Sunday, May 1, 2016

Analyzing the 2016 NFL Draft: Round 1

The reality of the 2016 NFL Draft is that this was not going to go down as one of the all-time classically great drafts. That was a basic fact before the first pick was announced and Zeke Elliott made that unfortunate decision to wear a dressy belly shirt on the "red carpet" as he walked into the facility to be chosen 4th (more on that to come). The only thing that could save this draft was selective choosing by NFL personnel people, who often don't make the best decisions on most days (this means you, Dolphins). While some teams did take the selective picking process seriously, several did not, making a bad situation so much worse (Bills). Here is my breakdown on a first round that went from making sense, to making none at all at times...

1. Rams take Jared Goff
We all knew that this was either going to be Goff or Carson Wentz from the start. The only question would be which quarterback went number one, and which went two. The take on Goff from people in LA was largely "who's he?". My LA sources are telling me that nobody is expecting the world to change overnight for the Rams with this pick. Goff is largely a system guy who has not played under center during his career at Cal. He comes from a pass happy offense (understatement) where he tossed the football 40.7 times per game. I believe that he will eventually start, but I see Case Keenum starting for at least eight weeks before that happens. If the Rams play are playing him earlier, and if he passes 40.7 times per game, or even close to that number, the Rams will be in huge trouble in 2016.

2. Carson Wentz to Eagles
The headline in the Philly papers on Friday read "Kid, you'd better be good." Great way to build confidence in your new "franchise" QB. Remember, before reading too deeply into this, Philadelphia sports fans booed Santa Claus. They're a little unhinged. They booed the Donovan McNabb pick. They even, on occasion, booed Mike Schmidt. Bottom line is this...Wentz is not likely to be a franchise QB for anyone. He's good, but not great. He played in an offense that really has no translation in the pro game. He also has an injury history, and you already have a guy like that in Sam Bradford, for now anyway. Again, if Wentz is playing meaningful football in 2016, that is bad for the Eagles.

3. Chargers skip Jalen Ramsey to take Joey Bosa
This pick was a head scratcher for me. I understand that the Chargers were terrible in pressuring QBs in 2015, but Bosa seems to be a bad fit here. He will be asked to play OLB in a 3-4, when he has spent his entire career playing DE. Does he have the athleticism to make the transition? I am certain he does, but the Chargers spent so much time smoke screening everyone on this pick, it almost feels as if the outsmarted themselves here. Bosa has also had some off filed drama, and his head isn't always where it should be. There are some red flags, and it's a boom or bust pick.

4. Cowboys take Zeke Elliott and his very odd choice of apparel
So check out this picture... tell me if this guy is serious about what it is that he is going to be doing. I'll be called out as old school for this, but what in the hell is that? It is the most distasteful and disrespectful, self indulgent behavior for a guy who is going to be expected to be a franchise player on a very bad football team. This is not a leader. This is an attention whore. Elliott has all the talent in the world at RB (a position that has been highly devalued in the NFL), but his head is scrambled. This isn't the only question I have about him either. In a loss to Michigan State last fall, where he carried just 12 times for 33 yards, he put the coaching staff on full blast and acted as if they had no idea what they were doing handling him that way. He apologized later, but this kid could come off his rocker if things don't go his way.

5. Ramsey finally falls off the board to Jags
Jalen Ramsey fell right into the laps of the Jaguars after two teams that really needed his help passed up on him. Ramsey will start at CB, switch out to Nickle when needed, and is an impact kick return man. These are all things that the Jaguars needed, and the best player for the franchise fell from the sky. It could not have worked out any better for Jacksonville, and this terrible franchise looked competent. That would not last.

6. Ravens take Stanley from Notre Dame
Stanley is a super smart player who can start at RT right away and bide his time until he moves to the left side, which should not be a long wait. Stanley is a good character pick who could be a franchise lineman for years in Baltimore. The Ravens normally are a rare team that drafts wisely, so this was no surprise here. Very strong pick.

7. Chip Kelly sticks to roots, drafts Buckner
So, Chip Kelly went the Oregon route and took DeForest Buckner, a player that I believe to be the best end in this draft, even over Bosa in my opinion. Buckner will be a force from day one, and will be a tough assignment all season long. He is a natural pass rusher and will create havoc, as long as the 49ers can ensure that there are pieces to work with around him to keep him from becoming isolated. This was a smart pick by Kelly, and this is exactly who they wanted from the start.

