We here at Field Gulls are all aware of how silly it is to do post-draft grades before the rookies even hit their first minicamp. If those were even close to accurate, our 'terrible' 2011 and 2012 drafts would have crippled the team. So instead, let's just rank the West.
I'm using 4 things as criteria in my rankings. 1: A player's perceived ceiling, floor, and most likely career arc. 2: If the 2013 season were to start today, how strong of an impact do I expect the player to have on the team's success. 3: Extrapolate over the remaining years of the player's rookie contract (since there's no guarantee anyone re-signs). 4: Do I think there were better options.
The Big Winners. The St. Louis Rams
8. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
30. Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
71. T.J. McDonald, S, USC
92. Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
113. Barrett Jones, C/G, Alabama
149. Brandon McGee, CB, Miami
160. Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt
Holy CRAP did the Rams draft well or what? I'm not a fan of the move up for Tavon Austin (I'd been arguing against it on TST for a while). But to borrow Pete Carrols' expression, St. Louis really needed some Touchdown Makers on offense, and Austin qualifies as one.
I love the move back for Ogletree. He reminds me a lot of the Kam Chancellor
"deathbacker" LB/SS hybrid, only slanted further towards the LB position. With the Rams excellent D line to keep him clean, he should be an impact player. Bonus time: The blend of coverage ability and mobility have to be even more appealing to the Rams than most teams, since that's the best way to deal with read-option looks from Sea and SF.
Bailey immediately steps onto the team as the #1 WR. [before you say Austin, recall that Bailey was the feature guy at WVU and Austin was the complimentary player, a relationship that's likely to continue in the pros]. Jones and McDonald will both be starters on day 1. The former's ability to play all over the line has to be particularly appealing to a Rams team that will likely be investing into the unit for the next few off-seasons.
McGee looks like the 3rd best outside CB on the roster as of right now. I don't think he's well suited to playing the nickel, but Fischer can work magic with DBs, so you never know there. I'm none to high on Stacy... but I'm also none to high on Richardson or Pead. He's a guy I'll be watching closely during the pre-season, as it's possible he takes over the feature back role and becomes an impact player. Even at worst he's very important as RB depth.
We're first at being second place. The Seattle Seahawks
62. Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M
87. Jordan Hill, DT, Penn State
123. Chris Harper, WR, Kansas State
137. Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama
138. Tharold Simon, CB, LSU
158. Luke Willson, TE, Rice
194. Spencer Ware, RB, LSU
220. Ryan Seymour, G, Vanderbilt
231. Ty Powell, OLB, Harding
241. Jared Smith, DT, New Hampshire (OL Cable Conversion project)
242. Michael Bowie, OT, Northeast Oklahoma State
I feel like I've finally managed to adjust to the way PC/JS draft... Mostly. Some of the moves (Michael, Williams, Hill, and Simon) were guys I had identified during the pre-draft process as being likely to draw interest from Seattle. Harper was a shock for me, and Seymore/Willson are the only 2 NFCW draftees I haven't heard of before, so obviously I still have room to improve in 2014.
The Seahawks made 11 selections, only 1 of whom (Hill) would be a starter if the season began tomorrow. In fact, it's likely that only 7 (or so) make the final roster at all. That 's what happens when 9 of your 11 selections happen on day 3, and 4 of them are 7th rounders!
Hill is an aggressive 1-gapping DT who's job is to penetrate the backfield and be disruptive. He's excellent at what he does, and should be an impact player on what's already one of the NFLs better defensive lines.
Michael is a very good match for Seattle's ZBS scheme. He's got the 1 cut and go ability to get through the hole, and when he pops out the other side his later agility, power and balance make him difficult to bring down in the open
field. He's a very significant upgrade over Robert Turbin
, and in the very real possibility that Lynch declines as he approaches 30, Michael should be able to take over the feature role.
Of the other "depth" players, Williams (Mebane/Bryant) Simon (Browner) and Ware (Robinson) are all second in line behind expensive veterans nearing 30 years old with contracts that expire in the next 2 years. All of these guys have a good chance of being full-time starters by the end of their rookie deal. The move up for Williams in the 5th has been particularly highlighted as a steal, with observers noting he was often mocked in the late first or early second round!
You could probably add Harper (Rice) and Willson (Miller) to that list as well. I don't actually like the Harper pick. Kyle Juszczyk
, Jordan Mills
, and Chase Thomas were all on the board at the time. Even at WR I would have rather had Da'Rick Rodgers. Willson I have no opinion on. I'd never heard of him before, and still haven't seen any tape (none pf any quality on youtube).
Of the 7th round guys, Ty Powell's
a project at Leo/LB. He's likely to land on the practice squad as a rookie and spend a year or two developing behind Bennett/Avril/Clemons, none of whom will likely be Seahawks 3 years from now. The other 3 guys are all project linemen for Cable to work with. The best one makes the roster this year as depth. The other two are jettisoned.
Would I have done the 7th round differently? You bet. I'd have drafted Michael Bowie, and UDFA's Matt Scott, Chase Thomas and Da'Rick Rodgers. But the Seahawks made logical and intelligent decisions, so I'm not knocking them for having a plan that differs from my own.
