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Saturday, 4 May 2013

Re-Drafting The 2010 Class

We're now a week removed from the 2013 draft, and even before Jonathan Cyprien was taken to open up the 2nd round every analyst had "draft grades" for the teams. Players who still hadn't put pen to paper on contracts were being graded? the word "premature" doesn't even come close to describing that situation.

Draft analysis has never been a bigger industry, with every major sports network in the US having their own "experts" as well as a plethora of independent draft evaluators, and there's a huge audience for such work. This is why we can sit at home and laugh at Dallas for "reaching" on Wisconsin's Travis Frederick at 31, or be stunned when Sharrif Floyd is only taken at 23 because for months everyone's been telling us he should be going in the top 10. We're calling out hits and misses on whole draft classes before a down has been played, and that's just not fair on the players or the teams who pick them.

The old mantra was that you don't evaluate a draft class until they've been in the league for 3 years. Which means rather than evaluating the 2013 class all week, the experts should have been telling us about the 2010 class. But they haven't so it's been left to your favourite UK Linemen to get down to the nitty gritty of assessing who came out ahead or behind 3 years ago, and who's surprised everyone with great or terrible performances. So, it's re-draft time!!

1. St. Louis Rams selected Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

Bradford hasn't lived up to the #1 overall label and he may never do so. Some of that has been down to the roster around him, a terrible offensive line that continually failed to protect him and a defense so leaky you could use it as a colander putting pressure on him to score on every drive. But some of it is down to his own shortcomings. The Rams would be a total mess without him and while the if's and but's about then drafting Newton or RG3 in the next seasons hold water, in a re-draft the Rams would and should still take Bradford.

2. Detroit Lions selected Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

* NEW SELECTION* Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia

The Cincinnati Bengals got an absolute steal with Atkins, taking him in the 4th round. But here the Lions snag him 2nd overall. This change of pick isn't a slight on Suh, he's been a huge part of the Lions turnaround, giving them a mean streak in the middle as well as good pass rush. However Atkins is not only a markedly better player against the run but just as effective, if not more so, against the pass. Atkins has 23 sacks over 3 years next to Suh's 22 and had forced 6 fumbles compared to Suh's 1. He also doesn't come with the "dirty player" questions, stamps and general baggage that Suh does.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

With Suh falling you might think that I'd give him to the Bucs here, but I'm afraid not. McCoy may have struggled for health early on, tearing his biceps like they were wrapping paper on christmas day, but he is an elite run defender who gives the Bucs a great platform to work from. The success of rookie Lavonte David in 2012 can be put down, in part, to McCoy's outstanding work on the inside.

I was very tempted to fix the Bucs current cornerback issues by giving them Joe Haden here. But if you think back to 2010, defensive tackle was a massive need for Tampa and losing McCoy would bring them straight back to that terrible position.

4. Washington Redskins selected Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

* NEW SELECTION* Joe Haden, CB, Florida

The Bucs might not take Joe Haden, but the Redskins certainly will. Trent Williams is a good left tackle, not yet an elite one though and Joe Haden is very much an elite cornerback. The Redskins have had a hole at cornerback for a while now and Haden would fill that beautifully, giving them an advantage against the big receivers of Dallas and New York. While Williams leaving would create a hole at left tackle, Mike Shanahan's system has been able to hide holes on the offensive line before.

5. Kansas City Chiefs selected Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

*NEW SELECTION* Earl Thomas, S, Texas

Same position different player for the Chiefs. While Berry has blown out a knee and struggled at times with coverage, Earl Thomas has become on of the very best safeties in the NFL. Thomas' position at the top of the safety pile is no doubt helped by the excellent players around him in Seattle's secondary, but his range and ball instincts are terrific and his talent was obvious before Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman broke into the starting roles next to him. Berry isn't a bad player at all, but Thomas is better.

6. Seattle Seahawks selected Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

With Earl Thomas gone the Seahawks keep faith with Okung despite Trent Williams still being available. Okung has had trouble staying on the field in the past, with ankle issues causing him to miss 10 games through his first two seasons. However those look to be behind him and he's finally putting everything together in both his run and pass game. Seattle's 2012 season was fantastic and it all started up front with Okung providing time for Russell Wilson and making holes for Marshawn Lynch. Trent Williams is every bit as good Okung, though his strength is in his athleticism rather than sheer physicality, but the Seahawks know what they have with Okung, no need to risk anything by switching out.

7. Cleveland Browns selected Joe Haden, CB, Florida

*NEW SELECTION* Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

With Haden off the board the Browns take Suh here. The hope is that he can provide the same spark in the Browns defense that he did with the Lions. Cleveland have flip-flopped between a 4 and 3 man front for a long time now, so drafting to a scheme doesn't seem appropriate and Suh's penetration against the pass would have been invaluable these past few years when Cleveland were struggling to get to the quarterback so much.

8. Oakland Raiders selected Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama

*NEW SELECTION* Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona

Rolando McClain is the highest selection from the 2010 draft class to no longer be with the team who drafted him. Part of it was due to the cost saving efforts of the new regime in Oakland, but McClain's play as been bad enough to warrant cutting even if he wasn't on an expensive deal too. McClain's biggest problem was in pass defense and he found himself replaced in nickel packages, which are fast becoming the new base defense in the NFL, because of it. So instead of McClain the Raiders take the touchdown machine known simply as "Gronk".

Gronkowski has broken both the single season yardage and touchdown records in his short time in New England, putting up a staggering 39 TD's in 43 regular season games. The whole league is trying to catch up with and mimic New England's 2-TE offense, so why not get ahead of the curve by taking Gronk before they can?

9. Buffalo Bills selected CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson

As late as last season this pick was seen as being a poor one. The Bills still had Marshawn Lynch on their roster, although he was more of a headache for his own team than the opposition in Buffalo, as well as Fred Jackson. So picking another running back at 9 seemed like a total luxury pick for a team that couldn't really afford one. Even at the start of the 2011 season it wasn't looking good. Lynch was gone but Fred Jackson had proved himself a more than capable every-down back, even if Spiller was giving them a very nice 5.2 yards a carry, who used a No. 9 overall pick on a back up running back!? But then 2012 rolled around and CJ Spiller exploded after Fred Jackson's knee injury.

Spiller's 2012 campaign featured 2 50+ yard touchdowns as well as a stunning 6.0 yards per carry and 10.7 yards per reception. While Spiller still wasn't a "full time" running back (250 touches) his play was one of the few bright sparks in Buffalo in 2012 and is going to be absolutely crucial to the development of new rookie QB EJ Manuel.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars selected Tyson Alualu, DT, California

*NEW SELECTION* Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

Alualu was seen as a reach at the time, and it's not really worked out well for the Jaguars. He's a starter for them, which is good, but his play is far from what you'd expect out of a top ten pick, let alone that of Suh, McCoy and Atkins. The Jaguars have found it impossible to get to the quarterback for such a long time that the selection of Jason Pierre-Paul is screamingly obvious here. JPP's explosive play off the edge has been fantastic to watch in New York, and bringing him to Jacksonville will give the Jags some much needed bite and a bit of excitement too.

11. San Francisco 49ers selected Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

This was the first draft day trade, which gives me the dilemma of going back to the original draft order or keeping the trades in? I decided that since the board has changed somewhat from what actually happened it would be silly to keep these trades in place. Leaving us with...

*NEW SELECTION* The Denver Broncos select Navorro Bowman, ILB, Penn State

In 2010 the Broncos were playing a 3-4 defense and giving serious playing time to a 30 year old Mario Haggan, fast forward 3 years and they're now a 4-3 without a real option at middle linebacker. So, from the pick they got in trading Jay Cutler to the Bears, the Broncos go out and get an athletic monster from Penn State in Navorro Bowman.

