This time of year, you get a lot of sites grading drafts with A, B+, C-, etc. grades. I don’t believe in that. In 2007, most people would have given the Raiders an A because of their pick of big armed QB Jamarcus Russell and a RB who simply fell because of a broken leg in Michael Bush. How does that draft look now? In this Smear, I will simply rank the teams based on how I felt after pick 254 on Saturday evening. May not be accurate a few years from now, but based on the guys picked, this is how I set the “power rankings” from the draft today.
1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – This is a team that could easily have near zero productive guys out of the draft, but the potential upside and that roster makes this draft potentially epic. Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers are both top 10 talent with potential injury risks. If they stay healthy, these two guys alone could make a draft. Add Mason Foster and Ahmad Black, and you get two servicable guys at positions of need. Allen Bradford runs too much like Blount, but RB depth was also a need.
2) Baltimore Ravens – Jimmy Smith might be the best corner in the draft if it wasn’t for his character concerns. Torrey Smith reminds me too much of DHB, but his speed will stretch a defense opening up the veteran savy receiving corp. Jah Reid can step in at right tackle today, making The Blindside, Michael Oher, protect Flacco’s blindside. He is better on the right, but a quality left tackle none the less. Add Chykie Brown and Pernell McPhee in the 5th are both late round steals and Tyrod Taylor brings an athletic back-up QB into the mix.
3) Detroit Lions – Early on, Nick Fairley was being argued as the top pick of the draft, but he slipped to 13 overall and will line up next to Ndamukong Suh making what may be the best middle of a defensive line this generation will see. Then you look at Titus Young to be the possesion guy opposite Megatron and Mikel Leshoure to help accent Javhid Best make the Lions weapons even more lethal.
4) Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green is my favorite receiver out of the draft since Calvin Johnson. I didn’t fully expect the Bengals to go in the second based on ownership, but Dalton as the fifth QB off the board is a potential steal. I also really like Moch and Clint Bolint, both guys that can make immediate impacts in Cincy.
5) Dallas Cowboys – Tyron Smith was by far the best offensive line fit in the draft for the Cowboys. Doug Free can now focus on being left tackle, and the Cowboys can move forward knowing they have a guy that could potentially become the best right tackle in the league. David Arkin can start right away at the right guard, giving the Cowboys great protection for Tony Romo, but also potentially adding to one of the most versatile running games in the NFL, including the addition of DeMarco Murray. Opposite DeMarcus Ware they will now have an excellent second round pick in Bruce Carter. May just be a Cowboy homer here, but I really think this is a great draft for a team I usually hate after draft day.
6) Pittsburgh Steelers – Cameron Heyward in the first round…yeah, cause the Steelers need more pass rushers. I really liked the fit of each of the first 5 picks for the Steelers. After Heyward, they added a big offensive lineman to improve a line that was suspect in Marcus Gilbert, then added Curtis Brown to be a Nickel corner who could easily become a solid number two corner. Then in rounds 4 and 5 they add guys who could be overlooked in this draft with Cortez Allen who will work against spread sets and could develop into the Nickel corner, and an outide linebacker in Chris Carter who I had as a third round talent.
7) Buffalo Bills – Pretty easy when you can just sit there and have Marcel Dareus fall to you in the third pick of the draft. He will cause problems for every offense in the league this year. Add a potential first round corner in Aaron Williams, a solid linebacker in Kelvin Sheppard, and another impact corner with Da’Norris Searcy. Add the depth of 5 more selections, and you have a draft that could easily move this organization in the right direction.
8) Washington Redskins – I knew I would give the ‘Skins a good grade on Thursday, regardless of what they did the rest of the way when I saw them actually add draft picks through this year, and next year’s drafts. Especially Friday when they traded back 3 times adding picks from the second round and getting Leonard Hankerson in the third round. They let Jacksonville jump up in the first to get Gabbert, while moving back and still getting Ryan Kerrigan. Then early in the second, to get the next nose tackle to replace the worst free agent signing in history, with Jarvis Jenkins to likely take the spot from Fat Albert. Then take into account they added 9 more players in rounds 4-7, and the Redskins are creating competitiveness and depth to their roster.
9) Arizona Cardinals – First thing anyone says is “they didn’t get a quarterback”. Well, they feel they can get a veteran this offseason, if there is one, and didn’t like any of the QB’s available, so they went with a guy that many feel is the best player in the draft in Patrick Peterson. Then, one of the worst running teams in the NFL, added a talented running back in Ryan Williams to battle with Hightower and Beanie Wells, which can only improve that running game. I also loved the Sam Acho pick in the 4th to add a pass rusher, and Quan Sturdivant, a 3rd round grade by me, in the sixth round to man the inside of the linebacking corp.
10) New England Patriots – I would have preferred they go Cameron Jordan in the first round, but I like Solder. They have two guys that can start the season at tackle, and while you usually expect a first rounder to start right away, by mid season, Solder could very well be a franchise left tackle. Then in the first pick of the second round, the Pats picked a guy that I absolutely love. Ras-I Dowling is a true shut down corner, and had it not been for an injury, he would have been a first rounder. Then at the end of the second round, Shane Vereen was picked. If you watch the tape from two years ago, you will see a junior running back from Cal out play Javhid Best, and that guy is Shane Vereen. He can catch, and is a big play threat, which is just what the Patriots need, plus I have known the kid since he was about 10, so I have a personal rooting interest in him. I didn’t like the Ridley pick, but love the Mallett selection. Mallett might be the most physically gifted QB in this years draft, but had questions about work ethic and character, what better place to turn that around than New England? Worst case he becomes a second or third round trade piece that the Patriots use to improve the team in a few years.
11) Tennessee Titans – Most people will look at Jake Locker at 8 overall and disagree with it. I don’t. I really like Locker, I do feel he needs time to learn the system behind a veteran QB, but he has the ability to be a franchise QB. They really needed an outside linebacker, and they got the second best true backer with Akeem Ayers in the second round, a guy I liked in the middle of the first round just a few months ago. They then solidified their defensive front with Jurrell Casy in the third round and Karl Klug in the 5th.
12) New York Giants – They went with the best available players, and it worked, although they didn’t really fill any needs. Prince Amukamara is an absolute steal, as was Marvin Austin. Their biggest problem in the draft is they did not come away with an impact offensive lineman which they despersately needed.
13) Cleveland Brown – Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard in the first two rounds will make a huge impact on that defensive front. They really needed a WR to help stretch the field, and I don’t think Greg Little will be that. But, the Browns did set themselves up to win the draft next year as they got the first and fourth round picks from Atlanta. Two solid first round picks will be huge for this team in a very good AFC North.
14) Miami Dolphins – Mike Pounces was certainly a bit of a reach, and when they traded up in the second round, you had to think it was for Ryan Mallett, but instead it was for a running back in Daniel Thomas. While I like Thomas, and he was certainly the last potential impact back left in the draft, I don’t think he is a great fit for Miami. I did love their fourth round pick in Edmond Gates though. He was a mid-round guy I really liked and I think can have a very good career.
15) Houston Texans – J.J. Watt will take over as a defensive end allowing Mario Williams to play standing up and be an incredible pass rusher very much the way the Cowboys use DeMarcus Ware. Brooks Reid can rush the passer from the other side, and suddenly the worst passing team in the league will have 3 guys in the backfield on every play. To improve the back end of the defense, they added Brandon Harris, who will certainly improve their secondary. On Saturday of the draft, I was really focused on one QB who I feel has the skills to be a starter some day, and they got him in T.J. Yates. Sitting behind Shaub will be incredibly beneficial, and Schaub is not exactly the most durable guy, so Yates just may make an impact in just a year or two.
16) Denver Broncos – Von Miller is a game changer, I liked Dareus better here, but Miller will be a huge help for this team. Then in the second round they got a guy who is an absolute ball hawk of a safety in Rahim Moore. My main concern for the Broncos after this draft, is where the defensive line help is gonna come from. There were plenty of mid round LB talent, but very shallow on the line, which is why I think passing on Dareus was a huge mistake.
17) Chicago Bears – Gabe Carimi was a great pick and a huge steal for the Bears at what was certainly their biggest need. Second biggest need after cutting ties with Tommy Harris is a defensive tackle, which they got in a guy who will be a poor man’s Haloti Ngata. They didn’t have many picks late in the draft, but they did add depth at a couple postitions of need.
18) Indianapolis Colts – Anthony Castanzo and Benjamin Ijalana instantly improve the poor offensive line of the Colts. These two guys alone make for an incredibly good and useful draft. Most people will hardly notice this draft though, as the late round picks I don’t see making much of an impact, if any, and Peyton has never really had a good offensive line. This draft will give Peyton more time and extend his career, but in order to make another deep playoff run, I think they needed to add depth to their thin defense.
19) San Francisco 49ers – Aldon Smith was a bit of an odd pick as he doesn’t seem to fit that system, but you have to think they have a plan for that. Colin Kaepernick could be a really good QB. I think the 49ers need to keep/bring in some quarterbacks to keep a real competition, and make Kaepernick earn the job, as he will have a very steep learning curve.
20) New Orleans Saints – Most have them much higher than this, and I absolutely love Cameron Jordan, but I am happy as a New England fan to trade back and allow the Saints to get Mark Ingram. He will give the Saints a downhill running game, but I don’t feel he was a true first round value with the running backs you could get in the second round of this draft. I don’t see anyone else in this draft having much of an impact for them.
21) San Diego Chargers – Another team I am much lower on than most, and that is mostly because I don’t see Corey Liuget fitting into this defense. Jonas Mouton and Marcus Gilchrist in the second are both guys I am not sold on, and while I think Vincent Brown is decent, he probably could have been there in the fourth but they selected him in the third.
22) Jacksonville Jaguars – I really liked the idea to move up and get Blaine Gabbert. I think it will prove to be one of the best moves in this draft a few years from now, and I really wanted to put them higher on my rankings, but they didn’t get anything else of note. Rackley is ok, and the other three picks won’t make an impact. This draft will basically be a wash this year, but next year it will look good.
23) Green Bay Packers – Derek Sherrod is a great pick for the reigning Super Bowl champions and Randall Cobb will fit in well in that receiving corp. My biggest issue with their draft was passing on Akeem Ayers to play opposite Clay Mathews. They clearly needed help on the other side of their linebackers and Ayers would have been an amazing fit at the end of the first round.
24) New York Jets – Muhammad Wilkerson and Kendrick Ellis will be two massive bodies on the defensive front, but they didn’t do anything to improve their team. They essentially replaced veterans with rookies whose ceiling are even with those veterans. Greg McElroy will be interesting, he is a very smart QB and can serve as a quality backup to Mark Sanchez.
25) Kansas City Chiefs – Jonathan Baldwin in the first round was arguably the worst pick of the draft. He is a mid-second to early third round wide receiver but was taken in round one. The saving grace for this team is the fact I really like Rodney Hudson in the second, love Justin Houston in the third, and think Allen Bailey is another steal in the third round.
26) St. Louis Rams – Torsten may hate this draft, but I really like Robert Quinn, and I think he will be a huge impact guy on this team. I was baffled by the second round pick of Lance Kendricks, but I do like both Austin Pettis and Gregory Salas. Neither WR will be game changers, but are certainly upgrades to the cluster of below average receivers Bradford had last year.
27) Atlanta Falcons – I actually really liked the Julio Jones pick. They gave up too much, but Jones will be a huge impact on the Falcons. My concern is the fact it looks like this team thinks they were just one guy away from a Super Bowl, which is never a good way to look at it. This draft will likely handcuff this organization for years to come. They did surprise me though by getting talent despite giving away half their draft. Akeem Dent is a really good player, Jacquzz Rodgers in the fifth round will be a Darren Sproles type guy to change the pace of Michael Turner, and Cliff Mathews was a guy I thought would come off the board in the fourth round, but they got him in the seventh.
28) Carolina Panthers – When you have the first overall pick and there is a guy there at the quarterback postion who will put butts in the seats and could be the face of a franchise, you pick him. Time will tell if it is a decent pick or not, but that is not why they are ranked 28th in my draft rankings, it is because I did’t like a single other guy they drafted. I want to like McClain or Fua for the Panthers sake, but I don’t, I just really don’t like what they did after their first pick.
29) Philadelphia Eagles -Danny Watkins is a good player at a position of need, but I don’t see him being an impact guy. They made headlines by drafting Casey Mathews, but he is a homeless man’s version of his brother. They guy will be Chris Gocong level at best. I did like a steal in the fifth round with Dion Lewis though.
30) Minnesota Vikings – I actually won’t rip the Vikings for the Christian Ponder pick. I think he can be a really good QB, they needed one, and he was the best available in their eys. I will rip them for the Kyle Rudolph pick. You already have a great tight end, and you picked the best in a horrible tight end draft in the second round? Christian Ballard in the fourth is a steal since I had him in my second round, but that defensive liine could have used even more help, the secondary needs help, and Ponder is gonna need more depth at Offensive Tackle to keep him upright.
31) Oakland Raiders – Shocker, they went Wisniewski whose father was a Raider legend, then picked the fastest player available for the rest of the draft. They needed corners, and got a couple, but they are speed guys, not cover guys. They didn’t really need an offensive lineman, but I do actually like the Wisniewski selection. I would have liked to see them add a posession receiver and a linebacker.
32) Seattle Seahawks – I had James Carpenter in the middle of the second round, Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod were available, but the Seahawks went Carpenter instead which I believe was the reach of the draft behind the Chiefs selection of Baldwin. John Moffit was a decent third round pick, but I was not a fan of any of their other selection.