By Travis Stahl
The first round of the NFL draft is in the books and with its completion a new era of draft methodology has began. No longer do teams stay put and take the “best available player.” Teams now identify the player that best fits their team need and then move wherever they need to in the draft to acquire them. This change in philosophy is in part due to the new rookie wage scale which limits the amount first-year players can make and also to the importance NFL teams now place on winning right away. Teams were trading like their picks were on fire in the first round of the draft Thursday night. Some teams traded with great precision and other deals did not work out so well.
Best pick of the first round – It would be easy to say Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, those picks are supposed to be good though. Not to sound like a homer, but the best pick of the first round was the Dallas Cowboys picking up defensive back Morris Claiborne at pick No. 6. The Cowboys traded up for Claiborne and solidified the team’s secondary which was a huge area of need. Claiborne gives Dallas some much needed depth in the secondary as injuries to defensive backs have killed the Cowboys in recent years.
Worst pick of the first round – What is Houston doing drafting Whitney Mercilus? Pass-rushing defensive end/linebacker is the one position on the Texans roster that is the most solid. Houston needs offensive line help, another wide receiver and some 3-4 inside linebackers. Mercilus had one good season in college at Illinois and now he’s on a team where he will have trouble getting on the field at all.
Weirdest pick of the first round – This pick is easy Bruce Irvin to The Seahawks at No. 15 was an unbelievably unusual pick. One of two things is going on with Seattle. Either the Seahawks are using an entirely different metric to evaluate talent or they are using no evaluation methods at all. Irvin was projected by everyone as a late second-round pick. Seattle is either the most brilliant team in the league and nobody has noticed yet or they are the Oakland Raiders.
The Bad News Rams – The Rams were going to pick wide receiver Justin Blackmon until Jacksonville did at pick No. 5 so St. Louis traded down to Dallas’ pick at No. 14. The Rams plan was to take Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd. Only the crazy thing was, Floyd got drafted by Arizona at No. 13. The Rams had no knowledge at all of what other teams in the draft were going to do, the team was completely unprepared. St. Louis ended up with defensive tackle Michael Brockers and no help for the team’s woeful offense.
First Round winner – It’s hard not to say Cincinnati cleaned up in the first round of the draft. First the Bengals traded down with New England to add more draft picks. The trade didn’t affect the Bengals as they still got the player they wanted, Alabama defensive back Dre Kirkpatric. Cincinnati followed that pick up with offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler which is another great pick.
Back to the Super Bowl – You know why New England goes to the Super Bowl every year? Watch the draft and you’ll figure it out real fast. The Patriots picked up pass rushing demon Chandler Jones from Syracuse and then got Alabama linebacker Don’t’a Hightower at pick No. 25. Imagine how good the Patriots could be this year with even some slight improvement on defense?
The second round of the draft begins tonight and it would not be surprising to see a flurry activity again. There are still a ton of high quality players on the board and teams are going to scramble up the charts to acquire them. The Rams have several picks at the top of the second round and should be able to find some help for quarterback Sam Bradford. It will also be entertaining to see what rabbit Seattle pulls out of the hat for the second round.