Surprise! To three of my readers out there, I lied. Because you asked for it, I have changed my mind and decided to do my first NFL Draft edition of FMQB! I figured that the 2 extra weeks that ESPN gets to talk about the Draft isn’t enough media attention for everybody, so I’ll do a mini post to add my two cents. As a disclaimer, the reason I initially said “no” was because I’m not much of a College Football guy. But with the ability to witness a potential Top 10 draft class of all time, I felt compelled to get involved.
On a side note, despite my lack of college football knowledge, I have always loved watching the draft. Although it can be one of the more boring pieces of television, it seems to give teams and fan bases hope for the following year. Plus, it always feels like football has been gone so long, that it reminds people that fun is right around the corner! This year has taken FOREVER to get to this point. Holding it 2 weeks later doesn’t help, and neither does the quality of players.
Second side note, I joke about ESPN’s coverage, but I became enthralled in Jon Gruden’s QB Camp series which followed 8 QB’s. If anybody hasn’t seen this and can catch a re-run, I highly recommend it. Especially Johnny Manziel’s episode, which changed my opinion on him 180 degrees (for the better). Gruden does a good job of pointing out flaws, asking the tough questions, and not taking the easy way out. Plus, you think you know football until you watch these guys start to break down plays.
Let’s be honest here, it’s such a crapshoot that even the experts get surprised with picks. So here is my Top 10 Draft Picks, and then where some other notable players could/should go. I tried to be a little gutsy with a few things, including a major trade to start it off!
1. Atlanta Falcons (trade with Houston Texans) — Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: With a draft class like this, I see teams willing to move up. I also don’t think Houston is in love with any of the QB’s to warrant a #1 overall pick. The Falcons had a fluke year last year, and don’t need WR, QB, RB, or really anything on offense. An explosive DE could be the missing piece to their puzzle. The Falcons also showed that they are willing to make this move by grabbing Julio Jones a few years ago.
2. St. Louis Rams — Greg Robinson, T, Auburn: As a Rams fan, I have gone from the mindset of “Please draft either O-Line or Wide Receiver” to “Draft anybody but Clowney!” First off, I don’t like Clowney’s work ethic. Second, I swear the Rams have drafted Defensive line 6 of their last 8 years, and it hasn’t been leading to wins. I would also be upset if they went QB here, but don’t see that happening. Robinson is a player that could bolster the line for years to come.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: QB is another true need, but I think Watkins dropping to 3 is a steal and hard to pass up.
4. Cleveland Browns — Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M: With the Browns signing Vince Young, and Brian Hoyer showing a strong outing last year, I don’t see the Browns picking a QB in this first slot. They have another 1st round pick, and the position is deep enough to grab a guy to groom there. Do another safe pick with offensive line.
5. Oakland Raiders — Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: Here’s another guy who would be a steal at #5, after Peter King had Mack as the top pick of the draft. Once again, I think the Raiders will address QB in the draft, but are content with Schaub as the starter for now.
6. Houston Texans (From Atlanta) — Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida: And we get to the Quarterbacks! It’s a bit risky to wait until 6 for the first QB to come off the board, but I have 3 straight QB’s taken. This is also why it’s wise for Houston to trade down, and still get the top QB in the draft (or the QB of their choice). I struggled with this one, as I think Manziel could be great for a Texas team, but Bortles has size and is more of a pocket passer.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: I feel like Tampa Bay could be perfect for Manziel. Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, and Manziel could be a show worth seeing! Plus I think Lovie Smith could handle the drama, while teaching the kid to grow. He would also have a chance to be successful right away. Another pick that would be a steal if he fell this far (I’m sensing a theme).
8. Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: So this is coming from rumors, but apparently the Vikings aren’t a fan of Manziel, but have had Bridgewater workout multiple times. Khalil Mack is also a popular choice here, but I think the Vikings need to address QB early on in the draft. Bridgewater could sit a year behind Matt Cassell, and be ready to go for the new stadium.
9. Buffalo Bills – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: Don’t know much about this TE, other than the fact he’s supposed to be the real deal. But if he doesn’t pan out, who cares, it’s the Bills! (Just kidding, had to throw that in for one reader).
10. Detroit Lions — Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama: The Lions of old were the laughing stock of the draft, why not continue the trend with a guy named Ha Ha…
Notable Players and Tidbits:
Mike Evans: I think he will be the 2nd WR taken in the draft, but has the potential to be an instant help to a team. He is easily a Top 10 draft pick, just not on my board. Could be a pick for the Rams or Titans.
Derek Carr: I see Carr going in the first round to Cleveland. It’s a safe pick to address this need, and have him sit behind Hoyer and Young and compete for the job next year.
A.J McCarron: Has the potential to be a starting QB in this league if he sits and learns for a while. Most likely a 2nd round pick, I think he’d be great for Oakland or Arizona in the next round.
Aaron Murray: He’s coming off a knee injury which is scaring teams away. But on Gruden’s QB camp, I saw him run and throw like nothing was wrong after 5 months (which is unheard of). I think he’ll drop to the 3rd round, but would be great for Jacksonville.
So I confess, I did look at a few mock drafts before writing this (but tried to put my own spin on it). Not kidding, neither Mel Kiper or Todd McShay have a Running Back taken in the 1st round! Have we seriously become that much of a passing league that a star running back isn’t a top need anymore?
There have been 78 Drafts. As a testament to the difficulty in truly evaluating players, only 29 #1 overall picks have made the Pro Bowl. On the flipside, a quite impressive 12 have made the Hall of Fame (that’s almost 5% of the entire Hall of Fame).