2016 was probably the least-hyped draft of the “no offseason” era. Thankfully, it didn’t translate to a boring opening night, with trades, bold moves and downright bizarre off-the-field developments making for a colorful evening.
Now That’s What I Call A Character Concern
A prospect’s purported “character concerns” are typically overblown. Scouts, who are paid too little and have essentially zero free time, could find nits to pick with just about every single player if they really wanted to. Almost always, the supposed concerns are not a harbinger of future trouble. But your own Twitter account getting hacked and posting a video of you taking a bong hit in a gas mask literally minutes before the draft starts? That’s a valid character concern. So was the strange Thursday of Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil, a player who spent a decent amount of the offseason as the presumptive No. 1 overall pick. When it was all said and done, Tunsil’s troubles cost him a lot less than they could have, sliding him past tackle-needy teams like the Chargers, Ravens and Titans, but landing him in Miami at No. 13. It was not the innuendo-filled free fall that La'El Collins endured last year. Tunsil still has questions to answer, but as a first-round pick, not a day-three “one strike and you’re out” prospect. With LT Branden Albert aging with an injury history and RT Ja'Wuan James still far from proven, Tunsil very much fills a need for Miami.
Jerry Heeds The Siren’s Call
Jerry Jones finally had enough of doing the right thing. After three years of offensive linemen and defensive backs, ol’ Jer had to get his groove back. He did so in a responsible fashion, taking Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4 overall, making the highest-drafted running back since Trent Richardson in 2012. There’s a strong case to be made against taking any runner in the top 10, even if they’re a rocked up, angry, three-down back like Elliott. But if there was ever a team that could justify it, it’s the 2016 Dallas Cowboys. Living on Tony Romo’s borrowed time, the Cowboys are a run-first offense with the league’s best line. Last year, it was all for naught as Romo’s broken collarbone gave way to a committee of Darren McFadden and various other castoffs. One of the 2-3 best backs to come into the league since Adrian Peterson in 2007, “Zeke” is ready to step in right away as a bell-cow, and take pressure off Romo’s increasingly injury prone body. From a fantasy standpoint, you couldn’t make up a better landing spot. Zeke will rack up carries, catch passes and play all three downs barring a catastrophic summer. He’s a legitimate RB1.
The Browns Make The Best Pick Of The Night
It’s been less than two years since a homeless man told Browns owner Jimmy Haslam to select Johnny Manziel. As Manziel watched from a Columbus, Ohio bar before a Justin Bieber concert — seriously — the Browns proved they are no longer that team, trading back for the second time this draft season and still getting the evening’s top playmaker, Baylor WR Corey Coleman. Arriving at a position of dire need for the tanking Browns, Coleman is an athletic freak who stuffed the stat sheet in the Big 12 and is still only 22 (in July). In other words, he’s an analytics dream, and living proof the Browns might actually be committed to their new numbers-based approach. To top it all off, Coleman is a fierce competitor. He’s the kind of clay creative coach Hue Jackson could mold into an elite weapon in a hurry.
Broncos Replace Two Quarterbacks With One Trade Up
Four years ago, the Broncos drafted Brock Osweiler to be Peyton Manning’s heir apparent. The heir part worked out, but the apparent didn’t. Osweiler made seven starts last season, enough to convince the Texans to offer him $37 million guaranteed. It was a sum GM John Elway wisely deemed too steep, letting Osweiler walk even though it meant the death of a best-laid plan. Even with four years of development out the window, Elway didn’t panic. He refused to overpay for Colin Kaepernick, and declined to offer shelter to a bereaved Sam Bradford. He took his time and found his way to an upside option, Memphis QB Paxton Lynch. There are question marks. Denver is a win-now roster trying to defend a Super Bowl title. Lynch is exceedingly raw, drawing comparisons to Blake Bortles. He’s also a gigantic human (6-foot-7, 244 pounds) with unusual athleticism (4.86 speed) and a cannon arm. Best of all, he’s due somewhere between $7-$8 million guaranteed over the next four years. He’s as good of a bet as Osweiler, only $30 million cheaper. When Elway swings, he rarely misses.
Kirk Cousins Gets Something Else To Like
Kirk Cousins’ 4,166 yards last season were no thanks to his top two receivers. Pierre Garcon averaged a pitiful 10.8 yards per catch as he limped toward 777 yards, while DeSean Jackson caught only 30 passes in 10 games. Cousins needed another pair of hands to complement Jordan Reed and pass-catching back Chris Thompson, and got one in WR Josh Doctson. An explosive athlete who rewrote TCU’s record book before lighting up the Combine, Doctson is a vertical threat who, unlike D-Jax, can actually win in contested situations. He’s a piece that was missing from the Redskins’ puzzle in 2015, and one that figures to send either Garcon or Jackson packing.
Laquon Treadwell Ends Up In Unideal Landing Spot
Once bandied about as a potential top-10 pick, Treadwell’s Combine performance confirmed he’s more Michael Crabtree than Michael Floyd. That’s fine, but he’s ended up in place where a possession receiver will have a hard time possessing the ball as Adrian Peterson hogs it. The Vikings are a run-first team, one that struggles to force the issue downfield because of Teddy Bridgewater’s weak arm. This could actually lead to some serious Crabtreeing at the short-to-intermediate levels of the field for Treadwell, but he’ll have plenty of rookie target competition from Stefon Diggs, Jarius Wright, Charles Johnson and Kyle Rudolph. Still only 21, Treadwell has the youth, length, body control and competitive nature to evolve into much more than the next Crabtree, but he could have a hard time doing so in an offense that has a lid it’s not prepared to remove any time soon.