|Disorganized impressions from the first round of the NFL Draft||04.26.13 at 12:38 am ET|
The first round of the draft is in the books and the Patriots have ‘¦ picks.
Nevertheless, there was plenty of excitement in the first round Thursday night, and the trade with the Vikings sets up a pretty interesting Friday for the Patriots. Here are some quick, disorganized thoughts from the first round:
– The Pats moving out of pick No. 29 suggests that they didn’t like any one of the available wide receivers so much that they couldn’t wait. They have the 20th pick in the second round and maybe one of Justin Hunter, Keenan Allen and Robert Woods is available there, but maybe not. They also passed on Cordarrelle Patterson by trading the pick, as he went to the Vikings with the traded selection.
If the Patriots prefer a receiver in the next tier below those guys (in my opinion, Hunter is head and shoulders better than Allen and Woods, though the three have widely been ranked closely enough), New England does have their own second-rounder (No. 59) as well as Minnesota’s third (No. 83), where they could select someone like West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey or Tennessee Tech’s Da’Rick Rogers. You also have to consider that they were willing to lose a third-round pick for Emmanuel Sanders when they signed him to an offer sheet, so faxing that in with Thursday’s trade leads one to believe that the Pats just might not be thrilled with this draft’s receivers.
– The Dolphins are right for seeing an opportunity to be the second-best team in the AFC East and seizing it. The Jets are a mess and the Bills are starting over with a rookie quarterback, so Miami has done work this offseason.
After getting Ryan Tannehill some weapons with Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson to add to the re-signed Brian Hartline and adding Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe to the defense, Miami made its latest splash Thursday night by trading up for the draft’s top pass-rusher in Dion Jordan. Tannehill still has some developing to do, but this roster looks pretty damn good right now. The Dolphins probably won’t challenge the Patriots this year, but they’ll definitely be their biggest in-division competition.
– No running backs were taken in the first round for the first time since 1963, but it should be that way more often. An NFL running back’s prime is such a short period and similar production can easily be gotten with later picks that it’s a wonder running backs go in the top 10-15 picks so regularly. The lack of first-round backs probably wasn’t a product of that line of thinking from NFL decision-makers, but more a lack of healthy star power at the position. Alabama’s Eddie Lacy was the only running back that appeared to be a serious candidate for selection in the first round.
– Watch out for the Bengals. Adding Tyler Eifert to a passing attack that already has A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham and the underrated Mohamad Sanu? When you consider how good Cincinnati’s defense is and the fact that they’ll be getting 2012 first-round cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick back from injury, the Bengals are a scary team and should be a serious contender in the AFC next season.
Another thought on the Bengals: They’ve drafted so well in recent years. The obvious slam-dunk that comes to mind is Geno Atkins in the fourth round in 2010, but they’ve hit early on guys like Green, Andy Dalton and Kevin Zeitler. This year, they had a need at running back and rather than getting so-so value with someone like Lacy, they used the 21st pick to improve their offense in a bigger way with a better player. There are six rounds to go, but so far the Bengals get an A+.
– I won’t make the obvious “turns out the Bears’ and Vikings’ interest in Manti Te’o was fake” joke, but yeah. The Vikings and Te’o this year were like the Patriots with Dez Bryant in 2010: they had multiple opportunities to take him and passed each and every time (the Pats did it twice with Bryant, while the Vikings did it three times with Te’o). Speaking of Te’o, this year is the exception to the rule that high-upside inside linebackers never fall. Usually elite inside backers don’t make it out of the top 10 or 15 picks (seriously, look it up — it’s crazy), but perhaps the character issues came into play this year.
The Vikings, Giants and Bears all need help at inside linebacker, but all three teams passed on both Te’o and Alec Ogletree, with the former not being selected in the first round and the latter being taken 30th overall by the Rams.
– I really don’t like the Ziggy Ansah pick for the Lions. That line will be good no matter what with Ndamukong Suh and perhaps a healthy Nick Fairley, but Ansah is either an eventual star or an eventual mess. You can’t even compare him to Jason Pierre-Paul because JPP had played more than three years of football and he was the 15th overall pick, not the fifth overall pick.