8. Titans trade up for Conklin
They took a ton of criticism for making this pick after trading back up to the 8 spot, but I think it was pure genius. Leremy Tunsil was projected as the best tackle available, but his off field antics cost him anywhere between a projected $10-12 million. Conklin is a beast at tackle, and was a perfect selection to protect Marcus Mariota and block for newly acquired DeMarco Murray. If only the Titans personnel folks continued making sense...

9. Bears go out on a limb for Floyd
The Bears need help almost everywhere. They are just not good. We all know this. The pick of George OLB Leonard Floyd is the kind of pick that makes you want to burn down your team's practice facility. They obviously don't get it in Chicago. Floyd is a passing down LB that really doesn't cover. He is overly tall, and is overly lanky for his height. I don't know where he fits in for the Bears, making this one of those dumb personnel department mistakes. Does he have upside? Sure. There's just more down than up, and this was not the place to do this.

10. The Big Apple gets a not so ripe Apple
The Giants taking Eli Apple here makes about as much sense as the Kardashian popularity when you cannot find anyone who seems to watch their show. Apple was the 79th rated player in the Rotoworld rankings, yet went 10th. He gambles on balls too often, gets burned more than he should, and is all around not ready to be a stand in starting CB in this league, especially when the Giants could have used some retooling on offense to help out an aging Eli Manning. This is senseless. I guess Tom Coughlan really has left the building.

11. Bucs fill serious need with Hargreaves III
The Bucs were a team devoid of any real talent at CB last season. Hargreaves changes all that. He was ranked the 11th best player in the draft coming in, and that is where he fell, to a team that needs him desperately. Hargreaves is even from Tampa, so there is that. This pick made sense from every angle, and he will be an impact starter from the start. This was a smart pick.

12. Saints add impact on defense in Rankins
Sheldon Rankins was one of the best defensive linemen in college football last season. This was a stupendous pick for the Saints, who have had defensive deficiencies for some time now. Rankins is a guy who stops the run, and crushes QBs on passing downs. One more bonus is that his character level is through the roof. This is a leader and a stalwart, someone who the Saints can lean on for years.

13. Dolphins begin string of bad decisions with Tunsil
I really wonder if the owner of the Cleveland Indians from the Major League film owns the Dolphins and is trying to move the franchise to Cleveland rather than the other way around as in the film. Tunsil gets busted in a Twitter video smoking pot while wearing a gas mask, and the day of the draft rats out the Ole Miss coaching staff for having paid him. He did slide and lose some cash, but of course the immortally incompetent Dolphins are the team that moves on him. Of course they did, because that's so Miami.

14. Raiders pull a Raider move, get damaged goods
Myles Jack was too much a risk here, but Karl Joseph, a safety out of West Virginia, was fine? Joseph blew his knee three games into last season, and is not healed as of yet, but the Raiders made a move on a guy ranked as the 57th best prospect in the draft with a wrecked knee in the middle of the first round? Is Al Davis not really dead?

15. Corey Coleman heads to Browns
Not a WR was drafted until this pick, which is bizarre in most drafts, but this was not, as I said before, a classically great draft. The WR position was no exception here, and so Coleman is the first one taken at 15. Coleman is a speedster who runs great in straight lines and can get down field uncontested, but that was also in the Baylor playground offense of Art Briles, which he will not be mimicking with Cleveland. He also has a case of the dropsies, so that's a concern as well. I am not a fan of system guys, and Coleman screams system guy.

16. Lions have no plan B, stay at Tackle with Decker
Again, the league is loaded with dumb personnel guys, and Detroit is not immune. The Lions reached way down the board, and instead of trading down to get Decker (34th ranked prospect) they took him right at 16. Decker is a quality player, but he is being drafted as a Tackle (position of need). The problem is that he projects inside to OG, not tackle. That is a problem.

17. Falcons surprise by picking Safety Keanu Neal
Here was another major befuddling moment by a team still trying to find an identity. Keanu Neal is a terrible pass cover Safety, and is more of a cannon ball type tackler. That's great against the run, but he is going to have to cover as well, and it is not a strong suit. Add to the fact that he was the 63rd ranked prospect, and was selected at 17, and you have a major mess on your hands.

18. Colts get line help for Luck in Center Kelly
Ryan Kelly, a Center out of Alabama, is a perfect fit for the interior of the Colts line. He is smart, will work well with Andrew Luck, and has very high character. The draw back is that he had some knee issues, and that could be a problem. The upside is that he was the 16th best player on the prospect list, and so the Colts got value, and if he stays on the field, this could be a very smart pick.

