Let me give you a little background about my good friend and guest blogger, Dave. Dave knows much more about sports than me. I admit that despite the fact that he went to Cornell and probably beats me out in just overall smarts as well. So you should probably listen to what he has to say here—even if he gives the NFL a little more credit than is due on the sensibility scale. In my opinion, they’re all a bunch of crazies, which is probably why I am leaving the true analysis to Dave. Enjoy!
NFL Draft Round 1 Review: Sense & Sensibility edition
Guest blogger Dave here – pleased to meet you! Like previous g-blogger, Alex, I too am not a chick. I am, however, a stay at home dad with a one year old daughter who has taken to calling me “ma-ma” so I’m somewhere near the ballpark. In one of my previous incarnations as an employed person, I worked as a freelance radio broadcaster covering pretty much every sporting event in the Bay Area including many 49ers and Raiders games. My numerous press passes gave me access to sights and sounds most fans only dream about – I’ve had dinner with Terrell Owens, been physically threatened by Warren Sapp, and seen more naked 300+ lb. men in the locker-room than anyone should ever see…seriously, if they ever invent one of those contraptions from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I know exactly which memories I’m erasing (ahem, 400 lb. Ted Washington…put on a f***ing towel for God’s sake!)
Anyhoo, I’m supposed to talk about the draft so let’s get rolling: Draft Grades. They’re stupid. How the hell can you evaluate the quality of a draft pick if the guy hasn’t played a single down of professional football? For example, last year Pete Prisco of CBS gave Carolina a “C” grade for their selection of Cam Newton and a “D” grade to San Francisco for Aldon Smith. Newton ended up setting NFL records for rookie passing yards and total touchdowns while Smith came within half a sack of tying the rookie sack record; Newton was named Rookie of the Year. Their grades were off by just a smidge. The problem is these writers spend so much time coming up with their mock drafts that when a team does something different, the writers choose to chastise the team for daring to disagree with their mock draft wisdom. What they should do is look at the pick and ask whether it makes any sense for the specific team. For example, Carolina needed a quarterback so they picked QB Cam Newton – that made sense; conversely, the Detroit Lions drafted wide receivers in approximately 18 consecutive drafts – that was incredibly dumb. That’s what I aim to do here: look at each team’s pick and tell you whether it’s a sensible one.
- Indianapolis Colts – QB Andrew Luck – Peyton Manning got hurt which led to the shocking discovery that his backups were awful. Then the team released Manning. They clearly needed a quarterback. Verdict: Sensible.
- Washington Redskins – QB Robert Griffin III – Washington played Rex Grossman and John Beck at QB in 2011; they played Grossman and a washed up Donovan McNabb in 2010; Jason Campbell and Todd Collins in 2009; etc. Though I’m not 100% sold on RG3 as the next Big Thing, he can’t be worse than any of the aforementioned guys (though with Dan Snyder involved, you never know). Verdict: Sensible.
- Cleveland Browns – RB Trent Richardson – The Browns’ running game sucked last year and their top sucky running back left via free agency, thereby leaving the team with a bunch of sucky guys who weren’t even good enough to be the best at sucking. Verdict: Sensible.
- Minnesota Vikings – OT Matt Kalil – When your quarterbacks get sacked 49 times in a season, it’s time to get some help on the offensive line. Verdict: Sensible.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Justin Blackmon – The Jaguars had the worst passing game in the league last year, partly due to an awful QB, partly due to awful receivers. They addressed half of that equation here. Verdict: Sensible.
- Dallas Cowboys – CB Morris Claiborne – I hate Dallas; Jenny hates Dallas; you should hate Dallas if you know what’s good for you. That said, I guess the Cowboys’ secondary was terrible and needed an upgrade. Verdict: Sensible to the extent anything Dallas does can be called sensible.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – S Mark Barron – Same as Dallas minus the vehement hatred. Tampa has an awful secondary plus their best player is probably going to jail, i.e. they need all the defensive help they can get. Verdict: Sensible.
- Miami Dolphins – QB Ryan Tannehill – Miami hasn’t had a reliable quarterback since Dan Marino retired 13 years ago. Many would say Tannehill will only continue that trend: the guy played two years as a receiver before switching to quarterback as a junior giving him less experience than a team would like. Nevertheless, crystal balls aren’t real (except on male crystal monsters that live high in the Andes) so I can’t predict Tannehill’s future. The Dolphins are addressing an obvious need meaning…Verdict: Sensible.
