Saturday, April 28, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Round One

So I was hoping to do Round one separately, but by the time I got a minute to sit down and write it the second round was just an hour away so I've decided "to hell with it" and just bundled the three rounds together. Without further fanfare;

Round One

1. Colts select QB Andrew Luck: We knew it was coming. And it came. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was taken first overall by the Colts. I'm still not as high on Luck as everyone else seems to be, but the Colts have made two picks that we'll see later on that really help Luck. He really does have every chance to succeed in Indianapolis thanks to Reggie Wayne at wide receiver, a reasonably solid offensive line and the two tight ends picked up in later rounds. Just don't hold your breath for a massive rookie season. I think Luck is going to take time to settle in and find the ropes.

2. Redskins select QB Robert Griffin III: And we knew this was coming as well. And it came. Baylor QB Robert Griffin III will now lead the Redskins and, they hope, turn around one of the most poorly managed and miserable franchises in modern pro football. Honestly I don't see it happening. Griffin is pretty quick but as a passer he is phenomenally over rated and I think he's going to have a rough first year against the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants, all of whom he has to face twice. He better hope the Redskins give him more weapons throughout the draft.

3. Browns select RB Trent Richardson: The Browns bizarrely traded up a spot with the Vikings to take Richardson. Word on the interwebs is that they were afraid the Buccaneers might make the trade so they beat them to it. Regardless, they've picked up a fantastic running back to lead the franchise going forward. He's going to take a heavy pounding against the likes of the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals, but if anyone can take that punishment and then deliver some back of his own, all the while gaining yards, then it's Trent Richardson.

4. Vikings select OT Matt Kalil: I'm going to go back at some point and watch Kalil again because people are raving about him as a sure fire lock at the left tackle spot for the next ten years etc, but I distinctly remember being underwhelmed by him. I found him to be very speculative against pass rushers and I think his quarterback did a lot of the work to help his draft stock. To be picked this high you need to be a technical and physical beast, "sound as a pound" as we say over here. I didn't see that from Kalil.

..... I don't know why, but something drew me to go and watch Kalil again right now, before proceeding. I watched five games and in those five games I didn't see a single sack given up by Kalil. More to the point, I didn't see anyone come close to really beating him. I don't understand how I can watch the same games twice and be absolutely at the opposite end of the scale about a player the second time?

I have a suspicion that being the buffoon I can occasionally be that I must have watched the wrong team the first time around by accident. It's, I dunno, it's the only logical explanation I can think of and even then it doesn't sound right. I don't get it. I feel like a bit of twat now to be honest.

So having watched Kalil again, yeah he was fine. Like I say, I didn't see anyone come even close to beating him. He had good technique, was sure footed, well balanced and had a great punch. If he can play in the NFL like he did in college then there's no reason why he shouldn't be quite a handy left tackle. The only real knock would be that he played against a lot of suspect teams, but from a technical stand point he was fine.

5. Jaguars select WR Justin Blackmon: With Richardson off the board presumably the Buccaneers felt like they'd lost their man so were happy to trade down with the Jaguars, which seems silly to me because they could have really used a receiver of Blackmon's caliber. He's a great talent, big, good route runner, with great hands and is pretty tough to bring down after the catch. Just the remedy that the Jaguars needs after their last season and a great target for potential starter Chad Henne.

6. Cowboys select CB Morris Claiborne: Blackmon was supposedly and quite understandably a target for the Rams. So when he came off the board it made sense for them to trade back once again and let the Cowboys come in to take Claiborne. Personally I'm still not sold on him. He does some good things like turning back to look for the ball and he's a great return man on special teams, but he has a significant number of technical weaknesses and he plays with far too much of a cushion and stays very high on receivers, giving up huge chunks of yards underneath.

7. Buccaneers select SS Mark Barron: Taken with the pick they got off the Jaguars, I don't understand the obsession with Barron. He can't cover very well, he routinely ends up out of position in zone coverage and he's really not a great tackler. I can't see him making much of an impact on the Buccaneers defense.

8. Dolphins select QB Ryan Tannehill: Poor selection if you ask me. The Dolphins aren't exactly well known for their ability to develop quarterbacks and though Tannehill isn't terrible, there are so many different directions they could have gone in and still taken an average quarterback like Tannehill in later rounds. He's going to need plenty of work to come up to speed and frankly I think this is a pick the Dolphins will live to regret.

9. Panthers select LB Luke Kuechly: The Panthers could use some help at linebacker and Kuechly is their chosen man. I'm still not fully sold on him. He does some good things, without question. But he also isn't the greatest tackler in the world, which is a problem when you're a linebacker. He's not the most instinctive and reactive of linebackers either, always seeming to be mentally behind the play a little. We'll see what the Panthers can do for him, but I'm not sure about him just yet.

