Authored by Jeff Risdon - 12th May, 2011 - 8:35 am
Though I know this will strike some as overdue, I have method to my madness. In still clinging to the draft I can avoid regurgitating my disgust for both the NFLPA and the owners for continuing their asinine, ultimately pointless battle in the court system.
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Arizona through Indianapolis are covered here.
Jacksonville Jaguars-- I love the gutsy move to deal up and acquire Blaine Gabbert. Incumbent starter David Garrard is 33, freakishly inconsistent (only three QBs have more games with a QB rating over 110 in the last two years, but Garrard also ranks 3rd in starts with a QB rating below 60 in that time frame), and the franchise has been quietly looking for a successor for a while now. Gabbert gets to take his time adjusting to the NFL while Garrard--who has responded very well to competition in the past--gets to start until Gabbert is ready.
The cadre of small-school talent chosen late is difficult to evaluate. GM Gene Smith has had some success in plucking from the lesser-known, but spending three picks in a draft where the second and fourth rounds were vacated is stretching the boundaries of acceptance. Will Rackley further fortifies what is quietly becoming a strong, talented young OL, though he is more of a finesse player than his fellow linemates. I do like Cecil Shorts from Mount Union, as he was a dominant player at a dominant D-III program and is a more polished (though different type) receiver than fellow Purple Raider Pierre Garcon. Honestly I'll be surprised if the two DBs make any impact, and the price for moving up to get Gabbert cost them shots at dearly needed pass rush help.
Kansas City Chiefs-- In moving back from #21, the Chiefs essentially chose Jonathan Baldwin over Phil Taylor, the nose tackle everyone speculated they were taking and who the Browns traded up to get. I would have preferred they stood pat, taken Taylor, and addressed the WR position later. They sacrificed the best nose tackle in the draft for perhaps the 3rd best wide receiver, and the character issues with Baldwin make that look even riskier. If Coach Haley can screw his head on straight--and he did so with Dwayne Bowe--Baldwin is a good starting receiver with great size, but it represents more risk than I would take here.
GM Scott Pioli rebounded nicely, being the big Friday night winner in my eyes. In taking Rodney Hudson and Justin Houston, Pioli drafted two instant starters with big upsides. Hudson looked great at Senior Bowl week, less so when he bulked up for the Combine. The Chiefs badly needed an interior lineman, and they got a smart tactician that can start at guard or center in 2011. Houston has first-round talent but failed a drug test at the Combine and suffered the wrath of the draft gods. He is an absolute gift at #70 overall and has the potential to be an excellent bookend to Tamba Hali as pass rushing OLBs. The pick used to get him came from the Baldwin-Taylor trade, so that sort of takes the sting off. Pioli followed that up by taking the poster boy for the "looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane" contingent in Allen Bailey.
Saturday's haul is most notable for Ricky Stanzi, the Iowa QB that many projected to go a couple rounds earlier. I was higher on Stanzi than most, and I've never been a Matt Cassel guy. At worst, Stanzi terminates the failed Brodie Croyle experiment. This pick could look real good in a couple of years. Jalil Brown saw a ton of throws his direction playing opposite Jimmy Smith at Colorado, and he adds depth to the secondary. Gabe Miller and Shane Bannon should be able to help on special teams, while Jerrell Powe is given the opportunity to shed his "underachiever and proud of it" Bart Simpson t-shirt. At #199 overall that's not a bad choice, not at all.
Miami Dolphins-- GM Jeff Ireland didn't have a lot of picks to work with, but he nailed the three biggest needs right off the bat. Mike Pouncey is instantly the best interior OL on the team in years, and he will really help the running game. That running game has some fresh legs in Daniel Thomas, a nice insurance pick against both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams leaving. Thomas is a big back but he runs small, with great balance and subtle shiftiness. My opinion on Thomas went back and forth all year, but he's worth the shot where they got him. Edmund Gates is the deep burner at wideout that they hope can become the player Ted Ginn never could for them. Like Thomas, he's not the best player on the board when picked but fills a major need and wasn't much of a stretch at all. I like Charles Clay as a motion TE that can also do a lot on special teams. He is a very strong runner after the catch, something the Dolphins need at TE. The last two picks are small school guys that will need some time on the practice squad. Jimmy Wilson actually has some pretty solid talent at CB, but how he responds to coaching is a huge question.
Minnesota Vikings-- I've chosen to judge Minnesota's draft through the prism of their NFC North competition. Green Bay just won the Super Bowl and has strong depth all over the place, Chicago made the NFC title game and hauled in a decent draft, and Detroit is a rising force (I hope) with a nasty defensive line and lethal offensive skill position players. Which brings me to the Vikings...
They desperately needed a QB, I get that. And I like Christian Ponder at #12 more than I like Jake Locker at #8 (more on that debacle later), though not by much. My biggest issues with Ponder are his throwing motion and the fact he doesn't trust his arm. He's a flat-footed elbow-whipper that has already had arm and elbow issues, and he seemingly always waits a half-count too long before unleashing the longer throws, as if he's calculating if he can get it there. Still, he's probably the most ready of any QB in this draft to start right away, and start right away he will.
They followed up the Ponder-ous pick with TE Kyle Rudolph, a player that was largely a middling outlet receiver save for one 95-yard play against a Michigan defense among the worst in NCAA history. He only had two other catches his entire career over 18 yards--both against some pretty porous Michigan State defenses. That means he'll likely slaughter the Lions but fizzle against everyone else, and that's if he can stay healthy. Tearing a hamstring from the bone is a serious injury that portends other ligament and tendon issues, and Rudolph also missed time with a separated shoulder. He's a bit of a throwback as a strong in-line tight end that lacks speed in a league that is quickly abandoning those types. Again, the Vikings did have a need for a young pass-catching tight end, but better value was available much later.
Christian Ballard is probably a good value in the early 4th, though he fell because he tested positive for pot at the Combine. While marijuana use is not exactly considered a huge taboo amongst NFL front offices, the fact he couldn't avoid the chronic for the biggest job interview of his life doesn't exactly speak well of Ballard. He flashed some very good pass rush ability at Iowa and he's of the size and athleticism to mix and match all over the line, which are both real positives here.
GM Rick Spielman mostly used the rest of Saturday to restock defensive depth. Ross Homan and D'Aundre Reed are both gamers that should be able to stick as reliable backups and special teams stalwarts. They are better bets than the offensive linemen taken, Brandon Fusco and Demarcus Love, both of whom appeared in over their heads at the Senior Bowl. Love is most notable for getting Cam Heyward drafted in the first round in a disastrous Sugar Bowl where he literally got beaten on every single snap. Keep an eye on Steven Burton, the physically impressive 7th round receiver. One scout from another team told me Burton has a chance to polish into a very capable #2 wideout down the line, and they were hoping to scoop him up as an undrafted free agent. That last bit of 7th round redemption is not likely to help this team escape the NFC North cellar anytime soon.
New England Patriots-- New England once again had one of the most interesting, and controversial, draft weekends. They stood pat at #17 and took Nate Solder, a bit of a project at tackle but a player with great physical attributes that has proven coachable at the college level. He was my 6th rated tackle and with Anthony Castonzo and Danny Watkins both still on the board, I think New England reached here.
After that pick, it was business as usual for Bill Belichick. Trading backwards and acquiring future picks which he will almost certainly not use either, Belichick opted to go for quantity over quality. That's a peculiar strategy for a team that couldn't find an active roster spot for last year's 3rd round pick, Taylor Price from Ohio University, a player they genuinely like a lot. This is a team that is screaming out for a defensive playmaker, and no team has more ammunition to swing a deal to get one. Yet The Hoodie continues to overstock his roster with prospects that are destined to be average...at best. For every Sebastian Vollmer or Julian Edelman that he hits on, there are the litany of Jake Ingrams and Terrence Wheatleys and Darius Butlers and Shawn Crables and Kareem Browns. Some of the players that were taken with the picks he dealt to wind up with those players include Clay Matthews, Sedrick Ellis, Joe Staley, and (in a contrived way) Dez Bryant. Think they might help New England win their first playoff game in four years more than backup LBs and Gs?
Of the picks, I like Stevan Ridley quite a bit. He was a misfit in LSU's offense and runs with authority and balance, plus he has low mileage on his legs. They essentially opted for Ridley and Shane Vereen instead of Mark Ingram and Taiwan Jones (picks they dealt); we'll see how that plays out. Ryan Mallett is a head-scratcher, but where they took him it's actually a fair gamble, if only to keep Tom Brady motivated. Marcus Cannon could be a huge steal in the 5th round, as he was going to be a top 40 pick before his cancer diagnosis. He'll likely miss 2011 but should have a full recovery, and as long as he's close to his old self he'll make a strong difference on their OL. Cannon is incredibly agile for his size, and anyone who can post the weight room numbers he does has more than enough discipline and ethos to make a full comeback. Lee Smith is a good candidate to take over as the blocking TE, but with the two excellent rookie TEs from a year ago his playing time figures to be scant. None of the other picks are likely to even make the already-stocked practice squad.
New Orleans Saints-- It seems most pundits love what the Saints did in trading up to get Mark Ingram just after nabbing Cameron Jordan. I'm not so bullish. Jordan should never have fallen to #24, so taking him was a no-brainer even though I'm not sure how he fits with their scheme. Ingram is fairly redundant with Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, making for a very crowded backfield if Reggie Bush somehow sticks around (unlikely). Obviously Ingram has a higher ceiling than any of the backs, but at best he's likely to touch the ball no more than a dozen times a game for the next couple of seasons. Trading up for that kind of limited role strikes me as foolhardy.
Cameron Jordan was a gift at #24, bringing versatility and energy to a defensive line that needs some freshness. I'm surprised he wound up with a 4-3 team, as he is ideally a 5-technique, but it gives DC Gregg Williams some flexibility to present different fronts. One caveat: normally when guys fall unexpectedly, it's with good reason. I can't ascertain what that reason might be in Jordan's case, but a lot of very good defensive teams that had pressing needs for his talents passed on Jordan. Keep that in mind.
Martez Wilson and Johnny Patrick were good values where the Saints got them, and Wilson in particular could be able to help right away at linebacker. He fell for past medical issues, not any real on-field deficiencies. Greg Romeus was once upon a time considered a potential first-rounder, but injuries completely derailed his Pitt career. I like the late flier on him; little risk, potential high reward. Teams in New Orleans' situation can afford those kinds of picks. Nate Bussey was probably as surprised as most Saints fans that they drafted him.
New York Giants-- I'm not as smitten with Prince Amukamara as most, but it's hard to argue with the value of stopping his free fall down the first round. But I'll argue it anyways: Tom Coughlin wanted Anthony Castonzo, and their offensive line needs more help than the secondary. Amukamara struggled against top-notch receivers, relative to the other top-shelf CBs in this class, while Castonzo would have brought versatility and improved pass protection.
Marvin Austin has first-round caliber upside, and Jerry Reese was wise to take the risk on him at #52 overall. He's more of a project than most analysts think, however; don't judge him too quickly on the field. I love the Jerrel Jernigan pick in the 3rd round. As long as he can stay healthy--and that's an open question--he's every bit as talented as Percy Harvin or Reggie Bush in the hybrid WR/RB role. He's also a dynamic return man. Greg Jones and Tyler Sash were relative steals; I had Jones as my #99 overall player, Sash as #102, and the Giants scooped them up at 185 and 195, respectively. That's good value for guys that should be able to contribute as rotational players, though both do have athletic and/or dimensional limitations that curb the enthusiasm.
James Brewer is an interesting pick. He's sort of the polar opposite of recent Giants linemen. He's cumbersome, he's docile, and he's strictly a right tackle on a line that values flexibility. Indiana was a vastly superior offense when he was on the field, though, so I see the thinking. I would have liked earlier attention to the offensive line and linebacking corps.
New York Jets-- One thing we've learned about the current Jets regime: they do not blow smoke with their draft picks. Never hiding their admiration for him, they took Muhammad Wilkerson at #30 and allegedly turned down some trade offers to stay there. I'm not a fan (see #18 here) but he helps fill a gaping hole and will receive the coaching he needs to develop. Kenrick Ellis comes with some flags flapping, but the late 3rd rounder is a behemoth that has the potential to be the next Jamal Williams in the middle. Bilal Powell was a reach, going before several higher-rated RBs. I like the Jeremy Kerley pick even though he's entirely redundant with Brad Smith; it seems like he will become the primary return man and have to claw his way into the rotation as a slot receiver. Both 7th rounders are longshots, but aside from not taking a pass rushing LB it's hard to complain much about the Jets' Saturday haul.
Oakland Raiders-- True to form, the Raiders pretty much followed the typical Al Davis draft pattern. As just about everyone thought, they took Stefen Wisniewski with their first pick. Some might question the value in the middle of the 2nd round, but I like the pick. He'll start right away at a position of dire need, and his uncle, Raiders legend Steve, gets to be his positional coach.
The rest of the draft emphasized speed, as you would expect. Taiwan Jones was the fastest RB in the draft; mark that off the Al Davis playbook checklist. The annual draft role of defensive back with blazing speed but few other skills gets filled by Demarcus Van Dyke, the skinniest football player I've ever seen. The role of goliath offensive lineman that the Raiders take two rounds ahead of where anyone else would consider him goes to Joseph Barksdale. Then take another speedster corner, Chimdi Chekwa, followed by a USC Trojan in WR David Ausberry with the last pick. Chekwa was inconsistent at Ohio State but tended to play better against top competition, which surely endeared him to Davis. I really don't mind the Jones (if he can stay healthy and stop fumbling), Chekwa or Ausberry picks, but Van Dyke and Barksdale were long reaches. There were vastly better prospects at the same position groupings available both times. I'll humbly predict that Van Dyke and Barksdale never start an NFL game. Prove me wrong, gentlemen...
That leaves two other spots that Davis leaves as wild cards, and he actually did quite well with those two picks. Tennessee wideout Denarius Moore is a very nice 5th round pick, a rangy receiver with good hands and a knack for the big play. Miami TE Richard Gordon fits well as the do-it-all backup TE. He brings maturity and special teams value.
Philadelphia Eagles-- Danny Watkins is a fantastic first round pick for this team. They sorely needed a game-ready interior lineman, and they got one with the mature, skilled Watkins.
They'll need him to be, as the rest of the Philly draft class is all about building depth. I like Jaiquawn Jarrett, just not at #54 overall; he was my 83rd ranked player. He's also more of a read-and-react hitter than an instinctive deep coverage safety, which is more of what they needed. Curtis Marsh is a project at corner that is at least a season away from being ready for anything more than special teams. He does have strong potential down the line, though.
The other interior linemen are solid depth players, and Jason Kelce has a chance to surprise as the starting center in a year or two. If the goal was restocking the depth cupboard, mission accomplished. Dion Lewis can bring a spark as the #2 running back if he can recapture his 2008-09 form. Brian Rolle and Greg Lloyd are speedy LBs but don't look to be anything more than nickel-package subs. Alex Henery is probably going to be a quality NFL kicker, and David Akers had to be replaced, but in the 4th round?! That's at least two rounds too early for any specialist. Casey Matthews would be considered undraftable if not for his lineage, and they took him in the 4th round. He can probably contribute on special teams and cover tight ends, but that's what Rolle and Lloyd do too. Stanley Havili is intriguing as a fullback, but the Eagles almost never use one. I understand why they did what they did with their picks, but they could have done more.
Pittsburgh Steelers-- The AFC Champs turned in one of my favorite draft classes. Cam Heyward is your classic Pittsburgh defensive end, and he brings pass rushing juice and a high football IQ to a line that was getting long in the tooth. His late father was a Pitt icon, and young Cam has the ability to become one as well.
I am not a big Marcus Gilbert fan, but the Florida lineman fits the specs for a Pittsburgh offensive tackle--huge, strong, slow-footed. Much like Max Starks, you're never sure what you're going to get with Gilbert. I like their next two picks much more. I think Curtis Brown was a vastly better player than Aaron Williams at Texas the last two years, and his tackling and off-man cover skills are NFL-ready. Cortez Allen is making a big jump from The Citadel, but he shined in workout and all-star game season. He'll get a year or two to get up to speed in Pittsburgh. Chris Carter was a decent value pick at the end of the 5th, and I like Baron Batch as a deep sleeper at RB. Allen, Carter, and Gilbert are all developmental picks that bring depth to a team without a lot of pressing needs in the starting lineup.
San Diego Chargers-- I have very mixed feelings about San Diego's draft. While I was higher than most on Corey Liuget, I really don't see him being used most effectively as a 5-technique; he's a 3-technique under tackle at heart. Still, he was certainly the best player available and he does bring flexibility and upfield surge to a line that needs both. I love Marcus Gilchrist in the 2nd round. He can play as the slot nickel CB or at free safety right away, wherever they need him more. Vincent Brown was a bit of a reach at the bottom of the third, but the local product has fantastic hands and knows how to get open. He's much less of a reach than 2nd rounder Jonas Mouton, whom not one draftnik with any sense had in the top 100. If they think Larry English was a problem and were looking to replace him with Mouton, they're going to be sorely mistaken. Shareece Wright and Jordan Todman both went one round too early, though both stand a decent chance of making the active roster out of necessity. Stephen Schilling was a little underappreciated by most and I like him at #201 overall. He's a guard with a nasty disposition that can blow up defenders in space...just don't ask him to pass protect to his sides.
This class should be judged down the line on how productive Liuget is, and how the middle round reaches perform. Expect them to be active in courting undrafted free agents, if that time ever comes.
San Francisco 49ers-- I would strongly caution 49ers fans not to judge this draft prematurely. Give it at least two full seasons, because the first two selections probably won't do much notable until about 2013. In fact, it's best to read this analysis with Guns N Roses "Patience" playing in the background.
Trent Baalke & Co. are apparently convinced they learned from the Manny Lawson failure, because Aldon Smith is remarkably similar to Lawson as a speedy, athletic college DE that must learn to play in space as a 3-4 OLB. Smith has fantastic length and better innate football instincts than Lawson, but he's not ready to bag double-digit sacks right away.
Second round pick Colin Kaepernick is even less NFL-ready than Smith. I admire their patience in not reaching at #7 and not panicking to move way up; I hope I can admire their patience with Kaepernick, who is strong-armed, mobile, and has all the trappings of a winner. But his mechanics need some work and it's unlikely new coach Jim Harbaugh installs the pistol offense to which Kaepernick is accustomed.
The rest of the draft appears to have been done on a wing and a prayer. Chris Culliver and Kendall Hunter can fit into the rotation right away at corner and running back, respectively. I really like Hunter to pair with Frank Gore and work out of the backfield as a receiver. But then Daniel Kilgore and Colin Jones, both of whom should have been lucky to be 7th round picks? Ronald Johnson is probably a #4 receiver and not the field stretching threat they need. It will be interesting to see the fates of the 7th round picks, because Bruce Miller and Michael Person both have pretty strong developmental upsides but need at least a year on a practice squad. Curtis Holcomb, their last pick, gets a nod for being one of the very few players drafted which I never saw play a down, so you're guess is as good as mine. Remember Niners fans, patience, yea-ah.
Seattle Seahawks-- It is pretty apropos that I commence breaking down Seattle's draft while listening to Ozzy Osbourne's "Scream", because if I were a Seattle fan that's what this draft would make me do.
