It was trade review #193 when I realized how ridiculous the Real Deal Draft really is.
Or maybe it was 194. They all kind of blend together. But it struck me clearly – the RDFL draft brings out the completely irrational in all of us, reveals humanity’s foibles, and conclusively demonstrates why if we actually ran into alien life on that far away planet 9 trillion light years away, they would punch us in our collective faces.
For one, the value of a draft pick fluctuates more than how much people care about Cecil the Lion. Why do first round picks sometimes fly around like Jolly Ranchers and other times we hoard them like they are a real bona fide Saturday without yard work? Why do all these guys get treated like can’t miss gods when they are in draft pick form, and then like worthless rubbish three games into the season?
The draft is fun. It’s awesome. But let’s keep in mind the context as we review it. There’s more sense in a Donald Trump stump speech then in our confident trades and even more confident picks. The draft resembles nothing quite so much as 32 drunken gypsies staggering around trying to tell the future using magic 8 balls.
And so, with that cynical assessment, let’s take a look at the round by round foolishness of the 2015 RDFL draft!
Round #1 – It’s been a bad year for Marcus Mariota. The prevailing story of the real life NFL draft was Mariota NOT getting drafted by the team with all the good WRs (Tampa Bay) or traded to the team with the right system (Philly), but being drafted by that wasteland of offensive talent otherwise known as Tennessee. Instead of Chip Kelly, Mike Evans, or Vincent Jackson, he instead got a fellow rookie with so many attitude issues that his attitude issues play poker with Ryan Leaf and John Rocker and win.
It was just as bad in RDFL, as he watched himself slide all the way down the draft board. Gurley and Gordon made sense as the stud RBs in the class. Jameis Winston had a clearly better landing spot. Amari Cooper and Kevin White were the top receivers in the class. Those five made a ton of sense. And how can you fault the Pittsburgh Steelers for adding TJ Yeldon to pair with Le’Veon Bell in what should be a terrifying RB duo for years to come, particularly with Big Ben already sitting pretty at Quarterback?
But then the fall started. Detroit grabbed Ameer Abdullah to partner with Gurley. Nelson Agholor experienced the “I don’t have a clue who this fool or whether he has any talent or not, but I SAW what happened to Jordan Matthews last year Chip Kelly inflationary effect”. The Tennessee Titans already had Teddy Bridgewater, and knew better than to bet on their host franchise QB, going with a second string RB instead in Tevin Coleman. And the Chicago Bears swiped DaVante Parker rather than grabbing a successor for Jay Cutler (who also plays poker with Dorial-Green Beckham’s attitude issues).
Sidenote here – I LOVE what Pittsburgh did with the double young stud back, and I think a lot of the early picks here were very nice – the league has obviously upped its drafting game in the last couple years. But what I love most about this particular draft is how it has positioned the NFC North to continue to be insane. The Packers have been a powerhouse for the last two years, and the Lions will continue to be good, following the “John Calipari one and done approach” to team-building, but Minnesota and Chicago have struggled. Not too much longer. The Vikings nailed the first round of this draft with Agholor, DGB (character issues aside – maybe they can help on defense), Eric Kendricks, Javorious Allen, Vic Beasley, and even Marcus Peters. If the Vikes can turn AP and next year’s draft picks into a QB of the future and another back, this team could be very, very good in a couple of years. And Chicago’s pick-up of DaVante Parker gives them a receiving core of Parker, Brandon Marshall, and the emerging Martavis Bryant to go along with Matt Forte and Jay Cutler. Love this draft for the NFC North.
Back to Mariota. Just when Mariota was beginning to wonder if he would EVER get drafted, the St. Louis Rams swooped in with a draft pick trade to the Chiefs and sniped him, bringing him in to sit on the bench behind Sam “Ima hurt something” Bradford.
For what it’s worth, I love the value of Mariota as the #11 pick. The questions really revolve around that Tennessee offense. St. Louis could be in the enviable position of having two top 15 quarterbacks and gain a king’s ransom in trade for one of them. Or Mariota could struggle intensely and Bradford could get hurt. I love the aggressive decision making and think it is a good move. But only time will tell.
Other winners from round #1:
Minnesota – I know, I know. I already mentioned him. But man can I just tell you again how much I love this draft for Minnesota? He knows he’s a full year away from competing. And so trades the 1.1 away (Gurley) for multiple picks. Then, he passes on Mariota knowing he still has some time and emerges from the first round with Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, Eric Kendricks and Javorious Allen. Just beautiful. Love how this sets up the Vikings. And love further trading away Kelvin Benjamin at the peak of his value for other very strong players. Just good moves all around.
Tennessee – Another team that had good first round draft capital and used it well. While I struggled with the Coleman pick and would have gone with one of the remaining wideouts or grabbed Mariota and traded him away for more picks, I thought the Titans redeemed themselves with value grabs of Devin Funchess at 16 and Stephone Anthony at 29. We’ll talk more about this during the team preview capsules, but the Titans are another team I think are about to emerge from a “rebuilding” period and enter into “contender” mode.
Buffalo – While I’m not massively in love with either Duke Johnson or Jaelen Strong, I AM in love with getting those guys at 19 and 21 on the draft boards. Great value picks from Buffalo – and a great job of putting himself in position to pick the best guys on the board rather than needing to draft for positional scarcity. Of course, the greatest victory for Buffalo came after the draft when Arian “Australian for Running Back” Foster pulled his… ahem… his… WHAT hurts?
San Diego – Another team that scored big with two value picks that fell too far, I really liked San Diego’s grab of Kevin White when he (surprisingly to me) fell all the way to #6. On top of that, scoring Bernardrick McKinney, a likely IDP stud at #30 was a very nice round #1 bookend.
I do have a question here, though. Is Bernardrick just one name? Or is it sort of like the modern equivalent of Jim Bob? Bernard Rick? Bernie Rick? Bernie Dick? I’m fine with whatever. I just need to know what accent to say his name in.
Round #1 Wildcards:
Detroit – If we’ve learned one thing about Detroit over the past years, it is that he loves to zig while everybody else zags. After trading away significant starters from last year’s team, the Lions had a plethora of picks to use in this round. And after going the predictable route with Gurley at 1.1, you knew there were some surprises coming. It’s not that I don’t love Detroit’s draft haul, or trust his acument at nailing surprises, but some of the choices here definitely qualified as surprises.
– Ameer Abdullah at 1.7 with Agholor, DaVante Parker, Tevin Coleman, and Mariota still on the board.
– Phillip Dorsett at 1.12 with DGB and Breshad Perriman still on the board
– Tyler Lockett at 1.17 with Jaelen Strong still on the board
– Garrett Grayson at 1.27 with countless guys who play football in the NFL still on the board
It’s a fascinating strategy – to get enough picks to swing for the fences – and then trade away most of the team to swing for the fences the next year. And some picks (like Brandin Cooks) look inspired. We’ll see there this draft nets out.
Philadelphia – Breshad Perriman. The ultimate in Boom/bust drafting. This guy could either light up the league at 1.14 as Joe Flacco’s stud deep threat. Or he could turn out to the Anti-Odell Beckham. I actually think it is distinctly possible that the two maintain the balance of the universe together. Every time Breshad Perriman drops a ball that hits him right in the numbers, Odell Beckham must make a ridiculous catch, and every time Odell Beckham catches a ball with three fingers, a perfectly thrown ball has to bounce off Perriman’s facemask. I don’t know quite why such a cosmic connection would exist between the two… but it seems very likely to be the case.
Put another way, Perriman is either going to a spectacular value. Or he’s going to implode.
Kansas City – Talk about some super-questionable drafting. The Chiefs passed on Marcus Mariota in return for more future draft picks from the Rams, and then spent 1.15 on Maxx Williams. Maxx is the classic “big fish in a small pond”. He’s the consensus best TE prospect in the class. But does that mean great athletic ability, youth and potential, and an outstanding path to clear playing time? Or does it mean Jeb Bush sucks less next to Donald Trump and by the way Dennis Pitta actually comes back and steals his playing time? Risky draft for the Chiefs.
Round #2: I loved watching round #2 unfold. A warm feeling of pride and appreciation blossomed in my heart. The second round is tough. There’s a lot of value left. But it’s not your grandma’s value. And in the past, we as a league have not always done great work in the second round. But this year, it was obvious that we have collectively upped our draft game. Much much higher pick quality in round #2 this year than in the past – a sure and certain sign that we are getting much, much better.
