One of the positives for the draft’s three-day format is that it gives us time to reflect on the moves of the first round. This is the money round, where teams do the most to help, as well as potentially hurt their teams. It’s much too soon to know how this draft will turn out, but that’s not going to stop me.
Most teams think they’ve hit homeruns, but rarely do they really do. Half a dozen or so teams probably landed a guy that will make multiple Pro Bowls. Most teams will land good players that will be solid starters for them that will be productive, but not great. But some teams will be looking back at this draft five years from now and scratching their heads.
Here are the 5 best picks of Round 1:
5. Arizona – CB Patrick Peterson – Peterson is, was, and will be the best player from this draft class. Period. The Cardinals didn’t have a dire need at cornerback, but with a down year from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler probably being better suited to playing the nickel spot, Peterson was too good to pass up here. The Cardinals did the smart thing and didn’t reach for a quarterback. Gabbert would have been a good pick here, but Peterson immediately gives their defense extra credibility. They still need work, but if they can improve their pass rush, they have the makings of one of the league’s premier secondaries today, and with players like Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Dan Williams, and Daryl Washington, we might see the Cardinals defense become of the best in the NFC in years to come.
10. Jacksonville – QB Blaine Gabbert – I really like this value for Gabbert. They only had to give up a second round pick to get their quarterback of the future. Gabbert will get at least a year to work behind David Garrard. The Jaguars are an organization that could be in flux in the near future, with questions about ownership and whether coaching staffs will be around to develop him, but as was the case when the Rams took Sam Bradford a year ago, I think Gabbert can provide that team some stability going forward to overcome that flux.
13. Detroit – DT Nick Fairley – This is a great value for the Lions, who get to plug in Fairley beside Ndamukong Suh. Along with a nice rotation with Sammie Lee Hill, Corey Williams, and ends like Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril, they have a solid front four core for the future. There has always been some risk with Fairley, but in the middle of the first round the potential rewards outweigh them.
14. St. Louis – DE Robert Quinn – I believe Quinn is right behind Peterson as far as being the best player in this draft class. And I think because of his missed season and some lingering issues about a brain tumor, teams were wary of him. That’s their idiocy. Quinn is going to be a dynamic pass rusher in St. Louis, and coupled with Chris Long will give them a pair of guys that can provide constant pressure on the QB. If Steve Spagnuolo wanted a pair of ends like he had in New York with Osi and Strahan, he just got them.
28. New Orleans – RB Mark Ingram – I think Ingram was one of the draft’s more underrated prospects. I think people in talking about how undervalued the RB position is, have gone a bit overboard. The Saints now get themselves a running back that can provide them the balance and stability on the ground that was a big reason for their success in 2009. Ingram I think will quickly pass Thomas and Bush as their lead back, and I think he’s going to be a guy that rushes for 1200+ yards every year for a long time in this league. Sean Payton will find ways to turn him into a Tomlinson-esque factor in their offense.
Here are the 5 worst picks:
1. Carolina – QB Cam Newton – Newton is going to be a good NFL quarterback. He’s just not going to be a great. He’s more raw coming into the league as a passer than Michael Vick was. And it took far too long for Vick to become a reliable passer at this level (ten years?). Like Vick, his athleticism is going to allow him to make plays when his arm cannot. But at a certain point probably around four or five years from now, the Panthers are going to be looking for Newton to make that next leap forward, and he just won’t be able to make it. They’ll be competitive and in a position to win 8-9 games every year. But he’s not going to be a guy that is going to make them into a championship-caliber team. When all is said and done, as is the case in Atlanta when you compare Vick and Chris Chandler, when he’s compared to Jake Delhomme, Panther fans will be split on who had the better career.
4. Cincinnati – WR A.J. Green – The Bengals could still make out like bandits if they manage to get the QB they want (Dalton) on the second day of the draft. And don’t get me wrong, A.J. Green is going to be a very productive player for the Bengals. He’ll put up big numbers, make multiple Pro Bowls, and might even have a nice Hall of Fame career. But when all is said and done the Bengals will be no more successful than they were during the Carson Palmer era. Wide receivers don’t win championships.
20. Tampa Bay – DE Adrian Clayborn – Again, like the others, CLayborn is going to be a nice starter. But if the Bucs were lookign to improve the league’s worst pass rush, they failed to do so. Clayborn is not going to be a dynamic pass rusher at the next level. He’ll be a guy that can give the Bucs 4-6 sacks every year, but rarely more than that and not a consistent basis week to week. He’ll make plays vs. the run, be a good effort player, but they’re going to continue to have to prioritize this position in the coming drafts.
21. Cleveland – DT Phil Taylor – The Browns are supposedly moving to a 4-3 scheme, and basically added a second nose tackle to play with Ahtyba Rubin. Congrats to them, they have a formidable front to stuff the run, but they are going to be chewed up in the passing game this year because they have no one upfront that can collapse the pocket and pressure the QB consistently.
25. Seattle – OT James Carpenter – What some folks like Mike Lombardi, who called Carpenter the second best LT prospect in the class, see in Carpenter, I’m not sure. Three years ago, I thought Duane Brown was a mid-to-late round prospect that was overdrafted. I think the same for Carpenter. I think he can be a decent starter up front, and the Seahawks did need to address their offensive line. He fits in their blocking scheme, but they could have find more or equally talented players later in the draft.