Green Bay Packers

Top 10 AFC/NFC Championship Games

There’s an ongoing debate as to which NFL Playoff weekend is the best for fans.  Some point to the Division Playoff Weekend, with four full games of the eight best teams filling the weekend.  Others point to the Super Bowl, with history literally being made as you watch and the victor standing on a stage and lifting the Lombardi Trophy as confetti flutters down around them.  And all those commercials.

Still others point to the Conference Championship weekend, where you get two full games of Super Bowl-worthy teams in an unmatchable double header.  Here we focus on those AFC/NFC Championship games as there have been a number of memorable contests over the years, with big name players and legendary teams coming through in the end, while some coming up just short.  There’s probably not a longer offseason than the one for the team that was one play away from making the Super Bowl.  Here we rank the Top 10 AFC or NFC Championship games since the merger (1970-1971).

10. January 23, 2011 – Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
New York Jets 19
Pittsburgh Steelers 24

Credit: NYDN/Sipkin

Credit: NYDN/Sipkin

It wasn’t that long ago that the New York Jets, usually from a lower, Wild Card, seed because of the Patriots, were a playoff juggernaut behind Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez.  This game looked like a laugher early with the Steelers jumping out to a 24-0 with just a minute before the half.  Buoyed by a FG before half and a TD drive to open the second half, the Jets came storming back and made it a game to the end.  In the fourth quarter, the Jets got stuffed on a fourth down and goal which would have pulled them within 7.  However, they got a quick safety and a subsequent TD on the free kick drive to reach within a 24-19 score with 3 minutes left.  After the next kickoff, the Steelers ran out the clock with a couple of key first downs.   Sanchez and the Jets have not reached the playoffs since.

9. January 20, 2008 – Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
New York Giants 23
Green Bay Packers 20 (OT)

Credit: Gannett Wisconsin Media

Credit: Gannett Wisconsin Media

In a blustery cold (-1 degrees) worthy of Lambeau playoff lore, Eli Manning and Brett Favre squared off to see who could produce enough points against stout defenses to get the Super Bowl berth.  With the game tied at 20 late in the fourth quarter, The Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes missed from 36 yards as time expired and the game went to overtime.  On the second play of overtime, Favre threw an interception to Corey Webster (above) that was run back into Packers territory such that the Giants could lay up for a game winning 47 yard field goal, Tynes 5th of the game.  It was Favre’s last game in a Packers uniform.

8. January 14, 1996 – Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
Indianapolis Colts 16
Pittsburgh Steelers 20

Credit: Rogers Photo Archive/Sporting News

Credit: Rogers Photo Archive/Sporting News

The Indianapolis Colts (led at QB by current San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh) surprised experts by advancing to the AFC Championship game as the #5 seed.  The game was see-saw affair in which neither team could take more than a 4 point lead.  The game featured an interception by Colts DT Tony Siragusa off Steelers QB Neil O’Donnell’s first pass and a touchdown reception by Steelers rookie QB-SLASH-WR Kordell Stewart.  The final Steelers scoring drive featured a key 4th down conversion by O’Donnell and a 1 yard Bam Morris TD run to put the Steelers up 20-16 with 1:34 remaining.  Harbaugh led the Colts inside the Steelers 30 yard line, and a Hail Mary was close, but not answered and the Steelers achieved their first Super Bowl berth since 1980.

7. January 24, 2010 – Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Minnesota Vikings 28
New Orleans Saints 31 (OT)

Credit: Minnesota Vikings-Amos/Smith

Credit: Minnesota Vikings-Amos/Smith

The New Orleans Saints had never made the Super Bowl in franchise history and were oh so close behind a home crowd at the Superdome.  The teams went back and forth scoring touchdowns (but neither team gaining more than a 7 point lead).  The Vikings moved the ball with much more ease, behind Adrian Peterson running and Brett Favre throwing the ball.  On the cusp of field goal range with 15 seconds left, Favre threw his second interception of the game, ending regulation at 28-28.  The Saints won the toss and easily moved down the field for a 40-yard FG by K Garrett Hartley to propel them to their first Super Bowl despite being outgained 475 yards to 265 yards.  It was Favre’s last playoff game and the perceived unfairness of the Vikings not getting a chance in overtime led to a rule change two seasons later.

6. January 6, 1980 – Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
Houston Oilers 13
Pittsburgh Steelers 27

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

While the final score was not close, the game certainly was.  With the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty in winding down, the “Luv Ya Blue” Houston Oilers were always playing second fiddle to their AFC Central Division rival.  Behind the late Bum Phillips, the Oilers squared off for a rematch from the previous years’ AFC Championship game looking for their first ever franchise Super Bowl appearance.   The Steel Curtain had different ideas by completely shutting down Hall of Fame RB Earl Campbell (15 yards on 17 carries).  Still the Oilers had a chance to tie the game at 17 late in the third quarter, but a controversial Mike Renfro “no catch” referee call kept them out of the endzone and they settled for the FG.  The Steelers scored the game’s final 10 points and waltzed to their fourth Super Bowl in six seasons.

5. January 20, 2013 – Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
San Francisco 49ers 28
Atlanta Falcons 24

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The game featured the NFC’s top two seeds and the balanced and loaded Atlanta Falcons figured to take advantage of a raucous home crowd to reach the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history and first time in 14 years.  The Falcons rode early momentum to a 17-point second quarter lead, then led by 10 at the half.  After an opening TD drive after halftime to cut it to 24-21, the defenses took over, with Atlanta being shut out in the second half, and San Francisco surging to a 28-24 lead with 8:23 left.  The Falcons then went on a methodical drive to the 49ers 10 yard line with just over a minute left, but needing a TD to avoid defeat.  A fourth down pass came up incomplete.  The 17-point 49ers comeback is the largest in NFC Championship Game history.

4. January 20, 1991 – Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA
New York Giants 15
San Francisco 49ers 13

Credit: AP/RICH PEDRONCELLI

Credit: AP/RICH PEDRONCELLI

In a classic matchup of perennial NFC powers, the Giants and 49ers met as the top two seeds.  Both teams struggled to gain yardage, despite offenses featuring Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, and Ottis Anderson.  Tied 6-6 at halftime, the 49ers broke through with a long TD pass to John Taylor to open a 13-6 lead.  The Giants chipped away (literally) behind the leg of Matt Bahr, with his fourth FG of the game (making it 13-12) coming partially a result of a fake punt rush by Gary Reasons to keep the drive going.  Steve Young made an appearance after Montana was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter, but the 49ers couldn’t drain enough clock to seal it.  The Giants moved down the field in the final 2:46 to kick the winning FG as time expired.  It was Montana’s last playoff appearance for the 49ers.

3. January 21, 2007 – RCA Dome, Indianapolis, IN
New England Patriots 34
Indianapolis Colts 38

Credit: AP/Amy Sancetta

Credit: AP/Amy Sancetta

While you might have thought this was a matchup of top seeds, it was really the #3 vs. #4 and the only other Brady vs. Manning matchup at Peyton’s Place (going into Sunday’s matchup).  The game lived up to the hype.   The Patriots zipped out to a 21-3 lead, however the Colts cut it to 21-6 with a field goal just before the half.  The momentum continued as the Colts scored TDs on the first two drives of the second half, along with a 2-point conversion to tie it at 21.  The teams exchanged touchdowns (including C Jeff Saturday entering the scoring column on a fumble recovery), then exchanged field goals to tie at 31.  The Patriots took another lead with a Gostkowski field goal, but, after an exchange of punts in which the Patriots missed a golden opportunity to run out the clock, Manning had over 2 minutes and a timeout to orchestrate a game winning TD drive.  And orchestrate he did, down the field (aided by a roughing the passer) 80 yards for a TD run by Joseph Addai with just over 1 minute left.  Brady was able to move his Patriots into Colts territory before an interception sealed the Super Bowl berth for the Colts, their first in 36 years (and first ever in Indianapolis).

2. January 10, 1982 – Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA
San Francisco 49ers 28
Dallas Cowboys 27

Credit: SI/Walter Iooss Jr.

Credit: SI/Walter Iooss Jr.

In the game which became known for “The Catch”, the end of the Cowboys’ dynasty under Tom Landry was neigh.  The game see-sawed back and forth with neither team taking more than a 4-point lead with the game entering the fourth quarter at 21-17 49ers.  After a Septien field goal early in the quarter pulled the Cowboys within a point, they then orchestrated what might have been a game winning TD drive with under 5 minutes (set up by an Everson Walls fumble recovery).  With 4:54 left, Joe Montana introduced his clutch QB play to the world by moving his team 89 yards, punctuated with the famous high throw pulled down by Dwight Clark with 51 seconds left (above).  The Cowboys WR Drew Pearson almost busted a miracle touchdown in the game’s final minute, but the 49ers held on and their reign of five Super Bowl titles in the next 14 seasons began.

1. January 11, 1987 – Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, OH
Denver Broncos 23
Cleveland Browns 20 (OT)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

In a matchup of the top two AFC teams, the game that ended up being known for “The Drive” didn’t disappoint.  The first half had the teams exchanging TD’s and FG’s and was tied 10-10.  Bernie Kosar and John Elway continued to move their teams down the field, but by early in the fourth quarter, it was still 13-13.  That is, until Bernie Kosar seemed to deliver the decisive blow with a 48-yard TD pass with 5:43 left in the game.  After Denver misplayed the kickoff and recovered on their own 2 yard line, there seemed to be little chance that the Browns defense would buckle now, after keeping the Broncos in check all day and in front of a rabid “Dawg Pound” crowd.  Hall of Famer John Elway then began to put a stamp on his “comeback” legacy and led the Broncos on a methodical 15-play, 98-yard drive to tie the game on a pass to Mark Jackson with 37 seconds left.  This took the game to overtime, which saw a deflated Browns team punt the opening drive, then Elway, once again, lead the team on a drive well inside field goal range for the Browns final death blow on a field goal.  The Browns have still never made a Super Bowl.

Which are your favorites? Which did we forget?

- David Whitlock

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- David Whitlock
- Sports-Kings

2013 NFL Draft Grades and Breakdowns

eric fisher chiefs

Every year in the NFL draft, there are winners and losers. There are teams that trade back and gather more picks and others that give up the world for the perfect player. Here we are to break down the winners and losers of the draft. We will grade each team on an grade scale (A+ to F). Buckle up, enjoy the ride and keep all hands and feet in the vehicle while in motion.

 

AFC EAST

bills logo

BUFFALO BILLS:

The Buffalo Bills have their share of issues when it comes to draft day.  However, new Bills head coach Doug Marrone wanted to make a splash with their draft picks and certainly did that on day one.

The most intriguing pick of the entire draft was EJ Manual being the first quarterback taken.  Teams started to fall in love with his size, athleticism and charisma, but a lot remains to be seen with his play as an NFL quarterback.  After Manuel at 16, the Bills kept adding athletic guys on both ends of the ball (and a kicker) to make this one of the more interesting drafts in Bills history.

