For the first time since 1965, the NFL draft was not held in New York City. And for the first time in recent memory, it also lacked any real drama.
There were no franchise-altering trades, no poor souls excruciatingly left in the green room to rot and no suspense in the top-two picks. What we did have was a lot of fantasy relevance as two running backs, six wideouts and two quarterbacks came off the board in Thursday night’s Round 1. To the headlines:
THE TRADE THAT WASN’T
Under normal circumstances, mortgaging an entire team for one player is a horrible idea. Chip Kelly was not in a normal circumstance. It’s not often a QB-needy coach running a unique system has a chance to draft his prototypical quarterback. So it’s not a surprise Chip reportedly offered two first-round picks, a third-round pick, stud DT Fletcher Cox, two plus starters in CB Brandon Boykin/ILB Mychal Kendricks and more for the right to take Marcus Mariota at No. 2. It is a bit of a surprise that the Titans stood pat, declining that massive offer and installing Mariota – a questionable scheme fit for Ken Whisenhunt – as their starter. Mariota would have been a top-12 fantasy quarterback in Philly, but is a guy I won’t want to touch in rancid Tennessee.
MEET YOUR NO. 1 OVERALL PICK
The Bucs left no drama at the top, deciding on Florida State’s Jameis Winston a while back and never wavering. He’ll step right in as a candidate for 4,000 passing yards thanks to Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and OC Dirk Koetter’s vertical passing scheme. Remarkably, Winston ate crab legs in a Bucs jersey after he was selected. If that rubs you the wrong way, you need more laughter in your life.
BIGGEST MISS BY MOCK DRAFTERS
I don’t think anyone had the Redskins taking Iowa G/T Brandon Scherff at No. 5 overall in their mock. But that’s what new GM Scot McCloughan did, living up to his reputation of ignoring group think. He passed on both DT Leonard Williams and OLB Vic Beasley in the process, leaving mock drafters ripping up their sheets. Scherff will play right tackle for Jay Gruden, forming an intimidating bookend with stud left tackle Trent Williams.
FREE FALL OF THE NIGHT
Speaking of USC DT Leonard Williams, he suffered a mini-freefall as he slipped to the Jets at No. 6 overall. It’s nothing compared to a Warren Sapp, Aaron Rodgers or Teddy Bridgewater kind of debacle, but we didn’t have any of those Thursday night. Williams, who was atop many analysts’ big boards as the top prospect in this draft, will serve as insurance in case Muhammad Wilkerson is traded or walks in free agency next year. And if Wilkerson stays put, talented defensive mind Todd Bowles will have some serious horses to work with up front in these two plus Sheldon Richardson. Running the football against the Jets is going to be a nightmare.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Eagles, rebuffed in their attempt to land Marcus Mariota, settled for versatile USC WR Nelson Agholor at No. 20 overall. Courtesy of our Evan Silva, here’s how Agholor stacks up against ex-Eagle Jeremy Maclin:
Maclin – 6’0/198, 4.48 forty, 10’ broad jump, 35 ½” vertical, 7.06 three cone.
Agholor – 6’0/198, 4.42 forty, 10’5 broad jump, 36 ½” vertical, 6.83 three cone.
As the featured receiver in Chip Kelly’s scheme last year Maclin ripped off 85-1,318-10. Agholor won’t get close to that as the roles of Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz will expand, but he’s landed in a great spot. Kelly offered Agholor a scholarship to Oregon and knows what he’s getting.
In desperate need of toughness, beef up front and defensive players, the Colts used the No. 29 overall pick on 5’10/185 Miami speed WR Phillip Dorsett. It makes very little sense. Dorsett drew direct comps to T.Y. Hilton during the draft process, and the Colts already have Hilton, Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief as receivers. Yes, Hilton’s rookie contract is up after this season. But the win-now Colts have such desperate needs elsewhere that going wideout in such a deep wideout class seems wasteful. GM Ryan Grigson continues to live off backing into Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in 2012.
Roger Goodell took some well-deserved boos as he walked to the podium. Then he stumbled over and mispronounced Marcus Mariota’s name, calling him “Marioto.” Later, Goodell botched Phillip Dorsett’s last name. Rotogrinders’ Justin Van Zuiden wondered what would have happened If Goodell had tried to pronounce Giannis Antetokounmpo.
ALL THE LIES
Throughout the last few months, the Chargers brass insisted they were content with their running back stable of Branden Oliver, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown. No one really believed them. Then they proved why listening to coach- and GM-speak is so pointless, trading up two spots to select Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon at No. 15 overall. Gordon projects for a big Year 1 impact, even if Woodhead steals passing down work. He’s healthier than Todd Gurley and faces a far easier schedule.
BIGGEST SURPRISE OF TOP-10
I thought Tre Mason did enough as a rookie to knock running back off the Rams’ list of biggest needs. I was wrong. Not only did the Rams take a RB, but they took Todd Gurley (ACL) at No. 10 overall. It’s high for a running back, even if Jeff Fisher insists Gurley is the best prospect at that position since Adrian Peterson. The Rams have arguably the least talent in the league along their offensive line and Gurley’s durability is in doubt. He also plays in a division with two elite run defenses (SEA, ARZ). Meanwhile, fourth-stringer Zac Stacy wants out. He’d be able to run for 1,000 yards if given the chance for a team like the Cowboys.
It’s not easy to completely redo a position in one offseason and make it better. The Dolphins managed to do just that, unloading Mike Wallace, Charles Clay and Brian Hartline. They brought in Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron and Greg Jennings – and then put a cherry on top Thursday night by taking Louisville WR DeVante Parker at No. 14 overall. I’d give Parker a long look at 1.03 in Dynasty rookie drafts, behind only Kevin White and Amari Cooper.
DAY 2 PLAYER TO WATCH
Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham is 6’5/237 with 4.49 speed. He has warts both on the field and off, but I’m always going to want shares of players with freakish physical gifts. The Titans hold the first pick of the second round and would do well to get Marcus Mariota an upgrade on Kendall Wright/Justin Hunter.