Bowman has been brilliant in San Francisco, and while a lot of people knock him because "anyone can make plays next to Patrick Willis" he's been taking plays AWAY from Willis. He's great against the run, can track tight ends and backs in coverage and go sideline to sideline in a flash. His presence in the Broncos defense instantly makes them better.

12. San Diego Chargers selected Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State

*NEW SELECTION* Miami Dolphins select Jimmy Graham, TE, Miami (FL)

With Ryan Mathews being a massive let down the Chargers are no longer so hot for him as to leap up to 12. Retaining their pick the Dolphins look around and decide to take a tight end with one year of college football and just 13 receptions to his name.

Jimmy Graham has been fabulous in New Orleans with 25 touchdowns that look bad only in comparison to the monster in New England. His ability to stretch the field from the inside as well as a very safe pair of hands on his big frame made him a nightmare match up in New Orleans, and by keeping him in Miami the Dolphins get Chad Henne a 2nd massive target next to Brandon Marshall and should create an impressive offensive unit.

13. Philadelphia Eagles selected Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan

*NEW SELECTION* San Francisco 49ers select Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho

The 49ers took 2 offensive linemen in the 1st round in 2010, which has been the base all their current success is built from. They took Iupati at 17 overall 3 years ago and it's worked out beautifully. He and Joe Staley have combined to create a near-impenetrable wall on the left side while his elite mobility has allowed Jim Harbaugh to install a diverse and effective ground game with traps & counters a plenty.

14. Seattle Seahawks selected Earl Thomas, S, Texas

*NEW SELECTION* Kam Chancellor, S, Virginia Tech

With Earl Thomas not available you might think I'd simply put Eric Berry in here, but once again Seattle play the "devil you know" card and take Kam Chancellor, who they were able to wait until the 5th round before getting in 2010. Chancellor has been a hugely influential strong safety for the Seahawks, making his presence known in the box and against deep bombs. With the size to take on running backs and the coverage skills to man up against receivers the Seahawks struck gold in Chancellor.

15. New York Giants selected Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

*NEW SELECTION* Daryl Washington, LB, TCU

With Jason Pierre-Paul gone the Giants decide to get an elite talent at linebacker that they've been missing for some time now. Daryl Washington's 2012 season was worthy of a 1st team All-Pro selection were it not for the beasts that roam Candlestick. Instead he had to make do with 2nd team honours but 9 sacks, a pick, 2 forced fumbles and over 100 tackles speak volumes of Washington's abilities. He was a rare bright spark on Arizona and his talents are scheme-proof so the Giants should have no issue with him as their middle linebacker in a 4-3. However his recent 4 game suspensions for violating the league's substance policy coupled with an investigation into domestic assault claims are black marks on his record for sure.

16. Tennessee Titans selected Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

*NEW SELECTION* Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida

10.5 sacks in 3 years is hardly a good return from a top 20 pick, so the Titans switch sides of the ball and grab Pouncey to come in and open up lanes for Chris Johnson. Pouncey would have provided instant competition to then starter Eugene Amano and his presence would have prevented the need for a well over the hill Steve Hutchinson last year or the massive investments made this off-season in Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack. It's not as flashy as grabbing a pass rusher or even a Dez Bryant, but long term this pick would do wonders for the Titans.

17. San Francisco 49ers selected Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho

*NEW SELECTION* Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

After what I said in the Iupati selection above what did you expect me to do here? The sliding Eric Berry is tempting as San Francisco were fielding Reggie Smith at safety in 2010, but without Davis manning right tackle they would have been in all sorts of difficulties recently. He's had his issues in pass protection, most notably against Baltimore in 2011, but he's kicked on since then and improved greatly. I don't think for a moment San Francisco would alter these picks, so why should I?

