There’s a saying that goes “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are.” For NFL teams it can be said “Tell me how you draft and I’ll tell you who you are.” Team identity is the key to the draft. Teams that know who they are do well, teams that don’t not so much. So what does each team’s draft say about each team.
CAROLINA – We’re bad! But worse than that we’re boring! If nothing else Carolina drafted a season’s worth of headlines as all eyes will be on Cam Newton to see how he performs. But the front office showed some hard nose common sense to go with the flash. They spent most of their remaining picks on the offensive and defensive lines. Newton still needs a new deep threat but you have to walk before you can run.
DENVER – I’m John Elway and this is my first draft ever! Everyone loves Von Miller. He probably was the best defensive player in the draft. Elway knows football players and Miller’s a great one. But was he the right player for Denver? Is John Fox the right coach for this team? With Miller and Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos would make a nightmarish 3-4 defense. In a 4-3, who knows? And who’ll play DT? Forget the QB situation for a moment this draft was all about Elway and whether he can handle the big desk. Good drafts are a balancing act and this one appears to be a little unbalanced.
BUFFALO – We have no plan! That was my reaction. It looked like the Bills targeted absolutely nobody in this draft. They just waited in line and took the best player that came their way regardless of position. What’s wrong with that? Well normally when you do that you’re drafting 3rd from the bottom. Not number 3! Yes they did get a lot of highly rated players especially on defense. They must really believe that their D was the only thing keeping them out of the playoffs. That’s mighty bold thinking for a 4-12 club.
CINCINNATI – Please come back Carson Palmer! But if you’re really leaving then screw you! Carson Palmer has finally had enough of owner Mike Brown and appears to have snapped. He’s in California sticking his fingers in his ears going “La la la! I am not listening to you! La la la!” On paper the Bengals aren’t a bad team. But now they need a new franchise QB and a new number one receiver. Honestly it wasn’t a good draft to go hunting for either. But the Bengals may have pulled it off. For that they should be commended.
ARIZONA – I’m Ken Wisenhunt and only wimps throw the football! When the Cardinals made the Super Bowl a few years ago I thought Wisenhunt was a genius. Now I’m completely turned around and think this guy may be the dumbest head coach I’ve ever seen. Rather than build on success he’s spent the last few years dismantling Arizona’s winning formula. This draft is exhibit A of Wisenhunt’s deluded quest to turn the Cardinals into a Pittsburgh clone. More running backs and defensive players. Sure Patrick Peterson may be the steal of the draft, but their once powerful receiving corps is now down to just Larry Fitzgerald. Even if someone like Marc Bulger somehow turns back the clock, there’s no way the aerial attack powers them back to the playoffs.
CLEVELAND – We’re bad but we know it. I went over this in my day 3 knee jerk reaction but I’ll repeat it here. The Browns have been the victim of a decade of mismanagement. The roster isn’t as empty as it was a few years ago but there are still a lot of holes. The current front office team gets it. They are building slowly, obtaining multiple draft picks, and carpet bombing the holes one at time with first and second rounders. It’s not flashy but they keep adding players and the cupboard isn’t quite so bare as when they started.
SAN FRANCISCO – I’m Jim Harbaugh and I can make a stud QB out of anyone! And he’ll get his chance to prove with not one but two QBs who come from “trick” offenses. Alex Smith is still on the roster who still looks uncomfortable in a non-spread system. Here comes Colin Kaepernick who has all the tools but played in the Pistol, an offense that gets called a gimmick by the spread offense people. He had a chance to pick Jake Locker who played in a pro style system and the highly rated Blaine Gabbert but chose instead to bolster his defense. The 49ers underachieved greatly last year which is saying a lot considering the NFC West division winning Seahawks had a 7-9 regular season record.
TENNESSEE – Vince Young is dead! Long live Vince Young! Here’s what I know about Jake Locker, great attitude, great in interviews, strong arm, incredible athlete, great on the run. Questionable from the pocket. So the Titans will have a lot of designed runs and draws along with a lot of bootlegs to get him out of the pocket where he can create. Sound familiar? Yes Young isn’t the locker room leader that Locker is. But on the other hand But that just makes Locker’s struggles all the more mysterious and even a little disturbing. They say Young could be an elite pocket passer if he put in the study. Locker puts in the study yet this is the result.