Ansah’s athletic and has a very high ceiling, but that’s a gamble a good team can take in the middle of the first round, not one a bad team can take with a top-five pick. Even in a draft as bad as this year’s, you have to know you’re getting an impact player with the fifth overall pick. The Lions could have done that with Barkevious Mingo or plenty of others.
– I can’t knock the Bills for the EJ Manuel pick. I don’t really like any of the quarterbacks in this draft class as NFL starters (Geno Smith is my favorite of the bunch, however) and accuracy is a major issue with Manuel, but when you like a quarterback, you go out and get him. The Bills disregarded value and went for the guy they think can help them win. It will be a while before the pick is proven right or wrong.
– Forget the NFL-record five offensive linemen going in the top 10. Depending on what you call Justin Pugh, either four or five interior linemen were drafted in the first round (Jonathan Cooper, Chance Warmack, Pugh, Kyle Long, Travis Frederick). That, as they say, is cookoo bars.
|Ravens take Matt Elam to close first round||04.25.13 at 11:47 pm ET|
The Ravens closed out the first round of this year’s NFL Draft by taking Florida safety Matt Elam with the 32nd overall pick. Elam models his game after Ed Reed, who left Baltimore to sign with the Texans in free agency.
Prior to the pick, the Rams took Georgia inside linebacker Alec Ogletree with pick No. 30, while Wisconsin center Travis Frederick went 31st overall to the Cowboys.
Ogletree likely wouldn’t have fallen as far as he did were it not for character issues, as he reportedly didn’t make a good impression at the combine regarding his DUI during the pre-draft process. Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te’o was not selected in the first round.
The 2013 NFL draft generally is considered to lack the talent of the past few years, and that could lead to more teams offering up their picks for future selections. It also could lead to teams looking to find talent that already is in the league and might be available in a trade.
Enter Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. The former Arkansas star has had two years learning under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and with the lack of elite quarterbacks in this year’s draft, he is an appealing option (as WEEI.com’s Chris Price covered here last month).
According to multiple reports Thursday, the Patriots have received numerous calls about Mallet’s availability. New England picked up Mallett in the third round in 2011 and reportedly wouldn’t take less than a second-rounder for him.
According to Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe, one team that might have interest is the Browns. New general manager Mike Lombardi raved about Mallett when Lombardi worked for NFL Network, and Lombardi’s son, Mick, was a coaching/scouting assistant with the Patriots and got a first-hand look at Mallett in practices.
(The Browns also reportedly are considering trading up from No. 6 in an effort to land West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith.)
The other quarterback on the Patriots roster is Mike Kafka, although the team reportedly has been heavily scouting QBs in this year’s draft.
In 2012, Mallet completed 1-of-4 passes for 17 yards and was intercepted once.
‘¢ The 22nd overall pick that the Rams received from the Redskins last year is said to be for sale. ESPN’s Adam Schefter made the Rams’ intentions clear on Twitter.
The team also has the 16th overall pick and likely would attempt to trade down to obtain more picks. Last season, coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead had a good draft, picking up Michael Brockers, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, among others.
‘¢ ESPN’s John Clayton reports that the Vikings “would like to find a way to take Manti Te’o” in the first round. The Notre Dame linebacker’s future is uncertain following his fake-girlfriend issue and his disappointing in the national championship game.
|Mock Draft, Take 4: Manti Te’o moves up||04.12.13 at 1:51 am ET|
With the draft less than two weeks away, things are beginning to take shape as team needs are solidified and prospects work closer to cementing their stock.
The biggest difference from our last mock draft is that two teams picking in the top 10 with needs at quarterback addressed those needs, as the Raiders picked up Matt Flynn in a trade with the Seahawks before shipping Carson Palmer to the Cardinals. The Raiders and Cardinals were potential suitors for Geno Smith, though the Raiders probably wouldn’t have gone after the West Virginia quarterback unless they could have gotten rid of Palmer.
1. Chiefs (2-14) — Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
With all the moving parts that comes with each draft, this just continues to be the logical pick at the top for the Chiefs. They addressed the quarterback position by trading for Alex Smith, and the future of the offensive line is unclear given that the team franchised Branden Albert and cut Eric Winston.
