Monthly Archives: April 2012

It won’t be until June before our 67 page NFL Draft Report is completed.  Meanwhile, here are the preliminary thoughts for each team.

This is Part four of a four part series.  The AFC teams and other NFC Divisions can be found in a earlier blogs.


What they did right: Without a pick until late in round two, Atlanta did the best it could, grabbing a potential pass rush specialist, a draft dropping Center (Konz) who some people had in the 1st round and a FB they hope will help them improve in short yardage situations.

What they did wrong: Four of six selections were drafted too early.  Atlanta split picks evenly between offense and defense but the defense needed more.  They failed to address some key free agency losses.

Best Pick: Center Konz

Worst Pick: Tackle Holmes

One Sentence Summary: Poised to take advantage of the troubles in New Orleans, these Falcons lost ground in free agency and had a lackluster draft.


What they did right: In 2011 the Panthers misfired often on draft day.  Of course that was masked by Cam Newton’s fantastic debut.  Carolina did better this time, bolstering the OL and LB early, adding a dynamic return man and getting a promising CB.

What they did wrong: They traded up for a DE (Alexander) who looks more like a role player.  Kuechly is a solid player but for this team was DL/DT a better place to go?  Alexander alone doesn’t make the DL better.  Second tier needs of OLB and Tight End were not addressed, although Kuechly may be tried outside.

Best Pick: LB Kuechly

Worst Pick: Alexander went too high, and an unrated Punter was drafted at 207 when this team had other needs.

One Sentence Summary: As long as Cam beats the sophomore slump (and the film teams have on him) then Carolina can move up with Atlanta and New Orleans looking vulnerable.

New Orleans:

What they did right: This is a stretch, but trading the 2012 1st round pick LAST YEAR for RB Ingram was in hindsight, fantastic.  That pick was as good as gone once “Bounty-Gate” surfaced.

What they did wrong: Staying just with the draft, the Saints did little to help them in the back seven.  Reaching as they did 3 times in this draft is never good when the total number of picks is just 5.

Best Pick: WR Nick Toon, a nice fit in this system.

Worst Pick: DT Hicks.  Hicks may turn out fine, but you can’t take a developmental player right out of the box.

One Sentence Summary: The team took LB Lofton from rival Atlanta but until Drew Brees is signed where does the leadership come from?

Tampa Bay:

What they did right: Tampa drafted 3 possibly ready to go players and another 3 who can contribute.  The trade up to get RB Martin was solid.  RB Blount is not the new staff’s’ type and Tampa knew the New York Giants were going to take him at pick 32.  Ditto with LB David, who never would have been available 10 picks later at Tampa’s choice. 

What they did wrong: Barron or Claiborne?  Both are good players but Claiborne was higher rated. 

Best Pick: Safety Barron

Worst Pick: TE Dunsmore, but he’s not horrible and the pick was at #233.

One Sentence Summary: The NFC South race just got tighter as Tampa closes the gap, as long as the new staff can assimilate quickly to the NFL way of life.


What they did right: It was a tough choice early with several OL available but Floyd makes this offense dangerous.  Arizona went 3 times late to try and help the OL and all 3 are rated! 

What they did wrong: No LB’s were added.  Arizona could have gone in another direction at pick #80, or selected a higher rated CB. 

Best Pick: WR Floyd

Worst Pick: None!  Even scatter-armed QB Lindley was picked by the right team, with WR’s capable of adjusting to his throws.

One Sentence Summary: Arizona is a playoff team IF Kolb delivers and if the Pittsburgh connection at defensive coordinator pays off.

St. Louis:

What they did right: The team got better with this draft, and any holes remaining will be fixed with a pair of 1st round choices in each of the next two drafts.  Brockers should help fix an awful run D.  Unlike Houston, who REALLY needed quality WR’s, the Rams, with Quick and Givens blew them away.  Pead adds critical speed.  CB’s Johnson and especially Jenkins are risks, but both are highly rated (by us) and together with new Ram Finnegan this secondary might really improve. 

What they did wrong: The Rams could have done more, simply by delaying taking Quick by just 12 picks,  That gets them Alabama’s Upshaw in an area of need!  STL could have done better for the OL.  This could have been magic!

Best Pick: Maybe DT Brockers, but it’s close with a few others.

Worst Pick: OT Watkins was chosen far too early at #150.

One Sentence Summary: The Rams are not so quietly building a team that might be in the playoff mix each and every year, soon!

San Francisco:

What they did right: SF got faster, both with WR Jenkins and RB James. 

What they did wrong: SF did not properly address OL at least not with highly rated players.  The same holds true for CB.  Only 7th round pick Cam Johnson was a value pick.

Best Pick: WR Jenkins, and he might be the only contributing pick if things go poorly.

Worst Pick: OG Looney.  Some like him, but at #117?

One Sentence Summary: There’s no question that Harbaugh can coach, but if future drafts continue to show poor quantity then the staff will be tested even more.


What they did right: The betting proposition on Bruce Irvin was over or under pick 54.5.  Our Intel said he was going between 27 and 35, and our value on him was between 35 and 40.  THAT WAS FUN!  This heading asked what Seattle did right.  As far as we know, Pete Carroll has his health, and that can never be underestimated.

What they did wrong: Show up?  Most picks were wasted (Wilson, especially on day #2) chosen too early, or should never have been chosen!  Seattle actually hit our need board, but there are severe differences in who they drafted and who we would have drafted.

Best Pick: RB Turbin.  This position was thin and Turbin might be the answer.

Worst Pick: Was QB Wilson worth a 3rd round pick?  Is he that much better than Jackson and the recently signed Flynn?

One Sentence Summary: Carroll can coach, but the talent gap has sunk below Arizona’s and might soon be passed by the draft rich Rams.


It won’t be until June before our 67 page NFL Draft Report is completed.  Meanwhile, here are the preliminary thoughts for each team.

This is Part three of a four part series.  The AFC teams can be found in a pair of earlier blogs.


What they did right: Dallas recognized their weakness was in the secondary and once Tampa bolted from taking Claiborne the Cowboys stepped right in.  Watch out for WR Coale as well.  He has Wes Welker type skill and has hands of glue.

What they did wrong: Why did Dallas ignore the offensive line?   It’s questionable if the Cowboys’ DE and LB choices will be any help to the Demarcus Ware in rushing the passer.

Best Pick: CB Claiborne

Worst Pick: DB Matt Johnson, a free agent type going at #135.

One Sentence Summary: While not a perfect draft, Dallas improved in the area it needed to the most and now hopes to make a playoff push.

Bonus Dallas Summary: Readers know that we wrote about the television show “24” every year as part of the Dallas report.  We miss Keifer Sutherland and the whole show.  “Touch” is decent, but there’s no substitute for Jack Bauer!

New York Giants:

What they did right: Not as much as usual.  Picking up WR Randle at 63 was a steal.

What they did wrong: David Wilson can break open a game, but he’ll frustrate Coughlin with the way he carries the ball.  The Giants wisely resisted the temptation to take a TE early but took a project too early at 127 when more back seven help was needed.  They took 3 straight OL, but left better talent on the table.  This was not like your typical well thought out NYG draft.