18. Pittsburgh Steelers selected Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida

*NEW SELECTION* Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

Williams' slide ends here, in the graveyard of linemen that is Pittsburgh. No team has seen so many injuries on it's line recently as Pittsburgh. Pouncey suffered a high ankle sprain that kept him out of a superbowl, David DeCastro fell into their laps in 2012 but then blew up a knee, not to mention the many issues Max Starks and others have had. Pittsburgh need help at tackle before Big Ben falls apart and they're able to get it here.

19. Atlanta Falcons selected Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri

*NEW SELECTION* Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

Dunlap hasn't been super-productive in his 3 years with the Bengals, but the 2nd round pick is exactly what the Falcons have needed for a long time, young talent at the defensive end position who can get after the quarterback. Dunlap is sitting behind Robert Gaithers & Michael Johnson in the Bengals stellar defensive line rotation, but with 20 sacks to his name so far he can give the Falcons what they need.

20. Houston Texans selected Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama

*NEW SELECTION* Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma St.

Houston needed defensive backs in a bad way in 2010, but Jackson has never been the answer to that problem for the Texans. What they have needed for long time however is a viable 2nd receiver opposite Andre Johnson. They addressed that need last week, hopefully, with DeAndre Hopkins, but Dez Bryant is among the most talented and productive receivers in the NFL already. Sure he's got his issues off the field, but the talent is so much greater than anyone else here that the Texans snap him up.

21. Cincinnati Bengals selected Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

*NEW SELECTION* Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

Berry's slide ends in Cincinnati. The talent has never really played out in Kansas, and coupled with that knee injury in 2011 he's found himself down in the 20's rather than a top 5 pick. Cincinnati have needed talent at safety for a long time, and still do after failing to address it this year. Having Berry at this pick would also save them from the horrible last season of Roy Williams in 2010.

22. Denver Broncos selected Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

*NEW SELECTION* New England Patriots select Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida

Bill Belichick is simply fuming that he can't move down here. But then again, he might not want to. With Gronk and Graham having flown off the board the Patriots would be fools to pass up the chance of grabbing Aaron Hernandez here. The versatile play maker has caused headaches for every defensive coordinator in the league. Far too fast for a linebacker to cover, and yet the Patriots will put him in the backfield so that teams have to do just that. Hernandez does come with injury issues and the odd fumble, but he's been such a big part of what the Patriots have done recently there's no reason to go in a different direction here.

23. Green Bay Packers selected Brian Bulaga, OT, Iowa

*NEW SELECTION* Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale

It was recently announced that the Packers intend to use Bulaga at left tackle this year. All we can do is to give our sympathies to Aaron Rodgers and hope that his shiny new contract included a good medical plan. Bulaga had far too many issues at right tackle last season and there were times when it looked like the Packers would have to kick him inside to guard. Well they shouldn't have any such problems here with Veldheer, who has manned the left tackle spot in Oakland well, so long as his recent Hulking hasn't cost him any speed & flexibility.

24. Dallas Cowboys selected Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma St.

*NEW SELECTION* Philadelphia Eagles select Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

McCourty had a stellar rookie campaign at corner in New England before totally blowing up and having to be moved to safety. Well the cornerback "dream team" didn't really work out for the Eagles and their departure has left massive gaps in the secondary. Even McCourty's rookie campaign would be more than the Eagles have gotten out of Brandon Graham so far, who they took at 13, and if they could prevent that implosion from McCourty then it's a massive upgrade for them.

25. Denver Broncos selected Tim Tebow, "QB", Florida

*NEW SELECTION* Baltimore Ravens select Sean Lee, ILB, Penn St.

In 2010 Ray Lewis was firmly entrenched in his decline and nearly incapable of playing in coverage. He also missed 14 games in the 2011 & 2012 seasons, so having a coverage stud like Sean Lee playing next to him would have been a huge boost to the Ravens defense and not leave them in the rudderless situation they're in now. And it's needless to say that the Broncos would happily take back their trade up too.