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 16):  EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State

Round 2 (Pick 41):  Robert Woods, WR, USC

Round 2 (Pick 46):  Kiko Alonso, LB, Oregon

Round 3 (Pick 78):  Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas

Round 4 (Pick 105):  Duke Williams, DB, Nevada

Round 5 (Pick 143):  Jonathan Meeks, DB, Clemson

Round 6 (Pick 177):  Dustin Hopkins, K, Florida State

Round 7 (Pick 222):  Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas

Best Pick:  Former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who is now with the Bills in the same position, absolutely loves Alonso and he will most likely start game one of the 2013 season for the Bills.  Alonso is a versatile and athletic linebacker that played mostly inside linebacker for the Oregon Ducks.  However, he and Marrone think that he can play anywhere with this team.  His size to go along with that athleticism is a testament to his potential, but what makes this pick better was that it was a pick they got in a trade.  So on top of getting the QB they wanted (Manuel will be discussed in just a little bit), they also got a linebacker who could be a mainstay for the team for years to come.

Questionable Pick:  It’s never a good thing when your first round pick is the questionable pick, but everyone has to realize that Manuel is a huge question mark.  He has the physical tools you would want from a football player.  He’s big, athletic, fast and to go with that, he has that “it” factor that teams tend to fall in love with from a QB.  However, if Colin Kaepernick never jumped on to the scene, there is no way that Manuel goes in the first round.  He was not the top rated QB for any draft expert but because of the emergence of Kaepernick and RGIII, teams now believe in the mobile quarterback.  If the Bills are smart, they will not rush Manuel and will let Kevin Kolb start this year while Manuel gets adjusted to the NFL game.  I don’t want to say I think he’s going to be a bad quarterback, but because he was the first quarterback taken in this draft, he will be under a microscope for his entire career.

Surprise Pick:  Goodwin has the potential to be a solid slot receiver in this league, but it was a little bit of a surprise to see him go just one round after Woods, another wide receiver.  It is clear that the Bills wanted to give Manuel some young weapons to grow with, but it now appears they may have too many wideouts.  Goodwin has the burners (4.27 time in the 40) but is undersized to say the least.  Not to say that he should be written off because of his size, but after taking Woods, and then signing Da’Rick Rogers after the draft, it is going to be a crowded wide receiving corps.  Let us not forget that Stevie Johnson is still the team’s number one receiving option.

Overview/Grade:  Doug Marrone and company had a decent first draft, getting the guys that they wanted and executing a couple of trades to add depth.  The biggest question mark will always be Manuel, and the haters will not be silenced until he does his best RGIII impression, but through it all they addressed some glaring holes on the team.  Adding depth to the secondary on day three was something they wanted to execute and they got some good athletes late.  Because Manuel is the first pick for this team, the draft grade drops just a little but overall, they had a pretty successful draft.

Bills Draft Grade:  B-

Dave Ragazzo

 

dolphins

MIAMI DOLPHINS:

Draft Picks:

1st round (3rd overall) Dion Jordan, LB, Oregon

2nd round (54th overall) Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State

3rd round (77th overall) Dallas Taylor, G, Tennessee

3rd round (93rd overall) Will Davis, CB, Utah State

4th round (104th overall) Jelani Jenkins, LB, Florida

4th round (106th overall) Dion Smith, TE, Michigan State

5th round (164th overall) Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida

5th round (166th overall) Caleb Sturgis, P, Florida

7th round (250th overall) Don Jones, S, Arkansas State

 

Best Pick: Dion Jordan

The Dolphins traded their 1st and 2nd round pick to Oakland to get Jordan, who fits well in their 3-4 defense. Jordan is a pass rushing linebacker who can get past tackles with lightning speed and looks to be a good compliment to Cameron Wake on the other side.

Sleeper Pick: Mike Gillislee/Dallas Thomas

Couldn’t pick just one here. Gillislee was a productive back with Florida and Thomas is a kid who can play both left tackle and left guard. Gillislee can fill the need for speed that the Dolphins are missing since Reggie Bush departed to the Motor City and Thomas can play multiple positions which allows versatility

Boom/Bust Pick: Dion Jordan

I know what you’re thinking, “how can a guy be the best player they drafted and be a boom or bust pick?” Simple; the fact that the Dolphins traded up 9 spots to get a guy who was only on the field about 50% of the time when they had a need to fill at the Left Tackle spot and could have selected Lane Johnson. But since they didn’t, their best player could become their worst nightmare. Overall Grade: B

Michael Prosser

 

 

patriots

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:

Can Bill Bellicheck and the Patriots ever do anything wrong?

On draft day, it appears that this cannot happen.  The Patriots have had a history of finding gems in the late rounds (cough, Tom Brady, cough), and this year’s draft might not be any different.  After trading their first round pick to the Vikings for four other picks in the draft, they continued to use trades to add depth to the roster (they picked up LeGarrette Blount from the Buccaneers). And despite not having a first round pick, they were able to get explosive players through the final two days.

Draft Picks:

Round 2 (Pick 52):  Jamie Collins, DE/OLB, Southern Mississippi

Round 2 (Pick 59):  Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall

Round 3 (Pick 83):  Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers

Round 3 (Pick 91):  Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers

Round 4 (Pick 102):  Josh Boyce, WR, TCU

Round 7 (Pick 226):  Michael Buchanan, DE/OLB, Illinois

Round 7 (Pick 235):  Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers

Best Pick:  The Patriots may not have had a first round pick, and their first pick was outside of the top 50, but they did the best they could in drafting Collins.  For those fans watching the draft that didn’t know much about Collins, one look at his highlights and you would have sworn this guy was a top 10 pick.  Collins is a top flight athlete that in his first year will fill a bunch of needs for the Patriots.  He does everything you would want from a linebacker from rushing the passer, to dropping in coverage and possesses enough speed to cover kickoffs if they need him to do that.  Great value at this pick and Collins will be a guy that Bellicheck will fall in love with.

Questionable Pick:  The Patriots have loved drafting guys from Rutgers over the past few drafts.  They drafted Devin McCourty in the first round of the 2010 draft, and this year snagged three guys from New Brunswick.  However, the second guy they took this year from Rutgers is a rare misfire from New England.  It is believed that Harmon would have been there on day three and the Patriots over valued him.  Many around the league only see Harmon as a valuable special teams player that could eventually be a decent safety, but clearly the Patriots see more in him.  Despite that, the Patriots reached a little too far drafting Harmon in the third round.

Surprise Pick:  Seventh round picks generally do not make the team.  However, as I mentioned earlier in the story, the Patriots have had a history of finding gems late in the draft.  Buchanan from Illinois could be this year’s version of Brady.  Many believe that if he left a year earlier, he would not have fallen this far and because of that he falls as the Patriots surprise pick.  He has great size at 6-5 and 255 pounds and could find his way on the roster this year as a situational pass rusher.  If he makes his mark there and /or special teams, the Patriots will love to have him.

Overview/Grade:  A solid draft for the Patriots yet again.  They filled some of the few holes that they had and added depth to those positions in question.  Both Dobson and Boyce could benefit from playing with Brady and both trades the Patriots made could pay dividends (they selected Collins, Ryan, and Boyce through extra picks, and picked up the aforementioned Blount with the fourth pick they received from Minnesota).  As a Jets fan, it pains me to see a solid draft such as this from New England, and I am assuming some of these guys will haunt the Jets for years to come.  If they had a first round pick and did a little better with the 91st pick, their grade would be higher.

Patriots Draft Grade:  B

Dave Ragazzo

 

jets

NEW YORK JETS:

The 2013 draft was one of the most important for the New York Jets in the franchise’s history.  After All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis was traded on Monday for the 13th pick, it was clear that the team was in a full rebuild mode.  New general manager John Idzik told the media prior to the draft that the team would not be drafting on need, but would take the best available player on their draft board to build around.

It appears they stuck to that plan, but it did lead to some surprising picks that fans will have to wait and see before they can fall in love.  Did the Jets remain that team that struggles to draft, or did Idzik get it done right in his first go around?  Only time will tell, as it remains to be seen how some of their picks will work with this team.

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 9):  Dee Millner, CB, Alabama

Round 1 (Pick 13):  Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

Round 2 (Pick 39):  Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Round 3 (Pick 72):  Brian Winters, G, Kent State

Round 5 (Pick 141):  Oday Aboushi, OL, Virginia

Round 6 (Pick 178):  William Campbell, OL, Michigan

Round 7 (Pick 215):  Tommy Bohanon, FB, Wake Forest

Best Pick:  When the Revis deal became official last Monday, it opened up yet another gaping hole in the Jets defense.  Taking Milliner with the ninth pick made a lot of sense and gives the Jets another guy who can be in man coverage for the entire game.  The thought of Kyle Wilson shutting down an entire half of the field scared just about everyone so taking Milliner, who some had projected as high as the second pick, made a lot of sense.  It filled a hole, and they got the best available player at that position.

Questionable Pick:  What do the last three years of Jets first round picks have in common?  Three years in a row they have taken a defensive lineman with a first round pick, and Richardson with the 13th pick has many scratching their heads.  No one doubts Richardson’s skills, and many had him going high in the first round, but it is not exactly clear where he is going to fit in with the Jets.  In college, he was a one gap penetrator, and if the Jets stay with their 3-4, he will be asked to penetrate two gaps.  Head Coach Rex Ryan has acknowledged that the Jets will use more four man fronts, but that is not his style and makes you wonder if they are trying to set up a new scheme for life after Rex.  Despite his immense skills, we will all have to wait and see before his jersey starts flying off the shelf.

Surprise Pick:  There were a lot of choices for this.  Both Winters and Aboushi were good value and will both be expected to compete for starting jobs in 2013. The biggest surprise could be their seventh round pick because this is a guy who can help the Jets offense right away.  Bohannon has played more of an H-back lining up at tight end and in the backfield, and the Jets took him for his pass catching ability.  As a seventh round pick, he will have to earn his keep on special teams at first but don’t be surprised if he makes the team and is a contributor in 2013.

Overview/Grade:  The easiest way to sum up the Jets draft is “incomplete.”  It is clear that Idzik had a gameplan:  draft the best available player staying true to the team’s draft board, and to build a young offensive line that will only get better.  That’s all good, however he did not address any of their other gaping holes.  Who’s going to play safety?  Who’s going to play tight end?  Why do they still not have a legitimate pass rusher despite taking defensive lineman the last three years?  I understand it’s going to be difficult, but they did not help the team out enough to get a good draft grade.

Jets Draft Grade:  C

Dave Ragazzo

 

AFC NORTH

ravens logo

BALTIMORE RAVENS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 32): Matt Elam, S, Florida

Round 2 (Pick 56): Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State

Round 3 (Pick 94): Brandon Williams, NT, Missouri Southern State

Round 4 (Pick 129): John Simon, DE/OLB, Ohio State

Round 4 (Pick 130): Kyle Juszczyk, FB, Harvard

Round 5 (Pick 168): Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin

Round 6 (Pick 200): Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE/DT, Notre Dame

Round 6 (Pick 203): Ryan Jensen, OT, Colorado State- Pueblo

Round 7 (Pick 238):  Aaron Mellett, WR, Elon

Round 7 (Pick 247): Marc Anthony, CB, California

Best Pick: The Ravens’ best pick was undoubtedly Arthur Brown. He easily could have gone in the last half of the first round, or earlier in the second round. But with teams like Chicago (Jon Bostic) and Buffalo (Kiko Alonso) reaching for inside linebackers  in the second round ahead of the Ravens, Brown fell right into Baltimore’s waiting lap. He’ll serve as the immediate replacement for retired All-Pro inside linebacker Ray Lewis.

