Neil’s NFL Daily: April 26, 2013
By way of full disclosure I know very little about how any of the drafted 32 men played last year (or indeed any year). Although some of my colleagues have spent time in the offseason watching tape it’s fair to say that since the Super Bowl I’ve seen more of the 2007 NFL season than 2012 college version. It’s not that I don’t like it – I love it when I watch – I’m just not much into subset scouting; watching a percentage of plays and then extrapolating that out and believing you’ve got the full picture. This thought though did give me an idea for a forthcoming article on working off partial information but I’ll save it for next week when draft talk has died down a tad.
In short, what you read below comes with that caveat, it’s really more about what the draft implies about a team’s roster than the players inherent ability.
Friday, April 26
The first round is in the books and here are my immediate thoughts after Baltimore selected Matt Elam at 32.
If you saw my draft table yesterday you’ll know Rick Spielman (in contrast to some of his rather forgettable free agency moves) has a history of success when it comes to selecting college players. He decided to back himself again and pulled in three players (at a not insignificant cost); all in significant areas of need. Three of the top four Viking requirements were DT, CB and WR (along with MLB) and he pulled out one of each. What’s to say there isn’t a two-down run stuffer later on Saturday (no picks today) today that will make it four from four.
It looks like Jeff Ireland got the memo; two words – “Win now”. Unlike a lot of people nearly all his moves this offseason have been aggressive. Get impact players at every level and trading up to get a pass rusher to complement the brilliant Cameron Wake plays to that strategy. The Dolphins main weakness remains at tackle and it seems a little ironic that the team which looted the player store is one of the very few not to currently get one. Which brings us to:
I have no idea what the collective noun for offensive linemen is but maybe it could be flood? When 28% of the first round consists of tackles, guards and centers (and 55% of the top 11 selections) you know one of two things: either the big guys have now became de rigueur among front offices or the pickings at other positions were very slim. It’s probably a combination of both as in the copy-cat league it is, the success of the 49ers unit may well have made blocking suddenly fashionable. That’s all well and good but remember what made San Francisco’s group so strong was the lack of any weakness. No member of the line graded less than +13.2 and it was that fact rather than a single player (or even a few of them) performing brilliantly that made the team so formidable.
One more point – if this glut of tackles is really teams addressing a weakness on the right I understand the rationale. If it’s to trade or reduce the salary cap at the left tackle position it seems flawed strategy.
Jets Offense Jilted
For those who like a conspiracy theory, the possibility of Rex Ryan being hung out to dry (at least from a standpoint of offensive personnel) could now hold some water. Maybe not enough to drown in but certainly to survive on for a few hours. With the offense having enough holes to masquerade as a chain-link fence, the Jets spent both first round choices on the defense. Moreover at DL, which will now likely start first rounders from each of the last three years and corner, where the selection of Dee Milliner says 2010 Kyle Wilson may be considered at the end of his shelf life. However, the one area on that side of the ball the Jets needed more than any other, namely a pass rush, remains vacant.
I’d actually feel sorry for Ryan other than he probably agrees with the philosophy and would have selected exactly the same players if it was down to him.
Since 2008 we have not had a single Carolina DT, playing more than 200, snaps graded green. It seems a football truism as old as the Bears O-Line sucking or the 49ers having quality linebackers that the interior of the Panthers defensive line blew huge chunks. Worse, the front office never appeared as if they wanted to address the issue. Like Rex Ryan’s handling of Mark Sanchez, it seemed those with the facility to make changes, didn’t think any were warranted.
Well congratulations to new man Dave Gettleman for at least making an attempt. As I explained earlier I have no idea if Star Lotulelei will provide an immediate upgrade but he’d need to be an astronomical bust not to.
Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil