THE NFL DRAFT REPORT

THE NFL DRAFT REPORT –

WE’RE HANDING OUT THE GRADES

FOR A WILD & WACKY FIRST ROUND

     Just when you thought you had seen it all when it came to the first round of NFL Drafts!

     The three-hour and 45-minute opening round from Radio City Music Hall in New York City last night packed a whole lot of punch when it came to trades as the likes of Miami and St. Louis completed swaps to get inside the top 10 and for a while there it seemed as if the Minnesota Vikings sported all the draft picks between #20-to-#30 (okay, so the Vikes only owned three of the picks in this draft neighborhood) but when all the dust finally settled shortly before midnight Eastern time there were some 17 offensive or defensive linemen selected (or some 53.1 percent of Round I) and lots of blank stares being exchanged by the folks who spent the better part of the night listening to ESPN’s blabbermouth main trio of Chris Berman, Mel Kiper and Jon Gruden.

      Put a lit on it already, fellas!

     We’ll hand out our draft grades for all the Round I selections in just a moment but keep in mind that the so-called power conferences supplied the NFL with 28 of the 32 opening-round picks – the SEC boasted 12 selections all by itself! – and in all there were just five “skilled position” players taken including that one single QB … that was Florida State’s EJ Manuel.

      Good thing the NFL paraded out one-time New York quarterback legends Joe Namath and Phil Simms prior to the start of the draft because otherwise the folks in the “peanut gallery” didn’t see a whole lot of strong-armed slingers up close and in person.

     As for yet-undrafted QB Geno Smith (West Virginia) and LB Manti Te’o (Notre Dame), keep your chins up, fellas!

THE NFL DRAFT ROUND I GRADES 

1.      KANSAS CITY – ERIC FISHER, OT, CENTRAL MICHIGAN – The Chiefs changed up in the hours leading to this draft and opted for the most athletic offensive tackle here over Johnny Football’s personal protector but count us among the folks not totally sold on this 6-foot-7 stud as even Mr. Kiper said he played to the level of his competition. Ugh. Grade: C+

2.      JACKSONVILLE -- LUKE JOECKEL, OT, TEXAS A&M – Maybe the Jaguars’ luck is turning around because we rated this 6-foot-6, 306-pounder higher than Fisher and believe the strength of schedule while playing SEC teams a year ago will help this former Aggie right away. Grade: A

3.      MIAMI – DION JORDAN, OLB, OREGON – The Dolphins shocked everyone by trading up from #12 here (we accurately forecast that Oakland would trade down but we had Tennessee as the swap partner) and than not taking an offensive lineman but speedy pass-rusher could be a neat impact player right away while getting in QB Tom Brady’s grill. Grade: B

4.      PHILADELPHIA – LANE JOHNSON, OT, OKLAHOMA – Super-versatile O-lineman who hails from pro-type offense in Norman and the new-look Eagles really like his mean streak. Grade: B+

5.      DETROIT – EZEKIEL ANSAH, DE, BYU – One of the real fast risers on the draft board, we hit this pick on the head in our Jim Sez Mock Draft and soon we’ll see if this dude is another Jason Pierre-Paul (New York Giants). Grade: B+

6.      CLEVELAND – BARKEVIOUS MINGO, OLB, LSU – Major curveball here as most folks figured Browns would firm up their secondary and no doubt this selection floored the New York Jets who wanted him badly at either #9 or #13 … too bad, Rex Ryan! Grade: B

7.      ARIZONA – JONATHAN COOPER, G, NORTH CAROLINA – The way draft nut Kiper raved about this former Tar Heels blocker you would have thought he had the kid in the Pro Football Hall of Fame 15 years from now and while he’s aces at the position the feel here is the Cardinals should have traded out and gotten a couple extra picks. Grade: B

8.      ST. LOUIS – TAVON AUSTIN, WR, WEST VIRGINIA – The Rams moved up from #16 here and grabbed the hot item ticket on Draft Day ’13 as this 100-plus catch star in Morgantown really had everyone drooling on Thursday and now we’ll see if “Fastest Show on Turf” can be revisited. Hey, we like the kid but won’t go bonkers over ‘em! Grade: B

9.      NEW YORK JETS – DEE MILLINER, CB, ALABAMA – Our forecasts called for the J-E-T-S to get Mingo but we did mention in our mock draft that “they’ll need to replace Darrell Revis” and mentioned this ‘Bama star as a possibility and so call this a gift from the heavens. Time to rebuild, gang green! Grade: B+

10.  TENNESSEE – CHANCE WARMACK, G, ALABAMA – Probably was tabbed a few picks higher than we forecast but can’t argue with fact the Titans need some O-line bulk or else QB Jake Locker is gonna be running for his life the next few years. Grade: C+

11.  SAN DIEGO – D.J. FLUKER, OT, ALABAMA – Third consecutive Crimson Tide star to get snatched up in this draft and 340-pounder will make Bolts QB Philip Rivers feel a bit more secure in the pocket. Grade: B

12.  OAKLAND – D.J. HAYDEN, CB, HOUSTON – Well-documented heart issues didn’t scare off the silver-and-black who trade down from #3 spot and made this rather risky pick. Grade: C-

