NFL Draft Grades: Top 5 Draft Day Losers
As the NFL Draft Grades continue to pour in close to a week removed from the first round of the NFL Draft, many teams are finding themselves having a much more complete team on the horizon heading into the summer and the training camp months.
But what about those teams who not only finished at the bottom of the barrel in 2012, but made some very questionable picks, while moving up and moving down within the NFL Draft? There are several teams who had good picks and bad picks throughout. But in my opinion, these five teams didn't do themselves any favors to get over the hump and challenge for a playoff spot come next January or to help themselves in future years.
And while there will always be Draft Day Losers, check out Ray Tannock's Top 5 2013 NFL Draft Day Winners.
Keep in mind that these listings are MY opinion and may not reflect the opinions of our other writers.
Having been linked to both Ryan Nassib and Geno Smith for close to the entire offseason, there was no doubt in most draft experts' minds that the Bills would come away from the NFL Draft with a signal caller, but who would it be? Most of us, me included, had the Bills staying put at the No. 8 overall spot and drafting Nassib. The fit would have made sense. HC Doug Marrone coaching his old college protégé. Even Smith, who was still ranked as the No. 1 prospect heading into Thursday night's festivities would have made more sense than E.J. Manuel. While there is talent with Manuel, was he really worth the No. 16 pick? Hell, the Bills could have easily traded down again, collected more picks and STILL landed this kid.
After watching game tape of Manuel, ESPN's Tim Hasselbeck noted:
"For a guy that played a lot of football at Florida State ... the inconsistency in his game and head-scratching decisions was really hard for me to swallow when I was evaluating him. I was very surprised he went as early as he did. Ton of ability, ton of talent, ton of potential. But he's far from a finished product."
It remains to be seen whether or not Manuel will do just enough to beat out veteran Kevin Kolb. But if Manuel can't fix his mental mistakes, he'll be a clipboard holder for most of his career. This pick alone was enough for me to consider them one of the losers of the NFL Draft, even if they drafted future starter Robert Woods.
The Dallas Cowboys are filled with front office turmoil, it's just not in the news all that much. Jason Garrett is still the head coach, but in name only as Bill Callahan is expected to call most-to-all the plays for the offense in 2013. Okay, that's fine. Jerry Jones next bad move was giving Tony Romo, a player with one career playoff win, a new contract with $55 million guaranteed. Strike Two. Heading into the draft, the team had needs on offensive line and much needed help on the defense. They made the right move trading out of the No. 18 spot with the 49ers and collecting more picks. But taking Travis Frederick 31st overall is beyond a head scratcher. Considered a reach by many, Ed Werder polled five NFL clubs and none of them had a first-round grade for Frederick. He was considered, at best, a fourth rounder.
Jerry Jones followed that pick with TE Gavin Escobar. Escobar was very productive in college, but he isn't a blocker and isn't very strong, only pulling in 12 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine. The Cowboys could opt to use more two tight end sets with Escobar and Witten, but it's hard for me to imagine Escobar being Witten's heir apparent to the starting tight end spot. He could wind up being another Martellus Bennett. Many consider Escobar nothing more than a glorified wide receiver. Travis Kelce, despite the baggage, would have brought much better value.
RB Joseph Randle was highly productive at Oklahoma State and is expected to compete for the backup job behind DeMarco Murray, but he could struggle if he must start this year given Murray's injury history. If the team wants him to be their future back up, they could be in major trouble if he finds himself in the starting line up.
Going back to the AFC East, the Dolphins were heavily involved in free agency this year. They signed a plethora of talent around Ryan Tannehill, including WR Mike Wallace and TE Dustin Keller. But did they do just as well in the draft?
The Dolphins made the first trade within the top 10, moving up to the No. 3 spot and drafting DE Dion Jordan. The move wasn't a terrible one....at the time. Jordan was considered a top 5 prospect leading up to the draft. But as a guy who is expected to start training camp on the PUP due to recent shoulder surgery, the Dolphins couldn't afford to trade up for a player who might not even help them in year one. The Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins went ahead with the trade at the last minute while the Raiders were on the clock. While it was a position of need, you have to wonder if the Dolphins made the right choice.
The pick doesn't look good right now since Miami has yet to complete a trade with the Chiefs for Branden Albert. The Dolphins traded the Raiders their No. 42 overall pick. The pick they could have used to seal up Albert and solidify the left side of their offensive line. So right now, they have a player who might not contribute much, if at all this year, and a very questionable left tackle spot.
Going back to the defensive side, the drafting of Jamar Taylor could prove to be a strong one and of tremendous value after Taylor slid from an original first-round grade due to a kidney problem caught at the Combine. He could compete for a starting job in 2013 and finally be the missing piece for the loss of Sean Smith.
But with all the offensive moves the team made this offseason, not having that left tackle who can protect Tannehill's blindside could come back to haunt GM Jeff Ireland.
Due to the trade with the Rams that sent RG3 to the Redskins in the 2012 NFL Draft, Washington didn't have a first-round pick to work with. After seeing what RG3 could do before he went down with an injury, the trade was still worth it.
However, what the team did for the rest of the draft popped up a lot of questions.
The team drafted DB David Amerson with the No. 51 overall pick. A corner with some height at 6'1, Emerson set a set an ACC record with 13 interceptions as a sophomore until he slipped in his junior season. According to NFL Network's Mike Mayock, Amerson doesn't look that fast or athletic on tape compared to the 4.44 he put up in the 40 at the Combine. Amerson also struggles with his feet, has slow hips and is more of a gambling off-coverage corner. While he should compete for a starting job as soon as this year, there was much better value still on the board.
The second thing that sticks out to me was the team did nothing to shore up their offensive line. One would think that with a player who runs as much as RG3 does, adding another offensive linemen or two would make more sense. Instead the team added TE Jordan Reed as a safety net should Fred Davis fail to recover in time from an Achilles injury.
Were two more running backs necessary? The team is filled with players who have already showed than can be sustainable backups in Evan Royster and Roy Helu should Alfred Morris miss time with injury. Is this the old Mike Shanahan showing his "I still want to prove I can make a nobody running back into a star" mentality? One would have been fine to add more depth and competition, but two is overkill in an already crowded backfield.
Matt Eastman went very in-depth in his NFL Draft Grade for the Chicago Bears, but there were a few things that bothered me after talking to Bears fan and Knucklehead's own Matt Zawaski.
1. No Quarterback
Jay Cutler is in a contract year and neither side seems to be in too much of a hurry to get something done. Per Zawaski, "the Bears must really think Cutler is going to play great in Marc Trestman's new offense." That's all well and good. But with the way quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo have been paid so far, it isn't a sure thing that either side will get something done anytime soon. Perhaps the Bears will franchise Cutler in 2014 and then take his possible replacement/backup in ext year's NFL Draft? That remains to be seen, but I would have felt a lot better if the team used at least one pick on a player they can groom for the future.
2. Whiffing on Tyler Eifert
Yes the team signed Martellus Bennett after an excellent comeback year with the Giants. But after so many years of looking like crap on the Cowboys, was Bennett's 2013 season a fluke? The Bears must really like what they see out of Bennett, especially after whiffing on Eifert, who many considered a "can't-miss" prospect. Eifert can do it all. And having a young tight end with a young receiving corps would have helped the entire unit grow. But the Bears decided to go with Howie Long's other son Chris, solidifying the offensive line, and the rest is history. Will it bite them in the ass? It all really depends on which Martellus Bennett decides to show up this year.