Neil’s NFL Daily: April 30, 2013

PFF's Neil Hornsby continues his assessment of the deeper motivations behind the 2013 draft selections, and takes time to assess the LB switch between Indy and Buffalo.

| 4 years ago
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Neil’s NFL Daily: April 30, 2013


Today I’ll continue with my draft assessment by looking at the teams picking 9 through 16 — you can see the first eight here — and address what turned out to be a moderately interesting news day with at least a couple of important moves.

 

Tuesday, April 30th

N.Y. Jets

They may not have done much on the field for a while, but if column inches equated to wins no other team would come close to the circus that is the Jets. Even after releasing Tim Tebow yesterday, by taking the pouting Geno Smith in the second round they once again guaranteed Cortland would again be front and center during late July and early August. Obviously if John Idzik did the sane thing and released Mark Sanchez he could avoid all that lunacy, but that’s not happening. Rex Ryan is sulking enough after losing Darrelle Revis without bringing on a full-blown depression by letting Sanchez leave. Deep down he still wants to prove he was right in sticking by his quarterback and that obviously entails yet another year for Sanchez to prove he is really a well-disguised Joe Flacco, and not just an over-drafted Brady Quinn.

Tennessee

I was critical of the Andy Levitre signing in free agency on two points, neither of which was that he was a bad player. Firstly, at $7.8m/year I think he’s overvalued for a guard, but particularly because he’s more of a pass protector than run blocker and that’s not what the Titans and Chris Johnson really needed. Now, the reputation that first-round selection Chance Warmack brings is much more in line with team requirements, and if he plays as advertised this may become one of the best overall lines in football.

San Diego

With the selection of right tackle D.J. Fluker the Chargers have potentially reconstructed four-fifths of an offensive line that was quickly degenerating into one of the NFL’s worst. I’m not high on Rich Ohrnberger — being one of the least bad of that Arizona group is hardly a strong recommendation but at least his run blocking was positive overall (if only marginally so). However, both King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart are sensible value acquisitions that should see the line trending in the right direction for the first time recently.

Miami

Aggression continued to be the order of the day for the Dolphins as they packaged picks and negotiated with Oakland to move up and select Dion Jordan. If he turns out to be what they hope, then a pairing with the always superb Cameron Wake and the blitzing linebackers, Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, could cause chaos for opposing offenses. That’s, however, predicated on that back end holding up, so spending their other second on a corner (Boise State team captain Jamar Taylor) to supplement Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall makes sense on paper.

Tampa Bay

Not content with spending their first pick on a corner (Darrelle Revis) the Buccaneers decided the secondary still needed attention and couldn’t resist Johnthan Banks, a guy some observers (and likely Tampa Bay too) had with a first-round grade. They better hope he’s great because while they did address the huge hole which is their pass rush it wasn’t until the 126th and 147th picks, and even then the first of those selections appears more of a run defending 3-4 type end than a guy who can get after the quarterback.

A quick note on defensive coordinator, Bill Sheridan, who has to do something with this dichotomy of personnel — his only other stint as an NFL DC came in 2009 for the Giants after which he was fired when his defense surrendered a franchise record 40 points on five different occasions.

Carolina

From one ex-Giant to another. Dave Gettleman departed East Rutherford under far better circumstances, leaving his role as Pro Personnel Director to take over as GM of the Panthers. After picking up a few role players in free agency he addressed the team’s biggest weakness directly in the draft. Both the first- and second-round picks were spent on defensive tackles, a complete disaster area since Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis did a reasonable job there in 2008.

If this does pay off my one worry is that they’ve exchanged one glaring flaw for another, as they did nothing to supplement the corner situation which has “problem” written all over it.

New Orleans

Last year the Saints’ safeties combined to miss a staggering 39 tackles. To put this in context, their peers in Cleveland missed just 15. This isn’t a new thing for Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper but in the past you gave them a little leeway (Jenkins in particular) because of what he was asked to do due to Gregg Williams’ high risk schemes. The drafting of Kenny Vaccaro signals the end of that partnership (although Harper received a $2.6m roster bonus in April) as the front office said “enough is enough”.

The other selection that caught my eye was that of third-round tackle, Terron Armstrong. Charles Brown has had many chances to lock down a starting role and my bet is this pick says the team still aren’t confident of his chances of doing so in 2013.

St. Louis

I’m not sure many franchises came away from the 2013 draft happier than the Rams. They skilfully maneuvered to address all their key needs with players they actively targeted — Tavon Austin (wide receiver) , Alec Ogletree (weak-side linebacker) and T.J. McDonald (safety), and also threw in a halfback (Zac Stacy) to boot. Very much like the Dolphins, the Rams have been aggressive and, while I have questions over the value for money part of their free agent pick-ups, it’s hard to believe they’ve done anything other than make real strides. It’s now down to Sam Bradford to step up and prove he really was worthy of a first-round selection.

 

In Other News

Of Bill Polian’s 2005 through 2010 first-round selections, only oft-injured and massively inconsistent HB Donald Brown remains with the team. Yesterday the Colts traded OLB/DE Jerry Hughes to the Bills for ILB, Kelvin Sheppard. Hughes looked to be turning an early-season corner before a mid-year slump saw him cast so low that even Erik Walden was considered an upgrade. That’s debatable however, and, although a poor run defender, Hughes’ comparative Pass Rush Productivity (9.4 to Walden’s league worst 4.9) makes him look like Von Miller when taken side by side.

So there is some possible upside for Buffalo, how about Indianapolis? In 2011 Sheppard showed decent two-down ability and his 7.8% Run Stop Percentage made him the 29th ranked ILB — ahead of Brandon Spikes, James Laurinaitis and DeMeco Ryans. This year that number slipped to 5.1 and saw him ranked 48th of 50 eligible players, so it really depends upon which year is the best indicator of his ability.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to applaud the Cardinals for biting the bullet and releasing Adam Snyder. I touched on this situation yesterday in the Arizona draft section but I feared the stupid contract (5 years, $17.5m) they signed with him last year may color their judgement. It obviously didn’t and congratulations to them for making a difficult decision — but if anyone has genuine insight as to what happened last year, I for one am massively interested.

 

 

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Neil founded PFF in 2006 and is currently responsible for the service to the company's 22 NFL team customers. He is constantly developing new insights into the game and player performance.

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