Draft King Analysis|
Msy 3, 2013
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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In the end, I was right about Jacksonville: their "we like two players" thought process was for the top two offensive tackles prospects, Central Michigan's Eric Fisher and Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel. Though, had I changed my mock to reflect that, I still would have missed since I figured Joeckel was going #1 overall up until news broke last Thursday that the Chiefs were opting for Fisher.
It says something about the state of the league that three of the top four picks were offensive tackles and five of the top ten were offensive linemen. Quarterback is still a key position, but in a draft that wasn't top heavy but had plenty of depth, only one went per round until day three, when the floodgates opened with Matt Barkley to Philly out of the gate.
In putting together my initial 2014 NFL Mock Draft, I was amused with how many Alabama players are in contention to be first-round selections. You are going to have a very hard time ever outrecruiting Nick Saban, and I've chronicled this before, but there's a reason that Alabama has won three of the last four BCS National Championships. When you have elite talent to go with great coaching and a rabid fanbase, your odds of winning are strong. Getting to that point isn't exactly easy, though.
I was amused by this article by Mike Silver defending the horrible Oakland trade in 2011 to get Carson Palmer. It had slipped my mind that Hue Jackson at the time called it "the greatest trade in football" though he was right... albeit for the Bengals, not the Raiders. The idea that Darren McFadden's injury kept them from 11 wins that year is delusional. The notion that the trade wasn't criticized at the time is off-base -- I know this because I wrote about it at the time. Two things I wrote at the time:
"[I]t's curious to me that the Raiders decided to give up so much to acquire him."
"The big winner in this is Cincinnati..."
The best part is that Hue Jackson is now an assistant coach with the Bengals. I don't blame the guy for making the trade happen, as he was trying desperately to save his job and managed to sell ownership on a horrible idea. If I had been in that position, perhaps I would have tried to do the same thing. But wherever you want to pin the blame, it's easily the worst NFL trade since the all-time gold standard, the Herschel Walker trade of 1989.
Looking at the Rams, I continue to be impressed by what Jeff Fisher and company are doing in St. Louis. Remember when the NFC West was a joke and 7-9 could get you in the playoffs? Things there have quickly changed and it should feature some vicious battles this fall.
I loathe grading drafts immediately after they happen, as it takes three years to craft a preliminary grade and five years to truly judge it. But people love immediate feedback, and there are plenty of great analysts who have the patience to go through and give their opinions. That's not my bag, though.
But there were some moves I really liked. Pittsburgh landing George DE/OLB Jarvis Jones is such a typical Steelers situation: don't panic, don't overpay to keep an aging veteran (James Harrison), stand pat and take a shot on a guy who had 27 sacks combined over the past two seasons while facing SEC-level competition. To be sure, Jones had top five talent and fell because of the (understandable) concern over him having spinal stenosis, which it turns out might have been inaccurate this entire time. If he stays healthy, Jones has the talent to make as much of an impact as any rookie on defense this fall. That's high praise, but he deserves it.
Minnesota really impressed me with what they pulled off in the bottom half of round one, landing Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes (my favorite corner in the draft), and Florida DT Sharrif Floyd (who had been talked about as a possible top three pick) and Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson. Yes, the Vikings gave up four picks to the Patriots to move into position for Patterson, breaking the "Never trade with Bill Belichick" rule in the process. But they didn't have to give up a first-rounder to do so and they were in a spot where it made sense considering that they already had two first-rounders thanks to the Percy Harvin trade with Seattle. Time will tell on all three players, but at this point I like the maneuvering.
Some people are down on Buffalo drafting Florida State QB E.J. Manuel at #16 overall, but I thought it was considerably better than other options. The links of Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib to the team because they hired his college coach never resonated with me -- that just doesn't happen like some people apparently think it does. And you can save me the talk about Ryan Tannehill's 2011 head coach at Texas A&M, Mike Sherman, joining the Dolphins as an example. Do you know why Sherman went to Miami? It's because A&M fired him! That isn't exactly a logical corollation, is it?
Speaking of Texas A&M, if you haven't seen it yet, you really need to watch this video detailing its planned renovation of Kyle Field. My brother Matt described it like this: "The result of an experiment of what happens when you give a large Texas institution with a massive inferiority complex and impossibly deep pockets a triple shot of confidence via an invitation to the best conference in college football, a Heisman winner and an upset over the eventual national champions." Yeah, I think that's pretty much on point, but it looks amazing and the promo video was exceptionally well produced.
The SEC West isn't a conference division -- it's an arms race.