2. Jaguars (2-14) — Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Assuming nobody trades into the top spot to select him, this is the earliest possible destination for Smith. The guess here is that it’s still too early. Yes, quarterbacks often go higher than you’d expect, but Smith still doesn’t scream ‘top-five prospect.’ Blaine Gabbert isn’t the answer for the Jaguars, but should they really roll the dice with such a high pick if there’s a chance Smith isn’t either? Jacksonville was last in the league with 20 sacks last season, so Jordan would be a logical fit.
3. Raiders (4-12) — Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Reggie McKenzie inherited quite a mess, but the new general manager clearly is doing something about it. Despite the draft picks the team had given up for Palmer less than two seasons ago, McKenzie was right to move on from the shaky veteran when Palmer wouldn’t restructure his contract. The Raiders have strengthened their line a bit in free agency with Vance Walker, Pat Sims and Jason Hunter, but Floyd would become the star of a line that lost Richard Seymour when the team voided his contract.
4. Eagles (4-12) — Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Chip Kelly’s first big decision in the draft likely will come down to offensive line or cornerback. Does he grab Eric Fisher and stick him at right tackle for now or does he grab Milliner and add a top young player to the secondary after its big names went bust? The Eagles released Nnamdi Asomugha and let Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie leave before signing Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher.
5. Lions (4-12) — Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Yes, this pick means that the top five picks remain the same as they did in the previous mock draft. That’s a sign of the draft starting to take shape, and if the Eagles opt for Fisher, Milliner would make sense here. The offensive line should be the priority for Detroit though, as Jeff Backus retired and Gosder Cherilus signed with the Colts.
|NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o||04.09.13 at 7:08 am ET|
WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.
School: Notre Dame
Weight: 241 pounds
Achievements: 2012 Maxwell Award (nation’s most outstanding player), 2012 Walter Camp Award (player of the year), 2012 Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year), 2012 Lombardi Award (best lineman), 2012 Nagurski Award (best defensive player), 2012 Lott IMPACT Award (best defensive player who made a positive off-field impact), 2012 Butkus Award (top linebacker), 2012 All-America first team (AP, Walter Camp), 2011 All-America second team (AP, Walter Camp), Academic All-America second team
What he brings: Te’o likely could have gone in the first round of last year’s draft, but he elected instead to return to Notre Dame for his senior year. For the most part, his play in 2012 cemented his reputation as a powerful, smart defender. He’s proven his ability to play against both the run and the pass, and his play-reading skills improved from his junior to his senior year, as did the fluidity of his coverage. Te’o isn’t blindingly fast, but his agility and his anticipation generally compensate for any lack of speed.
A fundamentally sound, consistent tackler, Te’o only had one real down moment in his senior year, and that came in the national championship against Alabama. Te’o fell short of expectations, failing to challenge Alabama’s offense much as the Irish lost a lopsided 42-14 game. Scouts still rate him very highly, but his last performance at Notre Dame did raise some concerns he’ll have to overcome. In the middle of last season he was all but a lock to be drafted early in the first round, but his stock continued to fall at the combine, where he disappointed with a 4.82-second 40-yard time. Though he improved on that time at his pro day, he might now be more likely to become a late first-round pick or an early second-rounder.
Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1 or 2
Notes: It may be a while before the public can think of Te’o without remembering the bizarre “girlfriend hoax” that dominated headlines early in 2013. Any team with an interest in Te’o will have the chance to discuss the matter with him in private, and it may be that his performance against Alabama will have more of an impact on his draft position than the off-field controversy. Before the hoax — and before it was revealed that Te’o had lied to reporters after finding out his girlfriend wasn’t a real person — Te’o was widely seen as an example of integrity: He’s an Eagle Scout, he spends time volunteering and he was a co-captain for the Irish.
Video: Here’s a look at Te’o in action vs. Miami in 2012.
|Post-combine Mock Draft: Offensive linemen dominate top 10||02.28.13 at 9:20 am ET|
With the annual scouting combine in the books for 2013, it’s time to take another look at the overall landscape of the first round.
The overall takeaway from Indianapolis is that this is a draft that’s all about offensive linemen, boasting depth at tackle and featuring two blue-chip guard prospects. None of the tackles may be Joe Thomas, but there are enough of them that any team in need of someone to protect its quarterback’s blind side should have options.