Best Pick: WR Randle.  Didn’t other teams realize that LSU QB’s were throwing to him?

Worst Pick: TE Robinson.  By the time he makes the position change the NYG will have all their TE’s back from injury.  Needs were greater at other positions.

One Sentence Summary: We have always been fans of HC Coughlin but after being outscored during the regular season in 2011 this draft won’t necessarily make them any better.


What they did right: We’re not as high on Coxs as other are, but at least Philly only moved up a bit to get him.  What the Eagles consistently do better than others is draft players that don’t get cut!  With the exception of safety, most positions of need were covered.

What they did wrong: Did they really need slow-footed Nick Foles in the 3rd round?  Bryce Bown could be called a reasonable risk in the 7th round but he’s barely played and Philly had other needs.  Is something missing in this draft?

Best Pick: Philly got value late (OG Washington) and a CB (Boykin) who can double as a returner, but Vinny Curry is our choice.  He may thrive as a pass rusher in this scheme.

Worst Pick: QB Foles

One Sentence Summary: Assuming WR Jackson becomes more of a team player, the Eagles look like the team to beat in the NFC East.


What they did right: They beat Cleveland to the punch, earning the right to take the electrifying RG III.  No one is all that excited about their trio of OL selections, but late round OT Compton has sleeper value.

What they did wrong: They didn’t fire the “ruler of all things”, Mike Shanahan.  OL and the secondary are a mess, and not one ready to go player was selected in either spot.  An essay can be written on why you DON’T draft Kirk Cousins.  This team will have few quality picks the next two seasons.  For the record, Cousins has to be disappointed as he may be sitting for years.

Best Pick: RG III, assuming Shanahan doesn’t ruin him.

Worst Pick: Just about everything else, but taking a raw OG (LeRibebus) three rounds too early wins out.

One Sentence Summary: Don’t be surprised if Andrew Luck actually has a better season than RG III, although both QB’s could be elite over time in the NFL.


What they did right: New GM Emery wants to get after opposing QB’s so McClellin hopefully reverses the trend of awful Chicago 1st round picks.  The Bears went risky in rounds 2 and 3 and hope things work out.  WR Jeffrey has red zone talent and CB Hardin has ability but has yet to stay healthy.

What they did wrong: Why does this team need to take so many risks?  It’s entirely possible no one emerges from this draft.  I hear people lauding what they did but I listed their top needs as LT and  DB.  In our full report will have some of GM Emery’s quotes,  Suffice to say this was not a draft we liked.

Best Pick: None?  WR Jeffrey perhaps, but they gave up a pick to take him and had other needs.

Worst Pick: Maybe most of them, but certainly CB Frey would qualify.  Here’s one Emery quote: Frey was “the most skilled corner in the back half of the draft”.  We looked at 450+ prospects.  Frey was not included.

One Sentence Summary: Contrary to what others are saying, the Bears may be ready to take a step back in the NFC Central.


What they did right: The Lions must have camped out in Oklahoma.  They selected three players from the Sooners, and two of them are named Lewis.  WR Broyles may not be a need and may not even be ready to play in September (ACL), but he has the best hands in this draft class!  Reiff fit a need.

What they did wrong: The love affair between myself and the Lion CB position continues!  The Lions are aware of the need but can’t seem to understand how to fix it.

Best Pick: Probably OT Reiff, but we would have traded up for a CB.

Worst Pick: We can’t say Broyles because he is just a great talent.  Let’s just say that it is hard to draft 3 CB’s with any less talent than this group.  Bentley actually can play, and maybe he’s already better than what they have, but taking two complete projects along with Bentley won’t fix the pass D%.

One Sentence Summary: The Lions have the 3rd best WR EVER in Calvin Johnson, so writing them off as a playoff contender is just not possible.

Green Bay:

What they did right: It looks like the Packers got our memo.  They turned 12 picks into 8 by trading UP 3 times.  In each case they took a RATED player.  In each case they addressed a position of need.  Only their final pick, QB Coleman was not a defensive one.  Other than RB and perhaps safety, Green Bay did a nice job in the draft.

What they did wrong: We’re not sold on all of the players chosen.  CB Hayward was chosen too high at 62 with Josh Robinson and Trumaine Johnson still on the board.  DT Daniels seems rotational at best.

Best Pick: It might be easy to say DT Worthy, but let’s take a flier on a long shot, with OT Datko undervalued due to an injury that will heal.  He went at pick 241!

Worst Pick: I might change my mind before I put the final full report together, but for now it’s Maine DB McMillian chosen early at #133.

One Sentence Summary: Green Bay remains the team to beat in the NFC Central and could be even better if some of the defensive picks play to their capacity.


What they did right: Minny started the draft by stealing three extra picks from Cleveland.  That made it easy to move back into the 1st round, understanding supply and demand at the thin position of Safety.  Arkansas WR’s run in a pro style system and Minny drafted a pair of them.  They also doubled up early on in the secondary, another need area.

What they did wrong: There were some wasted picks (Ellison, Walsh, Blanton).  They needed a guard and did not get one.

Best Pick: OT Kahil, but CB Robinson is one that could help as well.

Worst Pick: RB Ellison at 128 was not necessary and OG should have been the call.

One Sentence Summary: Minny certainly improved in this draft, but how much will it show in their record with QB Ponder still having much to prove and Adrian Peterson not yet 100% healthy.

It won’t be until June before our 67 page NFL Draft Report is completed.  Meanwhile, here our the preliminary thoughts for each team.

This is Part two of a four part series.  The AFC East and AFC North can be found in an earlier blog..


What they did right: The Texans selected a pair of front seven defensive players (Mercilus and Crick) that fit the Wade Phillips system.  Desperately needing a #2 WR, Houston selected a pair or rated guys.  Stung by defections along the right side of the offensive line, the Texans drafted a pair of decently rated guys to restock the shelf.  Drafting the #1 rated PK late to replace the departed Rackers closed out a draft with exceptional focus!

What they did wrong: Houston moved BACK from pick 58, selecting lower rated WR Posey at 68.  The guy we wanted them to take was WR Randle, and he was available at 58.  Bad move!  Other than that, adding more for the interior of the DL could have been done.

Best Pick: Tossup between Center Jones and Jared Crick, who was a value pick at 126.

Worst Pick: While WR Posey may be just fine, skipping WR Randle was a mistake.

One Sentence Summary: After losing more talent than expected in free agency, the Texans are back on track following a nicely focused draft.


What they did right: Forgetting about defense for a minute, the Colts selected the top two Tight Ends in the draft, an electrifying slot receiver and return specialist and our sleeper WR (Brazill) in round six.  Seven of their first eight picks were for the offense and that should jump start the Luck era.  Their first of just two defensive picks, nose tackle Chapman was absolutely solid!

What they did wrong: Luck is going to love having Wayne, the tight ends and the ’11 line draftees, but Indy made little attempt to get bigger in the trenches defensively and seemingly forgot that they set an NFL record by allowing in excess of 71% in completions.  Oh well.

