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Friday, May 6, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Thoughts: Final Impressions

Well, last weekend was fun.  This post is coming a little late I know, but it's also given me time to go over each team's draft and think about how each pick can potentially impact current rosters and direction of each team.  It's too early to give each team a grade but it's not too early to see who tried to help themselves and who didn't.  It's no surprise that the teams who performed the best on draft day are winning franchises. The Lions may not fit the mold but once Matt Millen was fired they've had some good drafts and begun turning things around.

 Don't cry, Mark. The Saints trading up to select you is my favorite move of the NFL Draft.

Three Teams Whose Drafts I Like
  1. Indianapolis Colts
    1. Anthony Castonzo OT
    2. Ben Ijalana OT
    3. Drake Nevis DT
    4. Delone Carter RB
    5. Chris Rucker DB
    • A lot was made of how horribly Peyton Manning played last season.  Not as many people talked about how awful the Colts offensive line was. No, they didn't give up a lot of sacks - Manning is masterful at getting rid of the ball - but running game was atrocious. The line couldn't block for the run game or the pass game and as a result Manning was rarely comfortable. In my opinion Castonzo was the best tackle in the draft and will protect the blind side immediately. Ijalana is another prospect who will anchor this line from day 1. He might not start at RT but he should end up there.  Drake Nevis is a great fit in the Colts 4-3 scheme and will help against the run. Delone Carter will likely be the #3 running back to start but could end up being the main guy if Donald Brown can't stay healthy.  He's already better than Mike Hart. Chris Rucker is a special teamer and depth at a position where the Colts always have injury issues. I love this draft and the Colts should be better now and in five years from now.
  2. New Orleans Saints
    1. Cameron Jordan DE
    2. Mark Ingram RB
    3. Martez Wilson ILB
    4. Johnny Patrick CB
    5. Greg Romeus DE
    6. Nathan Bussey OLB
    •  Despite having Drew Brees the Saints were never completely in sync last year. The defense lacked the big plays that they lived on in 2009 and the offense suffered injuries at the running back position.  With the first pick New Orleans took best player available in DE C. Jordan who just so happened to fit in with their needs list. He should start immediately.  I've already talked about what a great move it was to get RB Ingram.  Martez Wilson is a big hitter who will slide in next to Scott Shanle.  Johnny Patrick is a CB who could turn into a very good nickel back, Greg Romeus is an excellent run defender and will stick with the team, Nathan Bussey adds depth and special teams ability. The Saints are instant contenders again.
  3. Detroit Lions
    1. Nick Fairley DT
    2. Titus Young WR
    3. Mikel Leshoure RB
    4. Douglas Hogue OLB
    5. Johnny Culbreath OT
    • The Lions did not address the offensive line or secondary which most fans and draft pundits agreed were their two biggest needs.  They did, however, add play makers to three key positions which make them instant playoff contenders. I think only Cam Newton is a higher bust risk than Nick Fairley but if Fairley works out watch out! Fairley next to Suh is downright scary. Two DTs that are excellent pass rushers will increase the pressure off the edge and in theory improve the DBs.  Titus Young provides a quick underneath target so Megatron won't be double teamed on every play.  Mikel Leshoure is likely going to steal a lot of carries from Javhid Best and is more durable.  Douglas Hogue was a productive player in college but I'm not sure if he'll have much of a career in the NFL. Johnny Culbreath is a nice developmental pick who could stick at tackle in a couple of years. Expect the Lions to go after a CB and OT if there's free agency.
Honorable Mention
  • Baltimore Ravens - Got a good CB (Jimmy Smith), a speedy WR (Torrey Smith), a potential possession receiver (Tandon Doss), and a OT prospect (Jah Reid). Filled their needs without having to reach or trade. The playoff streak will continue.
  • Cincinnati Bengals - Took the best player in the draft (AJ Green), a QB they're sold on being their franchise QB (Andy Dalton), an underrated pass rusher (Dontay Moch),  and perhaps the best interior lineman in the draft (Clint Boling) all by the fourth round. An excellent draft for a rebuilding team.
  • New York Giants - Got a the second best CB (Prince Amukamara), another pass rushing DT (Marvin Austin), a big play WR (Jerrel Jernigan), a big OT (James Brewer), and a tackle machine (Greg Jones) at linebacker. They had perhaps the best value pick of any team in every round of this draft.

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