The second round in 2015 was the round of the big, defensive beef. After only 3 linebackers and no defensive linemen came off the board in the first round, the second round saw 6 Linebackers go and EIGHT defensive linemen, including the likes of Leonard Williams, Arik Armstead, Dante Fowler, Randy Gregory, Mario Edwards, Danny Shelton, and Owamagbe Owhatthehellimgoingtogetlike19fingsacksnowthatJPPblewhishandoffwithfireworksizi.
Interestingly, the second round also saw a startling trend in the neglect of defensive backs, an almost crazy development given how precious good safeties were last year and the opening of the ID position. After the conclusion of the second round, the following were the positional counts drafted through 64 picks:
DB: 4 (2 S, 2 CB)
Despite the neglect of Defensive Backs, it was an exemplary round, with a lot of exceptional players being taken.
My biggest takes on Round #2 Winners:
Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Rowe at 52 and Ty Montgomery at 59. Josh Robinson is a bit of a wild card for me at 58, but when you get the next Packers receiver and an extremely talented, immediately starting host franchise defensive back with a pair of picks outside the top 50, you’ve got to be feeling pretty darn good about your draft.
Miami Dolphins: The Fins struggled a bit in the heart of their defense last year, and moved aggressively in the second round to fill that hole, snaring Randy Gregory and Shane Ray at 43 and 46, two picks I felt were particularly inspired for the position.
The Round #1 Winners: The Vikings kept up right were they left off, kicking off the round by sniping Vic Beasley. And the Chargers also kept a great thing going, grabbing Odigeridoo late in the round as a starting, pass-rushing defensive end. These two squads had very solid draft strategies throughout.
Atlanta: It was the falcons only pick of the round, but I thought that the Shaq Thompson pick at 39 was pure gold. A first round pick with a great defensive pedigree, a great defensive situation, and a clear path to playing time. I love this pick both now and for the future.
Round #2 Wildcards:
QB Grabbers – Houston and San Francisco: Bryce Petty and Brett Hundley. Both potential starting QBs in decent situations down the line. But both looking at a multiple year learning curve, and neither one guaranteed a starting job ever. It’s a tough place to be. Starting quarterbacks are worth their weight in 1st rounders (even more valuable than gold), and if either of these guys finds their way into a starting role, they’ll be steals. Particularly given that original real deal veterans are starting to reach ridiculous salary levels, making a cost-controlled starter an absolute gem. That said, these guys are both relative longshots, and with some of the IDP studs still left on the board… it’s a gamble.
TE Grabbers – Tampa Bay and Dallas: Similar scenario to KC in round #1 – this was not a strong draft for Tight Ends, and while both Pruitt and Walford are talented guys, real questions remain about whether or not either one will achieve a starting role. Like QB, TEs can be very difficult to find if you don’t have one. But taking a risky TE over Randy Gregory, Shaq Thompson, or Denzel Perryman? Sometimes positional fit truly matters, particularly if a team is making a run for it.
Round #3: So remember what nobody drafted in rounds #1 and #2? Yep. That meant that by the time we got to round three, there were secondary studs so ripe they were literally falling out of trees into people’s hands. Nine defensive backs went in round #3. They were, in order, and I quote: Marcus Peters, Kevin Johnson, Byron Jones, Clayton Geathers, Adrian Amos, James Sample, Jalen Collins, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and Senquez Golson. In the THIRD round. Every single one of those guys has the chance to win a starting slot in training camp. I especially love the Marcus Peters (4 interceptions and 2 passes defensed in training camp today), Byron Jones (you seriously think Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick are going to hold this guy off?), Clayton Geathers (if only his name was Clifton), Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (because his name is not Owiuijaboard) and Senquez Golson (already making serious noise in camp at the end of round #3).
Moral of the story – if you swiped an offensive stud in round #1 and a killer LB or DL in round #2, you could still get an immediate top shelf DB in round #3.
So of course, who did that? The ringer of the draft himself, Pedro “I’m not really an expert but then I stay at a holiday inn express and dominate the draft” Fiadeiro of the Minnesota Vikings, who I can’t stop gushing about. He swiped offensive studs and LBs in round #1, Vic Beasley in round #2, and kicked off round #3 with Marcus Peters. Inspired. This team is going to be good in a couple of years. Very good.
Other Winners of Round #3:
New England Patriots: Loved the draft moves here from the Pats. On top of Ekpre-Olomu, the Pats also maximized their round three capital with WRs Jamison Crowder and Vince Mayle. Not sure things by any stretch, but if you can afford them in round #3, this is the place to go for offensive lottery tickets.
New York Jets: Quietly grabbing Stefon Diggs at the start of the round might actually go down as the best pick of Round #3 – long term. He’s already showing outstanding chemistry with Bridgewater, and with a couple of years under his built, there’s no reason that he couldn’t be the #2 to Charles Johnson for years to come. And if Bridgewater turns out to be the stud he appears to be developing into…
Tennessee Titans: Tennessee is usually silent but deadly at these affairs. You see him standing there… and then all of a sudden you smell it… and you fall to the ground screaming. And he somehow walks away with all your best china. Jake Ryan and Danielle Hunter are both some nice wild card picks who could turn in to very strong players if things break right. I can’t say I entirely get the Punter draft pick – but hey, there just aren’t that many new punters who enter the league… you’re right. I’m totally justifying.
Round #4: The round patterns in this draft were pretty clearly established:
– Round #1: Offensive studs (28)
– Round #2: Defensive Linemen and Linebackers (13)
– Round #3: Secondary (9)
– Round #4: Detroit Lions (13) IN A ROW. This goes down in the RDFL guinness book of draft records.
Unfortunately, at this point, my knowledge of which players are going to pan out and which are going to bust is pretty much nil. Which is pretty much the same as for rounds 1-3. The difference is that at this point in the draft, I know it.
Here are the guys in round #5 I think have a shot: Jeff Heuerman, Dezmin Lewis, Trey Flowers, Jordan Taylor, Ramik Wilson, Kaelin Clay, Kwon Alexander, Xavier Cooper, Kennard Blackman
Here are the guys who, therefore, actually have a shot: Everyone else.
Team previews coming out soon, my friends! Keep up the good work, and be sure to trade my sorry butt a kicker!
And it’s done. All done. Just like that. And I’ve never had a rookie draft pick. Ever. I’ve now had two years running where I’ve traded away all my rookie draft picks.
It’s not because I don’t value the draft. I think the draft is absolutely the best way to build a strong, cost-controlled team that can be truly outstanding. But like the Apostle Paul, that which I want to do (keep my draft picks) I do not do and that which I do not want to do (trade them all away), that I do. What a wretched man I am!
Some of the rest of you were not wretched men. You fought the good fight. You did your research. You spent hours studying guys most of the universe has never heard of. Many of those will never be heard from again, languishing on benches or practice squads until they are eventually ignominiously cut to take jobs as office stiffs, recreation directors, drug dealers, motivational speakers, or, worst of all, television commentators.
But some will make it. Some will make it BIG. Most won’t make it big immediately – but the potential for excellent players exists. And those will be the types of players who make a good team great.
2013 4th Rounders Poised to Make Noise: Ace Sanders, Levine Toilolo, Darius Slay, Marquess Wilson, William Gholston, Mychal Rivera, Chris Thompson, Earl Wolff
2013 5th Rounders Poised to Make Noise: Brandon Williams, Joseph Fauria, Johnathan Hankins… errr… well, ok, last years 5th rounders pretty much sucked. But there was some real talent to be had in that fourth round class!
How about this year? What are my “Best Picks – Dregs of the Draft Edition?” Well, I’m so glad you asked…
Dezmen Southward, NYG – As last year’s picks have shown us, the late rounds are places to find good draft and stash picks. They aren’t guys likely to play huge roles immediately, but there’s plenty of developmental talent to be had. Southward is one such guy. He’s raw, but he’s toolsy. He’s a physical beast with a lot of athleticism and a path to playing time down the road. Nice stash on what could be a nice starting safety down the road.