Best Pick: Indy got value with 7 of 9 selections which was very well done, but of course Andrew Luck is the best of the bunch.

Worst Pick: Ignoring defense was the biggest issue, since it wasn’t until round #7 that a poorly rated player was chosen.

One Sentence Summary: Look for the Colts offense to be better than expected but the coaching staff has its work cut out for them defensively.


What they did right: The Jags have no clue how to trade back in the draft, so they traded up.  That enabled them to draft WR Blackmon to a unit that along with Cleveland’s was the worst in the NFL (and still needs help).  Blackmon was the only offensive player selected.

What they did wrong: USA Today lists the college of 7th round pick Pendleton as UNKNOWN.  That can’t be a good thing (He went to Ashland, in Ohio).  Meanwhile, drafting a Punter at pick 70 must mean that this team has no pressing needs!  The Jags needed to pay attention to OL in order to protect its young QB, and needed to upgrade its pass rush.

Best Pick: WR Blackmon

Worst Pick: Punter Anger, who was our #1 guy but who chooses a punter this early?

One Sentence Summary: Despite an early schedule that is made for success the Jags seem to have too many holes to take full advantage of the situation.


What they did right: Tennessee got faster at LB with Zach Brown, and added WR depth with Wright.  Many of their picks were rated ones, and the secondary did get some attention.

What they did wrong: Was WR the right move early on?  They missed on CB Kirkpatrick but Guard DeCastro was available.  There were no pizazz to picks made after Zach Brown in the 2nd round.

Best Pick: Speedy LB Brown

Worst Pick: There was no one poor pick, but as a group the five selected after the 2nd round are relatively marginal players who at best will need time to develop.

One Sentence Summary: Houston showed vulnerability prior to the draft, but Tennessee lost ground on draft day and as a result remains an underdog in the Division.


What they did right: Peyton Manning is a Bronco.  Don’t ask about the draft!

What they did wrong: Needing a major face-lift along the DL, Denver traded down TWICE from pick 25 and ended up selecting a lower rated DE who can’t anchor at the point of attack.  Selecting QB Osweiler in the 2nd round does NOTHING to help this team in the short run.  If he plays it will mean Manning is not playing and the rookie won’t be ready, and the team won’t be either.  Taking a RB in the 3rd round extended the lack of focus.  CB Bolden is a risky pick for a team that needed to build with safer picks.  Does John Elway still own car dealerships?

Best Pick: Let’s try CB Bolden, which would have been a decent risk had Denver addressed DL twice with better players earlier.  He has upside, yet was selected a round too early.

Worst Pick: Take your pick, but we would have stayed at 25 and taken Hightower, or moved up for a DT.

One Sentence Summary: Faced with a really rough schedule, Denver hopes Manning does for them what he used to do consistently with Indy, make up for a team whose talent level is clearly below playoff type status.

Kansas City:

What they did right: Time will tell if underachieving nose tackle Poe is the answer, but in KC’s traditional defense this position is vital and no one on the roster carried that skill.  The OL just got about 650 pounds larger.  RB Gray has upside and adds depth behind returning starter Charles who is off a severe injury.

What they did wrong: There are no sure things with KC’s draft.  Poe did not perform on the field in college, the OL players are not camera ready and the rest of the group may or may not ever see significant playing time.  LB needs were ignored.  No QB was selected.

Best Pick: Let’s hold our breath and say DT Poe.  Crennel is the right coach to make this work.

Worst Pick: Failing to get impact at pick 44 or anywhere in the draft was a mistake.

One Sentence Summary: Of all the NFL teams, KC was the one that needed a QB upgrade the most.


What they did right: They did NOT draft a QB.  Remember, Oakland lost picks in the first (QB Palmer), 3rd (QB Pryor) and 4th (QB Campbell) in this draft.  The also lost their 2nd round pick for a marginal RB.  At least signing another QB (Leinart) won’t cost them a draft choice.

What they did wrong: Guard/Tackle Bergstorm, DE Crawford and WR Criner are all numerically rated, but way down on our overall list by position.  Oakland lost ground this offseason.

Best Pick: WR Criner.  He was a value pick and adds to a WR group that is getting better.

Worst Pick: LB Burris.  Better was available and DL and CB are areas of greater concern.

One Sentence Summary: Unless Palmer can regain his form the Raiders have gone through too many on and off-field changes to challenge in the AFC West with this current roster.

San Diego:

What they did right: Did GM Smith get bored with the draft?  He shocked us by keeping his early picks, took safe players in the early rounds and drafted overachievers late.  While not a wow draft, San Diego made fewer mistakes than usual.

What they did wrong: The Chargers have a nasty habit of ignoring OL, preferring always to take marginal talent on or after the 5th round of the draft.  Ignoring WR in a rather deep draft for that position was certainly a mistake.

Best Pick: OLB/DE Ingram.  Will the staff know how to use his talents?

Worst Pick: There were no awful picks, but the focus was poor.  If pressed we’d say Guard Troutman, selected at a spot where either better OL or a WR could have been the choice.

One Sentence Summary: With all other teams in the Division coming off our famed – point ratio trend, San Diego, despite missing on WR and not correctly addressing OL needs is still our favorite to win back the AFC West.

It won’t be until June before our 67 page NFL Draft Report is completed.  Meanwhile, here are my preliminary thoughts for each team.

This is Part One of a four part series.  The AFC North and AFC East are covered in this segment.


What they did right: The Ravens like to move out of the 1st round.  Sometimes that works and it did initially when they found 1st round talent Upshaw at #35.  CB Asa Jackson was one of our sleeper specials and WR Streeter has upside.

What they did wrong: It means nothing to trade down and add a pick if the extra pick is wasted.  The Ravens reached at #98 for an unrated Guard.  Ignoring LB needs after that showed poor focus.

Best Pick: OLB/DE Upshaw

Worst Pick: Guard Gradkowski

One Sentence Summary: Baltimore is aging and while this draft was still productive, they can’t feel great knowing Divisional rivals Cincinnati and Pittsburgh had top five draft days.


What they did right: Almost everything!  We gave numerical ratings to close to 180 players in this draft, plus another 65 or so * (also-eligible) ratings.  The rest got grades of NR, meaning they are not NFL material.  In this 35th year of doing this, no team with eight or more picks had aced the board with all numerically drafted players.  Cincy just did it, going 10 for 10!

What they did wrong: Two things we would change.  OG Zeitzer is a fine player (4th rated guard), but trading back from #21 cost them OG DeCastro, and he is the best we’ve seen since Hutchinson.  RB Herron was drafted late, but Cincy needed to address RB earlier and get a higher rated player.

Best Pick: CB Kirkpatrick, particulary because they used pick #17 to get him.  He would have been gone by #21.

Worst Pick: All picks were rated, but of course we might have taken a different player once or twice.

One Sentence Summary: Prior to this draft we were leaning toward moving Cincy down but post draft it looks like this team could be moving UP!


What they did right: Trent Richardson made sense.  They panicked in the trade up but got their man.

What they did wrong: EVERY pick after that went at least one round too early!  Cleveland started with 13 picks.  They could have used #22 on a stud WR or DeCastro and traded up to #31 to get Weeden.  All remaining picks were reaches when chosen.

