Here are my first thoughts on the picks from round 1. There were some trades and some interesting picks and I think we will see a lot of trades and jockeying for positioning to start the 2nd round of the draft.
Pick 1 – Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton: Not a shock but I think there were better quarterback options or at least you could have traded down a little to get him. Not worth the $50 million guaranteed that Sam Bradford got last year and I am sure he will try to outdo this year. I think we will see him start the season as the backup, the fans will call for him, he will come in and have to go right back to the bench. Not a great pick I give it a C-.
Pick 2 – Denver Broncos – Von Miller: Duh! Perfect pick. A lot of teams are going to wish that he would have fallen to them or that they could have moved up to get him. Still not sure why he jumped so high on so many boards (was around 10 just few months ago) but he is a no brainer pick. The Broncos have a great linebacker but they also have a long way to go. I give his one an A.
Pick 3 – Buffalo Bills – Marcell Dareus: Nice pick but maybe a little high. Good player has the tools to be a great pro bowler for years to come but lacks focus. I hope that the Bills can find a way to make his contract very performance driven to keep his head in the game. If he can maintain focus he is going to be a force but I think this one is a gamble and I give it a B-.
Pick 4 – Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green: I thought maybe they would go QB here but I guess going wide receiver and trying to convince Palmer to stay is a nice idea. Even if Palmer walks they added a great target for whomever they are able to sign, draft later, or trade for to replace him. I like this pick and think it will pay off in the long run. I give this one an A.
Pick 5 – Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Peterson: Steal. This is an NFL defender that will help a team that is very thin at cornerback. (Not as thin as the Texans, but still thin.) The fact that he can also be a return man and a good one at that makes this an easy selection in the top 5. I give this one an A.
Pick 6 – Atlanta Falcons – Julius Jones: The only question I have here is did they really need to jump this high to get him? I do not think that any of the next 5 teams would have considered a receiver but I guess sometimes you have to make the move that is available. The Falcons are going to add a very talented deep threat receiver to go with their already emerging quarterback. Look for this to help solidify the offense next year. I give this one a B+.
Pick 7 – San Francisco 49ers – Aldon Smith: Another interesting pick and another one that I think maybe too high. Nice pass rusher, great upside, nice fit but I think he is too much of a gamble for a team that needs players to be good now. I am sure he will line up as an outside linebacker but he is going to take some time to learn how to play the position and to adapt to the NFL and I am not sure the 49ers can wait. I give this one a C.
Pick 8 – Tennessee Titans – Jake Locker: Not a shock that they drafted a QB here and I think this one is a good fit. The only question I see is are they going to get Kerry Collins to mentor him and start for another season while he learns or is the Vince Young experiment not as over as the Titans claim. The third option would be to let him start but I think that given the setbacks the team endured the last few years and the way the division is improving that they need to take the time to bring him along properly. I assume they have a plan to teach him for a while so I give this one an A-.
Pick 9 – Dallas Cowboys – Tyron Smith: Nice pickup for the Cowboys who desperately need help on the offensive line. Should be a plug and play tackle as long as his knee holds up and he is able to learn how to pick up the blitz schemes in the NFL. I think this fills a need for the team and is about the right place for the pick. I give this one a B.
Pick 10 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Blaine Gabbert: Interesting pick for a team with a serviceable starter already in house. I am guessing that Gabbert will be a project for a year or two and hopefully blossom into the elite QB that Jacksonville thinks he will be. The problem I have with this pick is that there are so many positions that need to be filled now that I am not sure a QB is going to help the team this year so that is why I give this one a C.
Pick 11 – Houston Texans – J.J. Watt: Nice pick, I guess. On a team with so many needs such as DT, CB, S, etc. I am not sure that adding a defensive end is the way to go. Watt has great talent as a pass rusher and a great work ethic so he should be a good NFL player. The main thing that threw me off was the Texans changed to a 3-4 defense and have no real defensive tackles in house so I thought for sure we would see Nick Fairley or another tackle here. Let us hope for the sake of the fans, and the coach’s job, that this turns out to be the right pick here. For now I am going to give this one a C+.
Pick 12 – Minnesota Vikings – Christian Ponder: I feel real bad for Tarvaris Jackson right now. Not sure why the Vikings have given up and decided to start over but they have. The other problem with this pick is that the guy seems to get hurt an awful lot. He is a great passer for the West Coast Offense and could turn out to be a good NFL QB but the Vikings obviously see something that most people do not so I am giving this one a C-.
Pick 13 – Detroit Lions – Nick Fairley: Glad I do not have to be a quarterback in that division. Adding Su last year and Fairley this year gives the Lions a defensive front line that looks to be scary for a long time. I do not think that keeping Fairley focused will be as hard as other people think because he is going to be on a young defense that is going to tear it up and enjoy themselves while they do it. Great pick for the Lions and I give this one an A.
Pick 14 – St. Louis Rams – Robert Quinn; I feel bad for a guy like this that has medical condition that while benign scares teams enough that a nice talent starts to fall down the draft board. The concerns are going to be concussions but if everything really checked out like the doctors said then this was a great value pick for the Rams. I give this one a B+.
Pick 15 – Miami Dolphins – Mike Pouncey: I guess if your brother turned out to be a great Pro Bowl talent and got drafted one year before you then you are destined to be as good if not better right? I understand that the Dolphins are worried about their offensive line but this pick was way too high and just does not have the value that you expect to get from your first round pick. I give this one a D.