Prince Shembo & Ego Ferguson, Detroit – So that thing I just said about you don’t draft starters in the 4th round? I stand behind it. There’s NO WAY you should be able to draft starters in the 4th round. But Detroit just drafted starters in the 4th round. Prince wasn’t meant to be a starter – he was meant to be a good defensive prospect with some time to develop between the Falcons regulars. But then Sean Weatherspoon went down and now Prince Shembo might have a series shot at tackles from day #1. It’s not unheard of for a rookie Falcons LB to put up nice points replacing an injured Sean Weatherspoon – Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow got their start doing just that.
Ego hasn’t had an injury open the way for him – his size might do that on his own. And the fact that he’s playing for a Bears defense that resembled soggy paper towels last year. And not the branded paper towels in the commercials that pick up water without tearing – the cheap generic competitor versions that shred into little sticky annoying pieces at the slightest touch. The line was terrible. Ego is both massive and skilled. Rumors place him as a favorite to get an early down role early. I think his talent and opportunity are such that he’s a three down starter halfway through the year.
Massive steals here by the Lions, and I think the two best picks of the dregs.
Will Clarke, Baltimore – LOVED this pick by Baltimore. LOVED it. Look, the Bengals defense is not the best place for a Defensive End to start right away. It’s crowded with talented young guys – and it’s noteworthy that even a talent like Margus Hunt couldn’t crack the starting line-up last year. So I can see why he fell. But this is an outstanding, attacking defense, Will Clarke has outstanding, attacking talent, and Michael Johnson is gone, making one less competitor. Clarke won’t start right away. But when he does, he’ll be a stud.
By the way, a fantasy lesson – I can’t help but wonder if Will Clarke’s boring name is what made him fall. If his name had been, say, “D’Thurmond” or “Horatio Big Canoe”, I bet he goes 3rd round where he should have. Never overlook the guys with boring names. As a guy named “Eric Duncan”, I don’t at all say this with any sort of chip on my shoulder. I have nothing to prove. Nothing at all. YOU BASTARDS! YOU’LL PAY FOR PICKING ME LAST! I’LL SHOW YOU! YOU’LL SEE!
Ahem. Regardless, great pick by Baltimore.
Anthony Hitchens, Philadelphia – The buzz has dimmed a little bit on Hitchens, who was one of the first guys everybody thought might replace Sean Lee in Dallas. It’s increasingly looking like it’s going to be Justin Durant (sadly, not Kevin Durant – the Cowboys could use the Slim Reaper to get bigger and tougher on that linebacking core), but Hitchens should still have an opportunity. Now that Cowboys defense makes Chicago’s look positively stout. It’s a defense only a mother could love. And she’d love it because she’d tear off 50 yard TD runs against it every freaking night. That means it will be on the field a lot and many tackles will get past the line to the LBs. So even if Hitchens doesn’t start, he should be on the field a lot and absolutely contribute.
Timmy Jernigan, Oakland – Love this pick too. He’ll play with Haloti Ngata in Baltimore and learn from one of the best, before eventually replacing him. While he may not be an immediate impact guy, and may find his way to playing time marginal for a while, I really like the talent level, especially with one of the last picks of the fourth round. Absolute value pick steal by Oakland here.
Kevin Pierre-Louis, Minnesota – Another value pick draft and stash here, Pierre-Louis is not going to play much right off the bat on a stacked Seattle squad. But he will have time to learn and develop on a massively talented defensive squad, and I think he’s a guy with a lot of potential once his chance comes. Plus, the Seahawks brass have made an absolute art form of later picks turning into super stars – over time, I think this could be that.
Bernard Reedy, New England – It’s hard to get an offensive player with decent potential late in the draft. The last offensive player on my board of much value was Robert Herron, who Green Bay snared late in the third round in what I thought was the best third round pick I didn’t cover because it happened between when I finished my blog post on the third round and now. But I like the Bernard Reedy pick here as a developmental player. He’ll be nothing more than a fringe wide-out for the first couple years, but with aging, injuries, and attrition, I think Reedy has as much future potential as you can ask of an offensive player in the 5th round.
Caraun Reid, Detroit, and Jay Bromley, Cleveland – Back to back DTs with potential and a future. Like these picks, and think they both pay off down the line, very much like Jonathan Hankins, another 5th round pick poised to start and having a very strong year.
Overall, an impressive draft by all involved – congratulations on completing in less than ten days!
Coming up next on the Real Deal Report will be my official season preview, where I’ll take my best shot at previewing the season and predicting records and finishes for all 32 teams. Expect to see those roll out division by division during the month of August. Since I hit the AFC first last year, I’ll hit the NFC first this year, and culminate with power rankings and playoff predictions just before the season starts.
Only six weeks until football, my friends! Can’t wait!
Sunday July 20th, it better not take me until almost midnight to write this, because right now it’s 5:37, and I do not want to be writing about the third round of a fantasy draft for 6 and a half hours.
Round three. Fight!
This is what I selected as the introductory phrase for round three’s entry. Other titles I discarded were:
– Three’s a crowd of good picks
– First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with all the good picks
– Three picks for the elven pricks, under the sky
– This is DRAFT ROOM, not living room! You come. You pick. You go home. You no stay for four hour!
– When auto-pick attacks
You’ll see two themes emerging. The second one is that good picks abounded in the third round. Just an outstanding round of drafting, with a lot of guys who I think we’re going to see emerge if not this year, at least next year and into 2016. Strong work everyone.
Without further ado, my favorite picks and themes from round #3 (so far).
– San Francisco Wins! Finish him. – What a round for the 49ers, who turned three third round picks into a pair of second round defensive talents in Inside Linebacker Preston Brown and Defensive End Scott Crichton, and a possible contributing running back in James White. The defensive guys were both way up my draft board, and San Francisco snared them both.
Why do I like them? Well, there was this guy named Kiko. He had a delivery service, flew around on a broom, had enormous eyes, and made 87 tackles a game as a middle linebacker. His ACLs were severed in the off-season by a maniacal samurai with blue hair, and the Bills are looking for a replacement. His name? Preston Brown – who is also described by rotoworld as a “downhill, thumping, tackle machine.” Starting middle linebacker in the 3rd round who is a thumping tackle machine? That’ll do.
And Scott Crichton. Let’s do a check-list. Mike Zimmer defense? Check. Clear path to playing time? Check. Defensive end eligibility? Check. Likely to play in both base packages and nickel packages? Check. Actually still looks tough while wearing orange? Check. Spectacular drafting by San Francisco here.
James White – If you google James White, you get a football player, a basketball player, and a theologian. Which leads me to so many joke possibilities – “A football player, a basketball player, and a theologian walk into a bar…” But for White himself, the path to playing time is clear. He has skills, and Stevan Ridley is 2-3 fumbles away from living the rest of his unfortunate existence chained to a wall in Bill Belichick’s dungeon of horrors. Shane Vereen only plays on third downs. It’s part of his contract. So while a Bill Belichick back is probably one of the most frustrating creatures to own in all of fantasy, a starting RB is not – and a starting back James White may be. And if not… well, the ministry awaits.
– Josh Huff, St. Louis – I might be in the minority, but I love this pick. The Eagles have a lot of weapons, so I don’t see him getting a lot of playing time right out of the gate. But he’s a playmaker who will likely steal the Eagles returner gig at some point, and he’s the cream of the remaining WR crop. Great value pick for a future-focused squad. And the NFL adds this gem in his draft profile – “Could require emotional support and professional mentorship in order to avoid the pitfalls of NFL trappings.” Hey Detroit… got a job for you…
Lorenzo Taliaferro, Atlanta – The hype on this kid was high after the draft… possible replacement for Ray Rice… and then he got drunk in public and damaged property. And all the hype went away. But let’s remember the NFL’s scale of conduct evaluation:
WORST OFFENSE POSSIBLE: Smoke Marijuana more than once – lifetime ban, solitary confinement, and forced to either date Taylor Swift, do Money Tree commercials, or, for really horrible offenses, work with Chris Berman.
ONLY OTHER MORTAL SIN: Publicly criticize Roger Goodell in any way, and then make a tackle. Punishment is hundreds of thousands in fines.
MODERATE OFFENSE: Drag your wife into the elevator by her hair, beat her up, and then halfway blame her for it in a forced apology. 4-8 games.
MINOR OFFENSE: Get caught in a car with $30,000 cash and illegal mind altering substances. No punishment warranted.