Despite several overtures from teams looking to move up, the Seahawks stood pat at #25...and took James Carpenter, who was not going to be picked before #30 by anyone else. I like Carpenter and think he'll blossom in the NFL, but with two coveted QBs and some other universally higher-rated offensive linemen still on the board (Sherrod, Carimi), this pick looks foolish. Then they sat on their hands until late Friday night, taking a ready-to-start G/C in James Moffitt. If you look back, two years ago they spent their 2nd pick on a G/C in Max Unger and last year's 1st round pick was tackle Russell Okung, like Carpenter ideally a right-sider. I understand their terrible OL play the last couple of years forced the hand a little, but positional redundancy in the upper echelon of the draft is what doomed Detroit and St. Louis to their recent dreadful fates.
They never addressed their glaring hole at QB or bolstered their thin depth at RB. Maybe they have a plan in place to go after a veteran at both spots; we'll see about that. Right now they would start Charlie Whitehurst at QB and Marshawn Lynch relieved by Justin Forsett at RB--that's not a winning combination. The improved (it can only get better) offensive line will help, but now the Seahawks are going to realize they don't' have the weaponry to take advantage.
They did okay in the 4th and 5th rounds, picking up a couple of underrated SEC performers in WR Kris Durham and LB K.J. Wright. Both should fit into the rotation right away, and Durham shined at Georgia while A.J. Green was out. Richard Sherman showed a lot of potential during Senior Bowl week, and he's got great measurables for a corner. I liked Mark Legree more than most, and at minimum he will upgrade the special teams right away. The late-round picks are stabs at defensive depth when the team has no capable backups at TE, QB, or tackle and a cluster of ends and corners. Let me hear you scream, Seattle!
St. Louis Rams-- The Rams did a decent job addressing need and accruing talent. Robert Quinn is a wildcard at #14, not having played for almost two years and having suffered thru a brain tumor in high school. But he brings loads of energy and athleticism to the pass rush, and he has a higher upside than any player left at that spot. He should make the emerging star Chris Long even better, and he gets tutelage from the savvy James Hall, one of the game's more underappreciated talents.
The cry from St. Louis fans was to get Sam Bradford more weapons, and they got him some with their next three picks. Though none are of the speedy sort, TE Lance Kendricks and wideouts Greg Salas and Austin Pettis all have good hands and know how to get open. In the Rams' moving the chains offense, that works. Salas and Pettis both operate well in the intermediate route range, while Kendricks has just enough giddyup to flex out if needed.
Filling out the draft are a collection of developmental prospects, the best of which is 7th round LB Jabara Williams. The reigning D-II defensive player of the year has legs like toothpicks but he can flat-out fly to the ball and arrives there with bad intentions. I've never seen what others have in Jemale Hines, who is a strong athlete but not a very strong football player.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers-- In my opinion, the Bucs completely missed the ball with this draft. Last year the top two picks were DTs (Gerald McCoy and Brian Price), both of whom suffered fairly serious injuries. This year GM Mark Dominik decided to take two defensive ends, Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers, that have major questions. 1st round pick Clayborn is a bulwark end, a slow-twitch power player that doesn't figure to get to the QB very often. He also had to play on the right side because of a nerve condition that creates weakness in his arm. So where every other team is trying to get quicker at right end, the Bucs went slower with somewhat damaged goods. Clayborn likes to downplay the extent of his condition, but it's obvious on tape that he cannot initiate a tackle with his right arm or effectively get off chip blocks from tight ends.
Bowers plummeted down draft boards because he almost certainly needs microfracture surgery on his gimpy knee, where it is bone on bone already. If he has the surgery, he's out for 2011 and the recovery prognosis is uncertain. Even if it works, he's a one-year wonder that struggled when facing NFL-caliber talent and was known as an underachiever for years. That's four premium DL picks and all have durability questions before they're 23 years old. I get the "but what if they all gel together" argument (they'll be close to Detroit for best DL in the league), but that's a risk I'm not taking at the neglect of the rest of my team. I'll make a prediction here: the four DL taken in the last two drafts will not play more than 10 quarters together.
Their best pick was Mason Foster in the third. He was a tackling machine with great instincts and decent reaction quickness in college, and Foster makes a strong schematic fit. He should start right away, given their needs at LB. But the rest of the draft left me wanting more. Two tight ends, one of which is an undersized blocking TE? I know Kellen Winslow is playing on borrowed time, but the overkill here is troubling. Allen Bradford offers nothing they don't already have at RB, and Ahmad Black is woefully undersized and painfully slow for an NFL safety. Black is similar to Myron Rolle, a safety with great football IQ and strong leadership skills but lacking in athletic measurables. Rolle has struggled to stick, and he's bigger/faster/stronger/smarter than Black. Tampa struck me as taking a lot of guys that were very good college players but not necessarily good NFL prospects.
Tennessee Titans-- Jake Locker at #8. That's all anyone will remember about this draft for Tennessee...which is too bad, because after that ridiculous, asinine reach they actually had a pretty solid weekend. My thoughts on Locker are well-documented and I won't beat that dead horse. I will just add that the man in charge of his development in Tennessee is Chris Palmer, the same Chris Palmer that ruined the careers of Tim Couch and David Carr. Yikes!
On to the rest of the draft... I love the Akeem Ayers pick in the 2nd round. He has some warts and guesses too much, but he is an instigator of action and that's what this team needs on defense. He also drops into coverage well. The next two picks, DT Jurrell Casey and LB Colin McCarthy, are both players I had rated higher than their draft slots (77 and 109, respectively). Casey is a beast against the run and knows how to hit the gaps. McCarthy played all over the place at Miami but fits best as a Will backer that can crash inside against the run or cover the back out of the backfield. Injuries have been a problem, however. Jamie Harper has decent potential as a backup RB that should push Javon Ringer; may the best man win. The rest of the picks are developmental projects, of which I like Nick Fairley's linemate from Auburn, Zach Clayton, best. Now if only they had taken Fairley at #8 and waited for Colin Kaepernick or even Ricky Stanzi later on to fill their gaping void at QB...
Washington Redskins-- This draft represents a major sea change in draft philosophy for owner Dan Snyder. Rather than trading up for a specific target, he allowed GM Bruce Allen and Coach Shanahan to trade backwards and acquire extra picks to help replenish a very thin roster. They didn't reach for a QB in the first round, as most anticipated they would do. That didn't really surprise me, but the fact they didn't take a QB at all is a bit of a stunner.
Ryan Kerrigan was a fairly safe pick, someone that can step right in and contribute. He doesn't have the high ceiling of some players they passed at #16, but his floor is much higher--and that's vital to a team that has a lot of holes. Jarvis Jenkins is underrated as a defensive tackle, although he seems a bit of a tweener for their scheme.
The rest of their draft is filled with a lot of place holders. A lot of people will grumble about that, but for this team it's not necessarily a bad strategy. Leonard Hankerson gives them a legit big wideout, albeit one with questionable hands. Roy Helu is an explosive straight-line running back that reminds me of Kevin Smith before all the injuries. He's not a starter but he can quickly become an effective change-of-pace runner. The two later picks I like most: Aldrick Robinson and Markus White. Robinson is a diminutive burner, but he operates best underneath. That nicely complements diminutive burner Anthony Anderson, who loves to go deep. With Hankerson and Chris Cooley, that gives whomever will be the QB some decent weapons and should spice up a moribund passing game.
Of course, they left the giant need at QB unfilled. A couple of different "people who would know" in NYC told me Mike Shanahan genuinely believes he can win with Rex Grossman and thinks John Beck still has something to offer. I would have liked a middle-round flier on a developmental QB like a Tyrod Taylor or TJ Yates instead of Nebraska's "other" corner or the chronically underwhelming Evan Royster.