Questionable Pick: The Ravens already have arguably the best fullback in the NFL with Vonta Leach, so why burn a draft pick on another one? Better yet, why burn a fourth-round pick on such a position? The Ravens’ fourth-round choice of Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk was their most head-scratching draft pick, as he could didn’t fill a need and could have been obtained much later in the draft, or even as an undrafted free agent.

Surprise Pick: Again, have to go with the Kyle Juszczyk pick. A fullback in the fourth round? Really?

Overview/Grade: The Ravens came into the 2013 NFL draft with some big holes to fill, particularly at safety and inside linebacker after the departures of Ed Reed (signed with Houston) and Ray Lewis (retired). But, they yet again showed why their system worked. They filled those needs with their first two picks, got a potential starter at nose tackle in the third round with Brandon Williams (the coaching staff is reportedly quite unhappy with Terrence Cody), and got needed depth at key positions like pass rusher (John Simon), offensive line (Ricky Wagner, Ryan Jensen), defensive back (Marc Antony) and  wide receiver (Aaron Mellett). This is exactly how a draft should play out. Address needs with the high picks, and then use the later-round selections to acquire depth. This was another great draft by general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens. The only thing keeper this from being a better draft was the fourth-round fullback, and the fact that they didn’t acquire a wide receiver earlier than the seventh round. Ravens Draft Grade: A-

-Arun Morace

bengals

CINCINNATI BENGALS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 21): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Round 2 (Pick 5): Giovani Bernard, RB, UNC

Round 2 (Pick 21): Margus Hunt, DE, SMU

Round 3 (Pick 22): Shawn Williams, SS, Georgia

Round 4 (Pick 21): Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M

Round 5 (Pick 23): Tanner Hawkinson, OT, Kansas

Round 6 (Pick 22): Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska

Round 6 (Pick 29): Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas

Round 7 (Pick 34): Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio St.

Round 7 (Pick 45): T.J. Johnson, C, South Carolina

The Bengals may have been a playoff team in 2012 and are early favorites to win the AFC North in 2013, but they still had some holes to fill. They have some gaps at running back, wide receiver, O and D line, safety and linebacker. They were able to at least try and fill them all and even picked up a “toy” on offense. Eifert will ease the pressure on A.J. Green, while Bernard and Burkhead give the running back position potential. Hunt and Porter help shore up the front 7 while Williams helps anchor the defense.  Any draft has “potential,” but the Bengals looked to have done themselves good this year.

Best Pick: Tyler Eifert

Eifert will step in and get a lot of playing time off the bat. He and Jermaine Gresham will combine to make a formidable duo at the tight end spot. In having two weapons at tight end, the Bengals can move A.J. Green around more and ensure he gets more open looks.

Questionable Pick: Giovani Bernard

Bernard is a big surprise to me at number 37 overall. He wasn’t listed as a top running back, nor was his name out there anywhere. The top back was Eddie Lacy. Bernard may have improved his stock with his combine performances. He only ran a 4.53 40 yard dash, however he was a top performer in the 20 and 60 yard shuttle. If Bernard doesn’t end up as a starter by 2014, this will be considered a bust pick.

Surprise Pick: Rex Burkhead

Burkhead could be one of those late round gems (ala Alfred Morris). He didn’t get to play much his senior year, he was oft injured. While he doesn’t have blazing speed, he will lower the shoulder and run you over. He was notably a top performer in the combine in multiple categories (vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill, 20 and 60 yard shuttle). However, he didn’t get much of the recognition that other combine superstars tend to receive. With his smash mouth style of running he will fit in nicely in the AFC North. He could end up surprising everyone and being this year’s Alfred Morris and starting at some point during the season.

Overall Grade: B+

Stephen Kettner

 

 

browns

CLEVELAND BROWNS:

Cleveland Browns Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 6):  Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU

Round 3 (Pick 68):  Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego St.

Round 6 (Pick 175):  Jamoris Slaughter, S, Notre Dame

Round 7 (Pick 217):  Armonty Bryant, DE, East Central

Round 7 (Pick 227):  Garrett Gilkey, OT, Chadron State

The Browns sort of have an ironic name.  The color “brown” can be symbolism of the way the team has performed since the franchise came back to Cleveland; as in, the color of a skid mark on the pair of white underwear.

But new Head Coach Rob Chudzinski and company are looking to change that.  The Browns had the most cap space of any team in the NFL but they didn’t make good use of that prior to the draft.  With only five picks, they are hoping they can find a sleeper to change their “brown” past into a golden future.

Best Pick:  The Browns were set on getting a pass rusher in the first round this year.  Some believe they really wanted Oregon’s Dion Jordan and after the Dolphins traded up to get him, there was only one option left for Cleveland.  Barkevious Mingo has the potential to be a stud, and the Browns really loved what he was about.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Rams offered great value to get the sixth spot, but the Browns knew Mingo wouldn’t get past the Jets, so they stayed at six.  Mingo’s sack numbers were low last year, but the guy a combine All-Star and is an athletic freak.  His potential is outstanding, and the Browns had to pull the trigger on Mingo.

Questionable Pick:  The offensively challenged Browns traded a fifth round pick for Davone Bess.  Bess is a nice slot receiver who can double up as a returner, but he is not going to make or break an offense.  They could have gotten some offensive help in the draft but only took one on that side of the ball:  A seventh round pick out of Chadron State.  The Browns are making their best effort to make Garrett Gilkey the second player in the league out of Chadron State (Danny Woodhead being the first), but is a seventh round pick out of a Division II school going to stick in this league?  Woodhead would have something to say about that considering he wasn’t even drafted.  Gilkey has the size that you would want out of a guard (6-6, 318 lbs), but it will take time before we find out if he was a solid choice as their only offensive selection.

Surprise Pick:  Jamoris Slaughter has a chance to be the sleeper pick for the Browns in this draft.  He was projected higher before the 2012 season, but he only played three games before an injury cut his season short.  That is a huge concern going forward, but if he can stay healthy, he can see a lot of snaps in the secondary as well as time on special teams.  He plays aggressive and his small size scared teams away.  However, smaller safeties have made an impact on this league (Bob Sanders for example).  Sanders was a beast but his inability to stay healthy cut his career short.  The Browns are hoping Slaughter does not fall into that same category.

Overview/Grade:  Chudzinski and the new regime didn’t do enough in this draft to turn the corner.  Rebuilding processes generally take some time, but as the Colts showed last year, a good draft can speed up that process.  They got the stud pass rusher (who will most likely be a situational line backer in the beginning of his career), and even picked up a cornerback in the third round that is expected to compete for a starting job.  However, they did not accumulate enough depth to make this a significant draft.  Sorry Browns fans, your team might still be as brown as that dirty underwear this year, but there’s always time next year to clean your britches.  Browns draft grade:  C-

Dave Ragazzo

 

steelers

PITTSBURGH STEELERS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 17): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Round 2 (Pick 48): Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State

Round 3 (Pick 79): Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State

Round 4 (Pick 111): Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse

Round 4 (115): Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Round 5 (Pick 150): Terry Hawthorne, CB, Illinois

Round 6 (Pick 186): Justin Brown, WR, Penn State

Round 6 (Pick 206): Vince Williams, ILB, Florida State

Round 7 (Pick 223) : Nicholas Wiliams, DT, Samford

Best Pick: Jarvis Jones

Jones is just what the Steelers needed to continue their tradition of great rush linebackers. He had easily the most productive college career of all the pass rushers in the draft, and he did it in the SEC, the toughest conference in college football. Dumb groupthink allowed a top ten talent to fall all the way to the Steelers. Jones could be and most likely will be an immediate starter and make an immediate impact.

Sleeper Pick: Markus Wheaton

The Steelers needed to address the void left at receiver by Mike Wallace’s departure. Scouts compared Wheaton to Wallace, even saying he may be a more polished version of him. On tape it is clear Wheaton is a more precise route runner and although he is a hair slower than Wallace, he has the speed to get it done on the outside. I see Wheaton excelling in the slot, he is speedy and shifty, while being able to play outside when needed. Excellent value pick and I think Wheaton is going to turn some heads in 2013.

Boom/Bust Pick: Le’Veon Bell

Some people were in disbelief when the Steelers opted to pass on Eddie Lacy for Bell in the second round. While I personally think Bell is a better back because he put up eye-popping production behind a line far less talented than Lacy. Bell led the nation in carries last season at the collegiate level, which proves he can handle a full workload as well. The only question remains is will he continue to be successful at the next level or fail? Bell is a pick who could be great, or turn out average in the NFL.

Overview/Grade:

GM Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin redeemed a terrible off-season bringing back WR Emmanuel Sanders and then having a genius of a draft. They brought in a pass rusher, a feature back, and a speed receiver to replace the three they lost at the same positions. They added depth and a potential starter at safety in Shamarko Thomas. Overall, this was a great draft that filled immediate needs with guys that can produce right away, as well as adding depth, especially at receiver and safety. The Steelers once again proved why they are in talks for a championship year after year.

Overall Grade: A

Jim Racalto

 

 

AFC SOUTH

texans

HOUSTON TEXANS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 27): DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

Round 2 (Pick 25): D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina

Round 3 (Pick 27): Brennan Williams, OT, UNC

Round 3 (Pick 33): Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU

Round 4 (Pick 27): Trevardo Williams, DE, UConn

Round 6 (Pick 8): David Quessenberry, OT, San Jose St.

Round 6 (Pick 27): Alan Bonner, WR, Jacksonville St.

Round 6 (Pick 30): Chris Jones, DT, Bowling Green

Round 6 (Pick 33): Ryan Griffin, TE, UConn

Best Pick: DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson

Hopkins becomes the second Wide Receiver in Texans history to be drafted in the 1st round. The first? Oh just some guy named Andre Johnson. Hopkins will be a nice compliment for Johnson and gives Matt Schaub another weapon, one that can spread the field with his speed and will flourish in Houston under Gary Kubiak.

Sleeper Pick: David Quessenburry OT San Jose State

Quessenburry can play both Tackle and Guard so his versatility is welcomed anywhere.  He’s more than likely going to kick inside and play guard and if he works on his anchoring techniques he could turn into a steal in this Draft provided he can stay healthy having had ankle problems in college.

Boom/Bust Pick: DJ Swearinger Safety South Carolina

I had the opportunity to see this guy play at least once a year and the guy can play. He’s a physical safety but lacks size and coverage skills. However Swearinger will be able to learn from the one of the best safety of all time in Ed Reed. But with his physicality, he may not be on the field long without being fined.  Swearinger has the tools to play the game but his lack of coverage skills could be a problem for him and the team

 

Overall Grade: A-

Michael Prosser

 

 

colts

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS:

The Colts did well to address the pass rush need with Werner. Thornton and Boyett are risky but with Boyett it’s less of a risk depending on which Boyett you get. He had a stellar 2011 season but suffered a season ending knee injury. “Mr. Irrelevant” Justice Cunningham becomes the 2nd South Carolina Gamecock in the last 4 years to be named to the position (Ryan Succop in 2009 to Kansas City) and could be another weapon for Andrew Luck

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 24): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida St.

Round 3 (Pick 86): Hugh Thorton, G, Illinois

Round 4 (Pick 121): Khaled Holmes, C, Southern Cal

Round 5 (Pick 139): Montori Hughes, DT, Tennessee-Martin

Round 6 (Pick 192): John Boyett, S, Oregon

Round 7 (Pick 230): Kerwynn Williams, RB, Utah St.