Pick 16 – Washington Redskins – Ryan Kerrigan: The Skins saw a need and filled it, case closed. This guy is relentless and has a motor that should allow him to play the whole game and be ready for more. Lining him up with Orakpo on the other side gives the Redskins a nice set of pass rushers to build a solid defense around. I give this one an A-.
Pick 17 – New England Patriots – Nate Solder: This one fills a need for the aging Patriots team and could turn out to be a great pick. Not sure why they felt the need to make this pick here since I do not believe there were any other teams that would have had Solder anywhere near this high on their boards but it’s hard to argue with Belichick so if he says this is the guy, I believe him. I am still only going to give this one a C.
Pick 18 – San Diego Chargers – Corey Liuget: Solid player, nice pick, fills a hole for a team that needs a pass rusher. This is another one that I question the placement of the pick since I think he would have been available in round 2 but I guess sometimes you do what you think you have to do. I give this one a B- since it still filled a big need.
Pick 19 – New York Giants – Prince Amukamara: Questions about personality and fitting in inside the locker room caused Prince to fall down the draft board. This is a great value pick for a team that is looking to add depth to its secondary but I think that if a quirky personality is a problem that New York might not be the best place to try and get a player to change his ways and conform. Either way it works out I still think nice pick and I give this one an A.
Pick 20 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Adrian Clayborn: Erb’s Palsy has plagued him through college and made it to where he can only play one position, right defensive end. I think he will fit in nicely for the Bucs but the medical risk seems to be a big risk especially when you draft a guy in the first round. It fills a gaping need on the defensive line for Tampa Bay but I do not think this was a good pick for a team that needs stability. I give this one a C-.
Pick 21 – Cleveland Browns – Phil Taylor: This one is a little tricky. Most teams had this guy going around the bottom of the 2nd round or top of the 3rd. He is a huge defensive tackle and got a couple of teams interested because guys his size (6’4″ 355) that can play are hard to find. This was the guy the Brows wanted and they had reason to believe that another team was going to take him so I am good with making sure you get your guy. I give this one a B.
Pick 22 – Indianapolis Colts – Anthony Castonzo: For a team with issues on the defensive side I thought this was an interesting pick. The only thing I can say is that the offensive line needs help and Peyton Manning is getting older so protecting him is a smart move and when a talent is there that can plug right in I think it’s a good pick. Not the best pick but a good pick. I give this one a B.
Pick 23 – Philadelphia Eagles – Danny Watkins: Not your everyday story when you start talking about a 26 year old rookie in the NFL. This guy played no football in college and was a firefighter before discovering that he could play some ball. He can play any position on the offensive line so he is a nice fit for a team that struggled to protect their quarterbacks last season. I give this one a B.
Pick 24 – New Orleans Saints – Cameron Jordan: Thank you teams that decided to reach. Cameron Jordan should have and could have been a top 10 pick had there not been a plethora of teams reaching to try and fill holes. The Saints got a young defensive end to start rebuilding the line and this was a steal. I give this one an A for sure.
Pick 25 – Seattle Seahawks – James Carpenter: He has the talent, he fills a hole, but he is not a sure thing as a starter this year. I like that the team recognized that there was a need to try and solidify their offensive line but taking a guy that is going to need some time and work to adjust to the NFL is a bit risky. I like the idea of making sure you protect your quarterback but newsflash Seahawks “YOU HAVE NO QUARTERBACK!” I give this one a C-.
Pick 26 – Kansas City Chiefs – Jonathan Baldwin: The Chiefs needed a big play receiver and hopefully they got him. He has skills but so far in his career has been inconsistent at best. I am also not sure that you needed to spend a first round pick to get him since I do not think there is a huge demand for receivers high in the draft this year. Fills a hole and a nice player but I give this one a C.
Pick 27 – Baltimore Ravens – Jimmy Smith: One of the best defenses in the league and what do they get, only one of the best cornerbacks if not the best cornerback in the draft this year. Character questions caused Smith to drop down the board this far but if anyone can set him straight it will be Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. I think this is a great fit for the team and I was shocked that he fell this far down the board. I give this one an A.
Pick 28 – New Orleans Saints – Mark Ingram: Steal. That’s all I can say about this one, steal. The Saints had major problems last year at running back losing countless backs to injury so this was a great pick. This will also allow the team, though I am still not convinced they are going to do it, to part ways with the expensive (or so he would like to think) Reggie Bush. Either way they go on Bush they got a starting running back and the best one in this draft and it was a great pick. I give this one an A.
Pick 29 – Chicago Bears – Gabe Carimi: I guess playing on the offensive line for a coach’s son makes your draft stock go up. I did not think that we would see Carimi go this high in the draft because he is not a power lineman. He is not going to intimidate anyone or power through them but he should be a serviceable starting lineman. This is another one that I think could have been a 2nd round pick so I am giving this one a C.
Pick 30 – New York Jets – Muhammad Wilkerson: The Jets needed some youth for their defensive line and they got it. He looks the part and projects well but is till raw, unpolished, and in need of some work. I think this one will be a nice fit for the Rex Ryan defense and is still a nice pick. I give this one a B.
Pick 31 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Cameron Heyward: This is a nice player that fills a need for a defensive minded team. The only flaw I can really see here is that the Steelers are known for putting pressure on the quarterback and Heyward has never really been the kind of guy to do that. Maybe they saw something in the workouts but I am not sure this one will work out. I give this one a C-.
Pick 32 – Green Bay Packers – Derek Sherrod: Offensive line was a big need for the Packers going into the draft and they addressed it right away. Sherrod should be a nice player for a long time and a good fit for the team. This is not a no brainer but I do think it was a safe pick for a team that is picking at the bottom so I give this one a B.