3rd place? He must be trolling us! The San Francisco 49ers
18. Eric Reid
, S, LSU
40. Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
55. Vance McDonald
, TE, Rice
88. Corey Lemonier
, DE/OLB, Auburn
128. Quinton Patton
, WR, Louisiana Tech
131. Marcus Lattimore
, RB, South Carolina
157. Quinton Dial
, DE/DT, Alabama
180. Nick Moody
, ILB, Florida State
237. B.J. Daniels
, QB, South Florida
246. Carter Bykowski
, OT, Iowa State
252. Marcus Cooper
, CB, Rutgers
Just like Seattle, the 49ers made 11 selections in this year's draft, but only found a single 2013 starter. I half-like the move up for Reid. The 49ers needed a new starter at FS, and he was the only guy near the 1st round capable of playing single-high. But I have a difficult time getting excited by a safety who takes bad angles, misses tackles, and is visibly uncomfortable flipping his hips and running, preferring to come forwards towards the play. Still, he's got the range and athletic ability. It's on Harbaugh to make sure he's not the next Taylor Mays
Carradine (Cowboy), Patton (Boldin), and Lattimore (Gore) are all sitting behind aging vets and should become regular starters before their rookie deal is out. The first two should even play a decent number of snaps in 2013.
I was very surprised by the McDonald move. I figured SF would be more interested in a Delanie Walker
type guy with good ball skills and phenomenal blocking. McDonald's a terrible blocker, although perhaps they intend to convert him to a possession WR?
Lemonier's a player I'm very high on. He could very well end up in one of the OLB roles. A front with Justin Smith
and Carradine on the edges with Aldon Smith
and Lemonier as the outside backers is a scary prospect. That's 4 really good edge rushers on the field at once!
The remaining picks are all roster depth, and guys who ideally never see the playing field, even as part of a rotation. There's nothing in the way of high-upside projects who could eventually start, but they all look like decent competition for the last few roster spots or practice squad fodder.
It's a real testament to how well the Rams and Seahawks both drafted that I'm listing the 49ers as 3rd. They had a great draft, it just wasn't as great as the competition.
Well I guess they picked a few dudes. The Arizona Cardinals
7. Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
45. Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
69. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
103. Alex Okafor, DE/OLB, Texas
116. Earl Watford, G, James Madison
140. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
174. Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
187. Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson
219. D.C. Jefferson, TE, Rutgers
Oh those silly Cardinals. You'll never compete if you keep drafting like this!
Three of the 4 worst picks made by an NFCW team this year (Cooper, Minter, Mathieu and Lattimore) just happen to be the first 3 picks made by Arizona!
As a player, I really like Cooper. He's at a position of need, and there's no chance he'd be available the next time the Cards picked, making the "reach" label silly. However with Cooper and Warmack both on the board, it would have been advantageous to trade down for a slightly later pick and a half-eaten cheeseburger. The Cards would still get a top guard, and maybe they could flip the cheeseburger to Rex Ryan for some foot-cream or something...
I'm assuming Arizona tried that and had no takers, at which point they really should have addressed the team's biggest need, QBOTF. It's no secret that a pro-bowl QB helps your team more than a Hall of Fame guard. Cooper does make this team much better, and he fits at a huge position of need... so it's hard to ding them too much for this selection.
Minter in the second round is another pick that I simultaneously love and hate. He's a phenomenal 2 down run stuffing LB, and he should do for them what Brian Cushing
does for the Texans
. That's absolutely fantastic, and if all the QBs were off the board, this would be a tremendous selection. But as with Cooper, a run-stuffing linebacker isn't as important as a quarterback. Perhaps the Cards are just getting into position for 2014 where they plan to pass on Manziel for a TE?
Mathiew in the 3rd is another groaner. Sure he's got plenty of athletic talent. But his mind-boggling stupidity really ought to drop him a lot farther down the draft board. I don't know how Arizona plans to use him, but it seems likely that he'll start right away. Probably a good idea given how likely it is he washes out of the league in 2-3 years!
Okafor, Watford, Taylor, and Jefferson are all likely starters as well, and are excellent picks. Okafor in particular should upgrade what's already a pretty nasty front 7, and should provide a bit of insurance in case of injury.
Swope is a fantastic "value" pick, giving Arizona a fantastic "big play" type guy. His concussion history is very alarming, but the risk is mitigated by the low cost of drafting him at 174 overall. In fact, he might be my favorite "value" pick of any NFCW team this year. Ellington meanwhile could very well be Arizona's #2 RB this year (the competition isn't exactly stiff), and may see plenty of snaps if Taylor struggles or gets injured.
~~~~~~ In Review ~~~~~~
7 picks. 5 instant starters, a guy who will compete for starting RB reps, and a #3 CB. Quite possibly the best draft in the entire NFL
11 picks. 1 instant starter. 5-7 guys who *should* be starting by 2014 some excellent depth, and an aggressive use of the 4 7th round picks to find groom-able talent.
11 picks. 1 instant starter. 4 more guys who *should* be starting by 2014, A roll player who will never start, but should see plenty of snaps (McDonald), and solid depth in the closing rounds.
9 picks. 6 instant starters, 2 role players, and a TE who should see the field plenty. The team is much improved for 2013, but the lack of any long-term thinking means Arizona is likely to regret this draft in a few years. But hey, maybe Tyler Wilson
does really wellin Oakland, and Arizona is able to land Matt Flynn