Round 7 (Pick 254): Justice Cunningham, TE, South Carolina

Best Pick: Bojern Werner

The Colt’s first round pick out of Florida State by way of Germany can rush the passer and stop the run. He gets around blocks but isn’t afraid to use his strength.  While he may not be the next Dwight Freeney, Werner will be able to get to the quarterback and will be a solid pass rusher.

Sleeper Pick: Kerwynn Williams

Williams will be looking to follow in the footsteps of former Utah State Aggie and current Seattle Seahawk running back Robert Turbin. While Williams doesn’t have the power running style that Turbin does, Williams is a great pass catcher and will bring speed out of the backfield and can be another weapon for Andrew Luck

Boom/Bust Pick: Hugh Thornton

Thornton is a big physical guard who can maul the defense but someone didn’t tell him Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben’s motto: “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” Thornton has been arrested twice and has had to deal with some tragic personal issues. If the staff in Indy can keep this kid on the straight and narrow he can be a huge asset for the Colts new line.

Overall Grade: B

Michael Prosser

 

jaguars

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS:

Draft Picks:

1st round (2nd overall) Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

2nd round (33rd overall) Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International

3rd round (64th overall) Dwayne Gratz, CB, UConn

4th round (101st overall) Ace Sanders, WR, South Carolina

5th round (135th overall) Denard Robinson, WR, Michigan

6th round (169th overall) Joshua Evans, S, Florida

7th round (208th overall) Jeremy Harris, CB, New Mexico State

7th round (210th overall) Demetrius McCray, CB, Appalachian State

 

Best Pick: Luke Joeckel

Joeckel was projected as the #1 overall selection by many experts but fell to the Jags with the #2 pick. Though the Jags already are set at left tackle with Eugene Monroe, Joeckel can play both left and right tackle and should be a future Pro Bowler and will have a fine career spanning no less than 10 years

Sleeper Pick: Ace Sanders

Sanders is a poor-man’s Tavon Austin, a receiver who can separate himself in space and is a dynamic punt returner (he victimized my Clemson Tigers on more than one occasion). Though he comes from a hated rival, Sanders is a tremendous talent who could end up being one of the biggest steels in the draft.

Boom/Bust Pick: Denard Robinson

When you hear the name Denard Robinson, it’s hard not to think about all the records he set running the football at Michigan. But after an elbow injury, Robinson decided a move to Wide Receiver would suit him best in the pros. He’s raw and hasn’t played the position but could turn into yet another weapon for whoever Jacksonville trots out on the field at the Quarterback position. If it doesn’t work out for him it’s no real loss; the Jag’s only took him in the 4th round.

Overall Grade: B+

Michael Prosser

 

titans

TENNESSEE TITANS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 10)  Chance Warmack G Alabama

Round 2 (Pick 34) Justin Hunter WR Tennessee

Round 3 (Pick 70) Blidi Wreh-Wilson CB UConn

Round 3  (Pick 97) Zaviar Gooden OLB Missouri

Round 4  (Pick 107) Brian Schwenke C California

Round 5  (Pick 142) Lavar Edwards DE LSU

Round 6  (Pick 202) Khalid Wooten CB Nevada

Round 7 (Pick 248) Daimion Stafford SS Nebraska

Analysis: The Titans did a nice revamp of the interior offensive line this offseason. They already signed Adam Levitre from Buffalo and then added (in my opinion) the top rated guard in the draft in Warmack and a solid center in Schwenke. Justin Hunter will provide a great target for Jake Locker. He is a big fast receiver that Locker certainly won’t be able to miss. The deep corner class landed them Wreh-Wilson who should step in and at the very least challenge for a starting spot. Gooden may not start this year but should get his feet wet in some packages on defense. Edwards will most likely be on the bench but provides depth as well as Stafford. Wooten could see some dime package action but most likely thats it, if he makes the squad.

Best Pick: Chance Warmack: Warmack completes a guard tandem that should have Chris Johnson salivating. He should have been the first guard to go, but Arizona’s loss was Tennessee’s gain. Not only will the running game go back to where it once was, but the passing game should flourish with more protection up the middle.

Questionable Pick: Justin Hunter: While Locker could use a target, early in the 2nd round could have been used on other players such as a corner or pass rusher. Hunter is a solid receiver but looking at it, Keenan Allen went in the 3rd round. They  have Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and newly signed Kevin Walter, so a wide receiver so early is questionable.

Surprise Pick: Justin Hunter: As questionable as it was, it was also a surprise. Hunter went before many other receivers generally rated much higher than he was.

Overall Grade: B

Stephen Kettner

 

AFC WEST

broncos

DENVER BRONCOS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 28): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

Round 2 (Pick 58): Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

Round 3. (Pick 90): Kayvon Webster, CB, South Florida

Round 5. (Pick 146): Quanterus Smith, DE/OLB, Western Kentucky

Round 5 (Pick 161): Tavarres King, WR, Georgia

Round 6 (Pick 173): Vinston Painter, OT, Virginia Tech

Round 7 (Pick 234): Zac Dysert, QB, Miami (Ohio)

Best Pick: The Broncos’ seventh round pick may have actually been their best selection. Dysert was one of the top rated quarterbacks in the draft (NFL.com had him rated as an 83.5, second only to Geno Smith’s 88.0). Yet he slipped all the way to the bottom of the draft, thanks to a general distrust of this year’s quarterback class. Dysert will get to sit and learn for at least a couple years behind one of the greatest quarterbacks of this generation, Peyton Manning, and will allow Denver a contingency plan for replacing Manning with either Dysert, or last year’s second-round choice Brock Osweiler.

Questionable Pick: Kayvon Webster was one of the last-ranked cornerbacks in this class (NFL.com had him as a 52.0/100), but for some reason the Broncos decided he was worth a third-round choice, even with better options like Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Jordan Poyer available. Making matters worse is the fact that Denver probably should have addressed the cornerback position a round or two earlier, given the age of Champ Bailey and just how badly they got diced up in the playoffs through the air.

Surprise Pick: Montee Ball was a bit of a surprise in the second round for the Broncos. They already had Willis McGahee and Ronnie Hillman, and questions about Ball’s speed had many projecting him to fall later into the draft.

Overview/Draft Grade: The Broncos did some good things in the draft. They got bigger along the defensive line with the selection of Sylvester Williams in the first round, who should tandem nicely with free agent signee Terrence Knighton to form a massive pairing on the interior of Denver’s defensive line. Quanterus Smith is a potential sleeper, since he was quite productive at Western Kentucky (12 sacks last year) but fell due to a knee injury. If Smith heals, he could provide a good edge rushing presence across from Von Miller now that Elvis Dumervil is gone. But reaching with their second and third round choices, while ignoring the inside linebacker and safety positions completely, makesthis a less-than-stellar draft for Denver.

Broncos Draft Grade: C+

 

 

chiefs

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS:

The Chiefs found the future in Eric Fisher but took some chances on guys like Davis and Cummings. Nico Johnson will provide depth at the Middle Linebacker position and has championship experience having won at Alabama under Nick Saban.

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 1): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

Round 3 (Pick 63): Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati

Round 3 (Pick 96): Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas

Round 4 (Pick 99): Nico Johnson, ILB, Alabama

Round 5 (Pick 134): Sanders Cummings, CB, Georgia

Round 6 (Pick 170): Eric Kush, C, California (PA)

Round 6 (Pick 204): Braden Wilson, FB, Kansas St.

Round 7 (Pick 207): Matt Catapano, DE, Princeton

Best Pick: Eric Fisher

Fisher is the prototypical athletic tackle that new head coach Andy Reid likes to have in his offense. Like the Jaguars the Chiefs are set for the time being at Left Tackle with Brandon Alberts and Fisher can play at Right Tackle before moving back over to left in the near future. He’ll do well protecting new QB Alex Smith’s blindside for the next 10 years

Sleeper Pick: Sanders Cummings

Cummings is a big physical corner who has some off the field issues at Georgia where he was arrested on charges of Domestic Violence. If he can get past the issues and fly straight in KC he can learn a lot from new corner Dunta Robinson and could turn into a nice rotational corner and maybe even a starter down the road

Boom/Bust pick: Knile Davis

Knile Davis was having a great career at Arkansas until his knee injury two seasons ago. Then like everyone else at Arkansas this past season, the Wheels just came off. Davis’ production decreased and he just didn’t look the same.  But the biggest issue isn’t the durability, but the ball security. If he can fix this he can be a nice 1-2 punch behind Jamaal Charles.

Overall Grade: B

Michael Prosser

 

raiders

OAKLAND RAIDERS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 12): D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston

Round 2 (Pick 42): Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State

Round 3 (Pick 66): Sio Moore, OLB, Connecticut

Round 4 (Pick 112): Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

Round 6 (Pick 172): Nick Kasa, TE, Colorado

Round 6 (Pick 181): Latavius Murray, RB, Central Florida

Round 6 (Pick 184): Mychal Rivera, TE, Tennessee

Round 6 (Pick 205): Stacy McGee, DT, Oklahoma

Round 7 (Pick 209): Brice Butler, WR, San Diego State

Round 7 (Pick 233): David Bass, DE, Missouri Western

Best Pick: Oakland made a pretty good selection in round 3, grabbing Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore. He’s a versatile player who can cover well, tackle well and even work in as a pass rusher from time to time. Moore could very well end up as a starter for Oakland before year’s end; always good to get someone like that in the third round.

Questionable Pick: D.J. Hayden was a nice story, with him recovering from a near-fatal injury to become a first-round pick. But it’s a little debatable as to whether or not he belongs there. Oakland took a massive leap of faith on Hayden, who wasn’t even on the radar until he ran a fast 40 at Houston’s pro day (surprise, surprise, that’s what attracted Oakland….). It’s tough to trust players that shoot up draft boards after all the actual football is done playing.

Surprise Pick: Everybody had the Raiders taking Sharrif Floyd at No. 3. Then came the surprise trade with Miami, and Oakland moved all the way down to No. 12. Sharrif Floyd was still theirs for the taking…but Oakland passed on him, instead opting for late-rising cornerback D.J. Hayden.

Overview/Grade: Oakland addressed a few pressing needs, like offensive line and defensive backfield. But they also flat-out ignored their defensive line until the seventh round, a mistake compounded by the fact that they had their pick of the defensive tackle crop at No. 12, and instead opted for D.J. Hayden, who was a reach at that juncture. Second-round choice Menelik Watson has upside, but only started one year in college. They also still don’t have a bona fide pass rushing option. This class has a lot of potential, but it could easily end up as a flop- not a good thing for a team that’s missed the playoffs for a whole decade now. Raiders Draft Grade: C+

 

chargers

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS:

San Diego Chargers Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 11):  D.J Fluker, OT, Alabama

Round 2 (Pick 38):  Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame

Round 3 (Pick 76):  Keenan Allen, WR, California

Round 5 (Pick 145):  Steve Williams, CB, California

Round 6 (Pick 179):  Tourek Williams, DE, Florida International

Round 7 (Pick 221):  Brad Sorensen, QB, Southern Utah

There was nothing fake about the 38th pick in this year’s NFL Draft.  That was where Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te’o was selected by the Chargers after a controversial off-season and a final game that dropped him out of the first round.

The Chargers traded up to get Te’o, and the pick will always be questioned because of who Te’o has become.  Other picks in this draft will also be questioned because despite the good highlight reels, some were questionable as to where they will fit.  First year Coach Mike McCoy knows his team is rebuilding, and hopefully for him, these six picks will aid him in that process for years to come.

