Insider: NFL Draft Second Guesses
Unlike hundreds and perhaps thousands of other publications, we are not going to “Grade the Draft” immediately after it’s conclusion. Reason being, the players that these teams selected haven’t competed in a single practice, much less a game or a season. Different players fit team strengths in different ways, so regardless of what myself, Mel Kiper or Todd McShay have on our boards, each team is going to grade their picks very differently.
With that said there were some very questionable moves on the first and second days and we are going to second-guess until proven wrong.
Jaguars Select Punter in 3rd Round
The Jacksonville Jaguars top our list as general manager Gene Smith (holder of infinite draft wisdom) decided to select California punter Bryan Anger with the seventh pick of the third round. Ironically, this selection brought anger to several Jaguars fans named Bryan and otherwise.
Apparently Smith felt that after 2011’s 5-11 campaign and a star-studded free agency period which saw the Jaguars inking wide receivers Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans, along with cornerback Aaron Ross, the Jaguars simply had too many actual football players on both sides of the ball to where a high third-round pick would not make the team.
Either Gene Smith has overvalued a roster which is currently a 150 to 1 Super Bowl favorite in Las Vegas or he’s just smarter than everyone else in football. To take a punter, any punter in the third round is a mockery of the scouting process and the Jaguars fan base.
Denver Makes Up Their Own Rules
Denver Broncos personnel czar John Elway was a gunslinger during his Hall of Fame career and he, alongside general manager Brian Xanders appear to be gunslingers in the draft.
Time will tell if the Broncos are geniuses or something other than that (to be kind) involving the first two days of their draft. Originally holding the 25th overall selection thanks in part to the now departed Messiah of Gotham Tim Tebow, Denver moved back not once but twice to gather more selections (usually a good move).
What’s more important than collecting draft picks are the players that you acquire via those selections and that’s where things seem a bit questionable for the “Mighty Mustangs.”
Denver, desperate for help in the middle of their defense chose Cincinnati defensive tackle Derek Wolfe with the 36th overall selection. Wolfe was rated by many as a third or fourth-round pick, so obviously the Broncos saw something in him that would fit their scheme. Pigeonholed into selecting a defensive tackle, Denver passed on Penn State’s Devon Still, Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy and Clemson’s Brandon Thompson, all players that many had rated as superior prospects.
With their next selection, the now Peyton Manning-led Broncos chose the desert skyscraper himself, quarterback Brock Osweiler from Arizona State. A popular NFL mantra is that if you take care of the future, the present will take care of itself. Clearly the Broncos would like Osweiler to be the quarterback who follows Manning, but to take a quarterback in the second round who won’t play when you’re trying to win a title in the next season or two seems like a wasted pick, especially if there are major question marks about that signal caller.
Finally, in their efforts to add some punch in the backfield to go along Willis McGahee, the Broncos selected….Ronnie Hillman from San Diego State? Denver passed on the opportunity to get Boise State’s Doug Martin by trading out of the first round entirely (and even traded the pick which Martin was selected). The running backs who were available when the Broncos chose Hillman at 67th overall were Miami’s Lamar Miller, Temple’s Bernard Pierce and even FIU’s T.Y. Hilton.
More Questionable Selections
– The Seattle Seahawks selected West Virginia outside linebacker/defensive end Bruce Irvin with the 15th overall selection. Irvin was rated as a late second to third round prospect by most experts and his off the field issues took him off some teams draft boards entirely.
Clearly the Seahawks have a very specific plan for Irvin, but if he was their guy they likely could have moved back and recouped some more picks to increase the value.
– The Detroit Lions selected Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles with the 54th overall selection. Broyles was a phenomenal receiver at Oklahoma and was shattering records, right up until he tore his ACL late in the season. Although Broyles is a fantastic young man, Detroit already selected Titus Young in the second round a season ago (similar build and skill set) and could use defensive help if they want to make a return trip to the postseason, not a wideout who may have to be “red shirted” who is also a replica of the one they selected last year.
– The Houston Texans used their 68th overall selection on Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey. Clearly the Texans need a complement to Andre Johnson but Posey doesn’t seem to have a lot of great NFL receiver attributes. He struggled against “semi-elite” competition at the Senior Bowl, while running sloppy routes, showing suspect hands and a lack of top-end speed. Better wideouts who were available at that pick include Rueben Randle, Marvin McNutt, Marvin Jones, T.J. Graham and Mohamed Sanu, along with FIU’s T.Y. Hilton.
– The final two victims of the New York Giants Super Bowl title run made a few moves that can be considered questionable. Needing to upgrade the wide receiver position, San Francisco selected Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins with the 30th overall selection. Jenkins is a smaller guy, not very physical and seemed like a mid to late second-round value. They then one-upped themselves by selecting dynamic Oregon running back LaMichael James in the second round. James is a smaller third-down type of back who can be a weapon. What makes the pick questionable is that San Francisco already has Pro Bowler Frank Gore in the backfield as well as Kendall Hunter, who has similar attributes as James.
It’s out of vogue to question the decision making of Bill Belichick, but the Patriots didn’t seem to maximize value throughout the early part of the draft. Aside from the Chandler Jones selection, Dont’a Hightower with the 25th overall selection seems a bit early and unnecessary, especially when you drafted Brandon Spikes in the second round just two years earlier. Add in Illinois safety Tavon Wilson in the second round and Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette in Round 3, and the Patriots look a little extended.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie