2014 DRAFT GUIDE
NFP Sunday Blitz

Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:00am
By the National Football Post

When you have the third pick in the first round and the third most desirous player in the draft is one you have no use for, you are not supposed to be in a position of strength.

But Vikings general manager Rick Spielman turned what looked like a bad hand into a good one.

The Vikings had no use for Trent Richardson because they already have Adrian Peterson. But other teams, most notably the Browns and Bucs, had plenty of use for Richardson. The Dolphins had some interest in the pick too. And other teams were sniffing as well. Because there was more than one team interested, the Vikings had leverage.

The calls were coming all week. Trickling in at first, until a couple hours before the draft. The Vikings could have made a deal early in the week, but they waited.

The Browns made a fine proposal, offering fourth, fifth and seventh for the right to swap first rounders. And the best part about it was the Vikings had to move down only one spot. Spielman told me he assumed the Browns wanted Richardson, but he never asked. He pulled the trigger shortly before the draft.

The Browns took Richardson. Spielman still had his choice of the two top players on the Vikings’ board, left tackle Matt Kalil and cornerback Maurice Claiborne.

“Both are excellent players, the highest rated at their positions,” Spielman said. “They both would have filled a big need for us. Both positions are important. The argument could be made for either.”

Some made the argument for Claiborne. The Vikings could have used him to neutralize Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Greg Jennings, especially given the fact that the Vikes are planning on playing more man-to-man, fire zone and three deep coverage with the new influences on their coaching staff.

But the NFC North had something to do with the Vikings wanting Kalil, too. The Vikings have to deal with Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews and Kyle Vanden Bosch twice a year.

And Spielman figured it’s more difficult to find an elite left tackle than it is an elite cornerback. “You look at free agency,” he said. “You see some receivers available, some corners. But rarely do you see a left tackle on the open market. The only way to get a premier left tackle is if you are in the position we were in. If we didn’t take him now, when would we get the chance?”

Taking Kalil allowed the Vikings to fill two needs because it enabled them to move previous left tackle Charlie Johnson to left guard. It also enabled them to give second year quarterback Christian Ponder a better chance to succeed.

So Spielman drafted Kalil. And he kept drafting, taking 10 players to help restock his team. In 2011 the Vikings selected 10 players. Nine made the team. The Vikings are getting young in a hurry.

With extra picks in his pocket, Spielman dealt his way back into the bottom of the first round to select safety Harrison Smith. As was the case with Kalil, Smith can make the Vikings better at positions other than his own.

“Our coaches had Harrison at the Senior Bowl,” he said. “We know what he was like in meeting rooms, we understand his character and his intelligence. The players in the middle of your team, you want them to be able to give direction and set the tone from an emotional standpoint. He can do that. Plus there was a dropoff at safety after him.”

For a guy who was supposed to be in a bad spot, Spielman did alright.

Things I Didn’t Used To Know

*People are taking shots at the Seahawks for taking Bruce Irvin in the first round, but the truth is if they didn’t take him someone else would have. Among the teams that coveted him were the Texans and Chargers. Word around the league is the 49ers liked him so much they might have traded up for him. Part of what helped Irvin overcome his questionable character stigma is he wrote a personal email to each of the 32 teams a little more than one week before the draft. It was a letter than came from the heart and was not edited by his handlers. Irvin admitted making mistakes and said he has grown from them, and asked the NFL to give him a chance.

*The fall of Alabama pass rusher Courtney Upshaw to the third pick in the second round was not shocking. Some personnel men anticipated him falling after Upshaw showed up at his pro day weighing 279 pounds. Upshaw looked surprised when his weight was revealed. He may have discouraged 3-4 teams from considering him at outside linebacker, and caused some to question his commitment. Said one front office man, “That weight hurt him.”

*The Bucs didn’t lose anything by trading down in the first round. The player they wanted was Mark Barron. They had the safety and cornerback Maurice Claiborne graded identically, but they deemed safety a bigger need. What’s more, they picked up an extra fourth round selection. Said one national scout: “Tampa Bay did an unbelievable job. Their draft has been great.”

*When the Texas lost Mario Williams, their philosophy was to replace him with a group of players, not just one. That’s why they chose Whitney Mercilus in the first round. He’s joining a group that already includes pass rushers Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin. It’s quite a group. Between the three of them they had 33.5 sacks last year, or more than Williams has had over the last four years. “We have two young players who are very good in Connor and Brooks, but there is always room for a third,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “We play three guys.”

My Sunday Best: Value picks

There are great picks, and then there are great value picks. These are my best value picks, or picks that represented the most bang for the buck.

Courtney Upshaw by the Ravens, 35th overall. Leave it to Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta to trade down, acquire an extra pick and then draft a pass rusher who at one point was considered one of the best in the draft. Upshaw has produced against top competition over time. Smart move.

Jerel Worthy by the Packers, 51st overall. The thing you have to like about getting Worthy so late is he has as much upside as any player like him in the draft. Trader Ted Thompson got the job done with this guy, who easily could have been picked a round earlier.

Devon Still by the Bengals, 53rd overall. At one point in time not long ago Still was considered the best DT in the draft and a player who was likely to be a high first round pick. And it’s not like Still did anything to hurt his stock.

Chris Givens by the Rams, 96th overall. Givens was a rated a second round talent by a number of teams. He fell because of concerns about his knees and concerns about off field conduct.

Keenan Robinson by the Redskins, 119th overall. A fourth round pick was a cheap price to pay for a linebacker with Robinson’s versatility, production and measurables. He should be an NFL starter.

Nick Toon by the Saints, 122nd overall. If Toon had entered the draft one year ago as had been speculated, he likely would have been a first round pick. Mickey Loomis and the Saints finally had a little luck go their way when Toon fell to them in the fourth.

Josh Norman by the Panthers, 143rd overall. Norman is a second round talent. He went in the fifth because of character concerns.

George Iloka by the Bengals, 167th overall. Based on my conversations with scouts I had him as the third ranked safety in the draft, and figured he would be a second round pick based on the lack of talent at the position. Between the first and fifth rounds, only one safety, Brandon Taylor was taken. That left Iloka for the Bengals in the fifth.

Juron Criner by the Raiders, 168th overall. He was a third round talent that went two rounds later. But Criner comes with some risk because of some character concerns. Nice move by Reggie McKenzie in his first draft.

Alfonzo Dennard by the Patriots, 224th overall. I was not particularly high on Dennard. He was my 12th-ranked cornerback. He ended up being the 31st cornerback selected. Dennard was considered second round worthy going into the season. He had a down year but still was worth of a fourth round pick. He went in the seventh. Score one for Bill Belichick.

Scout Talk: Draft Impressions

Here are some thoughts about the draft from NFL front office men.

*In many draft rooms, there wasn’t the same kind of enthusiasm over who was chose as there normally is. “There were a lot of reaches on the first two days,” one personnel director said. “A lot of teams were not feeling comfortable with their picks, based on my conversations with other personnel people. It wasn’t’ a great year. There are a lot of guys with holes.”

*A number of teams were down on Bruce Irvin, but not all of them were down on him for the same reason. Some had him off the board or downgraded for character concerns. Others had concerns about the player. “He has one unique quality—he comes of the edge,” one front office man said. “We weren’t sure if he can put on weight and be a three down player of if he’s just a situational pass rusher.”

*The Seahawks’ selection of Russell Wilson in the third round also generated some second guesses. One front office man noted Wilson was taken ahead of Kirk Cousins, who is thought to be a better NFL prospect by many. “He is similar to Tarvaris Jackson, and unless they get rid of Jackson, Wilson is going to have to be their third,” one front office man said. “Do you use a third round pick on a third quarterback?”

*One front office man noted the offensive line feeding frenzy in round two. Eight offensive linemen—26 percent of the picks in the round--went off the board in the second. “If you wanted an offensive lineman, it was a brutal run,” he said.

*Multiple front office men questioned the Broncos trading down twice and out of the first round, especially because there were defensive players on the board who others thought the Broncos could have used. For trading down twice from the 25th pick to the 36th, the Broncos ended up with only a fourth round pick.

*Teams were buzzing about the 49ers taking A.J. Jenkins in the first round. More than one evaluator thought the 49ers could have had Jenkins in the late second round or early third. While most see the talent and speed in Jenkins, some questioned his love of the game, his grittiness and his work ethic.

*No one is comfortable questioning Bill Belichick’s judgment, but a couple front office men wondered about the Patriots’ second and third round picks. One personnel man said his team had safety Tavon Wilson, the Pats’ second round pick, ranked as a seventh round pick, and defensive end Jake Bequette, the Patriots’ third rounder, ranked as a free agent. “That was crazy,” he said. It should be noted that the consensus is the Patriots picked very well in round one with the additions of linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive end Chandler Jones.

*A couple of front office men were impressed with the Giants’ draft. One noted running back David Wilson could be an immediate impact player even though he was the last pick of the first round. He also said he thought wide receiver Rueben Randle represented good value at the bottom of the second round.

Hot Reads

*Ashton Kutcher never dreamed up something this devious on Punk’d.

*No truth to the rumor that when the Saints visit the Patriots in the preseason in August, these two guys will represent their teams for the opening coin flip.

*Cue the ukuleles. It might be time to sing “Aloha Oe” to the Pro Bowl.

*Scouts say Brandon Jacobs doesn’t accelerate quickly. They apparently never have seen him on the Garden State Parkway.

Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune. Follow him at Twitter@danpompei

Follow @footballpost on Twitter for the latest news

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Austin CollieJan 29 03:33a

Free-agent WR Austin Collie (Patriots) signed a contract with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League on Wednesday, Jan. 28.

Tom BradyJan 28 12:33p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (illness) admitted that he is currently battling a cold, but he said he expects to be 100% ready for the Super Bowl Sunday, [ More ]

Brandon MebaneJan 27 11:23p

Seattle Seahawks DL Brandon Mebane (hamstring) said Tuesday, Jan. 27, that his hamstring surgery went well and he should be full go for the team's offseason program in April.

Richard ShermanJan 27 11:23p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (elbow) has torn ligaments in his elbow, but he is improving daily and he is no longer receiving treatment for the injury.

LeGarrette BlountJan 27 08:33p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount should be a factor in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Feb. 1, in the opinion of Boston Herald writer Karen [ More ]

Adrian PetersonJan 27 07:43p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson was directed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to meet with a league-assigned psychiatrist following Peterson's suspension. The National Football League Players Association is now [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 27 12:23p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is an offensive weapon that the Seattle Seahawks are focused on shutting down during the Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1. Seahawks head coach [ More ]

Trent RichardsonJan 27 10:43a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson's one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team voided the guarantee of a $3,184,062 salary in 2015.

Josh GordonJan 26 02:13p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is in Stage Three of an alcohol program, which requires him to be tested for alcohol for a minimum of two years. His failed [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 26 02:03p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski could cause a problem for the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX, because the Seahawks defense allowed 11 touchdowns to tight ends this [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 26 02:03p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) said he won't miss the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots with a dislocated shoulder, but he also admitted that it won't [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 01:52p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he'll need to shut himself down this offseason in order to enter 2015 fully healthy and in great shape. He [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 26 12:33p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon tested positive for alcohol, according to sources, and his failed test will subject him to a possible one-year suspension. Gordon caught 24 passes for [ More ]

Vontaze BurfictJan 26 12:23p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) is recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee, and the surgeon who operated on him is hoping that he will be at [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 11:22a

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he played this season with two tears in his right hamstring, which never fully healed.

Josh GordonJan 25 09:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will be under contract through the 2016 season, and he will only be a restricted free agent after that year due to his looming [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 25 04:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon has reportedly failed another drug test and will be subject to a one-year banishment, according to multiple league sources.

Earl ThomasJan 23 09:02p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) will play in the Super Bowl, head coach Pete Carroll said Friday, Jan. 23.

Dennis PittaJan 23 04:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) met with some specialists last week, but the team is not expected to have an update on his status for a few weeks, [ More ]

Johnny ManzielJan 23 01:12p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel had a big proponent last year in owner Jimmy Haslam, but Haslam now thinks the team needs a quarterback in order to get their [ More ]

Jimmy GrahamJan 23 10:32a

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) said he'll rehabilitate his shoulder injury after the Pro Bowl, but he hasn't made a final decision on surgery. 'It's something we [ More ]

Mark IngramJan 22 06:42p

New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram, who will be eligible for free agency this offseason, wants to return to the team next year, and he thinks the interest is [ More ]

Vernon DavisJan 22 06:22p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis had just two touchdowns in 2014, and they both came in Week 1. He also wasn't targeted at all in the red zone [ More ]

Geno SmithJan 22 05:32p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith has a lot of talent and promise, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. At the same time, Bowles acknowledged that the quarterback [ More ]

Brian HoyerJan 22 04:52p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be re-signed this offseason, according to his agent. Hoyer is expected to meet with general manager Ray Farmer and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in the near future.

Johnny ManzielJan 22 02:43p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel will be working with a new offensive coordinator this year in John DeFilippo, but DeFilippo is unsure if the team's quarterback next year is [ More ]

Joe FlaccoJan 22 12:52p

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco will have his fourth difference offensive coordinator in as many years in offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. However, head coach John Harbaugh is confident Flacco [ More ]

Tom BradyJan 22 10:12a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is now scheduled to speak to the media Thursday, Jan. 22, and he could come under fire due to the report of deflated [ More ]

Vontaze BurfictJan 21 09:03p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) has had knee surgery, head coach Marvin Lewis confirmed Wednesday, Jan. 21. While there has been concern Burfict might have to begin the [ More ]

Mike WallaceJan 21 09:03p

Miami Dolphins WR Mike Wallace's future with the team is unclear. General manager Dennis Hickey would not say Wednesday, Jan. 21, whether Wallace will be back or if his [ More ]

Johnny ManzielJan 21 04:43p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel could benefit from new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, according to Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr. Carr said DeFilippo will do great with Manziel, adding [ More ]

Richard ShermanJan 21 04:23p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (elbow) said he will practice in a brace, but should not have any limitations on gameday.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group