Best Pick:  This one is easy.  The general consensus is that the Chargers got a steal in the third round drafting California’s Allen, who has drawn comparisons to Anquan Boldin.  He was once seen as one of the top receivers in the draft, but that pesky 40-yard dash saw his value drop.  However, his size, strong hands and NFL readiness have Chargers fans seeing a wide receiver who can be with the team for years to come.  The main question about Allen is if he can stay healthy; but isn’t that always a question in football?

Questionable Pick:  Originally, I thought any team that selected Te’o would be making a questionable pick.  And despite the shaky locker room presence that he has become during the “Lennay Kekua scandal,” there was one guy that was more questionable.  Sorensen out of Southern Utah is a stretch even as a seventh round pick.  Drafting a quarterback was not a questionable pick, but current quarterback Phillip Rivers will be on the hot seat if he has a bad season.  So why wouldn’t they get a legitimate guy that could potentially take Rivers place.  With quarterbacks such as Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib dropping to the fourth round, the Chargers could have picked up value at the position late in the draft.  Unfortunately for them, they traded their fourth round pick to move up and take Te’o (Ironically, it was the pick that the Giants drafted Nassib with).

Surprise Pick:  Just because the Manti Te’o pick wasn’t questionable, does not mean it wasn’t a surprise; because it was.  Many teams clearly wanted to stay away from Te’o but not the Chargers.  Te’o was a first round lock before the Alabama game, and began steadily falling after his scandal.  The Chargers also have holes in their line backing corps, but they are a team with multiple holes who could have used as many picks as possible.  They traded their fourth round pick (as I just alluded to) to get a guy who will be a distraction no matter what.  He dropped for a reason, but the Chargers felt he was worth trading up for.

Overview/Grade:  Simply said, they could have done better, but they didn’t do too awful.  With the 11th pick, they drafted an offensive lineman in Fluker that Rivers will absolutely love (he was sacked 50 times last year).  He’s big and was on a line that was filled with NFL ready players last year.  Tourek Williams of Florida International could be a surprise pick with his versatility and Steve Williams is expected to be the team’s nickel cornerback this year.  They got some pieces, but it might be a long season yet again for the Chargers in 2013.

Chargers Draft Grade:  B-

Dave Ragazzo

 

 

NFC EAST

dallas

DALLAS COWBOYS:

America’s team once again were scratching their heads in the first round because they were too afraid to draft the best available player.  Instead they swapped their 18th pick with San Francisco for the 31st pick, and the 74th pick.  Cowboys should have negotiated an additional pick from the 49ers after seeing the New England Patriots heist the Minnesota Vikings for four picks  while giving up the 29th pick of the draft.

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 31): Travis Frederick, (OC) Wisconsin

Round 2 (Pick 47): Gavin Escobar, (TE) San Diego State

Round 3 (Pick 74): Terrance Williams, (WR) Baylor

Round 3 (Pick 80): J. J. Wilcox, (S) Georgia Southern

Round 4(Pick 114): B.W. Webb, (CB) William & Mary

Round 5 (Pick 151): Joseph Randle, (RB) Oklahoma State

Round 6 (Pick 185): DeVonte Holloman, (OLB) South Carolina

Best Pick: Selecting WR Terrance Williams and TE Gavin Escobar will add to the Cowboys’ passing offense.  Williams led the nation in receiving last year with over 1800 yards and will more than likely be the third receiver behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.  Escobar is a big red zone target for Tony Romo who is very athletic and a gifted receiver.

Questionable Pick: When the Cowboys selected their first round pick, it wasn’t suppose to be a REACH! That was the nicest reaction made after the choosing Wisconsin center, Travis Frederick.  Scouts viewed Frederick as a third or fourth round pick.  Dallas desperately needs help on the offensive line but they also could have given newly hired defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin a weapon by selecting DT. Shariff Floyd to solidify that thin defensive line.

Surprise Pick:  TE Gavin Escobar was a surprise when they already have All-Pro TE, Jason Witten .  Witten is not showing signs of slowing down and is Tony Romo’s security blanket.  Not sure if the Cowboys are going to adopt the New England Patriots’ double tight receiving duo when they have superstar Dez Bryant and Miles Austin in the fold.

Overview/Grade:  I bet talk radio in Dallas was pretty crazy when they witness another Jerry Jones GM move selecting a third round center as their first round pick.  Jones, who’s known for his splash in the draft didn’t excite anyone with the team’s first pick; however the Cowboys made some good picks.   Dallas didn’t address their defensive line and they still need help at the offensive tackle position.

Cowboys Draft Grade: C

LeRoy McConnell

 

 

 

giants

NEW YORK GIANTS:

The New York Giants and their fans have one mantra in mind when it comes to draft day:  “In Reese We Trust.”  It’s pretty simple as to why everyone is so comfortable in general manager Jerry Reese and that is simply because the guy does not disappoint on draft day.

It was clear that the Giants wanted offensive lineman as it was one of their biggest holes in 2012.  They filled that need early taking Justin Pugh with the 19th pick, and then filled out the rest of their roster from there.  Solid, safe picks is the way the Giants went and it gives fans another reason to keep believing in Reese.

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 19):  Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse

Round 2 (Pick 49):  Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

Round 3 (Pick 81):  Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Round 4 (Pick 110):  Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse

Round 5 (Pick 152):  Cooper Taylor, S, Richmond

Round 7 (Pick 225):  Eric Herman, OG, Ohio

Round 7 (Pick 253):  Michael Cox, RB, UMass

Best Pick:  Anytime you can get first round value outside of the first round, it’s a good pick.  The Giants grabbed Moore at the end of day 2, and they picked up a beast to help their pass rush.  Both Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck’s future with the Giants is still up in the air and taking Moore makes their futures even more questionable.  The only downside with Moore is his off the field habits.  He was arrested for marijuana possession in 2011 and dropped out of the first round because of a slow 40 time (4.9).  However, he is only 20 years old.  If he can mature like normal young men at his age do, this could be one of the steals of the draft.

Questionable Pick:  This was a tough one to decide on because when looking at these picks, it’s hard to find a “bad” one.  Pugh may have been taken a little high, but his versatility might make him a starter this year.  That leaves his college teammate Nassib, who was a first day hopeful that fell to the third day.  Nassib is not a bad player, but the Giants are hoping that he never sees the field, at least for a few years.  What makes this pick questionable is that it was not necessarily a need for the Giants, and they traded up to get him.  They also could have filled one of their other needs such as TE or CB with a fourth round pick and the potential sixth round pick they traded away.  Because of this, Nassib is “questionable” but when given the opportunity, he could be a solid contributory for the Giants or another team.

Surprise Pick:  Giants fans, remember this name:  Cooper Taylor.  If Taylor can stay healthy, he could be a significant contributor for the Giants this year and beyond.  Taylor has size at 6-4 228 pounds and speed (he ran at 4.49 40 at his pro day) to make him another versatile draft pick for the Giants.  Some think that he can even play outside linebacker with that size and still have the speed to cover slot receivers.  Again, Cooper must stay healthy as he has had a bevy of injuries over his college career, but the fifth rounder out of Richmond could make his impact felt right away for Big Blue.

Overview/Grade:  From first glance, it would appear that Reese had yet another successful draft.  He got tremendous value at every spot and every guy drafted will have a serious chance to make the team.  The only thing they did not address in this draft was the tight end position, but Manning has made average tight ends such as Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard into stars overnight in the past.  For me, its virtually a perfect draft except for the Nassib pick; and even then they got second round value in the fourth round. Giants Draft Grade:  A-

Dave Ragazzo

 

eagles

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 4):  Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

Round 2 (Pick 35): Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

Round 3 (Pick 67): Bennie Logan, DT, Louisiana State

Round 4 (Pick 98): Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California

Round 5 (Pick 136): Earl Wolff, S, North Carolina State

Round 7 (Pick 212):  Joe Kruger, DE, Utah

Round 7 (Pick 218): Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

Round 7 (Pick 239): David King, DE, Oklahoma

Best Pick: Jordan Poyer had no business slipping all the way to the seventh round. He was an absolute steal for Philadelphia at that juncture, and should have no problem earning himself a spot on the roster as a special teamer and quite possibly as the nickel or dime back.

Questionable Pick: Philadelphia already has Michael Vick, Nick Foles and former Chip Kelly protege Dennis Dixon on the roster at quarterback. So why did they need Matt Barkley? It was an incredible value, no doubt about that. But its nigh impossible to figure out how Barkley fits into Philadelphia’s passing equation, especially since Barkley doesn’t fit the mold of the typical athlete Kelly likes to employ as his signal caller.

Surprise Pick: A lot of people thought that the Eagles would spend their second round pick on Geno Smith. But instead, they opted for Stanford tight end Zach Ertz, despite the fact that they just paid out for free agent James Casey (three years, $15M) and already had Brent Celek on the roster. This move likely spells the end of Celek’s time in Philadelphia, as Ertz is younger, cheaper, and provides a fast, reliable option in the seam. This pick was as much as a surprise as it was a good selection.

Overview/Grade: This draft lacked a lot of sizzle, but that’s really because Philadelphia came in already having their skill positions covered. They came away with a lot of players that will contribute early and who will improve the overall talent of this roster. Don’t be surprised if as many as five players from this draft (Johnson, Ertz, Wolff, Poyer, maybe even Barkley) are starting for Philadelphia down the line.

Eagles Draft Grade: B

Arun Morace

 

redskins

WASHINGTON REDSKINS:

Draft Picks:

Round 2 (Pick 51) David Amerson CB NC St.

Round 3 (Pick 85) Jordan Reed TE Florida

Round 4 (Pick 119) Phillip Thomas S Fresno St.

Round 5 (Pick 154) Chris Thompson RB Florida St.

Round 5 (Pick 162) Brandon Jenkins DE Florida St.

Round 6 (Pick 191) Bacarri Rambo S Georgia

Round 7 (Pick 228) Jawan Jamison RB Rutgers

Analysis: Everyone knows that the Redskins 2013 first round pick was RG3, though you can’t grade them on this, it’s not a bad year to not have a first round pick. The Redskins ended up with  two ballhawks (Amerson and Thomas) who in the last two years have led the NCAA in interceptions. Jordan Reed has drawn comparisons to Aaron Hernandez and could be a solid contributor this year. Brandon Jenkins gives the team a solid pass rusher to rotate with Kerrigan, Orakpo, Tapp and Jackson and the value of grabbing him so late in the draft is amazing. Chris Thompson may have been a bit of a reach, but its not a Mike Shanahan draft without a head scratching running back selection. Bacarri Rambo has had some off the field issues, thus dropping his stock, but to get a potential starting free safety in the 6th round is one heck of a pick. Jamison is one that I still scratch my head about. With Alfred Morris, Roy Helu and Evan Royster on the roster not to mention already picking Thompson, why waste a pick on a second rb? All in all a solid draft for the Redskins, shoring up all the needs that they had coming into the draft.

Best Pick: Bacarri Rambo: Many had Rambo rated much higher. With his past issues, his draft stock slipped like many others has in the past. Rambo has the ability to step in and be the Redskins starting free safety from day 1. The skins were able to rebuild a majority of their secondary with three picks this draft, Rambo being the most significant.