13.   NEW YORK JETS – SHELDON RICHARDSON, DT, MISSOURI – Major reach by the Jets (we had this 295-pounder going 29th overall) who don’t exactly have a good recent track record in selecting D-linemen. Guess the aforementioned Mr. Ryan still does have a say in the team’s draft room. Grade: C

14.  CAROLINA – STAR LOTULELEI, DT, UTAH – Must admit we believed this 312-pounder would go much, much higher and so knee-jerk reaction is to say Panthers bagged a major bargain. Grade: A

15.  NEW ORLEANS – KENNY VACCARO, FS, TEXAS -- Shame on the Saints for ignoring their pass-rush ills here as our Jim Sez pick of Florida State DE Bjoern Werner made perfect sense! Grade: C

16.  BUFFALO – EJ MANUEL, QB, FLORIDA STATE – The one-and-only slinger picked in Round I was a disastrous choice for the Bills who traded down from #8 and still should have nabbed WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee). Not a great start for the Doug Marrone Era! Grade: D-

17.  PITTSBURGH – JARVIS JONES, OLB, GEORGIA – There was mucho on-air criticism of this pick but Steelers were either gonna go LB or WR and so can’t blast the choice. Grade: B

18.  SAN FRANCISCO – ERIC REID, FS, LSU – The Niners swapped with Dallas here and solid move by defending NFC champs who were never gonna get this hard-hitter at pick #31. Grade: B+

19.  NEW YORK GIANTS – JUSTIN PUGH, G/T, SYRACUSE – The only Big East player selected in Round One was major reach for GM Jerry Reese who often goes against the grain … but this time he blew it! Grade: D

20.  CHICAGO – KYLE LONG, G, OREGON – Howie’s son is a true work-in-progress type who nonetheless will be a fan favorite because he plays with an edge and is still growing at 6-6, 314 pounds. Why not take Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert here? Hmmm. Grade: C+

21.   CINCINNATI – TYLER EIFERT, NOTRE DAME – Funny thing is the Bengals didn’t blink and scooped up ND Fighting Irish star but reality is they probably didn’t “need” him. Grade: B

22.  ATLANTA – DESMOND TRUFANT, CB, WASHINGTON – Here’s another power-packed team that traded up in Round One and must admit we thought Falcons would nab Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o here … too bad for him! Atlanta really can’t have enough DBs for those two head-to-head games with New Orleans this year. Grade: B

23.  MINNESOTA – SHARRIF FLOYD, DT. FLORIDA – Our Jim Sez mock draft had this 300-pounder going in the top four picks overall and so either we blew it or everyone else did as the Vikings make what turns out to be the first of three Round I selections. Grade: A

24.  INDIANAPOLIS – BJOERN WERNER, DE, FLORIDA STATE – Truth is the Colts would have leapt out of their office chairs to nab CB Trufant but weren’t willing to trade up and so high-class pass rusher falls to ‘em in the post-Dwight Freeney Era. Grade: B+

25.  MINNESOTA – XAVIER RHODES, CB, FLORIDA STATE – Third Seminoles star player to be nabbed within the last 10 picks and we had this one nailed (check that mock draft, folks!) and so did the Vikes. Grade: A

26.  GREEN BAY – DATONE JONES, DE, UCLA – ESPN’s Gruden was gushing all over the place when it came to this 285-pound demon but we have our reservations and want to know why he didn’t play harder for old coach Rick Neuheisel. Grade: C

27.  HOUSTON -- DeANDRE HOPKINS, WR, CLEMSON – Here’s another pick we nailed but anyone off the street could have told you the Texans were anxious to land an athletic wide-out. Now go and straighten up your room DeAndre! Grade: B+

28. DENVER – SYLVESTER WILLIAMS, DT, NORTH CAROLINA – Hey, did you realize that the ACC had six players drafted in Round I (more than anyone other than the aforementioned SEC)? Williams was best remaining D-lineman but our question is why did he last so long? Grade: C-

29.  MINNESOTA – CORDARRELLE PATTERSON, WR, TENNESSE – No doubt this kid’s get-up for draft night was a little high school promish but fact of matter is he slid way too low in Round I as we had ‘em as the eighth overall pick and quite sure he’ll be very much Percy Harvin-like for the Vikes. Grade: A

30.  ST. LOUIS – ALEC OGLETREE, OLB/ILB, GEORGIA – Tell us right now this guy’s gonna keep his nose clean and we’ll give our blessing to this pick but remember he was suspended for four games a year ago. Grade: C

31.  DALLAS – TRAVIS FREDERICK, C, WISCONSIN – The ‘Boys knew they had to snag some type of O-lineman and so they made a slight reach for this bearded 315-pounder who opened more than a few red-zone holes for TD-maker RB Montee Ball. Hey, did you know he’s the only Big 10 player selected in Round I? Grade: B

32.  BALTIMORE – MATT ELAM, SS, FLORIDA – Love the hard-hitting nature of this SEC star and no doubt Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome is pinching himself because he (like us) thought Elam would be gone by pick #20! Grade: A

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