10. Bills select CB Stephon Gilmore: Teams deliberately picked on Gilmore in college. Let me say that again for emphasis; they deliberately picked on him. Now he's a first round corner? Guess why the Bills suck?

11. Chiefs select DT Dontari Poe: A lot of people were thinking that the Cowboys might take Poe, but when they jumped up to take Claiborne it reopened the Poe sweepstakes. Till the Chiefs pounced, that is. Honestly I don't buy what Poe is selling. Yes he was a physical freak at the combine, but he sucked in games against very low quality college opposition. He's going to have to have a special kind of off season to turn himself into an NFL player.

12. Eagles select DT Fletcher Cox: Trading with the Seahawks the Eagles climbed up the draft to take Fletcher Cox. I can see Cox coming in and playing the 3 technique inside for the Eagles, with big Cullen Jenkins next to him at the 1 technique spot. Cox has the speed to cause teams problems as a single gap pass rusher and with the pressure that the Eagles generate off the edge, this should be another interesting season for the Eagles defense.

13. Cardinals select WR Michael Floyd: Wow. Floyd on one side, Larry Fitzgerald on the other. If the Cardinals can't get their offense going with these two on the field then they are a lost cause. Matching up in coverage against the Cardinals just became a nightmare! Excellent pick, with a team focus.

14. Rams select DT Michael Brockers: They traded back twice to end up here and with a number of good players still left on the board, this is the best the Rams could come up with. Take away the LSU tag and you have a player people wouldn't look twice at. Bad pick for a team that could really use some help.

15. Seahawks select DE Bruce Irvin: Not a bad pick for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks. Irvin is a pash rusher who could do a lot to help a Seahawks defense that has struggled to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He's not the greatest against the run, but his speed and technique could make him the sack leader for the Seahawks in his rookie season.

16. Jets select DE Quinton Coples: The Jets badly needed a pass rusher and I'm really not sure they got their wish in Coples. As I said before, he has a lot of potential if he could just get his arse in gear and get moving. The trouble is he always seems very lax, even when the potential of a sack is withing sight. I think there were better, more reliable pass rushers left on the board when they went for Coples.

17. Bengals select CB Dre Kirkpatrick: The Bengals can be safe in the knowledge that Kirkpatrick gives up very few yards after the catch. His problem is that he gives up a lot of yards before the catch because of his poor coverage.

18. Chargers select DE Melvin Ingram: Well, I hope the Chargers know what they're getting. In their 3-4 scheme I can see Ingram playing as a defensive end inside, predominantly employed for his ability against the run and against the screen game while they generate pressure from elsewhere. Personally I don't see Ingram having much luck if they play his as an outside linebacker.

19. Bears select LB Shea McClellin: I understand why a 3-4 team might bring in a defensive end who played in a 4-3 in college and make him an outside linebacker because that often has good results, but I don't understand why you would do the reverse, because typically it does not. Unless the Bears plan on using McClellin as a linebacker, in which case I find that odd because pass rushing was the only thing he really did any good at. Not sure as I like this pick much.

20. Titans select WR Kendall Wright: Speed. That's Wright in a nutshell. Speed, speed and more speed. It's something the Titans offense has lacked outside for a while now, so Wright is a nice addition and maybe the combination of Chris Johnson running and Wright going deep can cause some headaches stretching the field for opposing defenses.

21. Patriots select DE Chandler Jones: A bit of a gamble I feel, but then it's not like Bill Belichick is adverse to the odd gamble now is he? I think Jones has the early makings of a pass rusher, but he still has a long way to go to complete the circle so to speak. That's why I find it odd that he's gone in the first round.

22. Browns select QB Brandon Weeden: Already the talk is that Colt McCoy is on his way out. Good luck to you Cleveland because without any weapons to work with, what do you expect Weeden to do? Your wider receiver corps absolutely sucks and getting a new quarterback isn't going to change that. By the time the Browns can build a team around him Weeden will be 30. You could just do the same thing but with McCoy at quarterback and get more life out of the plan? Stupid as all hell.

23. Lions select OT Riley Reiff: Given the Matt Kalil debacle I decided to go back and watch Reiff again before saying anything..... and once again I came away asking myself what in the shit I had been talking about the first time around?

I mean literally the description that I wrote about Reiff in the offensive tackles post bares absolutely no relation to what I just watched. None. It's... it doesn't even come close. I don't understand it? If it was vaguely similar then fine, I could buy that, but it's not.

On that note I'll say two things; 1) Reiff is fine. Like Kalil he's a quality looking tackle who should give the Lions some much needed protection for Matthew Stafford. Sacks and the resulting injuries have really held him back so this move makes a lot of sense for Detroit.