Best Pick: RB Richardson

Worst Pick: DT John Hughes at #87.  He was rated NR by us.

One Sentence Summary: Richardson is elite, but in the NFL, running back success does not always equate to win success and the AFC North is a tough place to reside.


What they did right: Switching off LB Hightower to go for stud Guard DeCastro was fantastic, and the card was up in one minute!  Trading up to get a nose tackle (Ta’amu) was value and need all at once.

What they did wrong: Did they do enough at RB considering their injury situation?  No CB’s were added.

Best Pick: DeCastro, the best pick in the draft after the top three.

Worst Pick: WR Clemons in the 7th round.

One Sentence Summary: They may only have WR Wallace for 2012 but considering what they just did in the draft, 2012 might be a very special year.


What they did right: They couldn’t go wrong with Reiff or Gilmore as both filled a need.  They went Gilmore, but astutely came right back to get Guard/Tackle Glenn.  Value was added in the 5th round with another tackle and special teams ace Carder.

What they did wrong: They traded up two spots to get WR Graham.  That move was foolish, and in fact far better WR’s were available.

Best Pick: CB Gilmore

Worst Pick: WR Graham, due to lack of value and the loss of a draft pick.

One Sentence Summary: Buffalo is a contender for a playoff spot based on their defensive improvements as long as QB Fitzgerald takes better care of the football.


What they did right: Tough question.  Overall they got a TE and that was necessary, took a rated tackle and drafted WR’s, a severe position of need.  As for Tannehill, Miami had no choice.

What they did wrong: The WR’s chosen were rated too low.  The trade up to get RB Miller was curious, since they have Bush and young RB Thomas on the roster.  They basically reached with 7 of their 9 selections, even though the players chosen were decent.

Best Pick: Tight End Egnew.

Worst Pick: DL Vernon, who clearly needed an extra year of college.

One Sentence Summary: There’s apathy for the football program right now, but rushing Tannehill into action would not be the wisest of moves for the new staff.

New England:

What they did right: The Pats finally got the memo, trading UP instead of down early on and finally not stockpiling picks.  Good to great teams need to go for the big prize.  Too often New England outsmarted themselves and have three times come up one play or one player short from adding more Super Bowl rings.  Jumping on Hightower was smart.  Taking a 7th round risk on troubled 2nd round talent Dennard was fine as well, especially given the needs of the team.

What they did wrong: Everything else!  They sent us looking for answers twice with ridiculous draft choices.  Taking unrated Illinois LB Wilson at 48 was awful.  Most boards had him in the 200’s.  Few people had even heard of 6th round choice Ebner.  This is the side of Belichick people are finally seeing; he has a high miss rate on draft choices.

Best Pick: LB Hightower

Worst Pick: Defensive back Wilson, considering the pick was at #48.  Picks 1-47 in the draft all were numerically rated (as they should be in these rounds).  Wilson skipped right by the * rating.

One Sentence Summary: With the AFC East gap so large there is no reason to believe the Pats won’t easily win the Division considering their multiple free agency moves, coupled with the draft’s round one selections.

New York Jets:

What they did right: Even with all their compensatory picks we are proud of the Jets for trading just once, and ending up with eight new faces.  They have risk with the top picks, but Coples should love playing for Ryan and Hill’s smile at the podium when drafted shows his high character and attitude.

What they did wrong: No picks for the offensive line, which underachieved in 2011.

Best Pick: Any one of five could qualify, although there’s boom or bust with the top two.  We rated Safety Allen (7-242) high so the value is potentially tremendous.

Worst Pick: Josh Bush of Wake Forest (6th round) was rated NR at (defensive back).

One Sentence Summary: The draft helped in a number of areas but ultimately it is up to QB Sanchez if the Jets are to make a serious move in the AFC.

This is one of our favorite reports.  Hope you enjoy it, and feel free to comment back to us as well as pass it along to others!


This report resets the table for day two of the draft.  We’ll go pick by pick, with early impressions from day one, coupled with looks for day two of the draft.

Round One and Two Quick Thoughts:

  • Cleveland panicked, TWICE.  They traded four for one to go up one spot, and took QB Weeden too early at #22 with some nice talent left on the board.  Still, Richardson is a potential star as a rookie and Weeden is mature enough to unseat McCoy with better arm strength.
  • The position which went ignored early was definitely OL.  A rather low four OL were selected, with the 2nd OL coming off very late at #23.
  • Surprises in round one included Weeden, but bigger shocks were Irvin at #15 and Jenkins at #30.  Not surprisingly, Seattle and SF, two very unpredictable draft teams were the culprits.
  • Last year we listed 12 players up in this spot that would be high target picks.  All were gone by pick #55.  Normally our short list does not get taken that fast.  On our short list this year (those we like, by position) are WR Randle, TE Fleener, OG Glenn, OG Silatolu, DE Curry, DT Still, LB Upshaw, and for those craving CB, UCF CB Josh Robinson.  Curry may dip a bit.
  • Other players expected to go high might include: Troubled CB Jenkins, fast WR Hill, project DT Worthy, good LB David, top rated OC Konz, decent DL Reyes, and Clemson DT Branch.
  • Round two positional runs will include WR and OL.  Day two positional runs will also include CB and DL.


Right at press time we have decided to add a column entitled “Experts Say”.  Four respected sources have offered up round two mocks.  We have added their thoughts to the bottom of each pick in round two, below.  Our analysis was completed PRIOR to compiling this information.  Feel free to have this report handy while viewing round two to see how everything plays out!

33: St. Louis

Round one impression: Jeff Fisher likes to do two things.  1st, he likes to stockpile picks, and so trading out of #6 was not a surprise.  2nd, he loves depth along the DL.  Brockers (14) is raw but can stop the run, something the Rams have not done well of late.

Round two look: The Rams may get calls for this pick, but with 33, 39 and 45 need to stay and pick.  They can solidify the OL right now, or look at draft dropper Upshaw as having some value.

 “Experts Say”: WR Hill (2X), WR Randle, OG/OT Glenn.  All three have talent but WR could be available later in the round.


34: Indy

Round one impression: Drafting QB Luck (1) was easy.  Now let’s see what they do.

Round two look: Luck would love to see Stanford teammate TE Fleener here, but it’s time to get bigger on defense.  DL Branch, Still, Worthy, Reyes or NT Ta’amu are all on our radar screen.

“Experts Say”: TE Fleener.  All four “experts” agree!  The need is there, but what about DL?


35: Baltimore

Round one impression: Traded down from #29, picking up this pick plus #98 in the early 4th round.  We “warned” readers about their trade out of the 1st round tendency.

Round two look: A recurring theme in this round might be all the talent left along the OL, the remaining possibilities along the DL, and the next wave of risky CB’s.  OG Silatolu would fit here.

 “Experts Say”: OC Konz (3X), OT Martin.  Konz was linked to them at #29.  He’s the favorite.


36: Denver

Round one impression: AWFUL!  Denver traded down twice, so far adding 36 and 101 for pick 25.  Denver’s trade with Tampa (31, 126 for 36, 101) represented negative value!