26. Arizona Cardinals selected Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

*NEW SELECTION* Brian Bulaga, OT, Iowa

For all I said about Bulaga's shortcomings, having a guy who can play RT on his best day and kick inside isn't a bad thing for the Cardinals. With best inside linebackers off the board Arizona are going to have to find their Daryl Washington replacement elsewhere, but the presence of Bulaga should really help an offense whose production has fallen off a cliff as the offensive line has become worse and worse in recent years.

27. New England Patriots selected Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

*NEW SELECTION* Dallas Cowboys select Victor Cruz, WR, UMass

With Dez Bryant off the board and that whole "trade everything for Roy Williams" move having fallen flat on it's face we can hardly leave the Cowboys with an injury prone Miles Austin and nothing else on the outside. So the question becomes which of the available receivers they might take. Victor Cruz, Mike Williams and Demaryius Thomas are all on a fairly equal level after 3 years in the league so it comes down to personal preference, mine is for the more versatile Cruz who can line up from the slot and cause a lot of issues.

28. Miami Dolphins selected Jared Odrick, DT, Penn St.

*NEW SELECTION* San Diego Chargers select Mike Williams, WR, Syracuse

The 2010 Chargers were stacked with talent, but they were thin at receiver position, and about to get even thinner. Phil Rivers has had a horrible time recently thanks to an awful offensive line, the answer for which isn't available here, but also due to the loss of Vincent Jackson at receiver. Mike Williams isn't quite in the same mold as Jackson, but he is a big and reliable target for Rivers who isn't afraid to go and get the ball.

29.  New York Jets selected Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise St.

*NEW SELECTION* Tim Tebow, QB, Florida Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

The Jets lack talent at the receiver position in a big way, so having a player like Demaryius Thomas who can stretch the field and make things happen is a big boost for Mark Sanchez, who hadn't yet fallen flat on his face. Maybe he wouldn't if he had a guy like Thomas (he definitely would have, he stinks but a replacement isn't here).
30. Detroit Lions selected Jahvid Best, RB, California

*NEW SELECTION* Minnesota Vikings select TJ Ward, S, Oregon

Poor Jahvid Best. Without the Lions moving into here the Vikings are able to improve their safety position long before Harrison Smith comes on the scene. Ward has been great in run defense for Cleveland in his 3 seasons, and while his play in coverage has been inconsistent having a guy who's knocking on the door of the top 10 in his position is a nice situation to be in at 30th overall.

31. Indianapolis Colts selected Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU

*NEW SELECTION* Tyson Alualu, DT, California

Jerry Hughes has been the very definition of a bust so far for the Colts. Indianapolis' run defense has been terrible recently, and if you remember all the way back to the Jacksonville pick I said Alualu has been a solid starter for them, that's just what Indy need at defensive tackle! How he'd hold up in their new 3-4 I'm not at all sure but even now they still need productive run stoppers in that system, so having Alualu on board wouldn't be a bad thing at all.

32. New Orleans Saints selected Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida St.

*NEW SELECTION* Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise St.

Patrick Robinson has been poor for the Saints, who were historically awful on defense last season. They're in need, and were back in 2010, of talent across the board on defense and Kyle Wilson, originally taken by the Jets at 29, was part of the reason the Jets felt ok parting ways with Revis. Which isn't a bad recommendation for any cornerback.

So there you have it. A 1st round re-draft of the 2010 class. Victor Cruz jumped up from undrafted to 27th overall and is joined by 11 others who have proven to be draft day steals for their teams.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment!

- Toby Durant (@TDonSport)
- The Pulling Linemen

1 comment:

  1. I agree wih the selection of Sean Lee, but I would actually argue that the Ravens Defence will be better next year and that arguably their front 7 is better than last year's edition.

    They still have Ngata, Arthur Jones, Upshaw Canty, Suggs (fully fit too). Look at the additions they have made, Rolando McClain, Arthur Brown, Matt Elam, Elvis Dumervil. They get Lardarius Webb back.

    Whatever about their offense, I can't see their defence declining, they have upgraded nearly every position.