Bills

Draft Grades: Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills were already having a strong offseason, highlighted by the addition of Mario Williams. And their 2012 draft class completes the process, and potentially makes them darkhorse contenders in the AFC.

The Bills reached for Stephon Gilmore. There’s no denying his potential, but he’s will need time to develop – more time than you’d typically expect from a top-10 pick. That said, I believe cornerback was one of their most glaring needs, and there was a fairly significant dropoff in talent at the position. If they felt this was an area they needed to address in order to compete in 2012, the reach was justified.

Cordy Glenn could be a steal in the 2nd round, but it depends where the Bills use him. He played left tackle this past season at Georgia, but is best suited to play right tackle or guard in the pros. If the Bills use him at left tackle, they’ll be missing an opportunity to maximize his skills.

T.J. Graham was a reach in the 3rd round. He’s more of a track star than a football player. He can stretch the field and potentially contribute as a return specialist, but his upside is limited.

Nigel Bradham is a developmental prospect but I like how he fits in Buffalo. He won’t be forced to play a significant role right away and can be brought along slowly.

I love the selection of Ron Brooks. He was stuck behind Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu this past year, but had the skills to start for nearly any other program in the country. His lack of experience makes him a bit of an unknown, but he played well in a nickel corner role at LSU and, at worst, should be able to fill that role in Buffalo.

Zebrie Sanders could be the Bills long-term answer at left tackle, but he isn’t ready for that role just yet. Ideally, they’ll keep him on the sidelines for a year, developing his strength and technique. But they’re desperate for help on the offensive line, which may force him into action.

Tank Carder lacks the measurables, but was extremely productive at TCU. He may never start, but should have a long career as a backup and special teams contributor.

Mark Asper may add some depth to the offensive line, but he’ll have to fight to make the final roster cuts. The Bills have no shortage of mediocre interior linemen.

The selection of John Potter doesn’t make much sense. Rian Lindell seems to be entrenched as the starting kicker and Potter is no better than any number of kickers who could have been picked up after the draft.

Overall, the Bills did a nice job of addressing needs without making many significant reaches. They also landed a few solid developmental prospects who could pay off a few years down the line. This may be Buddy Nix’s best draft class since coming to Buffalo.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bills, Draft Grades - 2012 Leave a comment

Draft Grades: Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins draft was all about one player. And while they made some questionable choices later on, the selection of RGII is all that matters.

Robert Griffin immediately becomes the face of the franchise in DC. But fans who expect him to immediately turn things around are going to be disappointed. He’s still very raw and there will be growing pains. What sets him apart though are his intangibles. We’ve seen players with his raw ability before, but no one with his combination of athleticism, arm strength and accuracy has also had the worth ethic and leadership qualities that RGII possesses.

Josh LeRibeus was a reach in the 3rd round. But they did need to attempt to upgrade the interior offensive line and he should be given an opportunity to win a starting job.

The “controversy” surrounding the selection of Kirk Cousins was purely a media creation. Cousins is a backup quarterback, and he was always going to be a backup. So does it really matter if he’s backing up a 10-year veteran or a rookie? That said, the Redskins could have addressed another need with the 102nd pick. There were still impact players on the board, and Cousins may never see the field in Washington.

Keenan Robinson was a nice pickup in the 4th round. He fits well in their defense and will be a capable backup to Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.

I like Adam Gettis more than LeRibeus. Both prospects will compete with each other for playing time.

Alfred Morris was a reach. There were better running back prospects on the board in the 6th round. But Mike Shannahan loves his sleeper running backs, so he’ll give Morris a fair shot to earn a job.

Tom Compton will compete for a backup job at tackle. They don’t have an obvious choice for Trent Williams’ backup, so Compton could be in the mix.

Richard Crawford and Jordan Bernstine are both long shots to make the roster. The Redskins secondary is crowded and they’ve already signed two cornerbacks this offseason. Bernstine has the size to play safety as well, so he may actually have the edge to earn a job if he can demonstrate the necessary versatility.

The Redskins only added one difference maker in this class, but when that difference maker is a true franchise quarterback, that’s all you need. They definitely missed some opportunities in the 3rd and 4th round to build around Griffin, but they still receive high marks overall.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Redskins 1 Comment

Draft Grades: Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles had relatively few holes to fill, so this draft class was about adding depth and finding some prospects to groom for future roles.

I like the trade up for Fletcher Cox. The hype surrounding his stock got a little out of control in the weeks leading up to the draft, but he does have the potential to be an impact interior lineman. He’s a prototypical penetrating three-technique tackle and has the potential to be a poor man’s Ndamakong Suh. He’s inconsistent against the run, but Philly has the depth  to use him as part of a rotation.

I like the selection Mychal Kendricks in the 2nd round, but I do wonder where he fits in. He’s best suited to play insider or weak-side linebacker, but the Eagles most glaring hole is on the strong-side. Kendricks can probably make that transition, but it’s not a perfect fit.

Vinny Curry will be steal in the late 2nd round. He’s a relentless pass rusher who could push for playing time immediately, even on crowded defensive line in Philly.

I’m baffled by the selection of Nick Foles. For starters, the Eagles could  have landed an impact player in the late 3rd round, there was no reason to settle for a purely developmental prospect. But to make matters worse, Foles is not worthy of a 3rd-round pick. He’s terribly inconsistent and didn’t show any real potential until the second half of his senior year. There’s a huge bust factor with this pick.

Brandon Boykin is a steal in the 4th round and I’m shocked he fell that far. He’s undersized and may be limited to playing the nickel corner role, but he definitely has the skills to make an impact. He’ll compete with Curtis Marsh for playing time, but should eventually earn a larger role down the road.

Marvin McNutt has limited upside, but he ‘s fairly polished and will have a chance to compete for the fourth receiver role. On a different team I’d like his chances, but the Eagles receiving corps is crowded. He may end up on the practice squad.

Brandon Washington played left tackle at Miami but will need to shift inside to guard in the pros. I’m somewhat surprised by this selection because the Eagles have been targeting smaller, more athletic interior lineman in recent years, and Washington definitely does not fit that mold.

Bryce Brown was a serious gamble, even in the 7th round. He was highly recruited out of high school and ended up at Tennessee, but eventually transferred to Kansas State. However, he’s consistently found himself in trouble and needs to get his life in order before he can be relied upon. He’s made a number of questionable decision throughout his career, including unexpectedly leaving the Kansas State program last September. Even in the 7th round, he probably wasn’t worth the headache that he’ll bring.

The Eagles put together a solid class and added some impressive depth to their front seven. The only pick that really raised any concerns was Foles, which felt like a reach. But they still added at least three players who project as future starters (Cox, Kendricks and Curry) and another (Boykin) who should at least add contribute as a nickel corner.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Eagles Leave a comment

Draft Grades: New York Giants

With so few holes, I expected the New York Giants to simply target the best available player – a strategy which Jerry Reese has used frequently in the past – but he strayed from his typical approach and it may come back to haunt him down the road.

David Wilson was a reach, and there’s really no way to sugar coat that. The fact that Reese would reach for Wilson raises a serious question: is Ahmad Bradshaw healthy? If so, the selection makes little sense. But if they’re legitimately worried about Bradshaw’s ability to stay on the field in 2012, the pick is justifiable. Since the motivation behind the pick is a bit of an unknown, I’ll have to factor that into the grade and give Reese the benefit of the doubt.

The selection of Rueben Randle is more in line with the Giants typical draft strategy. He was among the top available players on the board and will help fill the void left by the departure of Mario Manningham. He’s a developmental prospect but should be able to provide some help as a third or fourth option at receiver this year.

Jayron Hosley fell due to character concerns, but was probably worth the gamble in the late 3rd round. He likely won’t see the the field much given the Giants crowded secondary, but he was a solid investment at that point in the draft.

Adrien Robinson was a hot name this offseason and a late riser up the draft boards. He’s a good fit for the Giants, who like their tight ends to be strong blockers. He was likely drafted as insurance behind Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, who are both coming off injuries.

Brandon Mosley and Matt McCants add some much-needed depth to the Giants offensive line. Neither has much upside, but they both have the ability to play multiple positions along the line and have long careers as backup linemen.

Markus Kuhn will become one of the few players born in Germany to play in the NFL. He’s a good athlete for his size and is an interesting developmental prospect. However, the Giants depth chart is crowded at defensive tackle and he may struggle to make the final roster cut.

I’m having a hard time grading the Giants draft without knowing what prompted the selection of David Wilson. If they’re worried about Bradshaw, it makes sense. But if they panicked once Doug Martin was snatched out from under them by the Bucs, it’s a poor decision. Given Reese’s draft history, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, but this was definitely not his strongest draft class.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Giants 1 Comment

Draft Needs: Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys made a bold move by trading into the top 10, but they got a great deal from the Rams and have now solidified their most glaring weakness on defense.

Normally I’m critical of teams that trade up as far as the Cowboys, but only because of the price tag associated with climbing into the top 10. The Cowboys, however, were able to hang on to their 2013 1st-round pick, the usual asking price for such a blockbuster trade.

The selection of Morris Claiborne immediately solidifies what was the Cowboys most glaring weakness entering the offseason. Claiborne should make an immediate impact, and should be considered an early candidate for defensive rookie of the year. Due to the free agent acquisition of Brandon Carr, Claiborne will be the No. 2 corner, which will put him in favorable matchups and allow him to develop, rather than being thrown into the fire as he would have in Tampa Bay or Minnesota.

Tyrone Crawford may have been a slight reach in the 3rd round, but the Cowboys needed to address the depth at defensive end. He’s a prototypical 3-4 end and should be given an opportunity to compete for playing time with Jason Hatcher and Kenyon Coleman.

The selection of Kyle Wilber was definitely a reach and didn’t address an immediate are of concern.

Matt Johnson is a developmental prospect and a significant reach in the 4th round. He’ll primarily play on special teams early in his career and be groomed to play strong safety down the road. He clearly has the size/athleticism combination, but probably would have still been on the board in the 5th or 6th round.

I love the selection of Danny Coale in the 5th round. His upside is limited due to his lack of speed and overall athleticism, but he is a classic possession receiver who should be able to contribute as the 3rd or 4th option, even as a rookie.

James Hanna rose up draft boards with an impressive combine workout, but his lack of production in college raises some concern. A player with his raw skills should have been able to find a role at Oklahoma, an offense which has a role found roles for athletic tight ends like Jermaine Gresham in the  past. That said, the risk/reward is definitely in the Cowboys favor in the 6th round.

Caleb McSurdy has a decent chance to make the final roster cuts due to the Cowboys lack of depth at inside linebacker. There’s a chance he could beat out Bruce Carter if he impresses in training camp.

Overall, this draft was all about the addition of Claiborne. The Cowboys clearly view him as one of the missing pieces to their championship run. The trade was an aggressive move, but one that could prove to be well worth the risk if he lives up to expectations.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cowboys, Draft Grades - 2012 Leave a comment