Round two look: So far they have yet to miss on a DT, as none were selected between picks 25 and 32.  They missed DE’s Perry and Mercilus.  They need multiple bodies along the DL.

 “Experts Say”: DT Reyes (3X), DT Worthy.  Denver has to make DT an immediate priority.


37: Cleveland

Round one impression: We love Richardson (4), and think Weeden (22) may unseat McCoy, although that’s not a given.  What we dislike is giving so much (118, 139, 211) to move up one spot, and not using #22 on a different player.  With little competition for QB this early, we would have stayed at #4, using picks to move up from #37 to get Weeden, as we could have easily outbid Tampa to get to #31.

Round two look: They could go WR (our choice, they need multiple picks here), but OG and RT need some help as well and nice talent remains at each spot.

 “Experts Say”: WR Randle (2X), OT Martin, OG/OT Glenn.  These picks again make sense.


38: Jacksonville

Round one impression: We noted that the Jags have trouble moving down and find it far easier to move up.  Trading 7, 101, 228 to get WR Claiborne (5) was acceptable value, and fills a strong need.

Round two look: They have three choices: OL, sack help, or DB.  We think for this team adding someone who can get to opposing QB’s makes the most sense, although there may still be OL value.

 “Experts Say”: DE Branch (2X), CB Robinson, OLB/DE Upshaw: The target areas make sense, but the Jags are not that predictable after the 1st round.


39: St. Louis

Round one impression: See Pick #33, above.

Round two look: This round must see them get an OG, with one of the other picks for an OLB.  LB David might be an excellent look here.

“Experts Say”: OG/OT Glenn (2X), CB Jenkins, WR Hill.  These players all have talent.


40: Carolina

Round one impression: No one had LB Kuechly (9) going here!  OLB is a need and Kuechly can play there but may be best suited for ILB.  We’re disappointed they didn’t try to trade down a bit, recouping their lost 3rd round pick.

Round two look: The Panthers next pick at 104 so trading down should be an option.  There are many needs still left to be filled, so the most important thing is to get a highly rated player!

 “Experts Say”: DT Still, DT Worthy, CB Trumaine Johnson, WR Jeffrey.  We could live with any of the four, but for THIS team, talented but raw CB Johnson may be too much of a reach.


41: Buffalo

Round one impression: It became evident that the Bills wanted Kalil but not Reiff (short arms).  Gilmore (10) was nearly as high a need and the supply and demand at CB was such that Buffalo needed to act early.

Round two look: They still need to select either OL or OLB before looking at the deep WR crop.

 “Experts Say”: OT Martin (2X), WR Quick, OT Adams.  Quick is no different than a dozen other WR’s at this point.  We rate Adams and Martin about the same.


42: Miami

Round one impression: There really was no choice.  The city cried out for QB.  Hopefully Tannehill (8) can live up to expectations while at the same time not being forced to start as a rookie.

Round two look: We’d look either at WR or OL.  Maybe LSU WR Randle will still be on the board.

 “Experts Say”: OT Massie (2X), WR Jeffrey, DE Branch.  Can Miami take any of these players and fix work ethic flaws?  All four of these picks have that as an issue.  Maybe they need to go safer here.


43: Seattle

Round one impression: What was that!  Seattle traded down from #12, acquiring picks 15, 114, and 172 and that was fine, but OLB/DE Irvin was selected way too early!  He started six games in college, and has much to learn.  He can be a situational pass rusher as a rookie, but also could have been drafted at #25.  In fact, the over-under on his draft pick selection was a whopping 54 ½.  Our Intel said he was going between 27 and 35, and we appreciate the $$$.

Round two look: Who knows?  They probably trade UP given the extra picks they have, but who for?  Could the target at least be a bit higher rated, with some value?

 “Experts Say”: DT Worthy, OLB David, OLB Brown, LB Wagner.  Guessing what this draft team will do is not going to be easy.


44: Kansas City

Round one impression: KC badly needed a NT and Poe (11) clearly is the NT mold of the draft.  Primed to make this workout warrior’s draft rating go down if he was selected by most teams, we probably elevate him because of the fit here.  Can his production improve?

Round two look: When should they look for a QB?  Maybe they wait now until the 2013 draft as we are not that high on the rest of this crop.  We’d go pass rusher or CB with this pick.

“Experts Say”: ILB Kendricks (2X), OG Silatolu, TE Allen.  Like we said in the opener, we write our full report BEFORE looking at the new mocks.  Silatolu and even Allen would help, but the needs we show run deeper then the positions given by the panel of experts.


45: St. Louis

Round one impression: See pick #33, above.

Round two look: Have they addressed OG and OLB?  If so, then DT, CB or WR can be the pick here.

“Experts Say”: RB Lamar Miller (2X), OLB David, CB Fleming.  OLB David is the best fit.  We have too many CB’s rated ahead of Fleming to consider him in the 2nd round.


46: Philadelphia

Round one impression: Philly coveted Cox for a week and feels good about only having to trade up three spots to get him (12).  The cost of 15, 114, and 172 was decent only because they kept picks 46, 51, and 88.

Round two look: With picks 46 and 51 the Eagles need to address OLB and OT.  Maybe they will trade back, but for us, we look at OT/OG Glenn, OT Adams, LB’s Brown, Lewis and Spence, at least for starters.  LB David can be included, but we suspect a few of these guys will be gone by #46.

 “Experts Say”: DE Curry (2X), OLB David, QB Cousins.  We’d pass on Cousins for this team.  The other two, or our players listed above would be solid fits.


47: New York Jets

Round one impression: The Jets surprised us a bit by not trading up.  DE Coples (16) is another that we might raise in the rankings since he could thrive in a Rex Ryan system.

Round two look: Three top needs remain: WR, run blocking OL and a front seven run stopper.  There should be a few options in at least two of these areas.

“Experts Say”: WR Hill, WR Jeffrey, OG Silatolu, OLB/DE Upshaw.  This would be a big fall for Upshaw.  Silatolu would be a nice fit.  Jeffrey is highly rated by us, but may not thrive on this team.


48: New England

Round one impression: SHOCK!  We knew the Pats would trade, but going up twice is amazing.  Perhaps they have found some of our printed articles?  They traded 27, 31, 93, and 126 for picks 21 and 25.  DE Jones is a solid player and less of a risk than other DL in this draft, but also has less of a ceiling.  LB Hightower, available after Pittsburgh went in a different direction is a great fit!

Round two look: Would you believe that this pick and pick #62 later in this round is all the Pats have left?  Some teams aren’t even drafting until picks 89 and 95.  OL and CB are areas they need to address, but now we think they have to find some trade partners to acquire a couple more picks, unless they can get a draft dropper at either position when on the clock.

“Experts Say”: CB Hayward (2X), CB Trumaine Johnson, OG Silatolu.  All players fit our need board.  They might be able to trade down for CB, but OL is going to lose talent.


49: San Diego

Round one impression: The hope is DE/OLB Ingram (18) is what English never became and is even better than that.  Ingram has experience but in all his time at South Carolina only started one season.

Round two look: It’s win now or else for GM Smith, so can we expect a trade UP?  The LT need is a big one.  Should WR Randle fall to this spot that would be a nice option.

“Experts Say”: OC Konz, OT Schwartz, NT Ta’Amu, CB Boykin.  As stated above, we don’t expect SD to stay at #49.  I’d like to see them move up for someone stronger along the OL or at CB.


50: Chicago

Round one impression: The old draft team was “famous” for botching the 1st round, with seven of nine such selections busts!  The new draft team is off to an auspicious start, as DE/OLB McClellin (19) was selected at least 10-15 spots too high.  Some teams are not good at manipulating the draft board.

Round two look: The Bears could have had a stud OL and now must hope that one falls to them.  DB is an almost equal area of need but there is more risk involved here and we’re not sure this draft team can handle that risk.

“Experts Say”: WR Randle, WR Streeter, WR Jeffrey, CB Jenkins.  We’re not on the same page as the draft experts.  As it is, we’re pretty scared about what the Bears might end up with.


51: Philly

Round one impression: See pick 46, above.

Round two look: See pick 46, above.

“Experts Say”: CB Jenkins, CB Trumaine Johnson, CB Josh Robinson, RB Pierce.  Except for Pierce, these picks are all very talented.  They don’t fit our primary need areas but Jenkins and Robinson have clear value for us at #51 for this team in particular.


52: Tennessee

Round one impression: WR Wright (20) is a fine player but WR was not one of our immediate need areas for the Titans.  Perhaps they coveted CB Kirkpatrick but he was chosen at #17.

Round two look: The new draft team has several needs to fill.  Hopefully going with the best value will net them a solid player.  CB, LB and OG are three possibilities, but where they go is anyone’s guess.

“Experts Say”: DT Still (3X), CB Josh Robinson.  DT Still has value at #52.  CB Robinson fits a need and we like him, possibly as the best of the next tier of CB’s.


53: Cincy

Round one impression: It sure seemed clear to me.  Cincy needed to address OL, CB and WR with picks 17 and 21.  OL was wide open.  WR was deep.  At CB, only Kirkpatrick was left on the board as a legit 1st round guy and if the Bengals waited until pick 21 they might miss him.  At +6.61 to 1, they took Kirkpatrick and boy is it fun to know what this team likes to do each and every draft year!  Cincy did get its OG next, but not before trading pick 21 for picks 27 and 93.  RG Zeitler is strong and can run block, but did Cincy make a mistake by not taking stud OG DeCastro?  Only time will tell.

Round two look: We “suspect” this is where Cincy gets its WR.  We’d like to see them look long and hard at RB and also for a draft dropping DL, with WR best filled a bit later in the draft?

“Experts Say”: OLB/DE Upshaw (2X), OLB Zach Brown, DE Curry.  Can Upshaw really last this long?  I think this is for a WR.  We liked Jenkins here but he’s in SF.  What about Oklahoma’s Broyles, who could use this year to rebound from injury but after that he’s a solid #2 prospect.


54: Detroit

Round one impression: CHICKENS!  The Lions love to move up on draft day but couldn’t get ahead of Cincy to take CB Kirkpatrick.  Considering Seattle reached at 15 for their player, a trade with the Seahawks seemed possible.  Luckily for the Lions, OT Reiff (23) fell like all the OL in this draft.  Detroit’s #2 need was for OT.

Round two look: We’re waiting?  The two CB’s that strike our fancy here are CB Robinson or Montana’s Johnson.  Robinson is super fast and physical but a zone CB.  Johnson is borderline slow and raw but with upside.  Sorry Detroit, but it’s all developmental CB’s now with the top choices gone.

“Experts Say”: DT Branch, CB Boykin, OT Adams, OG Osemele.  Another OL?  One would think the Lions have multiple needs.  Please find a 2nd tier CB!


55: Atlanta

Round one impression: No pick.  Traded their #1 pick last year to move up for WR Julio Jones.

Round two look: Atlanta needs someone along their OL that can help them pick up 3rd and short.  Adding a pass rusher is another option.

“Experts Say”: OG Osemele (2X), OT Massie, TE Allen.  OG Osemele is versatile enough to play OT.


56: Pittsburgh

Round one impression: How about WOW!  If anyone has been reading the pre-draft materials then it’s already known how we feel about OG DeCastro.  This was the best pick in the 1st round!  Destined to get LB Hightower, even Pittsburgh changed gears once DeCastro (24) was available.  Great job!

Round two look: Pittsburgh took two CB’s in last years draft but we were not crazy about either one of them.  Unfortunately, there’s not much to choose from right now other than potential help.  This pick can go in many logical directions.  They include: DL, because of age; LB, due to recent cuts; WR, with the anticipation that Wallace is gone after this upcoming season, or RB, with major uncertainty here.

“Experts Say”: OLB R. Lewis, OT Adams, OT Massie, DT Thompson.  We suspect the pick could be for a front seven defensive player.  That’s not bad, but what about a rated RB?


57: Denver

Round one impression:  See pick 36, above.

Round two look: Denver is looking at RB, but the pick really should be for another DL or a LB.

“Experts Say”: RB Lamar Miller, CB Trumaine Johnson, DT Thompson, QB Osweiler.  Denver needs too much help now to go after a QB in this QB weak draft.  Sorry, but adding multiple DL is our preferred drafting strategy for this team.


58: Houston

Round one impression: Right away we described DE Mercilus (26) as “another toy for Wade Phillips to play with”.  The NCAA sack leader last year may thrive in Houston’s scheme.  As we said in our Intel report, Houston was looking at him as another Aldon Smith.  We still preferred WR Randle.

Round two look: They probably look DT, WR or right side OL where they lost multiple players.  OL and WR could be adequately filled with this pick and pick #76 if they choose the right players.

“Experts Say”: OT Adams, OT Sanders, OT Schwartz, WR Streeter.  Adams would represent value at this pick.  The other OT’s can be passed on at this spot.  WR Streeter is fast, but raw and should have stayed in school.  For THIS team we want a more polished WR.  Givens or Criner have possibilities.


59: Green Bay

Round one impression: DE Perry (28) is not a surprise, but trading up was preferred, as Green Bay does not need 12 picks.

Round two look: We’re not sure Perry fills the run D need.  OL and RB are needs, but CB and safety represent more immediate needs.  CB would be our 1st look.

“Experts Say”: DE/DT Wolfe (2X), DL Reyes, RB L. James.  The “experts” say an interchangeable DL is the fit.  Reyes is better at stopping the run as opposed to Wolfe.  If we’re the GM this HAS to be the 1st of a couple of move ups to get more impact.  Please don’t stay with 12 picks.


60: Baltimore

Round one impression: See pick 35, above.

Round two look: In addition to OL, Baltimore would be wise to target LB.  Other needs include DL depth and a decently rated DB.  LB’s tend to slip in the draft so OL at #35 and stud LB here can work.

“Experts Say”: ILB Kendricks (2X), Safety Janzen Jackson, WR Sanu.  Jackson is interesting but not our preferred look.  Sanu could actually be a great underneath complement to the speedy Smith and solid Boldin.  Getting a LB such as Kendricks best fits their needs.