- Carolina Panthers – LB Luke Kuechly – Carolina had a fun offense (see Newton, Cam) but a lousy defense (see, um, every guy on their defense I guess) so grabbing a linebacker makes plenty of sense. Verdict: Sensible.
- Buffalo Bills – CB Stephon Gilmore – Did you know Buffalo has a cornerback named Reggie Corner? I just learned that on their team website. Anyway, despite his awesome name, Reggie is not particularly awesome and the same goes for his brothers from another mother in the Buffalo secondary. Gilmore should help. Also, I bet he has to get buffalo wings for the whole team as a rookie hazing thing. Verdict: Sensible.
- Kansas City Chiefs – DT Dontari Poe – This is the first pick where my desire to keep things sane and my desire to criticize get tangled. The Chiefs had an awful run defense last season and clearly needed help up the middle at DT which should make this a sensible pick. However, Poe exemplifies another pet peeve of mine: the Combine Superhero. There are a handful of these guys every year who underachieved all through college, but because they run a fast 40 yard dash or bench press a truck or recite the Gettysburg Address while catching passes in one hand and giving a wedgie to Mel Kiper with the other, they fly up the draft board. The poster-child for Combine Superheroes is Jamarcus Russell. Now I’m not saying Dontari is Jamarcus, but if the oversized…uh…shoe or something fits…ah, screw being clever – I’m saying Dontari is Jamarcus. Verdict: Sensible in theory but stupid in practice.
- Philadelphia Eagles – DT Fletcher Cox – The Chiefs probably should have selected this guy. Philly’s run defense wasn’t quite as bad as Kansas City’s, but the whole middle of their D was weak and needed help. Enter Cox (yeah, I realize that sounds dirty, but since I know guys would get a chuckle from that pun, I’m leaving it in as a social experiment to see if the ladies react similarly). Verdict: Sensible.
- Arizona Cardinals – WR Michael Floyd – I understand that Cardinals fans fondly remember the days when both Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin wrought havoc on opposing defenses. If I had to watch their current passing attack, I’d be nostalgic too. But the fans, and apparently the team as well, have forgotten that they also had a good offensive line and Kurt Warner throwing the ball…kinda critical in my book. Adding another receiver isn’t inexcusable, but it doesn’t really address the team’s bigger problems on offense. Verdict: Ineffective.
- St. Louis Rams – DT Michael Brockers – When you suck practically everywhere, it’s easy to draft guys who will help you improve. Verdict: Sensible.
- Seattle Seahawks – OLB Bruce Irvin – Is it just me or does “Bruce Irvin” sound like the name of your skeevy uncle? Anyway, this pick was the first involving a talented player who had a “troubled past.” Most often this involves a guy who smoked marijuana in college and wasn’t smart enough to avoid getting busted. In those instances I could care less because, hey, it’s college and I’m pretty sure 152% of non-Utah-based college students smoke pot. Irvin may or may not have smoked pot – I don’t know – but he definitely went to jail for armed robbery and dealing drugs. So while Seattle could certainly use a guy who pressures the quarterback, they might not have chosen the most stable guy for the job. Verdict: Sensible except for the part involving the ex-felon.
- New York Jets – DE Quinton Coples – Coples is one of those players who has in-between size making him difficult to project as a pro, but I’ll give the Jets the benefit of the doubt since they know what they run better than I do. Since New York’s defensive front needs some younger legs we conclude with…Verdict: Sensible.
- Cincinnati Bengals – CB Dre Kirkpatrick – The Bengals’ secondary was solid last year so they weren’t in desperate need of help. On the other hand, their corners are older and injury prone so a young buck to provide insurance couldn’t hurt. On the third, secret hand that no one in Cincinnati talks about to outsiders, there’s a scar in the shape of a parallelogram. Verdict: Mostly Sensible.
- San Diego Chargers – DE Melvin Ingram – Interesting trivia: Ingram is the first guy named Melvin ever picked in the 1st round. I just made that up but it wouldn’t shock me to learn it’s 100% true. Seriously though…the Chargers pass rush had a tough time generating an actual pass rush…this guy is supposed to help. Verdict: Sensible.
