I actually like the fact that the Cleveland Browns didn’t feel compelled to draft a receiver simply because it’s their most glaring need. However, they missed the boat with Mitchell Schwartz.
Schwartz can be a reasonably effective starter, but he’s the type of player you can find in free agency every year without having to break the bank. In essence, he’s a younger Tony Pashos, the guy the Browns just released which opened up this hole at right tackle. The best way to describe Schwartz’s game is to say he’s a bend-but-don’t-break blocker. And when you move from the Pac-12 to the NFL, more of those blocks will begin to break.
The Denver Broncos addressed an obvious area of weakness, and did so with a player who should be able to come in and be reasonably effective. However, Derek Wolfe was most definitely not the top defensive tackle on the board.
Brandon Thompson, Devon Still and possibly a few others should have come off the board before Wolfe, who isn’t the most physically gifted player and appeared to have some conditioning/stamina issues in the games I studied from his senior year.
This is why teams like the Baltimore Ravens remain contenders year after year. They don’t get cute in the draft, they just wait for a great player to fall into their lap.
There are legitimate reasons why Courtney Upshaw fell into the 2nd round. He’s a ‘tweener, who doesn’t really look the part physically. But he’s been nothing but productive at Alabama, and the Ravens have the coaching staff and the leadership on the field to get the most out of his potential. They’ll use him in ways to fit his strengths and I have no doubt Upshaw will be productive from day one.
I would have criticized anyone who took Coby Fleener in the 1st round, or even early 2nd, with the exception of the Indianapolis Colts.
Fleener is strictly a pass-catching tight end, and even in that department he’s overrated, but his connection with Andrew Luck gives him added value for the Colts. Fleener will immediately make Luck feel more comfortable. Even if his long-term upside is relatively modest, his ability to help develop Luck makes him an extremely valuable asset in Indy.
Pretty cool to have Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt at the podium to introduce the St. Louis Rams next No. 1 receiver. However, this was too early for Brian Quick.
Sam Bradford needs someone who can come in and help him immediately, and the FCS receiver is too raw to make a significant impact early on. Unfortunately, this feels an awful lot like the when the Rams reached for Donnie Avery in the 2nd round in 2008. Quick will take time to develop, and probably isn’t the security blanket that Bradford needs. They would have been better off selecting a guy like Stephen Hill who, while he is also raw, could at least make an impact as a deep threat early on.
The San Diego Chargers, somewhat unexpectedly, took a patient approach to the draft and came with one of the potential steals of the 1st round.
There were rumors that the Chargers were interested in trading up for Mark Barron, which would have been a desperation move in what may be the final year of the A.J. Smith/Norv Turner era. But they stayed put and ended up with Melvin Ingram, who could have an even bigger impact on the Chargers defense.
The pairing of Ingram and Shaun Phillips gives the Chargers two quality pass rushers, something which they have been lacking since Shawne Merriman began to decline.
I typically don’t praise teams that trade up as far as the Dallas Cowboys, but I have to give them credit for addressing a glaring need with the best player at the position.
By adding Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, the Cowboys have completely overhauled their secondary and now have, at least on paper, the look of a top-10 defense. The Cowboys did part with their 2nd round pick, but with relatively few holes to fill, they could afford to come away with just one elite player in the first two rounds.
Claiborne will be an instant-impact cornerback, especially since he’ll typically be matched up with opponents No. 2 receivers.
This is exactly why the Pittsburgh Steelers are perennial contenders. They sit back, let everyone else around them panic and then take the best available player who falls into their lap.
The Steelers probably didn’t anticipate addressing their interior offensive line in the 1st round, but when David DeCastro was on the board, they simply couldn’t pass him up. DeCastro will immediately step into a starting role, likely at right guard, and help solidify an offensive line that needed a boost.
This move looks particularly strong since it immediately followed two division rivals, the Browns and Bengals, who reached to fill needs and who both would have been better off selecting DeCastro.
A quarterback should never be your fall-back option in the 1st round, but that’s exactly what happened to the Cleveland Browns.
According to Adam Schefter, the Browns were prepared to take Kendall Wright at No. 22 and were disappointed when the Titans surprisingly grabbed him at No. 20.
Brandon Weeden felt like a 1st-round reach to begin with, but this report further calls into question the strategy being used in the Browns war room. If you have a similar grade on a quarterback and a receiver in the 1st round, you always target the quarterback. Quality receivers are found in the mid-to-late rounds every year. Quarterbacks are not.
If the Browns were targeting Wright at No. 22, they obviously felt comfortable moving forward with Colt McCoy. Now it’s possible that they could have landed Weeden at No. 37 or traded up to get him, but you certainly can’t count on that option. If they took Wright at No. 22 they had to be OK with McCoy as their starting quarterback.
So if they were willing to move forward with another year of McCoy, why make Weeden the backup plan?
This entire situation makes it looks as though the Browns panicked, and calls into question just how much confidence they have in their new franchise quarterback. This is definitely not the type of publicity Mike Holmgren’s front office needs when they’re already losing the confidence of the fan base.
A few notes entering Day Two…
- A.J. Jenkins was the lowest-rated player on my board to go in the 1st round. I gave him a late 3rd-round grade. Tannehill, Weeden Irvin and Zeilter also had 3rd-round grades on my board.
- Six players with 1st-round grades are still on the board.
- Expect a run on skill position players early in the 2nd round. There’s not much left to choose from at running back especially, so someone will likely trade up for Lamar Miller and possibly Robert Turbin also.