Five Best Value Picks of Day 1
An NFL draft that promised Chip Kelly-sized fireworks didn’t quite deliver on the pyrotechnic front but sure did provide the usual spills, thrills and questionable decisions we’ve come to know and love the draft for.
At the top of the round it was pretty much as expected. Teams didn’t get too cute and nailed on the consensus (in their eyes and ours) best players as you can find no fault with what Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Jacksonville and Oakland did. But beyond them, which teams got the best value with respect to make their team better in the short and long term?
Let’s take a look at five picks that earned double thumbs up from us.
Atlanta Falcons, Vic Beasley
Beasley wouldn’t have fit in with the Falcons last year because if there’s one thing his tape ain’t, it’s tough. He doesn’t really mix up in the run game but that wasn’t what this team needed. They needed a difference maker on the key downs, someone who could get their offense the ball back with their ability to hassle and harass quarterbacks. Beasley is that guy.
The best pure pass rusher in this draft, Beasley has a quick first step and knows how to use it, with him a truly destructive force off the edge. He can get to and turn the corner quicker than a hiccup and that was his primary means of generating pressure. Still he’s no one-trick pony, able to create the edge fear with his speed and convert to power and inside moves on his way to the fourth-highest pass rushing grade (on less snaps) of all edge defenders.
Atlanta might not have found an every-down player, but they’ve found one who does the job on the most important down.
Cleveland Browns, Danny Shelton
A slow 40 time had some sour on Shelton, but given how many times you’re going to ask him to run a 40 and how good the tape is on Shelton, that confuses us. The Browns apparently didn’t fall into the trap of paralysis by over analysis on Shelton, seeing the same player we saw and he should immediately upgrade a run defense that wasn’t what it should have been last year. What’s more, don’t be surprised if he produces more pressure than a man of his size is meant to. He’s that good and the numbers back it up.
Shelton had the sixth-highest overall grade of interior defenders, helped massively with his tremendous work against the run. All this while playing more snaps than all bar one of his peers on the inside (Dan Pettinato). He logged a crazy 915 snaps last year, a number we’d be surprised if he ever reaches in the pros. He certainly plays like a guy who would be better for playing a little less, and we could see him delivering more in the passing game if he was a little fresher. Still his 47 quarterback disruptions were no joke. It was only three fewer than Leonard Williams.
Miami Dolphins, DeVante Parker
There was talk of Miami trading up to land Parker so they win the award for sticking to the script as they stood still and let their man come to them. After trading away Mike Wallace it was imperative the team went out and added weapons so as to not hinder the underrated development of Ryan Tannehill, and that they’ve done when you couple Parker with Greg Jennings, Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron.
We’re about as high on Parker as anyone. He’s not Amari Cooper but he is a more finished product than Kevin White and it somewhat underrated himself because his base stats don’t jump out and smack you in the face. That’s because he missed time, and if you look at his production on a per snap basis he was as good as anyone in the Power-5. Indeed his 4.21 yards per route run were the best of any in this draft class in that regard.
Miami dumped a headache and picked up a head-turner who will go up and get the ball if it isn’t perfectly thrown.
Cincinnati Bengals, Cedric Ogbuehi
Could this have worked out much better for the Bengals? They don’t need Ogbuehi to start for at least a year and could swoop to pick up a guy who surely would have gone sooner but for concerns over a torn ACL. Instead they get to work him back at his own speed, likely as a backup in case something happens to Andrew Whitworth or Andre Smith before their contracts run out in 2016 while giving him some snaps as a sixth lineman as they’ve been known to.
Ogbuehi has the tools every offensive line coach would love to work with. He’s got great feet and mirrors extremely well in pass protection. He demonstrates patience in pass protection and while he doesn’t always play with the kind of fire you might like in a tackle, he’s the prototypical old school left-side guy. Ironing out some kinks should see him become a very good pass protector at the very least and it’s never a bad idea to have those around when pressure kills a quarterback’s efficiency.
Denver Broncos, Shane Ray
His draft fall was a big one by some standards as he had to sit back and watch, in our eyes, less talented players like Bud Dupree go ahead of him. But everything happens for a reason and the Broncos have found a guy that can contribute in their sub-package defense straight away while working as a backup on earlier downs as they transition to their new 3-4 defense under Wade Phillips.
Ray isn’t the most complete pass rusher, but he might just have the most explosive first step. And that, as D.J. Humphries found out, will cause you a boatload of problems when you’re on your heels trying to protect your quarterback. The Missouri edge defender has a relentless motor and is pure production with a pass rushing grade against Power-5 defenses that was second to only Hau’oli Kikaha.
The rich get richer.
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