One team need changed at the top, as the Chiefs don’t even have to think about reaching for Geno Smith after trading for Alex Smith.
1. Chiefs (2-14) — Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
I don’t project trading of picks in mock drafts, but I’ve never wanted to more in my life. Now that the Chiefs have addressed the quarterback position with their second-round pick, they should re-sign Branden Albert, trade down and fill another need. Left tackle isn’t a big need, and letting Albert walk just so they can draft another good left tackle to replace him wouldn’t provide them with much organizational progress.
2. Jaguars (2-14) — Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
A lot of folks think that Dee Milliner could be the pick here. Yes, he ran well at the combine, but Milliner as a top-five pick, let along a top-two pick, is a bit of a stretch. The Jaguars need sacks almost as much as they need a quarterback, so Jones is the better fit.
3. Raiders (4-12) — Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
This might be a tad high for Floyd, but he helped his stock immensely at the combine and could now be the first defensive lineman selected in what is a very deep class at the position. Both Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant are free agents, the latter of whom was arrested over the weekend.
4. Eagles (4-12) — Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Mike Mayock says that Fisher has closed the gap between he and Joeckel considerably, so there’s a chance that the Central Michigan product won’t even be on the board by the time this selection is made. If teams trade up with teams not from Kansas City, he would likely be their target.
5. Lions (4-12) — Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Lions would have a really tough decision to make if this scenario were to arise: Do they add a potential star corner and address what is seemingly always an area of need, or do they grab a defensive end to replace the aging Kyle Vanden Bosch? Both Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril are free agents. Read the rest of this entry »
|Manti Te’o understands NFL teams’ concerns||02.23.13 at 2:47 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o had the largest press conference of the scouting combine Saturday, with hundreds of reporters packing the area surrounding his podium at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Te’o, an inside backer with first-round talent, was caught in the middle of a bizarre hoax involving an imaginary girlfriend, and the vast majority of questions asked to him by the media Saturday centered on the situation.
“It was definitely embarrassing,” he said. “You’re walking through the grocery stores and you’re giving people double-takes and notice that they’re staring at you. It’s definitely embarrassing. It’s part of the process, it’s part of the journey, but it’s only going to make me stronger.”
Te’o had said that both his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, and his grandmother had died on Sept. 11 of last year. It was later uncovered that Kekua did not exist, with Te’o admitting he never met his girlfriend but insisting he was not in on the hoax. Though Ronaiah Tuiasosopo has confessed to being behind the fictitious online existence of Kekua, questions of Te’o’s involvement in the bizarre ordeal have persisted.
He said Saturday that teams have asked him about it, seeking “the facts.”
“Quite a few teams asked me about it,” he said. “Some go certain lengths, some ask me, ‘Just give me a brief overview of how it was’ and then they just get straight to business about football.”
Te’o certainly seemed to expect the sort of questions he fielded from the media, and he said he understands the same line of interrogation from NFL teams.
“They want to be able to trust their player,” he said. “You don’t want to invest in somebody who you can’t trust. With everybody here, they’re just trying to get to know you. They’re trying to get to know you as a person and as a football player. I understand where they’re coming from.”
Asked what those facts were, Te’o responded, “I cared for somebody and that’s what I was taught to do ever since I was young. If someone needs help, you help them out. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up the way I thought it would.”
The best question asked to Te’o was why he didn’t take legal action against Tuiasosopo, something that would seem logical to do if he weren’t in on it.
“I think that’s the worst thing you could do,” he said. “Both families are going through chaos. There’s not only people camped outside my house, there’s people camped outside his house. I went through what I went through and he went through his own share of stuff. I think the worst thing for me to do is to do that, so it was try to forgive.
“If you forgive, you’ll get the majority of the blessings. I’ve always tried to forgive and it’s definitely benefited me.”
Te’o has met with the Texans and Packers and is scheduled to meet with 18 more teams while at the combine. He said he’s received no indication that the ordeal will hurt his draft stock.
“Not really,” he said. “They’ve all just wanted to hear from me what the truth was, and they haven’t said anything about it effecting me [in the draft].”