As I said in the NFL Draft Winners post, giving grades out is tough, but declaring a team’s draft a “loser” before they’ve had time to get players on the field and develop is even tougher. But, some of these teams had some bad draft picks on paper, and are going to have to hope that the draft pundits, and myself, are wrong about their picks. They either reached in areas, didn’t fill their needs or both. These are my least favorite drafts, in alphabetical order, and I hope for the fans of these teams that I’m wrong. As a Lions fan, I know what it’s like to have a brutal draft.
The Carolina Panthers did a great job with their first two picks. Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short were great draft picks that will help add depth to their defensive line. It will also help their linebackers make plays and keep the offensive lineman from making it to the second level of the defense and it will allow Charles Johnson to make more plays from the defensive end position. The idea of Luke Kuechly, Jon Beason and Thomas Davis being unblocked is a scary thought.
Unfortunately that’s where the good part of this draft ends. They didn’t help out their secondary at all, they didn’t find a receiver to line up opposite Steve Smith and they didn’t find a right tackle. Drafting Edmund Kugbila adds depth, but taking him over Barrett Jones is ridiculous. Instead of adding a wide receiver, they drafted a Kenjon Barner, who is a very good player, but they already have a crowded backfield. With Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, two former first round picks, how are they going to get Barner the ball? They could have taken a wide receiver earlier, which would have boosted a receiving core that consists of Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, and Dominik Hixon. That’s a group that doesn’t exactly scare anyone. The biggest issue though is definitely in the secondary, they don’t have a good starting safety at either spot and Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Norman are now their starting cornerbacks. Woof.
The Cleveland Browns did a good job setting themselves up for next year by trading a 4th round pick for a 2014 3rd rounder and a 5th round pick for a 2014 4th rounder. Only problem is this means that they aren’t filling needs for this year during their rebuilding process. Rather than using those picks to get players to develop now, they will have to draft and develop more players next year. Barkevious Mingo will be a starter from day one on their defense, and Leon McFadden might start opposite of Joe Haden from day one as well. Unfortunately the rest of their draft is brutal. Having two picks in the first 5 rounds will not cut it and this team will be in contention for the number one overall pick next year, without a doubt.
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t have a bad draft in the sense that they weren’t filling needs, they were just reaching on their draft picks and could have done better. They drafted for depth and addressed needs later when they should have been doing it the other way around. First off, they only received a 3rd round pick to drop from #18 to #31, huge whiff. They could have taken any number of players to fill needs, such as Sharrif Floyd, Matt Elam or Jonathan Cyprien. If they were going to trade down like they did, they needed to get more than they got.
At #31 they could have taken Jonathan Cyprien or Elam and then waited until the second round to draft Travis Frederick. Yes, they do need a center because they had multiple players start at center last year, but they could have improved at another position or two before drafting Frederick. Gavin Escobar was a decent pick, but again, he doesn’t fill a major need. Jason Witten is getting older, but they still need starters to help out their secondary. Terrance Williams will be a great third wide receiver, but J.J. Wilcox or B.W. Webb will need some seasoning before they can actually start. Had they taken a safety earlier they could have completed their secondary and then added a third receiver later. Bottom line, the Cowboys didn’t get a bad draft rating for drafting bad players, they just didn’t get good value for the picks and drafted for depth over starters at need positions.
The Indianapolis Colts had one of the best drafts last year and at first it didn’t seem that great, so I’m somewhat inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt here. That being said, they run a 3-4 defense and Bjoern Werner is a 4-3 defensive end. There’s no telling if he will be able to stand up and be an outside pass rusher, but he certainly can’t play defensive end in the 3-4. Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes were good picks and will add depth to the offensive line, and Holmes is destined to be the starting center in the future if he can stay healthy. The Colts should have added a cornerback to go along with Vontae Davis and Greg Toler, as well as a running back to go with Vick Ballard, because Donald Brown is garbage. Rather than add any linebackers, they chose to see if they can move Werner upright and didn’t bother to get any solid depth players in the back seven on defense. Werner is a good player, but I don’t see him fitting in very well.
The Oakland Raiders did a good job trading down from the #3 spot to #12 but should have tried to get more than just a 2nd round pick, especially since they were planning on taking D.J. Hayden the whole time. Maybe they tried and failed, but either way, to drop outside the top ten from that spot requires more than just a 2nd rounder.
D.J. Hayden has a ton of talent/potential, but he suffered a ridiculous injury last year and almost died. The doctors said the injury he suffered was often seen in car accidents, not from football. He’s not going to be ready to start or play right away and is going to need time to readjust to playing football again; he is a huge risk. Getting Menelik Watson in the 2nd round was a very solid pick, especially because they need offensive line help, but again he’s a player that needs time to develop.
Sio Moore is a solid linebacker and Tyler Wilson will be able to add quarterback depth behind Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor, but they didn’t fill enough needs. They didn’t address the defensive line until late and they are in dire need of a starting defensive tackle, even two, as well as another starting defensive end. Nick Kasa can help at tight end, but they still could have used a starter earlier and they don’t have much wide receiver depth. Juron Criner is an intriguing second year guy, but Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore are going to have to carry the load again which could be problematic. The Raiders, like the Browns, are a team with a ton of needs and didn’t come close to filling them all. They will likely be picking in the top three again next year barring a miracle.
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The Klein and Barner picks were decent for Carolina as well. Not a bad draft at all, actually.
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