Questionable Pick: Jordan Reed: Don’t get me wrong Reed is a great athlete and player, but I question why the Redskins made this pick. They currently have three tight ends on the roster (Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul). While Davis is coming off an injury, it is not likely that either of the three will be cut. Reed has gotten comparison’s to New England’s Aaron Hernandez, however with many other needs I feel the team could have gone elsewhere with this pick.

Surprise Pick: Chris Thompson: Thompson is an oft injured running back with a ton of talent. The surprise here isn’t a running back selection by Shanahan, its selecting a player who in the last two years has broken a vertebrae in his back and had major knee surgery. While it is the 5th round, Shanahan has notoriously picked gems late in the draft. I just question the player, not so much the position of the pick.

OVERALL GRADE: B+

Stephen Kettner

 

NFC NORTH

bears logo

CHICAGO BEARS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 20)  Kyle Long G Oregon

Round 2 (Pick 50)  Jon Bostic LB Florida

Round 4 (Pick 117) Khaseem Greene OLB Rutgers

Round 5 (Pick 163)  Jordan Mills T LA Tech

Round 6 (Pick 188)  Cornelius Washington OLB Georgia

Round 7 (Pick 236)  Marquess Wilson WR Wash St.

Analysis: The Bears had to strike early at guard due to how the draft went in the early parts of round 1. Long will most likely start right away, upgarding a very poor offensive line. I was surprised they waited until round 5 to get any sort of offensive tackle, they could definitely use more quality depth. Bostic is a very strong pick and should step in and help right away with Brian Urlacher no longer around. Washington will most likely come in to go after the QB and Greene adds quality depth to the linebacker corps. Wilson is a tall receiver, but like most in the 7th round are project players that you just take a chance on. Considering the lack of picks and the amount of needs the Bears should have done some trading to gather more picks.

Best Pick: Jon Bostic: Bostic is a great draft pick at #50. He fills the role that the departed Urlacher filled and played in the SEC so he is used to playing at a high level. While he isn’t used to the passing level of the NFC North, he will be eased into the passing down role and will thrive in Chicago’s defensive style.

Questionable Pick: Khaseem Greene: Greene is a great player, but the run on Rutgers players in this draft is beyond normal. Sure Rutgers had an ok season, but do you really need an outside linebacker in the 4th round more than you do offensive line depth or another receiving option? With the amount of talent still left on the board, I have to wonder why they went in this direction.

Surprise Pick: Kyle Long: Long was by far one of the bigger surprises of the first round. The Bears need offensive line help, however they should have traded back a bit to draft him. While he will jump right in and most likely start for the Bears, an extra pick or two for a team with many needs would have been helpful. Long could be a steal here, but as of now a big time surprise.

OVERALL GRADE: C

Stephen Kettner

 

lions

DETROIT LIONS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 5): Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU

Round 2 (Pick 4): Darius Slay, CB, Miss St.

Round 3 (Pick 3): Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky

Round 4 (Pick 35): Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina

Round 5 (Pick 32): Sam Martin, P, Appalachian St.

Round 6 (Pick 3): Corey Fuller, WR, Virginia Tech

Round 6 (Pick 31): Theo Riddick, RB, Notre Dame

Round 7 (Pick 5): Michael Williams, TE, Alabama

Round 7 (Pick 39): Brandon Hepburn, LB, Florida A&M

Analysis:

The Detroit Lions took advantage of a deep cornerback draft to pass over the drafts best (Dee Milliner) and select a pass rusher who should have an immediate impact (Ansah). They grabbed a potential starting corner in the second (Slay) and then shored up the O-line and receiver position later on in the draft. Riddick could result in a being a steal of the draft, he has the talent and ability to be a good back up for Bush and Leshoure. Fuller could fix the woes of not having a solid second passing option, but time will tell.

Best Pick: Ziggy Ansah: Ansah will help provide pressure to the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler. He will make the jobs of the defensive backs much easier and will help create longer downs. Being able to grab a pass rushing end will give teams a fit while trying to figure out how to deal with Ansah and Ndamukong Suh.

Questionable Pick: Larry Warford: I only question the pick because solid guards can be found anywhere in the draft. I understand the Lions have had some character issues in the past, but with a Keenan Allen still on the board here, I have to question why they didn’t find that suitable #2 receiver. Nothing against Warford, he should be a solid NFL lineman, but for a team needing another target, I just figured Allen would be the guy.

Sleeper Pick: Theo Riddick: The Lions signed Reggie Bush in the off-season, but Bush won’t be returning any kicks. Leshoure will be the primary change of pace back splitting time, but Riddick could slide in as a return man and slowly get involved in the offense. Reggie Bush doesn’t tend to play 16 games every year so Riddick will get his chances, question is can he capitalize on them.

Overall Draft Grade: B+

Stephen Kettner

 

 

packers

GREEN BAY PACKERS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 26): Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

Round 2 (Pick 61): Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

Round 4 (Pick 109): David Bakhtiari, OT, Colorado

Round 4 (Pick 122): J.C. Tretter, OT, Cornell

Round 4 (Pick 125): Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

Round 5 (Pick 159): Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa

Round 5 (Pick 167): Josh Boyd, DE, Miss St.

Round 6 (Pick 193): Nate Palmer, LB, Illinois St.

Round 7 (Pick 216): Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley St

Round 7 (Pick 224): Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland

Round 7 (Pick 232): Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida

Analysis: The Packers had one of the steals of the draft in running back Eddie Lacy slipping to them in the second round. He finally brings a running game presence to the team. Jones looks like a monster and will help to terrorize the quarterbacks on the schedule. They shored up the O-line depth in the 4th with two tackles as well as taking a potential steal in Hyde. They lost Jennings and Driver so drafting 2 wr’s is no surprise. If one of them make it I wouldn’t be shocked.

Best Pick: Eddie Lacy RB Alabama

Lacey is the answer to the Packers running back woes. He brings tremendous power to a team who’s been trying to find a back like him since they won the Super Bowl. Not only is he a great runner, but he can pass protect and catch routs out of the backfield

Sleeper Pick: David Bakhtiari OT Colorado

For a 4th round pick Bakhtiari could provide huge value to a team that has been dismal protecting Aaron Rodger’s blindside. He’s versatile, athletic, and can be an immediate rotational tackle that can develop into a pretty good pass protector.

Boom/Bust Pick: Datone Jones DE UCLA

Many suspected the Packers to take a running back in the first round so it was a shock when they selected Jones. Jones can be a 3-4 edge end who can help with run support, and can move inside when the Pack switch to Nickel or Dime situations. He’s physical and has the intangibles but took a Medical Redshirt at UCLA due to a broken foot. With injuries already a concern on the D-Line this could come back and bite them in the rear

Overall Grade: B+

Michael Prosser

 

vikings

MINNESOTA VIKINGS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 23): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

Round 1 (Pick 25): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida St.

Round 1 (Pick 29): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

Round 4 (Pick 23): Gerald Hodge, OLB, Penn St.

Round 5 (Pick 22): Jeff Locke, P, UCLA

Round 6 (Pick 28): Jeff Baca, OG, UCLA

Round 7 (Pick 7): Michael Mauti, LB, Penn St.

Round 7 (Pick 8): Travis Bond, OG, UNC

Round 7 (Pick 23): Everett Dawkins, DT, Florida St.

Analysis: The Vikings had one of the best drafts this year. They got lucky and both Floyd (potential top 5 pick) and Rhodes (some rated as the #2 corner) slipped to them in the later end of the first round. They also traded back into the first round and nabbed a top notch wide receiver to help complement Greg Jennings. They added a pair of linebackers and guards for depth. The one pick that keeps them from receiving an A+ is the pick of a punter in the 5th round. They have a solid punter in Chris Kluwe, but with his outspoken behavior, it makes sense to bring in someone else. I just don’t think a 5th round pick is worth a punter.

Best Pick: Shariff Floyd: Whenever you get a player that was mocked in most people’s top 5 at 23, you have the steal of the draft. Floyd fills a huge void in the middle and should help the defense stop the opposing teams run attack. The Vikings made the playoffs last year and significantly improved, Floyd should help the team challenge the Packers for the division title.

Questionable Pick: Jeff Locke:Anytime a punter is selected before the 7th round it is questionable to me. The team already has Kluwe and with the depth in the draft at certain positions, they could have added some depth to the defense. Even if Locke makes the roster, how many other teams were going to pick him in the next few dozen picks?

Sleeper Pick: Cordarrelle Patterson: I see Patterson as a sleeper pick because he is the teams 4th offensive option. No one expects huge production out of Patterson, but he could have a major impact. Jennings and Kyle Rudolph are the top 2 passing options and Adrian Peterson will get a bulk of the offensive snaps as well, anything that Patterson can add will be a huge plus.

Overall Grade: A

Stephen Kettner

 

NFC SOUTH

falcons logo

ATLANTA FALCONS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 22): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

Round 2 (Pick 60): Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisiana

Round 4 (Pick 127):  Malliciah Goodman, DE, Clemson

Round 4 (Pick 133): Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford

Round 5 (Pick 153): Stansly Maponga, DE, Texas Christian

Round 7 (Pick 243): Kemal Ishmael, DB, Central Florida

Round 7 (Pick 244): Zeke Motta, S, Notre Dame

Round 7 (Pick 249): Sean Renfree, QB, Duke

Best Pick: This was a pretty cut-and-dry draft for Atlanta, so it’s no surprise that their best pick was their first pick. Desmond Trufant filled a big need at cornerback, and probably could have gone in the top 15.

Questionable Pick: Malliciah Goodman, DE, Clemson. Although, it’s not the player that’s questionable- it’s when the position itself was addressed. Atlanta’s pass rush needed a major boost, yet for some reason they waited until the fourth round to address their defensive end situation.

Surprise Pick: This wasn’t a draft class that had a lot of surprises, so the closest thing would probably be the fact that Atlanta double-dipped at cornerback, spending their first two picks addressing that position. After trading up for Desmond Trufant in the first round, it was a bit surprise to see them snag Robert Alford in the second round, even if he did provide great value and depth at a position that Atlanta needed to shore up after losing Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson this offseason.

Overview/Grade: All in all, this was a reasonably solid draft class for Atlanta. They shored up their defensive backfield with a slew of prospects, and even found a developmental project at tight end (Levine Toilolo) in the fourth round to groom behind Tony Gonzalez. However, they waited far too long to add a pass rusher, and probably should have added offensive line help at some point. Falcons Draft Grade: B-

Arun Morace

 

panthers logo

CAROLINA PANTHERS:

Draft Picks:

1st round (14th overall) Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

2nd round (44th overall) Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

4th round (108th overall) Edmund Kugbila, G, Valdosta State

5th round (148th overall) AJ Klein, LB, Iowa State

6th round (182nd overall) Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon

 

Best Pick: Star Lotulelei

When Lotulelei fell to the Panthers at 14, new GM David Gettleman wasted no time in selecting the Utah product. Star is that hole-plugging tackle that the Panthers have been missing for the last few years and the happiest player on the defense is recently named Defensive Rookie Player of the Year Luke Kueckly.

Sleeper Pick: Kenjon Barner

Barner comes to the Panthers by way of Oregon, the alma matter of Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart. Barner’s exceptional speed and at a 6th round pick could be a huge steel provided he can overcome the Panthers log jam on the Depth Chart at the position.

