As always, the NFL draft was filled with the assumed, the abrupt, and the amazing. And after sorting through all 255 picks, it was clear which teams came out on top and which teams lagged behind...
Seattle Seahawks: In the span of just three days, the Seahawks went from pretender to contender by nabbing the best offensive lineman in the draft. Russell Okung is a very durable and patient pass protector. Just eight picks later, the ‘Hawks were on the clock again, this time taking Texas safety Earl Thomas, who anticipates and reads plays better than almost anyone in the draft. He is sure to have an immediate impact in Seattle. After these two stellar picks, the Seahawks added help to a lackluster receiving core, taking top notch WR Golden Tate, and a steal in the sixth round in TE Anthony McCoy, who played under Pete Carroll last year at USC.
Detroit Lions: As expected, the Detroit Lions took a defensive leader in tackle Ndamukong Suh, a player who can restore the roar to a depleted Lions D. Then, late in the first round, the Lions grabbed one of the most NFL-ready players in the draft, running back Jahvid Best, who will be an excellent complement to veteran Kevin Smith. Later, they filled a gap on the offensive line with Jason Fox, a 300-pound, quality tackle.
Cleveland Browns: The Browns are nowhere near being able to compete for a Super Bowl, but they added key players who will help them in the near future. First, they picked a shutdown corner in Joe Haden, a player with exceptional cover skills. Bypassing QB Jimmy Clausen in the second was a questionable decision, but with the selection of safety T.J. Ward (who is sure to help Cleveland’s secondary) and running back Montario Hardesty, and then having the opportunity to select QB Colt McCoy, the Browns were able to enhance their defense and grab a possible franchise quarterback.
Denver Broncos: The Denver Broncos needed to replenish an old and worn- out defense, but they got distracted in this year’s draft. First, they passed on stellar receiver Dez Bryant, most likely because of Bryant’s off-field issues. Twelve years ago, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones passed on Randy Moss for the same reason. How’d that turn out Jerry? Just three picks later, the Broncos again had an opportunity to take a defensive player; but instead took QB Tim Tebow. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe Tebow has what it takes to be successful in the NFL. But the Broncos would have been better off waiting for Jimmy Clausen. They didn’t end up taking a defensive player until the fifth round, leaving them with too many holes for the future.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars didn’t have a lot of picks, and they squandered what they had. They took defensive tackle Tyson Alualu with the 10th pick, a great pass rusher, but he shouldn’t have gone before Derrick Morgan or Jason Pierre-Paul. The Jags also picked four straight players on the D-Line, ignoring their problems in the secondary. And finally, this struggling franchise needs to sell more tickets and would have done well to pick up a flashy player like Earl Thomas, but they didn’t.
Washington Redskins: The ‘Skins also needed help on the defensive line and in the secondary, but this draft was one to forget. The Redskins were big winners this offseason, bringing in two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan and veteran quarterback Donavan McNabb. Sure, the ‘Skins got a great tackle in Trent Williams. But their choice to take a tight end and then a wide receiver was a waste. Of the six picks the Redskins had, only one was a defensive player, something that’s sure to come back to haunt them in the future.