, but is far to small to absorb the hits of the NFL. Dent could be vaguely productive (he is an SEC middle backer named Dent after all) but leaves us unimpressed.

4.) Raiders

Wisniewski was a grade A home run pick at 48. He has bloodlines and fits into the Raider tradition. Love it. Other than speedy tailback Taiwan Jones, all of the other picks are devoid of rotation players. Oakland followed up a great 2010 draft with a mediocre hall at best this year.

Good teams No More

This category is for teams that are currently very good but didn’t do much to help them in the future. Maybe they can overcome this draft in the short term, but in a few years these teams will be picking in the top 16.

1.) Eagles

This was another tough draft to evaluate. We like Watkins, love Matthews, and think Stanley Havili is a good late round pick. The Eagles reached for Watkins though, and ended the draft with no stars and only three contributors out of eleven picks. Render us unimpressed Andy Reid.

2.) Saints

The Saints were put into this category not because of the players they got but because of their short-sighted trade decision with the Patriots. Not having a first round pick is always a good way to move from a playoff team to a mediocre one. Jordan, Ingram, Wilson, and Romeus will all be impact players, unfortunately for the Saints they won’t be able to say the same thing about the 2012 draft.

3.) Vikings

We love the Ponder pick. He could very well end up being the best quarterback taken in this years draft. He also fills an important need for Minnesota. Ballard at 106 is also a great value pick. You never can go wrong with a bad-ass defensive lineman from the Hawkeyes. Kyle Rudolph is vastly overrated and didn’t address any need. The bottom line is that this draft produced two contributors out of ten picks. For a team with a solid foundation in place, this is disappointing.

4.) Packers

It is hard to doubt the Packers. They have killed the draft recently. They are also not going to be bad even if this draft doesn’t work out at all. They are so set for the future that they don’t need anyone from this draft to contribute at all. With that said, Sherrod is soft, Cobb has questionable hands, and nobody else will make much of an impact. I am putting myself out there and saying that the Packers draft was awful.

From Bad to Worse

This category is for bad teams who did little to help their teams. These teams might have made some picks that could turn out fine, but in general these drafts are devoid from multiple impact players.

1.) Dallas

If Tyron Smith hasn't eaten 1000 Caltein bars  since this picture he is a disgrace
The Cowboys are not that bad on paper, and this draft was not atrocious, but Dallas’ record WAS bad in 2010 and this draft was lacking. Tyron Smith might be the worst pick of the draft. He is a skinny, unproductive, right tackle. At number 9 this pick makes us want to poke our eyes out. Carter and Murray are solid players at 40 and 71 but the last five picks don’t include any impact players. The Smith pick is what puts the Cowboys in this category.

2) Redskins

The Redskins did the right thing to trade down but the players they actually took were underwhelming at best. Kerrigan is a good motor guy, but at 16 the Skins could have gotten a far more impressive player. Jarvis Jenkins was taken 50 picks too high and will not contribute significantly right away. Hankerson was a very good pick, and Helu was a solid pick at 105, but overall the Redskins did not improve their team much. When you have the 10th pick in each round much more talent should be expected.

 8   Jake Locker
 39  Akeem Ayers
 77  Jurrell Casey
 109 Colin McCarthy
 130 Jamie Harper
  142 Karl Klug

Locker is a massive risk at the 8 pick. The Titans have made some seriously flawed moves lately. They have gotten rid of Jeff Fisher, Vince Young, and drafted a quarterback who completed 55% of his college passes with the 8th pick. This my friends is not a good way to become relevant again. Akeem Ayers is softer than tissue paper. Keith Bullock punched a whole in the wall when he heard this UCLA ninny would be his successor. Jurell Casey is USC defensive lineman....enough said. We do like the McCarthy and Klug picks. Both players come from great backgrounds (Miami MLB and Iowa DT) and should be able to contribute right away. Overall, you have to wonder if Bud Adams has lost his marbles.

4.) Seahawks

Pete Carrol is well on his way to ruining his second NFL team. Carpenter and Moffitt are both solid editions, but both of them could have been picked a round later. Add in the fact that the Seahawks didn’t get another contributor in the draft and you realize that this team is going nowhere fast. St. Louis and Arizona had great drafts which means the Seahawks are going to be relegated to an afterthought very soon.

Flat Out Bad

Awful in every sense of the word. Bad players and bad trade moves will be included in this category.

1.) Jaguars

Jaguars traded an awful lot for Blaine Gabbert. That last sentence will be hard to read for the Jacksonville readers on the collective. Gabbert is not a first round player in our opinion, let alone the number 10 pick. What makes this pick even worse is that Jacksonville isn’t some pathetic team desperately in need of a signal caller. The Jaguars are actually ok at quarterback and have pretty massive needs on the defensive side of the football and at wide receiver. The only reason that this is not ranked at the bottom is because Rackley is a stud.

