Thursday, April 30, 2015

Some NFL Draft 1st Round Musings

  These are some general observations from the first night of the 2015 NFL Draft. They're in no particular order or tied together with any theme, but these are just some musings and notable items from the first night of the draft.

-- Jameis to the Bucs, no surprise: Even though it became clear the Eagles wanted to make a move, and apparently offered a lot to get up to the #1 pick, the Bucs made the wise move and selected Winston. He's by no means a sure thing, but Lovie Smith and company needed this QB and he has all the tools to be a successful NFL QB. He already has some decent weapons around him, so Winston could be in for some early successes.

-- Mariota to the Titans is a slightly larger surprise: Again with the Eagles and Bears apparently sniffing around trading up to this selection, the Titans went and took another QB in the first round, but this too is wise. Going with Zach Mettenberger is a big risk no matter how decent he looked last season, and even if the trade package the Eagles offered was large (and reportedly it was), taking the QB is again the right call. The only problem is unlike in Tampa, Mariota will have little to no weapons around him, and only a mediocre defense on the other side. The learning curve for the former Oregon Duck is going to be pretty steep in Nashville.

-- Leonard Williams' fall makes the Jets defense even scarier: The Jets already had Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, David Harris, Calvin Pace, Darrelle Revi, Buster Skrine and Antonio Cromartie, and now Leonard Williams joins the fold. Good luck scoring any points against the Jets next season. If the offense can even be halfway decent, the Jets are a playoff contender and possibly more. Whether the Jets trade Wilkerson or not may mean little in the overall scheme, as the defense is scary with or without him.

-- The Running Backs return! Both the Rams and Chargers decided to cast their lot with first round running backs after none were taken in the last 2 drafts. Todd Gurley's health is obviously an issue, but the Rams running back depth should be able to get them through until he is ready. Some have said he is the best running back to enter the draft since Adrian Peterson, and he fell in the draft like Gurley. Melvin Gordon is also a fantastic running back, but to see the Chargers trade up for him was a bit strange. The value in trading down was good for San Francisco, but the Bolts did need a running back in the worst way, and Gordon should be able to take on the bulk of the workload for Philip Rivers and the Chargers this season.

-- The Eagles tried to trade up for Marcus Mariota, but found their Jeremy Maclin replacement instead: Nelson Agholor is not the best receiver in this draft, but the fact that he fell to 20 shows how deep this draft is at the position. He is a speed burner, and adds an immediate deep threat for Sam Bradford and the Eagles next season that they lacked when Jeremy Maclin moved on to Kansas City. Philadelphia may still be a bit short at the position (not like it matters much since they have all of the running backs known to man), but they addressed a need well without totally mortgaging their future to do it.

-- The Steelers and Broncos draft wildly different pass rushers: The Steelers may have been a bit lucky to see Bud Dupree fall to 22, but again he fills a glaring need for the Steelers who are one of the most consistent drafting teams in the NFL. One pick behind them, the Broncos traded up to pick Shane Ray (insert your weed joke here), and they paid a hefty price to get him. The difference in one pick can often be the chasm between a hit and a bust, and these 2 pass rushers may be proof positive of that.

-- Thomas Davis announces the man who may take his job: Thomas Davis has been a consistent presence for the Carolina Panthers since he was drafted in the first round in 2005. 10 years later, he announced that the 2 time defending NFC South Champions had taken Shaq Thompson, the LB/S out of Washington. This may have been one of the few true surprises in the first round, but putting him next to Luke Kuechly could be truly scary. The Panthers still have holes on their offensive line, in their receiving corps and in their secondary, but it's hard to turn down a player like that. Even with their cap issues, new GM Dave Gettleman has been incredibly impressive in his first few years in Carolina.

There are probably many more (and better) observations out there. But here are just a few of mine. It hasn't been the worlds most interesting draft, but there are always interesting picks to dissect and digest. The greater intrigue comes in the later rounds (incredibly biased statement: I hope the Jaguars draft Stefon Diggs).

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