19. Bills get a gift, Shaq Lawson falls to them
I've heard it said that Shaq Lawson is not a special player. That's a load of crap. Lawson was as good as any defensive lineman in college football, and is a nightmare for offensive line coaches to work around. Lawson is a natural attacker at the point of contact, can stop the run, and is a wrecker of QBs. Lawson was a gift at 19, and the Bills were smart enough here to make the play. This is a huge get for them.

20. Jets diversify on defense with Darron Lee
Nobody saw this pick coming, but Lee is a versatile LB that can play inside or out. He is not the biggest guy on campus, but he has first rate speed, and will likely cover TEs and slots in the 3-4 look. Lee was a solid grab here, and will be an impact guy early. This pick makes a ton of sense.

21. Texans add weapon to offense in Fuller
Will Fuller was my favorite WR in this draft. For one, he's not a systemized fluke. He can really play the game in diverse offenses and sets, and really fits what you want in the NFL. He has decent size and speed, and will fight for the ball. Fuller was a beast at Notre Dame, and is incredibly underrated. Say what you will about the other receivers in this class, but Fuller was the best bet.

22. Redskins add weapon for Cousins, get Doctson
Josh Doctson was one of the more prolific receivers in college football, but played in a bit of a system offense at TCU. Still, he may be able to overcome all of that and be the weapon that Kirk Cousins needs him to be in the Redskins offense. I like him as a bit of a slot guy, but not an outside guy. He really is a boom or bust receiver.

23. Vikings continue run on receivers, get Treadwell
Laquan Treadwell is never going to be mistaken for a speedster. What he is, however, is a physical possession receiver who will give Teddy Bridgewater a weapon that will fight for the football in critical passing downs and in the red zone. Think Ed McCaffery, or a Sydney Rice with talent.

24. Bengals add depth and ability in secondary in Jackson
William Jackson III led the nation in pass breakups last season, and played huge in an important win against Florida State. Jackson will add yet another piece to an improving Bengals secondary. Expect him to play solid minute early, and watch as the Bengals come to rely on his play making ability more and more as the season progresses. Solid pick here.

25. Steelers make rare mistake in 1st round bust pick
Artie Burns, a corner out of Miami, was the 95 ranked prospect in this draft. That's a full 70 spots lower than where the Steelers drafted him. Surely there were better options available. This was a rare bungled pick by a normally smart organization. It's almost as if Al Davis really is still alive, and he picks for the Steelers now, too.

26. Paxton Lynch to Broncos
It almost seems as if John Elway started to have a meltdown when he lost a 6'-7" QB, and just had to have another. Lynch is probably more accomplished coming out of school than Brock Osweiler was, but here's the thing...and I am showing my age here, but they both remind me somewhat of Dan McGwire. Lynch is a big armed, big guy, but does he translate to this level? I have my doubts.

27. Packers do what they do, draft defensive help in round 1
The Packers love taking front seven types early, and they got a gem in UCLA DT Kenny Clark. When injuries started picking UCLA's defense apart in 2015, Clark stepped up and became a leader up front, and is a high energy, high character leader. He should give the Packers immediate impact, and will likely start from day one.

28. 49ers go for O line help
I am not arguing that the Niners needed some help on the line, but they traded up to reach for the 44th best prospect here in Stanford Guard Joshua Garnett. He is a very intelligent player, and is highly motivated and won't be a problem off the field, but the Niners could have made this pick later, and did not have to trade up to do this. Not an awful choice, but not the best either.

29. Robert Nkemdiche to Cardinals, and headaches as well
Nobody will doubt the potential of Nkemdiche. What I will doubt is that there is anything resembling a brain between his ears. This is a guy who cares so little about his career that he got hammered or stoned, or both, and fell four floors from his hotel room in recent months. He is so off and on, so all over the place, that I could never conceive of drafting this guy. Someone had to do it, so he goes to Phoenix. Good luck with that.

30. Panthers show why they are a Super Bowl team, drafts Butler
The Panthers are fairly loaded, and very well could go back to the Super Bowl in 2016/17. Butler is drafted as insurance that either starter bails after this season, and also adds depth to the front. I like this pick, because Butler can bring some impact now, but there is no rush to push him. Carolina is one of the few teams that has that luxury, and so this makes sense.

31. Seahawks make a strange reach in final 1st round pick
Germain Ifedi of Texas A&M was the 112th rated prospect coming into this draft. He largely tanked at OT in college. He has not been a guard before. His football IQ is limited, and his skill set reads as 4th rounder at best. Yet, the Seahawks pick him at 31. Everyone wants to credit Pete Carroll as being the smartest guy in the room, but this is not smart on any level. As a matter of fact, it is down right dumb.

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