2) I've decided I'm going to watch every player again before I comment on them. That means I'll only have enough time today now to finish the first round, then I'm going to wait on the rest of the rounds until the draft is over and I'll release my analysis on each round as and when I complete it.

This has really gotten me confused, and frankly quite pissed off. I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't go back and re watch all these first rounders?

24. Steelers select OG David DeCastro: Now I don't have to go back and watch DeCastro because I know for certain that I love this kid. He's a great guard and when you put him inside alongside Pouncey, damn that Steelers line is looking a lot healthier than it did last year. The Steelers have always been about picking for the team and they must recognise that they have to do a better job of protecting Roethlisberger.

25. Patriots select LB Dont'a Hightower: Okay this is getting ridiculous. Let me quote you what I said about Hightower in the Linebackers post; "I've seen him do nothing except plod around the field in a very average manner, struggling to contribute". What the shit? Who wrote that (obviously me)? I just watched Hightower again and alright, while I think it was a stretch still to make him a first round pick and there are other, better linebackers (at least I think?), that still doesn't detract from the fact that Hightower is pretty good.

His weakness would be that in pass coverage he often seems lost as to who he is supposed to cover and he seems to have a habit of trying to make last minute calls which only serve to confuse the rest of the defense, but if you can keep his mouth shut then he seems ok. He fits well against the run, tackles well and delivers a mean hit. He even has some adaptability as a rusher.

This is getting beyond weird.

26. Texans select DE Whitney Mercilus: Not bad at all, except in two games where he played against slightly tougher O-lines and almost disappeared. That raises concerns because while he trashed some much lesser offensive linemen, in the two tough games they just blew him to pieces. I mean it wasn't even close. I suspect the Texans will use him as an outside backer rushing the passer, but I wouldn't hold your breath on the guy if I'm honest.

27. Bengals select OG Kevin Zeitler: Mixed bag. Comes off the line like a freight train and just rams the opponent off the ball in the running game. In the passing game.... he played for Wisconsin. That says it all. His opportunities for pass blocking were very limited and on the few occasions that he did he had some problems, especially when dealing with late blitzes. Needs some work, but has a lot of value if the Bengals decide to go run heavy again.

28. Packers select DE Nick Perry: I'm sticking pretty much with what I originally said about Perry, in that he had some very good games in college against some very crap teams. Against better opposition he started to struggle. He's just not that athletic, though he does work hard and sometimes finds a good bit of leverage. He'll likely play as an outside backer and maybe in a year or two he might start to shine, but probably not right away.

29. Vikings select FS Harrison Smith: Trading up back into the first round the Vikings went with Harrison Smith and this is a really good pick. Smith is a very active, quite instinctive player who always seems to find himself around the ball, although he needs to work on his catching! He's precisely the kind of player that the Vikings need; someone who can create big plays on defense.

30. 49ers select WR A.J. Jenkins: As a 49ers fan I obviously have a lot of interest in this pick. And I stand by what I said before about Jenkins. He's an excellent route runner, probably one of the best pure route technicians in this draft, and he has some good speed as well. His first step can be an issue as often false steps or sometimes does the dreaded "jump", but overall he's a very good receiver who should bring a lot to the 49ers.

31. Buccaneers select RB Doug Martin: Hmm, I'm a little more positive now about Martin having watched him a second time. I'm still a little concerned about what his weight increase will mean for his overall performance, but in fairness Martin was pretty quick to start with and just watching him again you can see he is a pretty patient back who picks his holes out well and then bursts through them. As a change of pace/complementary back to LaGarrette Blount, Martin has a lot of potential.

32. Giants select RB David Wilson: Up until this point most of my revisions have been upwards, i.e. this player is better than I remember him being. I guess I've just given away the fact that this is actually going to be a down grade. The problem with Wilson is that yes, in the open field he can run some. But he is very hesitant, often running sideways or stopping when he should be going forward, which then allows the defensive pursuit to close in on him. Coupled with his fumbling issues, which is something the Giants have in abundance anyway, I think Wilson is not particularly great value in the first round and may indeed struggle to make an impact in the NFL.

So, that's the first round done and dusted. Like I said, I'm going to wait until after the draft is finished then I'll make a start on the second round and go through each player watching them again just to be sure. I'm also thinking that I might have to go back and look at certain first rounders again including Luck, Newton, Richardson, Claiborne and possibly others.

Gonna be a frustrating few weeks I think, but at least it'll give you some football stuff to look at in the off season!

(P.S. Thank you Google, after nearly six bloody months, for returning my adverts to me. I thoroughly enjoyed losing all that potential revenue during the peaks at the end of last season. I particularly appreciate the fact that you didn't tell me, nor even hint, that I had to order some PIN number, and indeed I only found out from one of your long suffering customers in a chat room).

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