Saturday, July 26, 2014

Editorial: NFL Draft: Winners and losers

Although the 2013 draft has been completed, we will not be able to tell who is a stud or a dud for a few more years

I’ll bet you began reading this column thinking that I would break down who I thought were the biggest winners and losers from the 2013 NFL Draft. I will not be doing any such thing. No one should.

There is absolutely no way in the world of telling who the big winner or loser is this year. None of the players have played one down of an NFL game.

The one thing that we can do is analyze the winners and losers of the 2010 draft. That’s right, as in the draft three years ago. That’s the most recent draft for which we have enough empirical evidence to make a judgment. In reality, it takes three years of evaluation before we really know if a player is going to make it in the NFL.

So here they are — my winners and losers from the 2010 NFL Draft.

Winners
#1 New England Patriots – The Pats had 12 picks in 2010 and, more or less, hit on seven of them.

Cornerback Devin McCourty was the first-round selection, followed by a dynamite second round in which they nabbed Florida linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes and tight end Rob Gronkowski.

As if Gronkowski was not enough, the Pats doubled down on tight ends, taking Aaron Hernandez in the fourth round. The argument could be made that these are the two best tight ends in the business.

Hardly worth mentioning in light of the rest of this list, the Pats also added their current punter, Zolton Mesko in round five and contributing defensive end Brandon Deoderick in the seventh.

- How Josh McDaniels was initially deemed unworthy to steer this ship is beyond me. Under McDaniels, the Broncos picked up two starting linemen — guard Zane Bender and center J.D. Warton, two starting wide receivers—Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, and oh, a little quarterback named Tim Tebow. By my count, that’s four solid starters and a quarterback that took the team to the divisional round of the playoffs.

#3 San Francisco 49ers – Out of eight picks, four of which were in the final two rounds, the 49ers hit the jackpot on three. Tackle Anthony Davis and guard Mike Iupati, both of whom were drafted in the first round, have each started every game for three straight years. Linebacker Navarro Bowman, who was picked up in the third round, has recorded 337 tackles in the last three seasons, including only two as the starter.

#4 Seattle Seahawks – Seattle also enjoyed the benefit of two first-round selections as well and did nearly as well as San Francisco. Tackle Russell Okung was the first selection — he has been a solid starter for the last three seasons. Eight picks later, they took safety Earl Thomas, who has been a solid contributor in the secondary. But Thomas was only the first of two stellar safeties the Seahawks drafted. Despite being a bargain-bin find in the fifth round, Kam Chancellor has started opposite Thomas for the last three years.

Losers
#1 Carolina Panthers – Considering their top pick was quarterback Jimmy Clausen, this could have been predicted. Aside from sixth-round pick defensive end Greg Hardy — who has 18 sacks in the last three years — there are no bright spots from the 2010 draft for the Panthers.

#2 Jacksonville Jaguars – First round pick Tyson Alualu has started all 48 games at defensive end for the Jaguars, but he was the only real find in the 2010 draft for Jacksonville.

#3 Philadelphia Eagles – Andy Reid and company should have made out like bandits with a draft haul of 13 players, including seven in the first 125 picks, but only safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman have made a significant impact in the last three years. Had the Eagles only had five or six picks, this would have been an adequate draft, but with the wealth of picks they had, two out of 13 is not
cutting it.

#4 St. Louis Rams – Sam Bradford makes it hard to say that the Rams were losers, but after three years, his quarterback rating is only 77.3. Second round selection Roger Saffold has started 35 games at tackle, but aside from the first two selections, the Rams had nine busts. Like the Eagles, the missed opportunity is what hurts the most.

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