A look at some of my favorite, and not so favorite, draft moves from round one:
I love it on paper…
The Detroit Lions
Not only did the Lions get the best overall prospect in the draft in Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, they also got a player who many – including me – thought was the best running back in the draft, Jahvid Best. I think both guys have the ability to come in and make big impacts from day one. Suh is the kind of talent you can build an entire defense around, while Best should instantly jump-start the Lions’ run game. I see both prospects as potential blue-chippers at their positions who could end up getting Detroit over the hump toward a winning season in 2010. Yeah, I said it.
Tyson Alualu, Jacksonville Jaguars
Sure, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be the whipping boys of every draft analyst after taking a guy at No. 10 who pretty much no one had heard of. However, talk to me three years from now and we’ll see just how much of a “reach” this pick really was. I love Alualu, had him ranked as the draft’s second-best defensive end prospect and think he has the versatility to play both end and the three-technique in a 4-3 front. He’s got a thick, strong frame with the suddenness to disengage from blocks consistently on contact and possesses a motor that runs non-stop. Sure, many projected him as a second-round guy, but I think he’s one of the safer prospects in the draft, and outside of Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, I’d have a hard time finding a defensive lineman I would rather have.
Bryan Bulaga, Green Bay Packers
It just fits. Bulaga is a tough, level-headed kid who plays with a bit of a mean streak and has the temperament needed to be successful in Green Bay. He’s also a much better athlete, in my opinion, than given credit for and is at his best when asked to get out in space and eliminate linemen off his frame. Plus, he has the versatility to start for the Packers at either guard or tackle as a rookie and seems capable of playing at a high level for a long time.
The Denver Broncos
There are definitely some unknowns to both QB Tim Tebow and WR Demaryius Thomas at this stage, but I think Josh McDaniels’ offense can be tailored perfectly to allow both to play to their strengths more than any other NFL offense. Thomas is as physically gifted as any wideout in the class, and because McDaniels’ offense relies so much on working his receivers from bunch sets, allowing them to create underneath on crossing patterns, Thomas doesn’t need to be a great route runner to make plays. As for Tebow, this is a case where he’s the kind of guy McDaniels can grind on day in and day out in practice, and it seems like a perfect fit from a personality standpoint. Tebow has the ability to make all the throws needed, plus the athleticism and escapability to create when things break down. Overall, both guys are gifted physically, but both have some rough spots to their games. However, I don’t think there’s an NFL offense that would allow either to play to their strengths more so than Denver. That’s why I love these picks.
I still think there were better options…
Trent Williams, Washington Redskins
There’s just no way I can be sold on the idea that Trent Williams is the best offensive tackle in the draft, and I believe the ‘Skins made a big mistake passing on Russell Okung. I get the fact that Williams made more sense for Washington because he has a little more range in space, making him a better fit for its zone blocking scheme. However, I thought there was a clear advantage in favor of Okung in pass protection, which is why I ultimately saw him as the better future NFL player. Williams does have the range out of his stance to reach speed off the edge, but my biggest concern is his struggle to cleanly redirect on any kind of counter move. Every time I watched tape of him, he struggled to keep his base down and maintain a proper pad level when trying to quickly change directions, resulting in penetration on any kind of hard counter move back inside. Now, do I think he’s a capable NFL tackle? Yes, but I still believe he’s better suited for the right side and is simply not the same caliber prospect as Okung.
Kareem Jackson, Houston Texans
Make no mistake — I think Jackson could end up being a solid NFL cover man. However, if I’m drafting a cornerback in the first round, I want a guy who potentially has the ability to play on an island in man coverage, and I don’t think Jackson has that kind of skill set. He’s a physical guy who does a nice job quickly locating the football on all areas of the field, but I don’t think he’s the kind of press corner he’s being made out to be (see Tennessee), and I still think he’s a bit stiff when asked to turn and run with receivers down the field. Jackson should mature into a solid NFL cornerback, but with Kyle Wilson and Devin McCourty still on the board, I think the Texans picked the wrong guy.
Teams with quarterback needs
The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and I simply don’t understand how a prospect as seasoned and NFL-ready as Jimmy Clausen falls to round two. I know he has some flaws to his game and might not have a ton of overall upside, but I still think he has a real Matt Hasselbeck aura about his game – solid but unspectacular — which is enough at the QB spot to win games in the NFL. And since there are a number of teams that Clausen would be an instant upgrade for at the QB spot, seeing him fall out of round one really boggled me.
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