Boom/Bust Pick: Kawann Short

Short can play the 3 technique and the Panthers haven’t had a good tackle to play the technique since Kris Jenkins. The only question with Short is can he stay on the field without having to come off play after play. If he can work on his conditioning, the Panthers may have found their 1-2 punch in the middle of the Front Seven for years to come.

Overall Grade: B+

Michael Prosser

 

 

saints

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 15): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

Round 3 (Pick 13): Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas Pine-Bluff

Round 3 (Pick 20): John Jenkins, DT, Georgia

Round 5 (Pick 11): Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma

Round 6 (Pick 15): Rufus Johnson, DE, Tarleton St.

Analysis: The Saints struck out here in this draft. They needed to rebuild a defense and did very little to accomplish that. Vaccaro was too good to pass on and the team needed a playmaker at safety. Jenkins is great value in the third round to be the nose tackle of a defense switching to a 3-4 scheme. They needed a pass rusher to help with the 3-4 switch and didn’t get one. Armstead will help the O-line problems but should have been used on a pass rusher. Stills could have an impact, but the offense doesn’t need anymore help at the play making spots.

Best Pick: John Jenkins: They got exactly what they needed in a 3-4 nose tackle with the near 350 pound Jenkins. He will be a force up the middle and should disrupt many teams running abilities. Most teams struggle to find a solid nose tackle when switching to a 3-4 defense, the Saints did get it right with this pick.

Questionable Pick: Terron Armstead: There were plenty of pass rushers available with this pick, yet they chose to go offense. Brees can make things happen, as can Darren Sproles, but if the defense doesn’t start making stops the team will most likely not see the Super Bowl again. Nothing against Armstead, the pick should have just been used in a different position.

Sleeper Pick: Kenny Stills: The Oklahoma wide out should help the offense early on. He slipped in the draft, as did his quarterback Landry Jones, due to a down season. There was talk last year that Stills would be a day 2 selection. With the way that the Saints air the ball out, Stills should get plenty of opportunities to show he’s worth the pick.

Overall Grade: C-

Stephen Kettner

 

 

bucs

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS:

Draft Picks:

2nd round (43rd overall) Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

3rd round (73rd overall) Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State

4th round (100th overall) Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois

4th round (126th overall) William Gholston, DE, Michigan State

5th round (147th overall) Steven Means, LB, Buffalo University

6th round (189th overall) Mike Jame,s RB, Miami (FL)

 

Best Pick: Derelle Revis

Yes I know he was not drafted but giving up the 13th overall selection plus a couple other picks to get arguably the best corner in the NFL is far better than any draft pick they selected. Provided his knee is 100% opposing players will get lost on Revis Island despite the new location

Sleeper Pick: Mike Glennon

Look, Glennon at one point in time was projected to be the 2nd quarterback taken behind Geno Smith. Well he was the 2nd QB taken but not behind Geno Smith. Glennon has the arm strength to make all the NFL throws and despite his inability to show consistency, look for him to do well if called upon in a time of struggle from Josh Johnson

Boom/Bust Pick: Johnthan Banks

Once labeled the 2nd best cornerback in the Draft, Banks had a far from stellar Combine and was overshadowed by teammate Darius Slay (who was drafted earlier in the round).  He’s got the skills to play the position in the NFL and can learn from Revis, but if he performs like he did at the Combine, its good bye. And you can take that to the “Banks”.

Overall Grade: B-

Michael Prosser

 

NFC WEST

arizona-cardinals-logo

ARIZONA CARDINALS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 7)  Jonathan Cooper, G, UNC

Round 2 (Pick 45)  Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

Round 3 (Pick 69)  Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU

Round 4 (Pick 103)  Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

Round 4 (Pick 116)  Earl Watford, G, James Madison

Round 5 (Pick 140) Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

Round 6 (Pick 174) Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M

Round 6 (Pick 187) Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson

Round 7 (Pick 219) D.C. Jefferson, TE, Rutgers

Analysis: The Cardinals made a solid upgrade at guard drafting Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford. While Watford may just be a backup, depth is key for the offensive line. Kevin Minter was mocked in the first round by many and was a steal in the second round. Grabbing Taylor as a backup is a solid late pick. Ryan Swope is another great late pick up, however he has to stay healthy. He will be a great addition to Larry Fitzgerald. Okafor will strengthen the pass rush in a division with top rated QBs. The “Honey Badger” pick was interesting. They do need help in the secondary, however taking Mathieu over some that were available is head scratching. If he is over his past issues and is back to just playing then he will be a great addition.

Best Pick: Kevin Minter: Minter was slated to go a little bit earlier in the draft so the Cardinals got great value on this second round pick. He will step right in and start for this team. The defense played great early on last year, the offenses struggles left them on the field too long most games. This year, the defense will be tested against a tougher division, but should withstand the test with Minter’s help.

Questionable Pick: Tyrann Mathieu: This pick was going to be the most questionable pick no matter who took him. He is a big time red flag and risk. With everything that has come out about him over the last few weeks, the Cardinals will have to have him on a short leash. He was a great playmaker in college, however the question of will he be able to stay on the field looms.

Surprise Pick: Jonathan Cooper: I am shocked that the Cardinals passed on Chance Warmack at #7. Not to diminish the abilities of Cooper, most (along with myself) had Cooper rated as the #2 guard. He will fill in nicely and should start right off the bat. His abilities are unquestioned, just not who everyone thought would be at the podium wearing a Cardinals hat.

Overall Grade: B+

Stephen Kettner

 

rams

ST. LOUIS RAMS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 8): Tavon Austin, WR, WVU

Round 1 (Pick 30): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

Round 3 (Pick 9): T.J. McDonald, S, USC

Round 3 (Pick 30): Stedman Bailey, WR, WVU

Round 4 (Pick 16): Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama

Round 5 (Pick 16): Brandon McGee, CB, Miami

Round 5 (Pick 27): Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt

Analysis:

Not only did the Rams take the best Wide Receiver in the Draft but they also selected his friend and fellow Mountaineer Stedman Bailey. Adding Barrett Jones to help with the Offensive Line is a big plus too.

Best Pick: Tavon Austin WR West Virginia

Sam Bradford needs weapons now that Danny Ammendola has departed for Tom Brady-Land.  Austin was the best receiver in the draft and will bring the Rams one step closer to recreating the “Greatest Show on Turf.” Sam Bradford is a happy man!

Sleeper Pick:  Zac Stacy RB Vanderbilt

With Steven Jackson now running on turf somewhere else (Atlanta to be specific), the Rams needed new legs in the backfield and they got a steel in Zac Stacy. Stacy was a big part in the resurgence of the Vandy football program who is a smaller Steven Jackson-type player who can finish drives. Look for this kid to be a productive 5th round pick

Boom/Bust Pick: Alec Ogletree LB Georgia

I don’t know what it is about Jeff Fisher but he always seems to take kids with off the field issues and Ogletree is no different. After taking Jenoris Jenkins last season, and Adam “Pacman Jones” when he coached in Tennessee, Fisher takes Ogletree with Rams’ second 1st round pick. One of the best linebackers in this Draft Class, Ogletree was arrested before the Combine which drove his stock way down. It seems that Fisher keeps selecting from this “Island Of Misfit Toys” time and time again but if he can turn Alec’s life around, the Rams will get yet another talented football player to help their defense in a stacked NFC West

 

Overall Grade: A

Michael Prosser

 

 

49ers

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS:

Draft Picks:

Round 1 (Pick 18): Eric Reid, FS, LSU

Round 2 (Pick 8): Cornelius Carradine, DE, Florida St.

Round 2 (Pick 23): Vance McDonald, TE, Rice

Round 3 (Pick 26): Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn

Round 4 (Pick 31): Quinton Patton, WR, La Tech

Round 4 (Pick 34): Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

Round 5 (Pick 24): Quinton Dial, DE, Alabama

Round 6 (Pick 12): Nick Moody, OLB, Florida St

Round 7 (Pick 31): B.J. Daniels, QB, South Florida

Round 7 (Pick 40): Carter Bykowski, OT, Iowa St.

Round 7 (Pick 46): Marcus Cooper, CB, Rutgers

The 49ers had a few holes after losing some players to free agency, but they addressed them very quickly in the draft. Eric Reid fills the gap at free safety while Vance McDonald could be the back up tight end out of the gate. Quinton Patton could be a return man, but will bring more impact to the receiver position than Ted Ginn Jr. Carradine and Lemonier will help with the rotation and pressure the opposing quarterback, while the pick of Lattimore will prove to be a big time hit or miss.

Best Pick: Eric Reid

Reid will step in right away and start for the 49ers. Free safety was about the biggest hole on the team after Goldson left for Tampa Bay. He will get tested plenty and often at the back end of this defense, especially with playing 6 games against Seattle, Arizona and St. Louis. He should be noticeably from day one on defense and should be a mainstay for the next 10-12 years.

Sleeper Pick: Marcus Lattimore

I don’t think anyone is surprised that Lattimore is a sleeper pick, the 49ers were a team that was smart enough to take the risk. Had he not been hurt, Lattimore would have been a top 5 draft pick. While his injury was quite gruesome, he will follow a plan to recovery and will be back out on the field as soon as he is cleared. As for now it’s a wait and see, but overall Lattimore could be the man to replace Frank Gore.

Boom/Bust Pick: Cornelius Carradine

“Tank” as some call him, could be a big time steal or a big time bust. I only put him here because he is coming off of a knee injury and not everyone can be Adrian Peterson. If he comes back with the same (or close to the same) burst and pass rush, then he could be one of the top 5 steal’s of the draft. However, if he doesn’t regain what he once had, he could be a big time bust being picked so high in the draft.

Overall Grade: A

Stephen Kettner

 

seahawks

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS:

Draft Picks:

Round 2 (Pick 30): Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M

Round 3 (Pick 25): Jordan Hill, DT, Penn St.

Round 4 (Pick 26): Chris Harper, WR, Kansas St.

Round 5 (Pick 4): Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

Round 5 (Pick 5): Tharold Simon, CB, LSU

Round 5 (Pick 25): Luke Wilson, TE, Rice

Round 6 (Pick 26): Spencer Ware, RB, LSU

Round 7 (Pick 14): Ryan Seymour, OG, Vanderbilt

Round 7 (Pick 25): Ty Powell, DE, Harding

Round 7 (Pick 35): Jared Smith, DT, New Hampshire

Round 7 (Pick 36): Michael Bowie, OT, NE Oklahoma St.

Analysis: The Seahawks had a questionable draft. They got some good value picks (Williams and Powell) but then took a running back early (Michael) with Marshawn Lynch on the roster still. The team needs a back up QB and didn’t draft one in a draft that saw QBs drop significantly. It is hard to gauge later picks (8 picks in the 5th round or later) but all in all I don’t see this being a good draft class for the Seahawks.

Best Pick: Jesse Williams: Williams was mocked to go much higher, is a beast inside and somehow slipped all the way back to the 4th round. Williams could push for a starting role with the Seahawks and will definitely have a significant role from day 1.

Questionable Pick: Christine Michael: Marshawn Lynch has been dominate in his stay with the Seahawks. To draft a “change of pace back” or a backup in the 2nd round with no first round pick is surprising. The team doesn’t have a ton of holes, but they could have drafted a tight end, pass rusher or even traded back for more picks. Michael would have been available a few picks later and the team could have picked something else up in the process. With the corner depth, the Seahawks could have made their secondary impossible to pass on with a 2nd round corner as well.

