St. Louis Rams
4 Winners: New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams
New York Jets
What to do you do when you have a dominating defensive line? The Jets draft what some consider the best defensive player in the draft in DT Leonard Williams. The Jets are building one of the best defensive units because of their strong D-line. Williams brings exceptional power and athleticism. He should end his career with several Pro Bowl selections and should follow in the same footsteps as Kevin Williams or teammate Sheldon Richardson. The Jets were also able to add weapons for quarterback Geno Smith when Ohio State wide out Devin Smith came off the board. Smith’s ability to track the deep ball while it is in the air is outstanding. He has a 4.4 forty time so he will be able to take the top off the defense. The addition of Smith can help relieve the pressure on Eric Decker. The Jets have to hope Decker’s production can increase and meet the monetary value on his contract. As long as the Jets are able to keep quarterback Bryce Petty on the bench for the near future, he will be able to develop and be a success for being drafted in the fourth round.
The Bengals saw a crucial need for lineman and were able to address this with two athletic tackles. First is tackle Cedric Oghuehi from Texas A&M who was selected 21st overall. Fellow tackle Jake Fisher will be able to use his exceptional quickness to keep faster edge rushers from hurrying Andy Dalton. Speaking of Andy Dalton, he now has the protect and he has the offensive pieces to finally break out. If he can’t this season, Dalton will prove he is unable to lead a team deep in the playoffs. My favorite pick for the Bengals was Paul Dawson. This headache of a player causes the brain to hurt of his opponents with crushing hits and his coaches for constantly showing up late for meeting or busses. The last name to remember is Jermaine Gresham’s replacement at tight end. TE Tyler Kroft has drawn comparisons to Travis Kelce because of the way he attacks the ball in the air.
General manager Ryan Pace fell in love with Kevin White because of his size and speed. White is great at high pointing the ball which makes him a valuable option in the red zone across from Alshon Jeffery. While he lacks the polish that Amari Cooper has, White has exceptional speed that he showed while running a 4.35 forty at the combine. The Bears were also able to solidify a strong defensive tackle in the second round by selecting NT Eddie Goldman. This was a massive need for the Bears because they have not been able to stop the run up the middle. A common concern surrounding the Bears is the need for a replacement for Matt Forte. When the Bears selected Jeremy Langford from Indiana they knew they solidified a backup running back for 2015. Langford is similar to Forte with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
St. Louis Rams
While I may be one of the few with the Rams as major winners in the draft I stand strongly by this opinion. The Rams were able to walk away from the draft with a smile because they selected their number one prospect in running back Todd Gurley. The Georgia back gives the Rams something Jeff Fisher has been searching for since he arrived in 2012. He is elusive and powerful with every step he takes. The only problem is he can only step with one foot right now because he tore his ACL on November 15th. The stat that stands out most when looking over Gurley’s numbers from Georgia is that he averaged 7.4 yards per carry. Having Gurley as the featured back helps newly acquired Nick Foles by allowing the offense to be run heavy while Foles becomes comfortable with the offense. Furthermore, to ensure the running game will be dominant, Fisher found himself a major mauler in offensive tackle Rob Havenstein from Wisconsin. Havenstein stands in at 6’7″ 320 pounds. Although the main reason I love the pick is because he can dominate in the running game, he also posses the leadership the offensive line will need because they have such little game experience. The Rams addressed the offensive line with 4 selections out of 9. Jeff Fisher took a gamble by selecting quarterback Sean Mannion with the 89th pick overall. The signal caller from Oregon State wowed scouts during the workouts before the draft. Several scouts said he threw better than Marcus Mariota when they made their way through Oregon. While I am not in any way saying Mannion is better than Mariota but he has gained confidence late in his career. He will have time to develop behind Foles. The Rams must rely on their coaching to help ensure the offensive line can create a pocket for Foles on a consistent basis.
NFC West Expectations
San Francisco 49ers – I personally think the 49ers will be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl this year. The 49ers have a great defense led by Patrick Willis. Their defense will only get better because of the development of outside linebacker Aldon Smith. Aldon should become one of the best defensive players in the next couple of years. On offense the 49ers will be much improved in the passing game because they signed Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. However, the wild card on their offense is back up quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Jim Harbaugh was recently quoted saying “Colin was nearly perfect today.” This is referring to a minicamp practice. If Colin starts this year at quarterback, the potential is there for a potent quarterback.
Seattle Seahawks – I don’t expect too much out of the Seahawks this year. They signed free agent quarterback Matt Flynn who should be the starter this year. Matt should be a solid starter, but I doubt he will be able to put a team on his back and lead them to the playoffs. Also, the Seahawks have a solid running game this year with Marshawn Lynch. On defense they have a solid secondary led by Earl Thomas. This offseason they drafted Bruce Irvin in the first round to help there much maligned pass rush. Overall I think the Seahawks have some solid players, but for them to make the playoffs they must win the division. Unfortunately, I think San Francisco is one of the best teams in the NFL.
Saint Louis Rams – The Rams are an up and coming team that should be in Super Bowl contention in a couple of years. The Rams are lead by quarterback Sam Bradford who is looking to have a bounce back year after his subpar season. My biggest concern on offense for the Rams is their offensive line. Sam Bradford was beat up and injured last year do to subpar line play. On defense they have added an infusion of young talent. Most of there young players are high risk high reward so if they gambled right and most of these players pan out their defense will be one of the best in the NFL probably led by Robert Quinn, Jenoris Jenkins, and Trumaine Johnson. Another reason I like this team so much is the number of draft pick they have over the next two years. They will have 4 first round picks over the next 2 years. If the Rams draft well these next two years they have the potential to be a force in the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals – This team is by far the worst team in the division. They have Kevin Kolb as there starting quarterback who is a game manager at best. They have a plethora of good running backs in Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams. Also, they have 2 good wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. The offense weak link is their offensive line. On defense they some good players, but as a whole they are a subpar unit. At defensive end they have pro bowl defensive end Calais Campbell and at linebacker they have future star Dayrl Washington. Overall the Cardinals will be competitive this year, but won’t be able to win many games
Saint Louis Rams – The Rams had five picks in the first 3 rounds and picked quality players at each pick. They started in round 1 with Michael Brockers, who will be a great run stuffer for the Rams. Next, they drafted Brain Quick, a big wide receiver out of Appalachain State who will help out Sam Bradford. They drafted two cornerbacks in Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, both have the skills to be a shut down corner in the NFL. Also, they drafted running back Isaih Pead, who should be a good rotational back for the Rams.
Philidelphia Eagles – The Eagels have had an all around good draft. They have addressed their pass rush situation by drafting Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry. Also, they drafted Mychal Kendricks who is the most athletic linebacker in the draft. He should be an immediate starter this year. Lastly, they drafted quarterback Nick Foles who they will develop at quarterback behind Michael Vick. Also, this pick insures they will have a good back up in case MIchael Vick can’t make it through the entire season.
Indianpoils Colts – The Colts drafted Andrew Luck, the best prospect in this draft, but what they did on day 2 really impresses me. They drafted 2 tight ends in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, which should really help Andrew Luck. Next, they drafted T.Y. Hilton who is a slot wide receiver. When the ball is in his hands, he has the potential to score a touchdown.
Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks have reached on every single pick so far. They drafted Bruce Irvin who is there first round pick, but should have been picked in the 2nd round. They then drafted Bobby Wagner, who I felt should have been picked in the 3rd or 4th round. Finally they drafted Russel Wilson, the 5’10” quarterback and he probably won’t succeed because of his height.
Oakland Raiders – The Raiders had one pick at the end of the 3rd round and picked a 25 year old offensive guard who probably should have gone in the 5th round. I’m not bashing the pick of Tony Bergstom, but I am bashing them for only having one pick in the first 3 rounds.
New Orleans Saints – The Saints only had one pick in the first 3 rounds and drafted Akiem Hicks. Hicks is a high upside defensive tackle who could become a great defensive tackle in the NFL. The Saints are a loser, because they too only had 1 pick in the first 3 rounds.
Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars drafted a great wide receiver in Justin Blackmon. In the second round, they drafted Andre Branch at defensive end, but I am a huge fan of him. However, there 3rd round pick was a real head scratcher; They drafted Bryan Anger a punter who is the highest punter drafted since 1995. Bryan Anger could have been drafted in the 7th round.