The NFL Draft may have the least tangible impact of any major sports draft. It’s all about the speculation and the spectacle. Grading out the picks would be folly at this stage. What we can grade out are the media narratives. Most teams kept things calm on a slow night, but at least a few teams were willing to get weird.
Kansas City Chiefs [C-] Which good upside offensive tackle will become a faceless feature of Andy Reid’s Chiefs team not bound for a Super Bowl? It’s not the most riveting No. 1 pick fodder. The most exciting facet was Fisher’s Michigan aaah-ccent. We give the Chiefs a modicum of credit, though, for trying to maintain the mystery by not announcing the pick ahead of time. Being the absolute worst team in the NFL should not be a stately affair.
Jacksonville Jaguars [F] Obvious pick. Yawn. Moving on…
Miami Dolphins [B+] Miami had a need at tackle and a history of drafting offensive linemen. They traded up to make the obvious Lane Johnson pick. Then this happened. Solid effort. Miami taxpayers weren’t willingly ripped off for safe offensive tackles.
Philadelphia Eagles [B+] What would zany Chip Kelly do with his first NFL draft pick? Tavon Austin? The quarterback of the future? Something completely off the wall? Nah. He made the most conventional pick on the board. Always keep ‘em befuddled.
Detroit Lions [B] The Lions executed a classic fan troll. The team needed immediate help in many places. They drafted the project of all projects, an impressive combination of size and speed that produced 4.5 sacks over his entire career against BYU opponents. He looked great in Senior Bowl practices, though, which is almost like actual football. Detroit was the last team, given its draft history, that should take a guy with a floor of “might not be in the league in three years.” Defensive linemen are the new wide receivers.
Cleveland Browns [D-] The one franchise to jettison an ill-advised first-round quarterback a year later to draft another ill-advised first-round quarterback, would be the Cleveland Browns. Instead, the Browns made a completely sensible upside pick with the best name in the draft. Redeem yourself in the third round, Cleveland.
Arizona Cardinals [C-] Cooper was the obvious pick. The Cards escape complete narrative failure because of his luxurious mane.
St. Louis Rams [A] Trade up to grab the most exciting offensive and special teams player in the draft? That’s a move that had Rams officials sending texts like this. It’s the last thing fans of a team owned by Stan Kroenke would expect. Also, Alec Ogletree trying to pull something like this his first season is a given.
New York Jets [D-] The Jets had the perfect stew for batshittery. They have an untenable quarterback, a desperate coach and a meddlesome owner. They had multiple picks in the Top 15 in a weak draft. They are the New York Jets. What do they do? Make two rational picks. That’s like Prince walking on stage wearing a crisp button-down and jeans. Even the booing was half-assed. The most exciting Jets first-round moment was Joe Namath yelling words. Weak.
Tennessee Titans [F] Good pick. Makes everyone around him better. Sand in the pants. Yawn.
San Diego Chargers [C+] Alabama had “the best offensive line” in the country, yet ranked 47th in sacks allowed per game. Fluker’s pass blocking was responsible for a fair bit of that. The angle here is subtle, but just wait for the Phillip Rivers “how on earth did I just get sacked?” face next season. With his professional future secure, Fluker can focus on tracking down the nefarious twitter hacker.
Oakland Raiders [A-] The Raiders entered the draft at “Need: Everywhere” status. They traded down to add a second round pick. They then drafted a player at a cornerstone position who can start immediately and whose primary attribute is being good at a football. He’s also a compelling story after surviving a fluke, near fatal injury. Normally, we’d lament such shrewd behavior. But the Raiders utter dysfunction/take combine überman story is played out. This was an intriguing surprise.
Carolina Panthers/New Orleans Saints [D-] Best defensive pickups left on the board. Moving on.
Buffalo Bills [A+] The Bills traded out of the 8th spot, leaving themselves still in position to draft the next underwhelming Bills quarterback. Marrone shot down the Geno Smith story, left his former protege Ryan Nassib hanging and turned away from Matt Barkley’s good looks to take athlete/quarterback E.J. Manuel. Bonus points for (a) providing the first audible pause pick of the night (b) letting Jimbo Fisher now claim he “groomed” consecutive first-round quarterbacks and (c) having the chutzpah to go “boom or bust” with this NFL coaching career on the first draft pick. This will also breed months of hilarity with NFL talking heads who don’t understand the read option having to talk about the read option. Spectacular…if you’re not a Bills fan.
Pittsburgh Steelers [B] The Steelers notch another victory for the “I watched this guy play against the best college competition for two years and he was kind of a big deal” camp.
San Francisco 49ers [D] San Francisco used extra picks to trade up and grab Eric Reid. A reach, maybe. We’re inclined to trust Harbaugh. Not an exciting pick, but we appreciated the lack of dithering.
New York Giants [B] Passing on Shariff Floyd in front of the home crowd to draft a Syracuse offensive lineman with T-Rex arms. Solid game, Giants.
Chicago Bears [A+] Da Bears came through with the first “stunned silence as I scramble through my notes to find this guy” pick. Chicago hired a coach from the CFL who ignored defensive needs and spent his first draft pick on a lineman who started four games at Oregon. Going to be a fun off-season.
Cincinnati Bengals [C+] The Bengals went counter to their stereotype getting good value on a player who fits well within their offense and has a reasonable shot at not getting arrested. Moderate curve ball.
Atlanta Falcons [D] Had a need at corner. Drafted a four-year starter with plus athleticism and experience in man and zone. Nice pick. Not much to see here.
Minnesota Vikings [A] The Vikings convinced many they wanted Te’o. Had three picks in the 20s, including one where they traded back in late, and did not take him. They did grab a defensive tackle many had pegged in the top five, a big corner and a “freakish” athlete at wide receiver with incredible swag and great hair. Lots of awesome. All three might end up being better than the guy the Lions drafted in the Top 5. We would go A+ but the devastation left in the wake of Chris Berman’s “Shariff and the Deputy” joke still lingers.
Indianapolis Colts [B+] We enjoy saying “Bjoern Werner” with a funny accent. Werner was also the upset pick for most notable entourage.
Green Bay Packers [C-] Datone Jones. Fun name and also the nugget from Bruce Feldman about how he was at UCLA so long Karl Dorrell recruited him.
Houston Texans [B+] The Texans are confident Hopkins can restrict his alleged poop strewing habits to his own domicile. Houston writers/columnists/pundits now have to spend the summer discussing poop strewing. Poop strewing.
Denver Broncos [C] Finally gave Mel the chance to get that Sylvester Williams gush out of his system and move on.
Dallas Cowboys [D+] Dallas traded down. We dock them for not taking one for the team and drafting Te’o into perhaps the least suitable media climate. But the Cowboys did save the Big Ten from being shut out of the 1st Round for the first time since 1953. That would have been mentioned all summer and on every football broadcast the entire season. Frederick also has a beard.
Baltimore Ravens [F] Because we didn’t even have time to get the “what will Baltimore’s defense look like without a domineering, instinctual safety?” question out.
Seattle Seahawks [F] For trading out of the first round and denying us 10 minutes of “Who the hell is Pete Carroll going to draft?”
New England Patriots [F] For being the Patriots.
Washington Redskins [Inc]
[Photos via Getty, USA today Sports]