DALLAS – We would have won the Super Bowl if Tony Romo hadn’t been hurt! To which I say, “Really?” I wasn’t aware Romo played in the secondary. And while we’re on the subject Romo got blasted because his fullback misread the defense and let his man go by untouched. Still they did need some O-Line help. Dallas had been deluding themselves that Doug Free was the second coming of Erik Williams. But there’s still an air of self delusion with this club. Their secondary was horrible last year and they only brought in help late in the draft.
WASHINGTON – I’m Mike Shanahan and I don’t need no stinking quarterback! Speaking of delusion. The good news for Daniel Snyder, for once he is not the biggest problem in the Redskins organization. The Genius is on a super ego trip. He doesn’t need players. All he has to do is draw up plays and the refs award him seven points for sheer genius. Seriously though Washington focused more on defense. Leonard Hankerson was a steal. But the club seems to be betting than Shanahan can turn mid round offense players into studs. He used to be able to do that, but that was with Elway at QB. Shh, don’t tell him.
HOUSTON – Our defense is really holding us back. No. Really, Houston? The Texans spent nearly their entire draft on defensive players. 6 out of 8 picks. And these weren’t reaches or head scratchers. JJ Watt, Brooks Reed, Brandon Harris, Rashad Carmichael. This is beyond carpet bombing, this is saturation bombing. Houston can legitimately argue that their defensive unit is holding them back. And kudos for really attacking the problem in the draft. You can’t fault them for commitment. If this doesn’t work they may want to call an exorcist or a voodoo priest because there’s obviously a curse on the defense.
MINNESOTA – Get behind me, Brett Favre! This is one of the strangest need picks of all time. The Vikings had to select a quarterback with their first pick not just because they needed a signal caller but because they had to shut the door permanently on the ghost of Favre. In one of my mock drafts back on FanNation I did predict Christian Ponder would jump up into the first round by a quarterback desperate team. And in one way the Vikings were the most QB needy team in the league. Despite that move, which they had to make, they did extremely well in the later rounds as befits a team that has a lot of talent.
DETROIT – That’s right, that’s right. We baaad! The Lions are definitely building a new identity. Detroit now boasts one of the most feared defensive lines in the leaguer with Nick Fariley joining House of Spears Suh and Kyle Vandan Bosch. My only concern is who plays the run? And while we’re at it who’s going to keep Matt Stafford from getting season ending injury number 3? That’s the concern I have for this club. There is a lot of flash and dash, not enough Joe Lunch Pail types.
ST. LOUIS – Rome wasn’t built in a day. Pre-Draft a lot of people mocked Julio Jones to the Rams. They said St. Louis was one deep threat away from winning the West. Maybe they believed that and maybe Atlanta changed their plans. But it looks like calmer heads are in charge in St. Louis. The Rams improved last year but they still need a lot of help. Being one win away from taking the West isn’t much of an endorsement. So they got major help on defense and gave Sam Bradford a boatload of new targets, not just one. Steady improvement.
Miami Dolphins – Everything is FINE! I said FINE! Towards the end of last season the Dolphins had the mist dysfunctional front office in football, one where the owner, coach and general manager were all at odds with each other. I can’t help but feel this draft was made on eggshells and that at any moment there could be a major blowup in the war room. The picks themselves were pretty good. Most of it geared towards helping Miami’s ground oriented attack. No major changes. No reason for Chad Henne to be nervous, yet. That’s not necessarily a good thing for Dolphins fans though.
JACKSONVILLE – We’re high! Seriously I can’t figure out the Jags. Last year they had an opportunity to select Tim Tebow or Jimmy Clausen. Instead they went defense and doubled down on David Garrard. And it worked in 2010. Garrard had a good season. The Jags made it to 8-8 and the fans started to return. So now they go after a new QB! Of course! Why try to gain ground on Indianapolis when you can draft QB who’s not ready to start right away? Despite that Gabbert will still have Garrard looking over his shoulder. His job isn’t set in stone. Follow this up with some stretches towards the end of the draft and you have to wonder what they’re smoking down in Jacksonville.