61: San Francisco

Round one impression: We said it in the preview!  As expected, the draft day team DID confuse the “experts”.  We like WR Jenkins (30), but not in the top 50!  Mel (sell out) Kiper noted that no one had Jenkins in the 1st round, but that he was a consideration at the top of the 2nd.  Thanks for lying!

Round two look: Like many teams, OL and DB are the need areas.  Can SF stay away from lower rated talent (last year four ratings of NR and just two players rated in single digits at any position)?

“Experts Say”: OG Osemele, OG Brooks, OG Silatolu, CB Hosley.  The experts hit our need areas just fine.  Silatolu was mocked a few times to SF at #30, so it’s doubtful he’s here now.  Let’s see what curveball SF throws here (do they trade up?).


62: New England

Round one impression: See pick 48, above.

Round two look: As said earlier, New England has a pair of needs, but as of this writing, no more picks after this.  Closing up shop this early would be perhaps the biggest draft surprise of all.

“Experts Say”: Safety Taylor, CB Josh Robinson, OC Taylor, LB Zach Brown.  All four players have talent, and Josh Robinson would be a mini steal here.  Our Intel does show them taking a keen interest in the LSU Safety (Taylor).  This is a good draft if the Pats add a rated OL and DB somewhere in this draft (after a couple of trade downs?).


63: New York Giants

Round one impression: We correctly pegged the NYG to go for RB help, but was mildly surprised they took RB Wilson (32) after coveted RB Martin (no matter what they say now) was gone, thanks to Tampa’s trade into #31.  Wilson is more of a risk-reward pick.  Coughlin won’t like the fumble issue.

Round two look: Probably this is for the best player available on their draft board, no matter the position.  There are no glaring needs, although they could draft DL in anticipation of Osi’s leaving.

“Experts Say”: TE Allen (2X), WR Sanu, CB Fleming.  The Giants resisted the urge to go TE at #32 and could do so here with the 2nd best TE on the board.  That would not be our preference however.  We would not lock into any of the players listed by the experts for this team.


Below is the list of teams currently without picks in round two.  They will be listed in draft order using the same recap and evaluation process as the teams above.  NOTE: Our final report this draft season will be to send this document out one more time, AFTER round two (probably Saturday or Sunday).  We will at that time fill in the names of who each team selected, and our initial impressions.  Enjoy!

66: Minnesota

Round one impression: Minny “stole” three picks from Cleveland (118, 139, 211) just to go down to #4 and select OT Kahil, they guy they wanted all along.  They traded 35 and 98 to go up to #29 and draft the 2nd rated safety on most boards, versatile Harrison Smith.  Considering that the next rated Safety is not likely to come off the board until the 3rd round, Minny played the supply and demand game very well.

Pick 66 look: DT, LB, #2 WR or CB are all in play.


68: Tampa

Round one impression: Just like Minny, Tampa traded back just a bit in the 1st round and traded up at the end of the 1st round.  Thought to covet Claiborne, the Bucs wanted Barron (7) instead.  Both are solid, but we felt CB was the bigger need.  Tampa really wanted Richardson, or at least some RB to hopefully replace Blount, who doesn’t seem to fit the new staff’s style.  RB Martin (31) was chosen ahead of the NYG in the hope that he can develop into an every down back.

Pick 68 look: LB is the clear leader in need.  We’d look OLB 1st and CB 2nd.


69: Washington

Round one impression: Washington outbid Cleveland for RG III (2).

Pick 69 look: The Redskins have six picks left, starting here and continuing with picks 102 and 109 next.  The biggest two needs have been well documented by us and read OL and DB.


80: Arizona

Round one impression: Larry Fitzgerald wanted WR Floyd (13) if he fell to them.  The Cardinals said they would take him if that was the case, but still used almost all their time before making the pick.  Arizona may now be four receivers deep.

Pick 80 look: Our top needs would be OL and OLB/LB.  We’re down in the bottom half of round #3 but typically, rated talent in these areas can be found in the 3rd round.


81: Dallas

Round one impression: Dallas, like many other teams in this draft saw an opportunity to get a top rated player at a position of need.  Trading 14 and 45 to get CB Claiborne (6) was fair, and along with free agent signee Carr, makes the Cowboys much better in the secondary.

Pick 81 look: OG, DE and Safety are the primary areas of need right now.  DE is tough to fill this late, and the safety class is weak, so OG looks like the best option, at least at this pre-round two writing.


89: New Orleans

Round one impression: No picks at all thus far, with the trade of the 1st round pick for RB Ingram last year, and the forfeiting of the 2nd round pick this year.

Pick 89 look: Luckily the Saints have no critical major needs, with OLB, CB and another WR on our short list of early needs.  Getting a decently rated OLB (Spence perhaps) is possible in late round three.


95: Oakland:

Round one impression: No picks at all thus far, with the trade of the 1st round pick for QB Palmer, the trade of the 2nd round pick for extremely raw RB Jones, and utilization of the regular 3rd round pick for the selection of QB Pryor in the supplemental draft.  Yet another QB (Campbell) cost them their 4th round pick.  This pick is compensatory from the NFL and comes after round three is completed.

Pick 95 look: TE, OG, and RB for the offense, and a DL run stopper, OLB and at least one starting CB for the defense.  Free agency has not helped much from an impact standpoint.  Good luck!


That’s it!  We’ll send out the report a 2nd time with our round two impressions.  Enjoy the rest of the draft!

Not everything is scripted during the draft.  Teams and GM’s absolutely have to react to what’s going on ahead of them, what teams may trade up and steal their targeted player, and what positions are running thin on talent.  This report looks at each position, offense and defense, asking questions and exploring options as to what might happen during the draft.

Quarterback: Will four QB’s be drafted in the 1st round, and when will the next wave of QB’s be drafted?

As of 4/24, I feel QB Weeden will be the 4th QB chosen.  Cleveland can choose him at #37, or move up earlier in the 2nd round if they hear that KC or someone else if trying to jump ahead of them.  All this assumes Miami drafts Tannehill.  There will not be a long QB run, but Osweiler and Cousins should be 2nd round picks as well.

Running Back: When will the “run on RB’s” take place?

It starts at or near pick #32 with the NYG.  Right now Martin or Wilson may start the run, which will also include Lamar Miller, and guys like Pead and James.  Teams who fail to get in on this run may trade up to get Turbin, Gray or Polk.

Wide Receiver: How many WR’s go in the 1st round, and will we see a WR frenzy during the draft.

LSU’s Randle and GT’s Hill could make WR a 5-spot in the 1st round.  These WR’s and perhaps WR Jeffrey should be long gone by the early 2nd round.  There will be a pair of WR runs in the draft.  Look for 4-6 WR’s chosen in a short period of time during the 3rd round, and again in the mid-to-late 4th or sometime during the 5th round.  Teams will panic once WR’s start flying off the board.

Tight End: When does the 2nd TE come off the board and will there be a TE run in this draft?

