Sunday, April 28, 2013

#45 Kevin Minter

#45  Kevin Minter: ILB, LSU -  There are two takes on this pick: first the trade, then the player.

I’m against the trade.  Sitting at #38, we had a tremendous opportunity to land unarguably the best QB in the draft.  No matter what Buffalo thinks, Geno has more tools than anyone else to be successful: arm, accuracy, mind, strength, and via all observations the kid has heart.  However, he needed to go to a place that could let him sit for a couple of years.  AZ would have been perfect.  He could have picked up the offense from CP and pushed for the starting job in a couple of years.  This trade was a mistake.  QB is too valuable a commodity to pass up, especially one as good as Geno at pick #38.  This trade will always be under the microscopic inspection of how the value of Geno Smith compares to Kevin Minter, Earl Watford, and Andre Ellington (all the byproducts of the trade).  I’d give the trade grade a C, only because of the value a QB brings to a team.  I actually like the three guys we drafted instead of him though.

I love the Minter pick.  At #45 there wasn’t anyone better or filled a bigger need than he does at SILB.  He can get all over the field, is a good tackler, and will be a guy we can start from day one and keep for the remainder of his career.  Next to DWash, this might be the most athletic interior LB corps in the NFL.

I like Manti’s intangibles more than Minter’s, but not his athleticism.  I’d probably be fine with either even though I had Manti graded slightly higher than Kevin.  And one more odd thing on Manti, the Cards just let go of a player, Kerry Rhodes, who is being accused of being gay.  I’m wondering if there’s a connection between cutting Rhodes and not drafting Manti.  Just curious.


BPA: There is no doubt Minter was the BPA at #45.  In fact, he’s the last of the 3rd tier of players, well, at least my 3rd tier.  I see him as a full two rounds better than Bostic who went 5 picks later.  There is no doubt we hit a homerun here.  BPA grade: A

Need:  Our run D was awful last year.  One of my favorite players, Paris Lenon, had hit the wall and was on his last leg.  This was our #1 need on D, and #2 OVL.  Need grade: A

Positional value:  SILB is not a sexy position.  It probably gets about as much love as the NT.  The reason why is that it focuses so much on run stoppage and containment that there aren’t a ton of stats to go with it.  Except tackles.  All 130 of them.  So he’s a solid producer for his position.  Plus, he should be able to play some WILB when needed.  However, SILB is easy to replace.  So grabbing one this early isn’t going to land a great grade.  Positional value: B

Depth value:  There were some good SILBs in this draft.  I liked Bostic for round 3 and Klein for round 4.  Bostic went in the 2nd and Klein in the 5th.  After them, I wasn’t overly impressed with the group.  And I wasn’t interested in drafting Ogletree.  Still, there were only four solid prospects at the position.  I think we nabbed the best one per what BA wants to do.  Depth value grade: A

Overall:  Minus the trade I love the pick.  I won’t count the trade in my grade.  This is a starter from day one at a key position of need.  Love it.  OVL grade A

#7 Jonathan Cooper

#7  Jonathan Cooper: Guard, UNC -  From the very beginning I wanted a starting LT or a trade back.  I also wanted Geno, but soured over the idea after we traded for Carson.  I couldn’t justify taking a player in the top ten that wasn’t going to start.  And trading up to get a Tackle just wasn’t a prudent idea.  This team needed depth as bad as it needed a LT, so staying put was sensible.  As to the trade back possibilities, I have to believe that the Jets wanted to move up.  It was only 2 spots but it would have landed them Tavon Austin, who they coveted.  We might have swung an extra mid round pick, ala Minnesota v. Cleveland last year.

A Guard hasn’t been chosen in the top ten in quite a while.  So initially I expected to land a Guard later in the first or second.  There was huge depth at the position and Guards usually slide back, like DDC did last year.  A trade back, with say Minnesota seemed wise because you could get added depth and still land a solid player at the position.  Turned out I was wrong.  Every Guard worth a darn was drafted in the top 20.  Unusual.  The well would have dried up well before #23.  Still, if we could have pried away both #23 and #25 from Minnesota, we might have ended up with two further trade back opportunities with Atlanta.  Hindsight being 20/20 I’m glad we didn’t go that route.

Cooper is an elite athlete.  He’s big, fast, and agile.  Rare qualities even in the NFL.  His physical attributes are off the chart as is his mental attributes.  He looks to be an elite Center for the next decade.  I love his ability to pull, to read, to adjust, to get down field.  He has everything you want for a quicker ZBS.  And he seems like a great locker room guy. 

It’s also apparent that BA is looking to go ZBS.  Passing on Warmack for Cooper should have sealed the deal on that debate.

I have to admit that I would have screwed this one up.  I probably would have gone after Star or Jarvis Jones.  Not that they were bad selections or anything, it’s just that I was under the false premise that a Guard would have fallen to #38.  I was 18 spots wrong on that one. I thought if we were lucky Cooper would have fallen, or at the very least Fluker, Pugh, or even Long.  Yeah, not so much.  Turns out we got the best player at the Guard/Center position in the draft for our system.


BPA: This draft was weird.  It was anemic at the top and heavy through the first 3 rounds.  So BPA at #7 was harder than in most years.  Cooper is right there with Star and a little ahead of Jarvis (due to medical).  I think both are special players.  BPA grade: A

Need:  Since there was no chance at landing a LT, that means Levi is probably still ours.  Scary.  So Right Guard immediately becomes the weak point on offense.  Center is a close 2nd.  And since offense is such a train wreck, they needed more attention than the Defense.  And since BA wants faster more athletic Guards and Centers, they got the best one in the draft at both positions.  NEED grade: A

Positional value:  Guard is the easiest position to fill.  Well, for everyone but Whiz who couldn’t tell the difference between a Right Guard and a stick of deodorant.  That being said, ZBS Guards are a bit harder to find.  That still doesn’t make them more important than a Center, but it closes the gap.  Oh, and since Cooper will probably play Center, it’s only fair to factor that into this grade.  This is the one year you get a pass on taking a Guard this early.  Positional value grade: B

Depth value:  This draft was deep with Guards and Centers.  It sure looked like we could land one of them in the later rounds.  Turns out we could have landed some good ones in the 3rd but waited until the 4th to address it.  But this draft was weird.  The depth at Guard was a mirage compared to most years.  Guards went as fast as pass rushers in the first round.  Weird.  So again, depth value should be adjusted given the circumstances.  Depth Value grade: C

Overall:  Like I said, I would have traded back with the Jets.  They’re stupid and would have taken it.  But that’s a minor complaint.  We got the best Guard in the draft to fit our scheme.  We got him right about where he was projected to go.  And he seems to have all the intangibles to make our team better.  Oh, and way to stick it to the stubborn fool formerly known as Coach Whiz by taking an Olinemen early.  OVERALL grade: A-

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The day before the 2013 draft

With one day left I should probably stop neglecting my blog and at least list my possible scenarios.  Here are some I like without trade implications.

Scenario 1:

#7        Lane Johnson
#38      Matt Elam
#69      Barrett Jones
#103    A.J. Klein
#140    Marcus Lattimore
#174    Sean Renfree
#219    Theo Riddick

Lane Johnson seems like he’ll be an All-Pro caliber LT in a couple of years.  Due to his high demand there is little chance of getting him later.  Right now it’s a stretch that we’ll land him at #7.  He’d fill the #1 need on O and he’d be the BPA and there aren’t any other Ts and it just happens to be the 2nd most important position on O.

I love what Elam brings at FS.  He’s a relentless pursuer and a hard hitter.  He’s first round talent taken in the 2nd round.  He also happens to fill a top 5 need on D and be BPA.

Why wouldn’t you take the national Scrabble champion as your Center?  Plus, Barrett can play C or G and be a good fill in at T.  He’s a steal in round 3.  He fills need and BPA.

A.J. Klein plays the game the right way.  He’s got great instinct and technique, albeit he isn’t speedy.  But at the unsexiest position other than NT, he’d be a great fit at SILB.  He’ll start at our 1st biggest need on D.

At #140 Marcus Lattimore doesn’t pose any risk.  It’s a no brainer to take him here.  He might have a freakish injury thing, but he’s a great talent and character guy to take a “risk” on.  We need some late round RB help.

I love the idea of picking up Renfree late.  I think he has as much talent as some of the guys in the top 10 QBs.  He can sit and learn and heal behind CP and DS.