- Chicago Bears – OLB Shea McLellin – See: Chargers, San Diego…except for the Melvin part. Verdict: Sensible.
- Tennessee Titans – WR Kendall Wright – Tennessee’s best receiver suffered a knee injury last year and no one else filled the void. Even if the guy returns, there’s no guarantee he’ll be at full strength. Verdict: Sensible.
- New England Patriots – DE Chandler Jones – Could this BE a better pick? The Patriots’ defense was shaky all year long and in desperate need of improvement, especially along the defensive line. The only downside (upside?) is that New England doesn’t have any players named Ross or Joey so I can’t make more lame Friends jokes. Verdict: Sensible.
- Cleveland Browns – QB Brandon Weeden – Fact I am NOT making up: Weeden will turn 29 this year making him the oldest first round pick ever. Weeden is so old that the Smurfs, Rubik’s Cube, and Cabbage Patch Kids were popular the year he was born. Wait, I just made myself feel old. Crap. Moving on…if you follow the NFL you know that the Cleveland Browns never have a good quarterback unless it’s the 1940’s. As such, any attempt at finding a quarterback, while inevitably futile, still results in Verdict: Sensible.
- Detroit Lions – OT Riley Reiff – The Lions’ left tackle is near the end of his career and coming off an injury so he will need replacing soon. In the meantime, Reiff gets to learn from him and play on the opposite side of an offensive line that was far too porous last season. Verdict: Sensible.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – OG David DeCastro – I can’t be 100% certain of this because I don’t really want to bother with the research, but I’m pretty sure the Steelers always make a sensible pick. Seeing as their offensive line sucks, the streak (presumably) continues. Verdict: Sensible.
- New England Patriots – ILB Dont’a Hightower – See above entry at #21, replace defensive line with linebackers and replace Friends jokes with apostrophe A jokes. Verdict: Sensible.
- Houston Texans – DE Whitney Mercilus – Houston lost their best defensive player in free agency so you could view this as a replacement pick. Of course they also lost him to injury midway through last season and did just fine so perhaps spending a high pick on a replacement wasn’t absolutely necessary. In terms of sense and sensibility, the Texans fall through the cracks here because they didn’t have any glaring needs besides getting their quarterback healthy. Verdict: Sensible by default.
- Cincinnati Bengals – OG Kevin Zeittler – Both of Cincinnati’s guards left in free agency and Zeittler is a guard. The only way this would make more sense is if Zeittler were conjoined twins. Verdict: Sensible.
- Green Bay Packers – DE Nick Perry – The Packers had such a good offense last year that everyone forgets their defense had the third fewest sacks of any team. If only Aaron Rodgers were around when I was in high school to make everyone forget that I had the third fewest dates. I kid! I kid! (No I don’t). Verdict: Sensible.
- Minnesota Vikings – S Harrison Smith – Holy crap, there are a lot of players! I didn’t think I’d have to write this much. Short and sweet – Vikings…safeties…lousy. Verdict: Sensible.
- San Francisco 49ers – WR A.J. Jenkins – Jenkins may have been a surprise since he didn’t appear in many (or possibly any) mock drafts, but anyone who watched the Niners knew they needed a speedy receiver who could out-run coverage. None of their free agent signings fit the bill; this pick did. Verdict: Sensible.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – RB Doug Martin – Tampa already has RB LeGarrette Blount who I thought was LeGood, but the new coaching staff appears to think otherwise. Of course Tampa LeSucked last year so there might be some LeLogic to bucking the LeStatusQuo. Verdict: Mildly Sensible with Overpowering Aromas of Redundancy.
- New York Giants – RB David Wilson – How come there aren’t any running backs named Flash or or Turbo or Zippy? Seriously, Doug and David? As a David myself I offer a resounding “Meh” to these guys and their boring running back names. Anyway, RB Brandon Jacobs left in free agency and even though he wasn’t their top running back, his absence definitely leaves the team thin at the position, especially when since the Giants like to rotate their RBs in and out of the game. Verdict: Sensible.
Hot damn that was long (that’s what she said)! I’d offer to do this for the rest of the draft picks but, well, I don’t want to. Hopefully you enjoyed it. I’m sure I’ll chime in with more football thoughts in the future, especially if they involve riling up Jenny over her beloved Washington Redskins and how Dan Snyder figured out another new and exciting way to ruin the team.