C’mon people. Public drunkenness and destruction of property is EXPECTED of NFL players. If you can break stuff, you can break tackles. This just means that he’s probably ahead of Bernard Pierce in the race to replace the Rice Rocket. Good grab by Atlanta – he would have gone much higher if his hype machine hadn’t been derailed.
Dee Ford, Cincinnati and Darqueze Dennard, Indy – I’m not enormously high on either player compared to some others – but here’s what I like: first round NFL talents that fell to the right place. Dee Ford is a cheap DE who may see serious sacks, especially if Justin Houston’s hold-out continues, and will eventually replace some of Tamba Hali’s pressure production. And I don’t scorn Darqueze as much as I do other Cornerbacks, for two reasons – first, because he has a bad-ass name, which mitigates his shameful Corner-backery. And because he’s a first round talent taken in the third round. If you’re going to invest a pick in a CB, this is how to do it.
Speaking of guys with cool names:
– Ra’Shede Hageman – Love his name. Love his talent. Love his landing spot. He’ll play a little this year. He’ll play a lot in the future. Hageman is the type of guy Detroit loves – and the type of guy who I think the rest of us will come to hate in 2015 and 2016.
– Carolina Panthers – I talked about this in the draft room, but the Panthers draft this year has been masterful – for all the same reasons as San Francisco’s. Kony Ealy and DeMarcus Lawrence mean that the Panthers have their end positions secured for years at a very low price – one might say that both their cheeks are covered. And I love Gaffney as a stash. He’s got skills, and while the Panthers backfield has been one of the most frustrating in Fantasy Football for years, there’s a good chance that both Jonathan Stewart and De’Angelo Williams will skip town about the same time – leaving a plum role for Gaffney. Great job by the Panthers to quietly stock up good players at choice positions.
– Alfred Blue, New England – Arian Foster is like an iphone without a case. He’s schnazzy and fun and you can do all sorts of pass play and running play apps with him, and he goes on social media and probably has an instagram account full of MRI results and he’s just so damn much fun for a fantasy owner to play with. But inevitably, you drop him. And even if you drop him on a floor made entirely of baby bottoms and feathers (think Detroit’s living room), somehow he hits at just the wrong angle and shatters and you can’t use him for like 9 weeks until Apple sends you a new one. When that happens, Alfred Blue only needs to beat out Andre Brown to be like a droid – the iphone’s crappy backup.
Full disclosure: I have a droid. I know of what I speak.
– Chicago Bears – sometimes we get so concerned about sex appeal, that we forget to just draft solid guys. Chicago didn’t. Without drama, he grabbed Chris Borland, a nice ILB, and Terrance Brooks, the safety Baltimore hopes to eventually pair with Matt Elam, and a big interception threat. This pair aren’t going to win rookie of the year awards. But they will help Chicago win, and I give the Bears a big fat A for the round.
– Jared Abbrederis, New York Jets – So Jeff Janis and Jarret Boykin are the two backup Packer wide-outs likely to win a starting role. But it’s been Abbrederis who has stood out at camp. You know who Aaron Rodgers throws to? The guys he LIKES. And right now, I think Abbrederis has as good a chance as anybody at being one of those GB receivers of the future. If so, late in the third of a rookie draft is a great snag.
Alright – not even seven yet, and I’ve drank coffee, taken care of business, checked my emails, and contemplated the universe while writing this.
Tomorrow… hopefully… the piece you’ve all been waiting for – Why DMC is going to break out this year, and why you should all trade me some of these picks for him.
Happy Sunday night!
Friday July 18th, almost midnight
When last we left our heros, it was Wednesday evening and we had just seen the likes of Jeremy Hill and DeMarcus Lawrence come off the board late in the first round. Less than 48 hours later, we find ourselves in round three.
This is where the draft happens. This is where the men are separated from the boys. Round 1 is the big names – the guys who are plastered on magazines and who even your grandma could draft. By the time you hit rounds 4 and 5, most guys are down to “Yeah, that name sounds familiar. I feel like I read a few weeks ago that a position coach mentioned that they were “excited” about this guy once and that he has a 35% chance of making the roster. What a sleeper. I’m taking that guy!”
But this – this is the place where skill and sleepers mesh. For reference:
2013 2nd rounders: Zach Ertz, Sheldon Richardson, Kevin Minter, Jordan Reed, Travis Kelce, Datone Jones, Tyrann Mathieu, Terrance Jones, Mike Glennon, Xavier Rhodes
2014 3rd rounders: Khaseem Greene, Star Lotulelei, Jamie Collins, Marqise Goodwin, Andre Ellington, Kenbrell Thompkins, Damontre Moore, Kenny Stills
Who are those guys in this year’s draft?
First, a few trends from the last couple of days:
1. Developmental Quarterbacks – Four quarterbacks went in the first round – Johnny Football, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, and Derek Carr. But interestingly, three more went in the second round – Tom Savage, Logan Thomas and Jimmy Garropolo. It speaks a lot to the need for QBs in our league that guys who aren’t anywhere close to playing team and with no guaranteed role are flying off the board in the second round
2. Offense/ Defense – In the first round, 24 offensive players were selected, compared to 8 defensive players (6 of which were linebackers)…. In the second, 19 offensive players were drafted compared to 13 defensive players.
3. In to the first round, down from the second – So I didn’t actually mathematically tally the trade requests. But if I had, I’m pretty sure it would have been a stark contrast. During the first round, everybody and their mother were all trying to trade in for more picks. Then, the second we left the first round, everybody immediately started offering to trade down. Just goes to show there’s a significant perceived drop-off between the first and second rounds.
So what picks did I find notable from the end of the first round through the second?
1. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins – I’m not actually sure that I find him tremendously notable, but I promised Philly I’d mention him – and what Philly wants, Philly gets. Seafaring Jenkins (as opposed to the land-lubbing kind of Jenkins who will be drafted later), has gotten some bad press recently for missing a lot of the off-season and ostensibly falling behind such worthies as Brandon Myers and Timothy Wright. Let me correct this for you. One does not simply “fall behind” Brandon Myers and Timothy Wright. That’s like giving up a touchdown to a Rex Ryan coached offense or selecting a guy as bad as Anthony Bennett with the first pick of the NBA draft – it’s damn near impossible. Jenkins will start. And he will catch touchdowns.
2. Cornerbacks – I am a snob about cornerbacks. I disrespect them. I turn up my nose when they walk by. If my daughter came home and said she was marrying an unemployed biker dude… whatever – she can take care of herself. If my daughter came home and said she was marrying a cornerback… c’mon girl, have some self-respect!
Why? Because I’m seriously convinced they grow on trees. No really. I found Dmitri Patterson growing on a tree. I grabbed him by the foot, yanked him off, and got a hernia. It sucked. But for whatever reason, the fools are everywhere. So I can’t countenance drafting them before the third round. They are like the running backs of RDFL. Let them fall!
3. The Wide-out Book-ends – The first round turned into the second round with a bang as Detroit grabbed Cody Latimer and the Vikings snared Allen Robinson with the first pick of the second round. I had Robinson as a top 20 pick and Latimer not far behind him. This was a deep WR class, and I think both of those picks are absolute steals that far through the round.
4. Second round safeties – Three safeties went off the board in the second round, and I thought all three were great values – Ha-Ha Monica Lewinsky to the Jets, Calvin Pryor to the Chargers, and Deone Buccanon to the Bills. All three will start, all three will play, all three will be targeted, and all three will put up points as rookies. Surrounded by developmental players who will struggle to see the field this year, these are great value picks at key spots on the defense. (I respect safeties. We can dance if we want to… we can leave your friends behind…)
5. John Brown – So first, mad props to the Patriots, who exploded by storm to swing three trades in the span of what seemed like nine minutes, one of which enabled them to swoop in and swipe this pick. Why is John Brown good? He’ll be a fourth receiver on a moderate offense. Because he runs even faster than a self-righteous college hippie can take offense. And he’ll be returning kickoffs. That’s a point foundation you can take to the bank.
6. Ka’Deem Carey – How old will Matt Forte be by the end of the 2015 season? 30. What happens to running backs when they turn 30? They have birthday parties and feel old, just like the rest of us. What else happens to running backs when they turn 30? They FALL OFF A CLIFF. What happens to Ka’Deem Carey when Matt Forte falls off a cliff? He catches screen passes. Lots and lots of screen passes. Top 10 RB in 2016. 2nd round value.
