Just three picks into the draft and this was already a draft like none we’d seen in 11 years-one without a quarterback in the first three picks. The fourth pick rounded out a run on offensive tackles like the draft has never seen, with 3 of the first four overall picks projected to the left tackle position in the NFL. Rounding out the top 5, Oregon’s pass rusher Dion Jordan went third to Miami-who made sure to move ahead of the Eagles-coached by Jordan’s college coach Chip Kelly-swapping with the Raiders and throwing in a later pick as well. Ezekial Ansah went 5th to Detroit, surprising at least a few who thought they’d leap at the chance to grab Dee Milliner off the board and fill a glaring need in the secondary they’ve had for a few years now.
The first quarterback didn’t go until 16th overall to the Bills, and it wasn’t Ryan Nassib! It was EJ Manuel of all people, surprising everyone except Adam Schefter, who apparently knows everything and predicted the pick. That guy amazes me sometimes. No other teams really rushed to take any of the other quarterbacks, confirming what many scouts and analysts have been telling us for weeks; nobody thinks there are any good quarterbacks in this class. Even Geno Smith projected by some as high as first overall at some points throughout the past few weeks sat lonely in the green room, awaiting his name and looking every bit as happy and excited about his current situation as you’d expect.
Every draft has immediate winners and losers, and this draft was no different. Three teams came in with the ammunition to revamp their team inside a few short hours on a Thursday night in April, with the Jets, Vikings, and Rams possessing two picks each. Some teams however, seem incapable of using their ammunition wisely, whether it’s one pick or two, high or low. So without further ado, let’s take a look at those winners and losers:
New York Jets
The Jets traded super cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay just a few days ago, leaving a still sturdy secondary headlined by Antonio Cromartie, with Kyle Wilson still there as well, giving them two man cover corners. They then went on and used their first pick to draft...a cornerback. While Dee Milliner is inarguably skilled, the Jets have MANY other glaring needs, and at least two players sat there at 9 overall that would have filled those needs in Chance Warmack and DJ Fluker. The Jets would have done well to solidify their line and take one, but instead they went with the corner. Not an ideal choice. With their second pick they Sheldon Richardson, a fine pick if you’re a 4-3 defense that needs a tackle. Unfortunately the Jets are a 3-4 defense who will only run a 4 man front in passing situations (third down) in the nickel and dime. So their 13th overall pick went to a one down player, not even a two down guy that can’t cover and is therefore only used on half the plays, but a one down guy who might get used 1/4 of the time if he’s any good. Monumentally bad decisions given what was on the board when they picked both times.
The Vikings came into this draft with two glaring needs: their weak secondary and a defensive line that had just seen Pat Williams retire and was falling apart due to old age over the past few years. They filled both of those needs with the 23rd and 25th overall picks, selecting defensive tackle Shariff Floyd 23rd, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes 25th.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Vikings then sent their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th round picks to New England to move BACK into the first round for a third pick on day one, grabbing WR Cordarelle Patterson, filling possibly their biggest need and picking up possibly the second best receiver in this class. Between him and off-season addition Greg Jennings-who they signed away from their division rival Green Bay Packers-the Vikings have really revamped the receivers of an offense that ranked 31st in the league in passing yards last season. While Percy Harvin’s unique game changing ability will still be missed, some-if not all-of his production may have been replaced.
I think I like what you did here...
San Francisco 49ers
They moved up to grab a safety and fill the void left by the departure of Dashon Goldson. Many people thought they’d move up, with speculation of their target being WR Tavon Austin or perhaps safety Kenny Vacarro, but with Vacarro gone surprisingly to New Orleans at 15, their only real choice was safety Eric Reid, probably their third choice at least, but still satisfying a need. The 49ers don’t have the roster room to sign all 13 of the picks they had, so look for them to continue to move throughout the later rounds of the draft.
I’m not sure about this one...
The Bills had been rumored to be after a quarterback, and with their hiring of Syracuse coach Doug Marone many thought that quarterback would be ex Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib, with the only question being whether they’d take him 8th or move back and take him later. Well they moved back alright, moving to 16th overall and taking their quarterback: EJ Manuel, in a move pretty much nobody saw coming. This kid is a project, with definite talent, but a strange pick for Buffalo. He comes from Florida, with little exposure to the cold winds that whip through Buffalo late in the season. I’m not sure he’s the best pick for them, but they seemed like he was. Time will tell.
Day one held several surprises, and still keeps many in suspense as names like Geno Smith, Manti Te'o, and Matt Barkley remain on draft boards everywhere. Players once projected to go first overall, both still waiting after not going on the first day. The exciting Tyrann Mathieu also still remains on the board, and should go tomorrow night to some team looking to fill voids in their secondary and primarily their return game.