The Sports Bros.
The good, the bad, and the Texans: One last round-by-round look at the NFL Draft
With the NFL stuck in a lockout that has no ready end in site, actual football news will be scant for the foreseeable future. Taking that in mind, let's examine the impact of the NFL Draft one last time for a final football fix.
We, The Sports Bros., do not grade teams' drafts because we believe there is no way to know how these players perform until they're seen on the field. (You can give grades, but be honest: Grade is based on value, your best estimates and pure speculation. Be transparent.)
Nonetheless, we still have some thoughts on the draft — we wouldn't be columnists if we didn't.
You have to love what Arizona did in taking Patrick Peterson. There was a lot temptation to take a QB there — instead, they snagged perhaps the best player in the draft at five. Also, if Nick Fairley isn't a one-year wonder at Auburn, the Lions would really have themselves a steal in getting Fairley to go along with Ndamukong Suh at 13. The Colts getting O-Line talent to protect Peyton Manning is never a bad idea.
Any team that took a quarterback in a round one. None of these QBs screams elite talent. Cam Newton is exciting, yes, but to be the No. 1 overall with the other talent available? We'd say he'd need to be a lot more of a sure thing.
In addition, we're not sure which is more of a head scratcher: Jake Locker at eight to the Titans, or Christian Ponder to the Vikings at 12. Blaine Gabbert at 10 isn't ideal either, but he doesn't need to start right away as the Jaguars still have a solid performer in David Garrard.
We're OK with the JJ Watt pick. Is it sexy? No. But the fact is that we needed a pass rusher — the backlash will be if Fairley or Prince or Quinn turn out to be stars and they passed on them.
Texans fans love to bring up past draft picks and how their organization missed, and that will be exactly what happens here if any other first rounder turns out to be great. But great pass rushers turn average cornerbacks into good cornerbacks, so don't be worried that Houston didn't take a CB here.
Whereas any QBs in the first round were a bad idea, the opposite applies to QBs in the second round. I really like what Cincinnati did in going up and taking Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick respectively — it's refreshing to see Cincinnati making moves to take a guy with such high character in Andy Dalton.
Again, the Lions make a great pick in snagging Titus Young to play opposite Calvin Johnson. With Stafford back healthy, that team is going to be the sleeper pick in the NFL next season.
The Arizona Cardinals drafted Ryan Williams, a running back out of Virginia Tech, with their second pick. I guess they're fully admitting that they made a mistake in drafting Beanie Wells — a slow and overrated Big Ten running back — in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. With the passing game and tandem running back situations becoming more commonplace in the NFL, this seems like the Cardinals really lost some value with their high second-round pick.
When the Texans drafted Brooks Reed (DL out of Arizona) all the jokes about the Texans taking defensive lineman in years past were starting to ring too true. (Read: Amobi Okoye, Jason Babin.) It's not that the pick wasn't good — it's just that the Texans have not given their fan base any reason to believe that they can properly evaluate NFL DL talent.
That being said, their moves in the third round gave Texans fans some hope that they knew what they were doing.
If you're the Rams, you should be excited about adding wide receivers Austin Pettis. You get Donnie Avery back from injury, and with the emergence of Danny Amendola, a WR from Texas Tech, you now have some real weapons for Sam Bradford (Rookie of the Year!) to work with.
The Patriots are just being the Patriots here taking Ryan Mallet as a value pick in the third round to groom him as Tom Brady insurance. If Brady doesn't go down, they can trade him off to a team for a first-rounder later. Drake Nevis, DT out of LSU, is also a solid pick for the Colts. He can really fight in the middle and he'll work very nicely between Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
As I praise the Patriots for one of their picks in the third round, I'll go ahead and question their other in tailback Stevan Ridley from LSU. The Patriots don't really put a premium on RBs, but they just got done drafting Shane Vereen in the second round ... and now they draft another in the third?
I know it seems weird to question Bill Belichik, but this one surely makes one wonder. Also, the Cowboys draft DeMarco Murray, a running back out of OU. He seems awfully similar to Felix Jones. Could this be the end of Marion Barber in Dallas?
In Wade Phillips we trust? Houston trades up with the Patriots to nab Miami cornerback Brandon Harris. No problems with that at all. Add a veteran to the corner to the mix in free agency, and it's starting to look like the Texans know what they're doing.
Rounds 4 and 5:
The Browns got a great and multi talented TE in Jordan Cameron out of USC. With the evolution of the passing game, "do-it-all" TEs are a must — and they didn't even have to use a first or second round pick. (Colt McCoy thanks you in advance.) You also have to love that the Browns went and got Owen Marecic, a guy who played both fullback and linebacker at Stanford, to block for Peyton Hillis. That will be the hardest hitting backfield in the NFL.
The Falcons are going to love Jacquizz Rodgers. Getting him in the fifth round is a great get. He'll back up Michael Turner and be put in a great position to succeed as Atlanta's offense should be nothing short of spectacular next year. (Hell, they bet a ton of picks on Julio Jones that this is the year.)
It wouldn't be an NFL Draft if Al Davis didn't go out and get the fastest guy at the combine. This year is no exception as he drafted Chimdi Chekwa, a defensive back out of Ohio State. He's a project, but his speed made him attractive to only Davis here. (Hey Mr. Davis, how's Darius-Heyward Bay doing?)
The Eagles drafted kicker Alex Henery here — it's not near as crazy as taking Sebastian Janikowski in the first round like the Raiders did in 2000, but I still always question drafting kickers in a round that isn't the final round. I guess David Akers is out the door.
You got to love them jumping back into the fourth round to get more defensive back help with the drafting of Rashad Carmichael. He'll compete for a starting spot and hopefully that will make all the CBs better. Houston addressed the safety position by getting hard-hitter Shiloh Keo out of Idaho. He'll be exciting to watch.
The Texans also drafted UNC quarterback TJ Yates. Some people were perplexed by the Yates pick, but I think it's good. Matt Schaub isn't exactly known to be a pillar of health and I don't trust Dan Orlovsky at all. It's gotta be said: We're really liking the way the Texans draft is shaking out at this point.
Rounds 6 and 7:
If we're going to pretend that quarterback wins matter, then we say good for the Ravens and Jets who took Tyrod Taylor and Greg McElroy in the sixth and seventh rounds. The Ravens already have Troy Smith, so our best guess is that he'll be gone.
The Jets still have Mark Brunell, and it seems weird to say this, but he'll teach McElroy how to be a great backup. The more football you watch, the more the backup QB is so crucial. McElroy is a Rhodes Scholar finalist and one of the most insightful Twitter users in college. Two years in a row he has offered up his thoughts on SEC players during draft day. It's good to see both of these players get a shot. They worked hard in college and now they get their reward.
The NFL is not a charity case, but surely some team could have used their seventh round pick on cancer survivor Mark Herzlich. It's not like he's some scrub of a player. He was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
This also brings to light how the lockout is further damaging the game. Since teams can't make transactions, they can't sign any undrafted free agents, like Mark Herzlich. I have a feeling he'll find a home somewhere, but as of right now, his life is on hold.
They picked up some offensive line help in the form of Derek Newton. He won't be a starter, but he'll be able to play some guard, a position that the Texans were a bit weak at last year.
The Texans are also the proud owners of Mr. Irrelevant, the last pick in the draft. That pick was used on: Cheta Ozougwu, a defensive lineman from Rice University. There was a joke on Twitter during draft day that read something like, "How fitting that the Mr. Irrelevant pick goes from an irrelevant college program to an irrelevant NFL team."
We can only hope he proves us all wrong.