Friday, April 26, 2013

NFL Draft Thoughts, Day 1

Or, Why Buffalo will continue to stink for the foreseeable future

- Three offensive tackles go in the first 4 picks: After doing 27 seconds of research (mostly scanning through my own memories) I feel confident in saying this was the first time this happened in NFL Draft history. Why did this draft (probably) make history? Two main reasons:
1) There are no franchise quarterbacks in this draft
2) There are no sure thing pass-rushers in this draft

Here are the positions drafted first overall since 1988

That's 15 QBs and 5 defensive line players in 25 years.

Offensive line is seen as a "safer" pick than QB or DE, and it's a valuable position (just look at how the good ones get paid). If you don't like what you see at the top value positions, grabbing a tackle is probably the way to go.

- Two offensive guards go in the first 10 picks: Guards don't normally go top-10. The position simply isn't that important. You don't leave guards on an island to take a defender out of the picture like you do tackles. It's such a scrum in the middle of the field that it's very rare that a guard can really distinguish himself. Don't believe me? Look at how often guards get paid. Not nearly as often as tackles. Did Arizona and Tennessee get good players? Absolutely, both of these guards have been graded very highly across the board. Did they get good value for their picks? Not really.

- The Jets forgot to screw up their draft: Reading up on this draft you'd think the Jets are a player or two away from being good. They're not. They're not the Raiders, who essentially have a black hole where their talent should be, but they need to tear the house down to its foundation and rebuild. So reaching for a quarterback, or an offensive skill position, just to "plug a need" wasn't going to be helpful. The Jets, first and foremost, need talent. And they got it. With their first pick (9th) they grabbed the consensus best defensive player on the board (CB Dee Milliner), replacing the recently traded Darrelle Revis. With the second pick (#13, from the Revis trade), they grabbed the top defensive tackle on the board, Sheldon Richardson. The Jets did it right, and simply went for the best talent they could get.

- The Bills, on the other hand: Buffalo made no bones about the fact that they wanted to come out of this draft with a franchise quarterback. After trading down from #8 to #16, their pick came up with every quarterback still on the board, so they had their pick of the litter. These are the names of quarterbacks who had been mocked somewhere reliable as the first quarterback taken in this draft:
Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib (who played for the current Bills coach in college).

The Bills bypassed all of these names and took EJ Manuel out of Florida State.

Now before I continue, I should point out that my team picked a quarterback in last year's draft that everyone thought would fail in the NFL. They rode this quarterback to the divisional round of the playoffs and are being talked up as a legitimate Super Bowl contender this off season. So one might think I should be careful in ragging on another team for taking a quarterback way ahead of where the pundits thought he should go.

But there are two giant differences in the two situations:
1) All of the negatives for Russell Wilson were about his height. The negatives around EJ Manuel concern his ability to play quarterback (can he go through his reads, his ability to move in the pocket, and accuracy).
2) Russell Wilson stepped into a team with quite a bit of talent on it (good running game, great defense). Manuel's Bills have a couple of offensive talents (CJ Spiller, Stevie Johnson) and nothing else.

This smells like a team that saw the read option succeed last year, so they went for the most athletic quarterback they could find. The issue is, the read option worked because it was used with great quarterbacks who happened to be athletic. Not athletes playing quarterback. With the uncertainty as to whether Manuel is the former or the latter, taking him at #16 when no one else had even sniffed at a quarterback looks desperate. And choices made in desperation tend to end badly, much like all of Buffalo's seasons since 1999 (or ever, depending on your perspective).

Vikings make 3 picks: Minnesota grabbed a DT with their original pick (#23), a CB with the pick they got from the Seahawks as part of the Percy Harvin deal (#25), and a WR with a pick they acquired from the Patriots for a few mid-round picks (#29).

Manti Te'o is selected one: Three teams were talked up as having interest in Te'o in the first round. The Bears, the Vikings, and the Ravens. The Bears and Ravens seemed the result of lazy analysis ("Oh, Urlacher/Lewis is gone, let's give them the best known MLB in the draft!") Minnesota's interest seemed a little more legit, but between his measurables, his performance in the Alabama game, and his, ummm, fake dead girlfriend, he was not going to be good value in the first round. On the plus side, I'm sure ESPN and the NFL Network have learned their lesson and won't spend all of today talking about him again...right? Right? Please???

Patriots trade out of 1st round: In other news, the sun rose in the east, dog bites man, and the Browns still stink (sorry, Cleveland).

Day 1 Trade rundown:
Miami gets
Oakland gets
12th, 42nd
St. Louis gets
Buffalo gets
8th, 71st
16th, 46th, 78th, 222nd
San Francisco gets
Dallas gets
31st, 74th
Atlanta gets
St. Louis gets
22nd, 7th rounder (2015)
30th, 92nd, 198th
Minnesota gets
New England gets
52nd, 83rd, 102nd, 229th

The two trades that stand out are Dallas-San Francisco (San Francisco got to move up 13 spots for very cheap) and Minnesota-New England (for a team with 2 other first rounders, Minnesota paid dearly to get a 3rd one in a draft that's being talked up for its depth, not it's cream of the crop).

No comments:

Post a Comment