Riddick doesn’t quite fit the O, but as at #219 who cares.  He’s talented and maybe BA can find a fit for him.  I see him as a steal if he goes to the right scheme.  Like the  Houston Texans.

-         In this scenario we fill the #1, #2, and #3 needs on O.  And we fill the #1 and #3 needs on D.  Each player fits BPA and is selected at the appropriate position for optimum draft value.  I’m not saying we’ll land these guys there, but I was stunned to watch Massie inexplicably slide to the 4th last year so I’ll be watching with bated breath.

Scenario 2:

#7        Star Lotulelei
#38      EJ Manuel
#69      Kyle Long
#103    Dallas Thomas
#140    Dion Sims
#174    Lerentee McCray
#219    Brandon Magee

Star is probably the best player in the draft.  He is an absolute freak on the Dline.  I’d press hard to trade Dockett for a 3rd rounder in this scenario.  Star doesn’t fill a need, but he is a guy you’ll be happy with taking.

EJ Manuel is a very good QB.  He isn’t ready to play just yet, but with CP and DS he doesn’t need to be.  Maybe this is a bit early to pick a guy that will be #3 on your depth chart, but he is a remarkable talent.

Kyle Long is a project.  But he has good genes.  At the very worst you get a pretty good G.  If he can develop into a T, all the better.

Dallas Thomas is slipping because of a dumb injury scare.  I love his talent.  A total steal in Round 4.  To be clear, he’s not a T.  Not even close.  He’ll be a start G though.

Dion Sims has tremendous hands and immense size.  I’d love to see them land him as a blocking TE that can pick up 1st downs through the air.

McCray always caught my eye when I scouted Bostic and Elam.  He seemed to be in the right place often.  I don’t see him as an elite OLB, but he could develop into a very good one.  Plus, he’ll be a welcome addition to the ST.

Magee just can’t catch a break.  Amazing talent unrealized.  I think he’ll find a niche for someone and be a special player.  People worry about his size.  In the 7th round, who cares about size anymore?

- This scenario is less exciting to me, but would fill some much need holes with great talent at their given draft value.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Trade to the Vikings?

I just heard a rumor that the Vikings would be interested in trading their #23 and #25 for our #7 so they can get Tavon Austin.  Some people question if they’d even do it.  Well, any team dumb enough to draft Ponder at #12 will be dumb enough to think all they need is Austin at #7 to make life better for them. They'll make the trade with some good salesmanship from Keim.

As for the trade, I'd do it in heart beat.  I'd leverage the heck out of Miami, S.D., and N.O. for their pick. Of course that will only work if Johnson is still there at 7. Trading back with them would give us an abnormally valuable 2nd round pick or next year's first.

Then we'd have to see if Austin fell to us to lure in Minnesota. They probably would feel like he's top 10 talent, so they'd still give up the picks.

The absolutely crazy part about all this is that Cooper and Warmack will do what all Gs do come draft time: slide. There is a solid chance that one or both of them slide to the 20s. All those same teams passed on DDC last year too, don't think they won't do it again.

So if you tell me we could land, say, Cooper and Elam for the #7 pick, I'd wet myself with excitement. You have to consider that Cooper is a good idea at #7, but would be an absolute steal coupled with the other loaded talent in the 20s.

Even if Cooper or Warmack didn't slip we'd still be looking at comboing:

Most of those guys would start for us with the possible exception of the last two. And who knows, if Geno Smith gets past Tennessee at 10, that dude could slide all the way to Minnesota at 23.

And for those still smarting over the Pace/Johnson for Suggs thing. First of all, that was Graves. Thank goodness he's gone. Second of all, those were 2nd and 3rd round talents in a year where those rounds stunk grade wise. Third, that was during the dark years... you know, the 40 years of filth that Bill Bidwill produced. Fourth, I wouldn't give ONE of the guys in this draft the same grade value that Suggs deserved coming in. (Of course, I'm not high on any of the OLBs at #7, so I'm in the minority here). So I don't see it as passing up a "sure thing" for two "maybes". I see it as passing on a "maybe" for two "maybes".

If they draft any of the players mentioned above that is a heck of deal to pass up on.