Sleeper Pick: Ty Powell: With Chris Clemons most likely missing a big chunk of the year with a knee injury, Powell will have a shot to make the team. Powell, a high school QB, showed his potential in the combine and could be one of the speed rushers that the Seahawks like.

Overall Grade: C

Stephen Kettner

 

 

 

 

 

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NFL Mock Draft 3.1

2013-draft-logo-story

 

The draft is now single digit (days) away and here is the final 2013 NFL Mock Draft. While there could be updates with any trades made prior to April 25, 2013; i.e. the possible Revis to Tampa rumors, I will update accordingly with that in mind. As of now, here is how I see the NFL draft working out without any trades.

**Updated 4/22/13 per the NY Jets/Tampa Bay Bucs trade**

 

1. Kansas City: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M, OT  (Previous Pick: Joeckel)

The only way Joeckel isn’t picked by the Chiefs at #1 is if they trade back. He is the solid choice for Andy Reid and Alex Smith.

2. Jacksonville: Dion Jordan, Oregon, OLB (Previous Pick: Shariff Floyd, Florida, DT)

Jordan has been flying up the draft boards and Jacksonville sounds interested. Jordan has a ton of speed and could be a top-notch pass rusher right out of the gates.

3. Oakland: Shariff Floyd, Florida, DT (Previous Pick: Star Lotulelei, Utah, DT)

Same position selected here, just a different player. Floyd will go no farther than the Raiders if he is available, if gone Star Lotulelei will most likely be the pick. I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved back here either.

4. Philadelphia: Eric Fisher, Central Michigan, OT (Previous Pick: Fisher)

I have had Star Lotulelei here and Eric Fisher. While the Eagles need a stud nose tackle in the move to a 3-4 defense, keeping Vick healthy should be the priority. With last year’s injuries I can’t see them passing on Fisher.

5. Detroit: Dee Milliner, Alabama, CB (Previous Pick: Milliner)

If Eric Fisher is here the Lions may go in that direction to help Reggie Bush and Matt Stafford. However, I still believe they need secondary help and Milliner is a top corner. If the Lions want to compete, they have to slow down Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and James Jones.

6. Cleveland: Ezekiel Ansah, BYU, DE  (Previous Pick: Bjoern Werner, Florida St, OLB/DE)

I started looking at Ansah more and moved him up big time. I am not a football specialist but after it was brought to my attention I opened my eyes more. Milliner is the pick here if he’s available, if not Cleveland will take the NY Giants approach, in that you can’t draft too much defensive front 7.

7. Arizona: Lance Johnson, Oklahoma, OT (Previous Pick: Geno Smith, West Virgnia, QB)

With Carson Palmer on the roster, they now need to protect him. The interior line seems sound, while Johnson is a reach, they need a top-notch tackle. Depending on how the draft shakes out in the top 5, Arizona could afford to trade back.

8. Buffalo: Chance Warmack, Alabama, OG (Previous Pick: Warmack)

Buffalo bought some time in signing Kevin Kolb. This isn’t a good year for quarterbacks, so upgrading what they lost in free agency is acceptable. QB’s will be available in later rounds, Warmack is better than any QB available here.

9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, LSU, OLB/DE (Previous Pick: Geno Smith, WVU, QB)**

Even though Revis is gone, the draft is deep at corner and one can be had in the 2nd round. Mingo is the pass rusher that Rex Ryan craves and will help put pressure on the QB making any corner that much better.

10. Tennessee: Bjoern Werner, Florida St, OLB/DE (Previous Pick: Dion Jordan, Oregon, OLB)

Tennessee’s GM has come out and said he wants to upgrade the O-line. If Warmack drops he is the pick, they could trade back and take Jonathan Cooper (I think he’s a reach here). You can’t go wrong with a pass rusher with the types of offenses they will face in the AFC.

11. San Diego: Menelik Watson, Florida St, OT (Previous Pick: Lance Johnson, Oklahoma, OT)

King Dunlap is a backup at best. With tackles flying off the board in the top 10, the Chargers will reach some but for a tackle it is worth it. Watson has a lot of upside and will keep Rivers upright this season.

12. Miami: Xavier Rhodes, Florida St, CB  (Previous Pick: Rhodes)

The Dolphins did bring in Brent Grimes via UFA, Rhodes will be one heck of a tandem for the Dolphins. They have established some offensive power, now to build up and slow down the likes of the Patriots, Broncos and Colts.

13. New York Jets (from Tampa Bay): Geno Smith, WVU, QB  (no previous pick)**

With very few teams needing QBs in the first round, Smith will fall. Mingo is more of a need for the Jets at 9 than Smith. If the Jets don’t grab Smith here, he could fall into the late first round until someone trades up to grab him.

14. Carolina: Star Lotulelei, Utah, DT (Previous Pick: Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, DT)

Lotulelei is a player that can easily go top 5, but after that he could drop a good bit. If he falls, the Panthers will snatch him up. He will upgrade the D-line instantly.

15. New Orleans: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas, S (Previous Pick: Barkevious Mingo, LSU, OLB/DE)**

The Revis effect has started in the draft, I had them taking Mingo before the trade and with the trade I have him gone. I will go back to Vaccaro because the team does need a playmaker on defense. Damontre Moore could be a pick here if the Saints truly value a pass rusher.

16. St. Louis: Tavon Austin, WVU, WR (Previous Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas, S)**

Tavon Austin is the easy pick, his playmaking ability on offense will help Sam Bradford in more ways than one. He can return kicks, line up in the backfield and play both WR positions .The Rams will nonetheless be fun to watch

17. Pittsburgh: Jarvis Jones, Georgia, OLB (Previous Pick: Keenan Allen, California, WR)

Pittsburgh needs offensive weapons, but with a talent like Jones slipping in the first round you can’t pass on him. The Steelers are known for their defense and Jones will definitely be an upgrade.  Bringing back Emmanuel Sanders helps ease the offensive pain.

18. Dallas: Johnathan Cooper, North Carolina, OG (Previous Pick: Damontre Moore, Texas A&M, DE)

If Cooper can make it this far the Cowboys will eat him up. There is a lot of interest in Cooper of late and he may not be available. He will upgrade the Cowboys woeful run game and open up holes for DeMarco Murray.

19. New York Giants: Damontre Moore, Texas A&M, DE  (Previous Pick: Alec Ogletree, Georgia, LB)

The Giants will always take a front 7 guy if he falls and they generally work out. Moore is another player that fits this bill. He will slide into the Giants great rotation and help to slow down Michael Vick and RG3.

20. Chicago: Arthur Brown, Kansas State, ILB (Previous Pick:Brown)

Brian Urlacher is gone and there is a gap in the middle. Brown will step in and start right away. It may take him a few weeks to get going, however by season’s end he will be helping the Bears in their playoff push.

21. Cincinnati: Alec Ogletree, Georgia, LB (Previous Pick: Lacy: Eddie Lacy, Alabama, RB)

The Bengals have the ability to do a few different things here. I think they will strengthen the back-end of their front 7. Ogletree would add to Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga making a solid core.

22. St. Louis (from Washington): Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee, WR (Previous Pick: Tavon Austin, West Virginia, WR)**

They grabbed Austin at 16 and they need more than one WR. I still think they will go Patterson here and double up on talent at one position. They could also go TE here but not having many playmaking WRs on the roster, I can’t see them ignoring the need.

23. Minnesota: Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, DT (Previous Pick: Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee, WR)

It is nothing against Richardson, he’s just in a position where if one player drops back he will as well. With Jenning signed, the team can shore up their defense. Kevin Williams isn’t getting any younger, now would be the time to upgrade with a huge talent like Richardson.

24. Indianapolis: Johnathan Hankins, Ohio St, DT (Previous Pick: Hankins)

The Colts could use a pass rusher, however they also need defensive line help. Pass rushers come around more often than a big body in the middle. Facing Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson will help with the decision to clog the middle as well. The Colts will make the smart, solid pick with Hankins.

25. Minnesota (from Seattle): Desmond Trufant, Washington, CB (Previous Pick:Trufant)

Trufant is an interesting situation. Depending on how things pan out he could go much earlier, Minnesota could go with Keenan Allen, but with Jennings in-house, they can afford to upgrade their defense first. Manti Te’o is another player that could be in play with this pick.

26. Green Bay: Matt Elam, Florida, FS (Previous Pick: Eric Reid, LSU, FS)

The secondary is generally what has hurt the Packers, along with their run defense. They could draft a big NT and slide Raji over to end (similar to the Ravens with Ngata), the draft is deep with safety help, but Elam is a steal. He will help the Packers D from day one.

27. Houston: Keenan Allen, California, WR (Previous Pick: DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson, WR)

The Texans need a #2 and get a steal with Allen dropping. Tavon Austin, in my opinion, has become the top WR of the draft because of his dynamics. If Allen is available for the Texans, it will be suit the team and player. This will be a huge get for Houston.

28. Denver: Datonte Jones, UCLA, DE(Previous Pick: Ezekiel Ansah, BYU, DE)

Elvis (Dumervil) is gone, thanks to his agent, and the Broncos need another pass rusher. Jones will fill the void and is a safer pick than CornelliusTank “Carradine since he is coming off of a torn ACL.

29. New England: DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson, WR (Previous Pick: Robert Woods, Southern Cal, WR)

The Patriots still need some offense and with Rob Gronkowski having a set back the team needs more offensive options. Hopkins drops into the Patriots laps and could have an impact on day 1.

30. Atlanta: Johnathan Banks, Mississippi St., CB (Previous Pick: Banks)

The Falcons need defensive help at CB and DE. Grimes is now gone so the need for coverage in the NFC South is much greater than a pass rush. Banks will be a solid pick and could start opposite Asante Samuel.

31. San Francisco: Eric Reid, LSU, FS  (Previous Pick: Jesse Williams, Alabama, DT)

The 49ers lost Dashon Goldson in free agency and with the division getting stronger, so must they. Reid will be a solid pick and gives them a cheaper option than Whitner in the near future.

32. Baltimore: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame, LB (Previous Pick: Matt Elam, Florida, FS)

Baltimore needs help at LB and WR. They brought in Elvis  Dumervil to help with the pass rush, so Te’o is worth the risk. If a player like Hopkins or Allen drop this far, they could be far more attractive than Te’o (assuming Te’o is still on the board).

 

**Denotes changes due to Revis trade to Tampa Bay

 

 NFL Mock Database

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The 15 Worst Uniforms in Sports History

The sporting world has seen it’s fair share of silly looking jerseys. Whether they be the dullest things you’ve ever laid eyes on, or the brightest uniforms next to the sun. The top 15 worst uniforms in professional sports history.

#15: Chicago White Sox

These uniforms look like giant old school Pepsi cans. The logo placement is bad and the sleeve stripes are awful. Maybe not the worst uniforms I’ve ever laid eyes on, but they definitely make the cut. Continue reading

VIDEO: AJ Hawk Knocks Man Into Pond

AJ Hawk must be getting restless in the off-season. It is no secret that there are few things that bring more joy to a linebacker’s life than to knock someone on to the ground. However, usually that person is getting paid to be knocked to the ground by you. That was not the case for this poor guy.

What started out as what seems to be a friendly game of football with a real-life NFL linebacker ends with this guy taking an unplanned swim.

Here’s the video:

 

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