NFL Draft Winners and Losers
Dallas Cowboys: Fans of America’s team should rejoice with the cowboys’ draft haul. Clearly headlining this class of picks was LSU CB Morris Claiborne. Capitalizing on yet another critical blunder made by the Tampa Bay Bucs, the Cowboys saw a rare opportunity at the 6th pick to move up and select the talented DB. Most teams were aware that St. Louis’ top prospects were Trent Richardson and Justin Blackmon, both off the board at this point. Realizing the Ram’s desire to trade down, the Cowboys swooped in and landed a high-floor future shut down CB. Although Claiborne will never be the brains of this defense (sporting a 4/50 wonderlick score), he performs his craft well, blanketing number 1 receivers. My favorite other Dallas pick was Georgia TE Orson Charles, whom they stole in the 4th round. An early on 1st round prospect, Charles fell down draft boards because of postseason character concerns, however, finding him in the 4th round is an incredible value pick.
Philadelphia: By moving up to grab one of the most dominant defensive players in the draft in Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox, the Eagles were among the smartest teams on the draft’s first night. Watching him inexplicably fall to pick 13 provided the perfect opportunity for the Eagles to move up and get their man without conceding too much to make the move. Adding Cal LB Mychal Kendricks in the second round was just the perfect fit of icing on the cake. A speedy tackling machine, Kendricks is just what the doctor ordered for this linebacker core in transition. These two players should start from day 1 and add even more talent to an already absurd Eagles front 7 that also includes: DE Trent Cole, DE Jason Babin, DT Cullen Jenkins and LB Demeco Ryans.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers entered the draft with few yet important needs on their roster. They had holes at the guard, outside linebacker and cornerback positions, yet they decided to ignore these needs completely and focus on offensive skill position players like WR AJ Jenkins and RB LaMichael James. I’m all for sticking to the integrity of your draft board, and taking the best player available at times, but in certain cases, deficiencies need to be amended. For an offense that struggled in 2011, the 49ers certainly don’t have a lack of skill position talent. James will join a crowded backfield that includes Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon, and Brandon Jacobs. Jenkins joins a receiving group already housing Vernon Davis, Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, and Mario Manningham. In my opinion, this was a very perplexing draft for the usually strategic 49ers.
Denver Broncos: The signing of QB Peyton Manning symbolized the shift in the attitude of Denver’s front office. They went from an overachieving ground and pound team, to a soon to be potent offense through the air. Transitions like this don’t happen over night, regardless of whether or not you have a hall of fame QB running the show. Despite this “win now” mentality, the Broncos traded twice out of the first round, losing out on potential difference makers to surround Manning. The selection of QB Brock Osweiler in particular puzzled me. It is completely understandable for the Broncos to select a project type QB to learn under Manning for a few seasons, however a 2nd round pick seemed a bit high for my liking to do so. By taking a player who won’t see the field during the Manning era, they again passed up the opportunity to give Manning more pieces to the ultimate puzzle.