7. Storm Johnson – Storm Johnson is great in two ways..
First, his name is Storm. Let’s not underestimate the impact of a bad-ass name. I want my kids to have bad-ass names. I go for apostrophe’d names. Like De’Anthony Thomas. and Ka’Deem Carey. Did I mention I like him? I like them so much that I’ve decided on apostrophe’d names for my two children. D’Thurmond (pronounced Determined) and You’nikh (pronounced Unique). One boy. One girl. It’s going to be great. I can see it all now: “DAMMIT, You’nikh, you cannot go to the prom with a… a… a… cornerback!”
A side note on “Johnson”. My first job out of college was administering reading tests to elementary school students via grant funding. One test was called DIBLS. One test was called the “Woodcock Johnson” test. You want to know Mr. Woodcock’s full name? Richard William. I know. I hurt for the man. I have never seen such shock as when my grandmother asked what I was doing for work and I informed her that I administered Dick-Willie-Woodcock-Johnson tests to 2nd graders. True Story.
Second, Storm Johnson is the backup to Toby Gerhart (which, by the way, is the opposite of a bad-ass name). Toby Gerhart is not a starter. Couldn’t start a fire in an active volcano. Couldn’t start a car in the Fast and the Furious (even if he was chasing Jordana Brewster). Couldn’t start a Nintendo game with a controller in his hand and the select button covered with duct tape. Can’t start for an NFL Football team. Can’t even start for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Storm Johnson is getting his carries. And if his paycheck is big enough, I might even let him go to to the prom with You’nikh.
It’s bedtime for Bonzo boys. See you for the third round tomorrow. Which is off to a good start by the way. First round cornerback going in the third round? Sounds right. And Huff and Preston Brown are very strong picks. Excited to see how this round shakes out! Good luck with those steals!
Thursday July 17th, almost midnight
I worked all day today. I barely had enough time to post snarky comments on the board. Then, after work, I hung out with a pretty girl. It was a good day. But my blogging suffered. Jobs and women. The devil’s tools to lure men away from the purity of Fantasy Football and associated blogging.
Stay strong brothers. Don’t give in to the lure of gainful employment or the pleas of your wives. Focus only on your draft picks and complaining about other people’s trades. These are the actions of a righteous man who is blameless in all his dealings.
And don’t worry – I’ll post more tomorrow.
Wednesday July 16th – 7:30 PM
Houston just said the word “Hogwash” in context in the draft room. My night has been made.
Wednesday July 16th – 6:30 PM
I learned something today. I learned that I hate following the draft and having no picks! Hate it! It is an agonizing experience to watch the picks slip past, and watch everybody else’s team get better, while knowing my team’s not going to get any better. Horrible. I’ts like what Browns and Cavs fans have seen happen every year even when their team has had picks! Feelin’ for ya, Cleveland.
You know what the worst part of it is? Watching a guy slip and slip and slip and become a bigger and bigger steal, and knowing you’re not going to get a shot at him. It happened yesterday with Mike Evans. It happened today with Jeremy Hill. Jeremy Hill is a top 15 rookie. He’s going to be the the thunder to Giovani Bernard’s lightning in what figures to be a run heavy scheme in Cincinnati. He’s young. He’s healthy. And he’s going to be a solid RB2 in this league for a good eight years.
I love the feeling I get when I watch a stud pick slide. There’s no greater feeling than feeling like you got a draft day steal. And once we hit 25 and no Jeremy Hill, I started to get antsy. I reached out to everybody I could think of. And nobody would trade with me. Nobody was even considering it. Everybody was keeping their pick. (I learned later it was because EVERYBODY was waiting for Jeremy Hill).
And as I realized that there was no way I could steal Jeremy, a cold feeling of despair and bitter regret settled in my chest, and I realized that next year, something has to change. I’m still happy to trade away my rookie picks – but if I do, I just can’t watch the draft. It’s just too painful!
With that, onto my thoughts on what’s happened so far today.
1. The Tennessee Titans are winning the draft. Odell Beckham Jr. at 7. Blake Bortles at 22. Jeremy Hill at 27. Beckham was a good value. Bortles and Hill are GREAT values. The Commish has quietly grabbed a young trifecta of players that should anchor his offense for years to come – and he’s gotten them at very good value for the slot. That’s how you capitalize on draft picks!
2. The creepy parallels between our draft and the actual NFL draft –
In the NFL draft, Buffalo traded away a king’s ransom for the rights to draft stud receiver Sammy Watkins #2. In our draft, the New York Giants traded away a king’s ransom for the rights to draft stud receiver Sammy Watkins #2.
In the NFL draft, the QB needy Jaguars held fast with a top five pick to grab the guy they believed was the QB of the future (Blake Bortles), while the QB needy Browns passed on a QB with their top ten pick only to grab their QB of the future at #22 (Johnny Manziel). In our draft, the QB needy Jets held fast with a top five pick to grab the guy they believe is their quarterback of the future (Johnny Manziel), while the QB needy Titans passed on a QB with their top ten pick only to grab their QB of the future at #22 (Blake Bortles).
In the NFL draft, much loved Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay had a prominent front and center role despite a some apparently serious issues with mind-altering substances. In our draft, much loved Detroit Lions Owner Michael Seraphim also has a prominent role despite some apparently serious issues with mind-altering substances.
3. Wide-outs galore. In the first round of our inaugural 2013 rookie draft, a total of 8 WRs were selected. In the first 20 picks of the draft this year, 10 WRs were selected. Part of that is this is a WR heavy class. And part of that is, to quote Oakland owner Nick Tomanelli “we’re learning the value of WRs”.
Other than the Commish, here are a few of my favorite picks so far today:
– Terrance West, RB, DAL – Dallas owner Robert Walters called him the steal of the draft when he picked him. I think Tennessee and Buffalo may have gotten some slightly better steals. But this WAS a steal. Strong work to snare value at a position of need. It’s hard to get a guy at a position of need who will provide value today and in the future – Dallas got the perfect pick for his team in perfect position.
– Tre Mason, RB, SF – This pick depends on whether or not Tre Mason becomes the Rams running back of the future, or just a little speedster who is stuck behind Zac Stacy his entire career. I don’t know if that will happen. But I love when a team follows a strategy, and SF did so, trading Zac Stacy for a WR1 in advance of the draft and then grabbing his guy in the 20s. If Mason does take the starting job from Stacy this year, then owner Steve Peterson may win an award for this stratagem at the end of the year.
– DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, CAR – Love Pedro’s pick here. And I’ll tell you why. Because he got arguably the best DE in the draft at 26. A franchise DE this year is costing most of us 9.93M. Now the Panthers have a Franchise DE who will cost 1.91M. Phenomenal value pick.
By the way, I like the Linebackers for Baltimore and Washington too. I think that’s part of why today was such a difficult day to simply watch – everybody made good picks and you could see the value fly off the board.
Strong work everybody! Now will some of you please make some terrible picks so I don’t feel so bad about myself???
Off for a run!
Tuesday July 15th
Today was a crazy day right from the start. I walk into the office to check the first pick, feeling pretty confident. This will go just the way all the rest of my rookie drafts have gone. Somebody will take Sammy Watkins as the #1 pick or reach based on RB scarcity and grab Bishop Sankey. Ho hum. And there’s Detroit, with his pick right on cue. WR… looks like Sam…. Wait – Brandin Cooks??? Brandin Cooks? And the draft is already on its ear.
Pick #1, Brandin Cooks, Detroit – This is a creative risk pick. There’s an idea out there that Brandin Cooks might get dual eligibility and fill a sort of Sproles / Colston hybrid role, catching passes and putting up WR points in an RB2 slot. If that turns out, this is a steal. If it doesn’t, this is a reach. Still, I applaud the creativity and the conviction in this pick.
Then, it got more bizarre. NYG moved up with his seemingly never-ending supply of picks and swiped Sammy Watkins from Atlanta at #2. This kicked off for me, the inevitable Mike Evans watch. The dude has been drafted right after Sammy in every rookie draft I’ve been a part of this year. They’re inseparable. It’s like a rule. Once a guy drafts Sammy, the next guy has to draft Mikey. So what happened:
Pick #2, Sammy Watkins, NYG – It’s the perfect player for NYG. Have you taken a look at this receiving core? He’s now sitting on Sammy Watkins, Torrey Smith, Antonio Brown, Victor Cruz, and DeAndre Hopkins. Silly. This was the laughingstock of the league last year. What a turnaround!
St. Louis: Pick skipped. Honestly, I’m worried about St. Louis. I’m reminded of a Mitch Hedberg comedy routine about the DuFrains, who had a table for two reserved at a restaurant. I share the feelings. How can we just “go on with the draft???” How? St. Louis could be locked in somebody’s trunk somewhere! The insane mom who deletes fantasy leagues might have sent him to his room with no supper and not let him out! He might be lying in a ditch somewhere with a broken arm, desperately hoping someone can find him (unlikely in this age of social media, I admit).
But league – I was concerned by our calloused hearts towards our league mate! What HAPPENED to St. Louis? And instead of grabbing our flashlights, lanterns, and GPS systems, we were freaking out about what would happen to his skipped pick?!? C’mon brothers. Instead of it being “Detroit’s pick at #4”, it should have been “Detroit! You can pick once you find St. Louis!”
Pick #4, Bishop Sankey, Detroit. After all that, the Lions take Bishop Sankey. I know – in this league, RBs and QBs matter because of positional scarcity. But the strength of this draft class was at Wide Receiver. And Mike Evans will be a stud. Top 20 receiver for years to come. It’s a good pick for Detroit, who needed to back up the ever-brittle Reggie Bush at RB and had Kenny Stills languishing on the bench. But I thought the top 5 picks in this draft were all receivers. And Mike Evans, man. Mike Evans!
Ok, surely – now we’re going to get to Evans. Nope. We’re not going to get to Mike Evans. Because the Jets need a quarterback. So Johnny Football goes to New York in RDFL – as he always should have done in real life. He was made for the NYC market. Proving that once again, RDFL is more real than the real thing.
But that leaves Buffalo with Mike Evans. Love what Buffalo has done this off-season. But my goodness, Mike Evans is the consensus #2 pick in the draft. The #2. And Buffalo somehow got him at #6.
Pick #5, Johnny Manziel, NYJ: The first QB goes off the board in Manziel. In any other league, I would have said that this was a major reach. But in this league? You can’t win without a starting QB. You are putting yourself in a 15 point hole every single game. That’s hard to overcome. You don’t have to get a great starting QB – but you have to have a starting QB to compete. And there’s only 32 of those beasts. So if you have only one pick… you better get one.
Pick #6, Mike Evans, BUF: Biggest value of the first round, hands down, and a sign that God most likely wants Buffalo to win the AFC. Think of everything that had to happen for this pick to fall this far. First, Detroit had to defy convention to grab Cooks at #1. Then, St. Louis ran into queue difficulties and a skipped pick at #3. Then positional needs pushed Detroit to Sankey at #4 and the Jets to Manziel at #5. Watch out for Buffalo.
The next few picks go pretty quickly as Bryan goes with his heart and grabs NYG wide-out Odell Beckham, Oakland nabs my favorite player in Jordan Matthews, and the Texans continue the 2015-2016 plan by grabbing Carlos Hyde, a guy who should be a #1 RB in a couple of years. Pedro and the Vikings finish out the top-ten by grabbing Kelvin Benjamin, and all seems right wwth the world.
Pick #7, Odell Beckham, NYG: It’s a big step down from Evans to Beckham, but this is a WR heavy class, and Beckham gives the Giants a legitimate stud receiver. It’s a strong pick for die-hard Giants fan and Titans owner Bryan Luhrs, and an on-slot pick-up for the round. Normalcy has resumed.
Pick #8, Jordan Matthews, PHI: Love this pick for Philly. Jordan Matthews is a huge target for a coach who likes to play a hurry up type of offense and loves huge targets in the red-zone. He also goes to a situation where Riley Cooper is the only guy standing between him and a starting gig. Unless the devil has something to say about it, Jordan’s going to get his targets, and he’s going to get him soon. This is a great pick-up for Philly at #8, a player who will help him both now and in the future.
Pick #9, Carlos Hyde, HOU: We start to get to the question marks now, but I like this pick for Houston. Hyde is a stud RB who falls this far in most rookie drafts because he’s still stuck behind Frank Gore and won’t get as many touches out of the gate as Bishop Sankey. For a team like Houston that is gunning for 2015-2016, this pick is perfect, and very valuable. Just about the time Arian Foster breaks for good, Houston will have Carlos Hyde emerging and taking his place.
Pick #10, Kelvin Benjamin, MIN: Another pick that makes sense and fits slot. Benjamin is literally the only guy on the entire Panthers roster who Cam Newton will have to throw to this year, and should see a lot of targets, a lot of yards, and a lot of touchdowns. We’ll see if he can make the most of this opportunity. Strong pick-up for Minnesota, which picked up what should be a strong starter for years to come.
While sanity has been restored by these picks, NYG and San Diego hook up on a swap, and the Giants swoop in to grab #12. After Cincinnati grabs troubled but talented WR Marqise Lee, the Giants bulk up their only potential offensive hole at TE by grabbing Eric Ebron. This line-up really is scary.
The rest of the evening passed in a bit of a blur for me. A friend comes over. We drink a growler of IPA and we talk about life and deep things. He checks how many likes he has on his instagram posts. I check how many picks have passed by. I also realize that nobody believes in DMC the way I do. I file this away in my brain and decide to make a case for him tomorrow.
Davante Adams goes off the board at #13 to Oakland, who has now grabbed two strong WRs in the first round. This pisses me off because I have to play him. He’s in my division. I really didn’t mind when NYG and Dallas were getting good – the NFC is miles away. I didn’t even really mind when Buffalo started getting good, because, hey, there’s room for both of us in the playoffs. But man. Oakland is drafting good WRs. Denver still has an amazing time. San Diego’s new owner does active owner-ial things like make trades and not miss his draft picks. How the heck am I supposed to compete for the division in such conditions?
I watch somewhat bitterly as Tampa Bay checks in via Detroit to grab Jadaveon Clowney. Briefly, I wonder if Detroit is messing with us all, but then I see that Clowney has both DE and LB eligibiligy. Clowney as a DT? Meh. Clowney as a cheap DE with many sacks and tackles? Yes, please.
Then another Buffalo trade comes through. I almost choke on my IPA. How are Buffalo and New York always in the midst of every blockbuster trade that goes through? Buffalo has managed to flip Mike Evans for another passel of picks, including a trifecta of picks in the mid-first round. I immediately make a play for Devonta Freeman and am rebuffed. My IPA consoles me.
The Falcons make a nice grab with Ryan Shazier at #15, possibly the best IDP player in our format coming out of this draft, before Buffalo diversifies by taking Devonta Freeman (I cry), Teddy Bridgewater, and Khalil Mack. Mack and Freeman I love. Bridgewater, I don’t fully understand. Why do you need Bridgewater when you have Foles? Still, there’s some teams you just learn not to doubt, and in Buff I trust, even as I try to figure out how to get him transferred to the NFC.
The night concludes with a pair of receivers going to the Texans (Donte Moncrief) and Bears (Martavis Bryant). I particularly like the Texans strategy tonight. Both of their picks (Moncrief and Carlos Hyde) are goes who will be stuck behind elderly incumbents this year (Hyde behind Gore and Moncrief behind Reggie Wayne). But in both cases, these picks perfectly fit Houston’s strategy and timing, and I applaud him for grabbing the right guys on the right time schedule.
Fittingly, the evening ends with a trade, with Buffalo ONCE AGAIN grabbing picks to move down, this time from Dallas.
Day #1 Best Performances:
– Detroit – Stuck to his principles and grabbed the guys he wanted rather than just going by the draft boards. That’s how you play fantasy football with cojones!
– Tennessee – Sometimes we forget that this game is fun. I’m sure it wasn’t fun for St. Louis when he was stuck in a ditch, his life-blood seeping out into the mud, the cold rain beating down on his face, as his friends coldly cast lots for his draft pick. But it’s fun when you get the best player on your favorite team. Guarantee the Commish has more fun cheering for Beckham than most of us have cheering for our picks – and that makes him maybe the biggest winner of round #1.
– Buffalo – When Mike Evans falls to you at #6, you win. When you transfer that luck into a beautiful pick-haul – that’s a double whammy. Buffalo continues the trend and will be a scary team this year. Freeman and Mack are a beautiful haul for a team that has done a tremendous amount to improve it’s overall talent level this off-season.
– NYG – Another team that will be scary this year, the Giants traded into #2 and #12 and grabbed both the top-ranked receiver and the top-ranked tight end for their title push. This NYG team is closer to a title than they were 24 hours ago – and that deserves props.
– Atlanta – The Falcons have Julio Jones, Roddy White, Mike Evans, Ryan Shazier, and more picks. That’s quite simply not bad for a days work.
No I’m not talking about the Real Deal Draft. I’m talking about Sharknado: The Second One – premiering on SyFy on July 30th.
But it could be our draft. It has the same elements. And if you picture draft picks as sharks and Detroit as the guy with the chain-saw…
I can’t wait! I’ll be keeping a running commentary on this draft – what that means is I’ll be monitoring the draft room, and when I get free time to comment, I’ll provide pick by pick analysis, thoughts, questions, and the incomprehensible inanity that I like to consider humor. Apologies in advance.
Just come back here and refresh this post often – as I’ll be revising each time I post.
Now, with T-11 hours until the draft, here’s three things I’m most interested in seeing:
1. TRADES!!!! – I’m expecting a bajillion of them (technical term).
2. Detroit – The guy has 21 picks in the draft. He’s the John Calipari of our league. That’s pretty close to 20% of the total picks. And they include #1 and #4 overall. The Lions are going to look like a totally different team in ten days.
3. Team Directions – There are a lot of teams who could go in a lot of different directions. The players they take and the trades they make will tell us a lot about who is trying to contend and who is building for the future, who is focused on the receiving core from hell and who is building up a defense.
In any case – it’s going to be fun, and it starts tomorrow at 8! Check back frequently!
Welcome back to Real Deal Football! Of course, most of you have been back for weeks, setting tags, pulling trades, and desperately trying to figure out which of your marginal players are actually going to get a starting shot this year.
So for you, welcome back to this column. This year, the name will be changed to the Real Deal Report:Questionable Reporting about a Real League. I think that pretty much says it all.
If I write something bad about your team, rejoice, for it probably means you are going to dominate the league (see 2013 Indianapolis Colts). If I write something good about your team, be a little worried (see 2013 Houston Texans), but take it as a compliment anyway.
To kick things off as we all prep for the draft, let’s take a quick look at the work each team has ahead of it in the off-season. To do this, I have divided all 32 teams into very official and professional sounding categories, starting with…
Offseason? Can’t We Just Skip This Part???
Cap Space: 5.73M
2014 Picks: 4-22, 5-27
With just two late round draft picks, 5 MIL in cap space, and few needs, the Seahawks are about as good as they are going to get, barring a nice TE pickup. Unfortunately for the rest of us, that is already pretty darn good, particularly if Escobar starts to take over from an aging Witten.
My Future Was Mortgaged to Pay for Social Security!
Green Bay Packers
Needs: WR, DE, CB
Cap Space: 13.72M
2014 Picks: None
New Packers Owner Matt Minelli knows what it feels like to be a Millennial, as he interits a Super Bowl Champion team with a boatload of War Debt. As a result, Minelli has minimal cap space and no draft picks to address defensive needs, add depth, and hire mafia goons to break Randall Cobb’s knees so Jarret Boykin can start again.
Needs: TE, LB, DE, P
Cap Space: 33M
2014 Picks: None
Two theories exist around Denver. One theory suggests that Peyton Manning will eventually grow old and retire. A second argues that he’s actually a horrible mutant cross of Jeff Foxworthy and the undead male lead in a tween paranormal romance. Assuming the first, Denver will be spending money in a full win-now mode – and trying not to think of the future.
Needs: WR, RB, DT, LB
Cap Space: 12.61M
2014 Picks: 4-21, 5-18
True to real life, the Jags are going for it one more time with a collection of aging veterans. Errr. What? EJ Manuel and the Old Folks have some holes this year, but not much to work with to fill holes at skill positions and add some beef to the Defense. The Jags mysterious owner known only as “The Goad” will need to use all his cunning to position the Jags for a run.
Needs: RB/WR, all things Defense, P
Cap Space: 34.72M
2014 Picks: 4-32, 5-8
The Packers don’t have picks. But they won the Super Bowl and don’t have many holes. The Cardinals don’t have picks. But their entire defense is a hole and they missed the playoffs last year. While new owner Nathan Reising must be salivating over that 128th pick, he also has to be wondering what gives. The Cards do have money though, so expect them to be big players in Free Agency, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
But I Don’t Got No Money, Honey!
New England Patriots
Needs: RB, WR
Cap Space: 7.56M
2014 Picks: 2-11, 4-11, 5-11
The Pats could have fit in either of the previous categories (old and out of resources, but pretty much ready to go). They could stand to upgrade at the skill positions, though, and will need to find a way to swing that with little cash. Much like Miami, the lack of resources means that the question marks on the roster are going to need to turn into exclamation marks to get owner Ric Nowinsky a ring.
Needs: TE, RB, DT, WR, K, CB
Cap Space: 7.68M
2014 Picks: 2-6, 3-28, 5-7, 5-28
Tough off-season for the Fish. Old owner Jeff Hemlick took his talents from South Beach to Cleveland, and raised some questions about whether he may have taken Miami’s bank account too. New owner jkeniley faces a host of question marks and lacks the cash or first round picks to address them all directly. If Miami’s young players take the next step, especially at RB, it might not matter. But the lack of resources means they are going to have to.
Takin’ it Easy
Needs: TE, DT
Cap Space: 14.13M
2014 Picks: 1-9, 1-29, 2-9, 3-9, 4-9, 5-9
After a rough year last year, my 2013 Super Bowl pick is sitting pretty. With only a couple of primary needs and 2 1st-round picks, the Texans don’t need to do much to get back into solid attack position. The return of Arian Foster, Brian Cushing and the rest have already done that.
The Chiefs epic quest for mediocrity has continued with a whirlwind of questionable trades this off-season, but the fountain should shut off soon. Without tremendous cap space, gaping holes, or any picks before #60, it may be time for the Chiefs to sit on their hands before another run at 9-7.
Needs: TE, LB
Cap Space: 16.34M
2014 Picks: 1-20, 3-19, 3-20, 4-20
I’m sensing a pattern here. Mid-teens in cap space, acceptable draft situations, and primary need at Tight End. The Bears, Chiefs, and Texans are mirrors of each other this off-season, though the Texans are in the best situation to improve. The Bears particularly need to plug a couple of holes in the center of their defense to get past Green Bay and Detroit.
New Orleans Saints
Needs: WR, P
Cap Space: 16.34M
2014 Picks: 1-30, 2-30, 4-30, 5-30
When you nearly go undefeated and you only have one positional need besides Punter, the off-season becomes golf season. Such is the case for the Crackerman. He’ll almost certainly be in the market for a Wide Receiver, but can sit back and pick off whatever else comes his way. Who Dat gonna beat da Crackerman?
Bonus Prediction for Best Storyline of the Offseason: NO puts in the winning bid on Riley Cooper and trades three guys because of it. Then Fantrax decides three weeks later he actually lost the bid. Detroit is awarded five extra draft picks for this. No one knows why.
Needs: DT, CB, P
Cap Space: 26.93M
2014 Picks: 1-28, 2-24, 4-24, 5-24
Another scary good team without a lot of holes right now. Eagles owner Mike Stagg is in a very very good place to fill all those holes that his team doesn’t have. Watch for some solid spending on the defensive side of the ball, a nice supplemental draft, and another playoff run.
Needs: WR, DE, P
Cap Space: 15.4M
2014 Picks: 1-32, 2-21, 3-2, 3-15, 3-16, 3-30
It’s hard to take it easy when you need at least two solid receivers, are daily lighting incense and conducting animal sacrifices to try and keep Ryan Williams and DeMarco Murray healthy, watching 24-7 to protect Dez Bryant from himself, and have 6 picks in the top 3 rounds. But injury risks aside, the fact of the matter is that Dallas is well-positioned, and GM Robert Walters can use his resources and picks to select for luxury, not deep needs.
The AFC North (Non-Cleveland Edition)
Needs: WR, LB, S, P
Cap Space: 46.8M
2014 Picks: 1-25, 2-25, 4-25, 5-25
Needs: WR, CB, P
Cap Space: 30.98M
2014 Picks: 2-7, 2-13, 3-13, 4-13, 5-13
Needs: WR, DE, LB, S
Cap Space: 34.93M
2014 Picks: 1-15, 2-15, 2-18, 3-17, 5-15
What is it about this division? The entire division played in lockstep last year, and the entire division finds itself in a similar spot this off-season – moderate level of need, substantial cash to spend, and a solid draft situation. The Bengals are probably most “business-ready”, while the Ravens, courtesy of some extremely valuable contracts, have the most money to play with. But expect another competitive year in the AFC Norris.
The AFC North (Cleveland Edition)
Needs: WR, RB, DT, CB, S, K, P
Cap Space: 34.93M
2014 Picks: 1-19, 2-19, 3-8, 4-19, 5-19
Cleveland is in a similar space to the rest of the division in terms of resources – but the list of needs is much longer, particularly with Josh Gordon’s ganja-rocking exploits. New GM Jeff Hemlick abandoned his Miami pent-house for this, and will apply all his tricks, all his magic to make sure that Cleveland stays competitive.
Today’s Theological Paradox: God hates Cleveland. The evidence has been indisputable for decades. But yet the lottery always gives Cleveland the #1 pick. How does this work? Should the Browns expect divine aid? Or divine retribution? Both? Smiting on odd days, miracles on even days? Discuss.
About to Come out of Absolutely Nowhere and Beat the Crap out of the Entire League
Needs: LB, WR, P, CB
Cap Space: 42.88M
2014 Picks: 1-6, 1-11, 2-20, 3-6, 4-6, 5-6
Ever played a board game where you are playing hard against the guys you think are your main threats and then suddenly realize one guy who you weren’t even thinking about is about two turns away from winning? And you try to warn the other players, but they don’t believe you and the guy just sits quietly and smirks at you? Yeah, that’s Buffalo. Take a look at that roster. This isn’t a complete team yet. But not only is it close, but AJ Sisneros is about to go SHOPPING, with his 2 top-11 picks and 40+ Million in cap space. 2014 AFC East Champions and a deep playoff run. You heard it hear first. By the way – anyone else think the logo looks like a cross between the Bison you hunt in Oregon Trail, Blue Man Group, and Cyclops from the X-men with that uni-glass thing that shoots fire lasers? Bad ass.
Lots to Do!
New York Jets
Needs: QB, WR, TE, DT, P
Cap Space: 17.08M
2014 Picks: 1-5, 2-5, 3-5, 3-21, 4-5, 5-5
Tom Alberg’s team has a lot of needs, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, and particularly through the air. Fortunately, that top five pick will almost certainly be a very good player. The bad news is that 17M is a very limited budget to fix all these needs. Expect the Jets to be offensive buyers, but they’ll need to be judicious about their spending.
Needs: TE, RB, WR, DE, CB
Cap Space: 34.52M
2014 Picks: 1-31, 2-2, 3-10, 4-4, 5-14
The last time I evaluated the Colts, I didn’t love their defense. They responded by posting a top ten defense, obliterating me during the regular season, and booting me out of the playoffs. So realize I’m serious when I say I’m hesitant about writing this. But besides Luck, there’s nobody on that offense that scares me, and while the defense is still strong, there are distinct holes. Expect owner Richard Griffith to be a buyer in free agency and make the Colts a force again this year.
Needs: QB, WR, DE, LB, P
Cap Space: 29.94M
2014 Picks: 1-24, 2-31, 4-10, 5-10, 5-29
Washington needs a LB – but more than a LB, they need some Wide-outs and a Quarterback. The pieces in place on the offense (Jordan Reed, Alf, Celek, Ellington, and Pierre the Little Boy) are strong enough that a couple top receivers could put them in contention in a very tough division.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Needs: QB, WR, DE, LB, P
Cap Space: 10.87M
2014 Picks: 1-14, 2-14, 3-14, 3-29
Where to put the Bucs? Lots of needs. No money. Nice draft picks. They don’t really fit into any category, and could go a number of different directions depending on how “The waterman” wants to play it. Is Glennon the QB of the future? Or are the Bucs looking to draft one? Do the Bucs build on defense or on offense? Go for it now, or build for the future? Fascinating times in Tampa Bay.
Needs: QB, WR, DE, LB
Cap Space: 32.1M
2014 Picks: 1-10, 2-1, 2-4, 3-4, 5-4
Don’t look now, but Pedro Fiadeiro’s Vikings may be major players in free agency, with three top 40 picks, a hefty spending account, and a desperate need for something (anything!) resembling an offense. Expect the Vikes to stock up on young, offensive talent and plug enough gaps to contend.
Wheeling and Dealing? You So Crazy.
San Diego Chargers
Needs: RB, WR, LB, DT, S, K
Cap Space: 29.18M
2014 Picks: 1-12, 2-12, 3-12, 4-12, 5-12
Needs: RB, WR, LB, DT, S, K
Cap Space: 30.51M
2014 Picks: 1-26, 2-26, 2-29, 3-26, 4-26, 5-26
San Francisco 49ers
Needs: WR, CB, S
Cap Space: 26.76M
2014 Picks: 1-23, 2-23, 3-23, 4-23, 5-23
St. Louis Rams
Needs: RB, WR, LB, DE, S, P
Cap Space: 18.13M
2014 Picks: 1-3, 2-3, 3-3, 4-3, 5-3
“Why all this rushing around? This frantic swapping of players and picks? Fantasy Football is a simple game. You end the season. You have your picks. You have your money. You have your players. Why you not happy? Why you not content? Only evil can come of this flurry of ill-considered transactions and talent greed. Take your picks. Take your players. Make your picks. Reflect on our fantasy forefathers. It was good enough for them – why can’t it be good enough for you?”
None of these three teams are in a bad spot, though the 9ers have the fewest needs. The Rams have the best picks -but also the lowest remaining money and most holes to fill.
I Got a Fever… and the Only Cure is More Draft Picks!
Needs: RB, WR, LB, DT, S, K
Cap Space: 2.18M
2014 Picks: 1-7, 1-22, 1-27, 2-27, 3-27, 3-32
Quick trivia question. Which team currently sits closest to the salary cap? If you guessed the Titans before reading this, you are lying like Manziel saying he’s cool as a backup. While the commish will have to jettison some deadweight to pay for his expensive draft picks, three first rounders and 6 picks in the first three should supplement Tennessee’s youth movement nicely.
A big welcome back to owner Chris Adamson! The rest of you may remember spotting him last year at the franchise draft. He was the guy who traded for a bunch of future picks and then disappeared into the mountains while his team was repeatedly thrashed. Some say he pursued yoga and achieved a higher state of consciousness. Others that he devoted himself to ballroom dancing. Still others that he was abducted by aliens and forced to do their laundry. It doesn’t matter now, as Adamson is back and poised to infuse his team with a massive jolt of young talent.
IMPORTANT EDIT: I am told that Mr. Adamson is a new owner. If this is true, a warm welcome! But I wonder… aliens can change a man…
The Falcons need some speed in the secondary – and another playmaker on offense never hurts. And they have the picks to do it. Two picks in the top 18 with another six picks to follow that means that the Falcons will be looking to make some major noise in the draft.
In a rare case of Supply meets Demand, Raiders owner Nick Tomanelli needs a lot of stuff – on both sides of the ball. At the same time, he also has the resources to get a lot of stuff, both in the draft and free agency. The Raiders are likely a year away from Super Bowl contention, but this off-season will likely result in a much-improved Raiders franchise, particularly on offense.
Ultra-active Lions owner Michael Seraphim is poised to be the biggest buyer of the off-season, with an absolute embarrassment of riches at his disposal. One of the most educated owners in the league, there’s nobody better positioned to maximize their value. Of course, the Lions need to buy literally an entire defense – but the resources are there to get a very good one.
Thanks for reading everyone – I’ll be back once free agency is done to recap and get us all prepped for the draft! Good luck in free agency!