This is by far the weakest and thinnest TE crop I’ve seen in quite a long time.  I usually give numerical ratings to about 10-12 TE’s, and * (also-eligible) ratings to another 5-6.  It looks like I will have only about 5-6 numerically rated TE’s in this draft.  With TE Charles dropping, TE Allen goes 2nd, and he may not go until the 40’s in this draft.

Yes, there will be a TE run, because teams see what New England and others are doing with this position to create mismatches.  That run won’t come until the 3rd day of the draft, but it will come, even with the lack of available talent to choose from.

Offensive Line: What happens after Kahil goes as it relates to the 1st round, and what are the current impressions of OL as a whole?

Reiff and DeCastro are next, and should be gone by pick #18.  As a side note, DeCastro is going to make ANY team better.  He reminds me an awful lot of OG Hutchinson.  Versatile OT-OG Glenn fits in the 1st round just because he plays multiple positions.  OG Zeitler and OT Martin are being strongly considered for the 1st round, but in THIS draft, they go solely based on what happens at the key positions of DE and DT.  OC Konz is in the discussion between picks 29-35.  There should be a mini run of OT’s because the talent level thins out and becomes project based after that.  The OG run is coming later (3rd-5th round).

Defensive End: When will the run be for ends, and can you get a good one in the 3rd round or later?

The DE run is always in the 1st round!  DE’s with pass rush skill are coveted and will go quickly.  Versatile DE’s who could also line up either as a DT or an OLB are just as coveted.  This is not only the TOUGHEST position to get a quality player in the 3rd round or later, it is also a position that tends to thin out before the end of the 2nd round.

Defensive Tackle: Are there enough Nose Tackles in this draft, and how does this position compare to defensive end?

There were thin nose tackle crops in the past couple of drafts but this one has a chance.  Not all the nose tackles are best suited for a 3-4 defense, but at least there is some versatility.  The overall run stopping ability in this DT crop is above average.  The only issue with this potentially talented group is that many underachieved in college.  Poe was a combine hero but had minimal stats in a non-BCS conference.  Brockers has played one year.  Still took plays off, and some say he took full quarters off!  Worthy took plays off partly because of poor conditioning.  Ta’amu never caught fire.

With the proper coaching, this group could turn out special.

Linebacker: Who is the 4th Linebacker chosen after Kuechly, Upshaw and Hightower, and what  might be the best approach to take for GM’s if they can’t get the top 3?

I’m calling Shea McClellin (Boise) a DE even though he may be a LB for many teams.  Traditional LB’s who play JUST ILB or OLB typically fall in the draft so expect the next LB to come off the board after pick #40.  Zach Brown or Lavonte David are the favorites to be called after the top 3.

GM’s can clearly benefit from taking Brown or David, but after that the best approach is to wait until the 3rd day unless LB is the top need area left on a GM’s board.  I show plenty of situational LB’s who can start in the NFL that will be available on the 3rd day.

Cornerback: How good are cornerback’s Kirkpatrick and Gilmore, and what happens after they are chosen?

There is a difference in these CB’s and the next group.  The difference is simple: There is FAR LESS of a bust shot with Kirkpatrick and Gilmore.  If either of these CB’s make it past the Lions at #23 then someone made a mistake.

There will be a major run at CB on day #2 of the draft simply because this position is so critical in today’s pass-happy NFL.  Not every team understands how critical, but let’s just say if you want to compete for a Super Bowl you have to show a strong pass D%.  You can get a good CB and even a future All-Pro later in the draft, but again, the bust factor is higher.  CB’s will be selected in mass throughout the draft.

Safety: When will the 3rd safety come off the draft board?

About a year from now (just kidding).  Not until the 3rd round, and probably mid-to-late 3rd round at that.

I’ve covered the draft for over 30 years, both in preview and review format.  The preview phase is OVER.  The review phase is just about to begin.

The review phase is most appropriately done team by team.  Not every player fits a team the same way.  Let me repeat: It matters not only when a player is drafted, but to what team, what scheme, and what coaching staff.  I have finalized my pre-draft rankings of each player, but depending on where they go, those ratings can change.  I’ve had success in doing this over the years, from moving Big Ben Roethlisberger up to #1 30 seconds after his best fit team (Pittsburgh) selected him, to last year moving a guy like WR/KR Cobb (Green Bay) up due to person-team fit.

Obviously, each NFL draft team wants to fill their draft needs and grade out as high as possible.  Then why do some teams completely blow it on draft day?  I often wonder if all GM’s see the big picture when they make their choices.  A movie writer (in my opinion) KNOWS how the story ends, and can work backward to make the storyline fit.  A good business executive charts what the company should look like it 6 months or a year and then works backward to put a design in place to make that happen.  Shouldn’t NFL GM’s be thinking the same thing.

As with every year I have expectations for each NFL team.  This report goes by Division, covering just a little of what I will be looking at for a many NFL teams during the draft.

AFC East:

Miami: Do they draft Tannehill?  If so, do they give him some WR’s, something NOT done in Jacksonville last year?

New England: Just once I’d like to see them draft for IMPACT!  Not only have they traded back far too often, costing them star players at RB and CB for example, but sitting on a 3rd round pick and drafting Ryan Mallett prevents this team from getting better, NOW.  New England was one play away from winning a pair of Super Bowls vs. the NYG.  What if they had just one more top draft pick?

New York Jets: My curiosity here is with the 10 picks.  Tired of seeing them draft an average of 4.6 players per year, it’s time to draft in quantity.  I’m also interested in their top selection.

AFC North:

Cleveland: What happens at picks 22/37?  Can Cleveland get better on offense?

Cincinnati: They have a chance to add major talent with picks 17 and 21.

AFC South:

Houston: It’s time to get that #2 WR.  My draft review hinges on Houston making this happen.

Indy: I am curious to see this new draft team in action.  Are the days of drafting lighter front seven defensive players and defensive backs who can’t cover at all over?

Jacksonville: Enough with the multiple small college picks.  It’s time to draft a WR and a CB with proven ability.

AFC West:

Denver: They have rented a defensive line for a half-dozen years.  Is there a plan in place this time?

KC: I’m mildly curious to see what they do at QB.  Why is no one talking about that position?

San Diego: This is it for GM Smith.  Picks 18 and 49 will become something else.  The players they get will help decide Smith’s and Norv Turner’s future.

NFC East:

Dallas: They’ll get a good player at #14, but must come out of this draft with rated players for their secondary.

New York Giants: I want to see how they handle the RB need and with what player.

NFC Central:

Detroit: Please tell me they are going to draft a CB, or 2, or 3, or 4?  If not, I need to get started early on the sarcasm part of their draft review.

Green Bay: Shouldn’t this be the year the GM trades UP and not down?  What would the Packers do with 12 new faces?  I will grade their draft based on the impact they get.

NFC South:

Carolina: Sitting at #9, the Panthers will/should have plenty of trade options.  The draft team selected way too many lower rated players in ’11 (after Cam).  Can we trust them to trade down at #9, and draft better players now?

NFC West:

Arizona/Seattle: They sit next to each other on draft day.  They share similar needs.  Will OG DeCastro be considered?  With Seattle, we expect some wheeling and dealing?