2.) Panthers

This is another assessment that could come back to haunt the Collective. Right now though, it looks like Cam Newton will be put into a horrible situation. He is not pro ready and could have his career ruined before it even gets started. When you add in the fact that he makes the hair on our necks stand up straight when he talks and you have one really suspect number 1 pick. What makes this pick truly awful is that none of their other picks look to be contributors. The panthers should have picked the best player available and they did an awful job of it this year.

3.) 49ers

Aldon Smith would have been a bad 22nd pick, let alone 7th pick. He has injury concerns and wasn’t incredibly productive in college. Kaepernick would have a decent the lingerie football league. Tough quarterback of the future pick when Ryan Mallett was still on the board. Kendall Hunter and Ronald Johnson were solid college players but their games don’t translate to the NFL. The rest of the draft doesn’t include any contributors.

4.) Broncos
I didn't know Baby Gap sold suits
Has someone taken over John Elways soul? First he doesn’t endorse Tim Tebow, then he drafts the softest group of Jokers the collective has ever seen. Von Miller is a really good flag football player, but weighs 237 pounds and is supposed to take on left tackles. Last year the Patriots played Kyle Arrington at defensive end for one series. Denver fans will have to get used to many similar series during the next few years. Rahim Moore’s real height and weight is 5’2 155, he has a fo-hawk, and went to UCLA. Elway should bring in Adalius Thomas to mentor these two disgraces. Orlando Franklin is a solid pick but all of their picks from 67 to 204 lack impact. Jeremy Beal could be a steal at 247. Overall, if every team drafted like this Robert Quinn would be Mr. Irrelevant. Terrible.


Ryan Mahanna said...

Excellent work Davey, I really like the creative breakdown, makes much more sense. As happy as I am with the Bills getting Hippo M.D. they cant afford to litter their drafts with practice players. Really, my only problem is the Collective is making me too NFL Draft smart for the people in my everyday life (and I work in an athletics department). I guess I am just going to have to get used to it...

Gil Haylon said...

Like the article, some really good work. A question for you in terms of the Pats draft. Who would they have had to take for you to give them a bad draft? If the Redskins had taken Solder the pick before would you have agreed it was such a good pick?

Completely agree that the Pats draft pick trades are absolute steals, justs seems as though you would have difficulty giving them a bad grade almost no matter who they take.

Dave Hendrie said...

Gil. You are right I have almost blind faith in the Pats talent evaluation. Considering that they bat close to 1000 on their rounds 1-3 picks I will have a hard time doubting them. I also think that we addressed really important needs. Everyone talks about the need for OLB and DL but I actually thought that OL and RB were just as important.

Solder was someone who I originally liked but fell into the trap of listening to some of the people who analyze the draft. When the Pats take a player in the 1st round they will be good. The worst players taken in the 1st were Maroney and Ben Watson, both of whom were not even busts. Add in the fact that the Colts were visibly upset with the Solder pick makes it even more of a sure thing in my book.

John Hendrie said...

I would have given the Redskins an A+ (oh wait we don't do that). I would put them in the best category though. Solder is the best LT prospect these eyes have ever seen. The Twin Towers are already the best bookends in the League.

John Hendrie said...

Maroney wasn't a bust? And the Colts wanted him too.

Dave Hendrie said...

I hate Maroney but he was pretty productive for an average amount of years. He was a late first round pick too. Obviously not a good pick but also not a bust.

John Hendrie said...

el busto

Gil Haylon said...

I am in complete agreement in terms of faith in the Patriots drafting, because I obviously have never watched Nate Solder in my life.

But its also okay to disagree with Belichick and still think he's the best coach/GM. Obviously there is nobody I want more as a coach/GM, but it doesnt mean he bats .1000.

The part I disagreed with was drafting two running backs. NFL rb is the most overrated position in the nfl, as evidenced by Woodhead and Green-Ellis last year. Besides Peterson, Chris Johnson and 1-2 others, there is not much difference between NFL running backs. I understand they need depth at the position, but I don't believe that Ridley/Vereen are any better than two cheap free agents that we could sign.

John Hendrie said...

Gil - I pretty much agree with you about the interchangeability of RB's. But we are most likley losing Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor (Green-Ellis is a restricted free agent as well). We needed a talent infusion. I think that young legs with a reasonable price tag is an efficient way to do it. Vereen could be a special pass catcher too. Filling in for the legendary Faulk might be too much for him though. If Ridley wins the job then he could also get 1000yds as a rookie and be in the race for ROY due to his stats.

Have you heard anything locally in terms of whispers about our plans for Matt Light?