Doug’s Draft Grades: AFC

Take a look at how Doug thinks the rest of the AFC did in the 2011 NFL Draft. Agree or Disagree?

New England Patriots – B-

It’s obvious now that Belichick didn’t feel like any of this year’s defensive front seven prospects were worth a pick in the first three rounds and you know what they say, in Bill we trust. Belichick likes his DEs to be 300+ lbs and after the Jets chose Muhommad Wilkerson, there weren’t many left who didn’t project at NT or weren’t reached for early in the 2nd round.

That being said, I really like the Nate Solder pick. He may not help us right away, but he has the 2nd highest ceiling of any tackle in the draft. Ras-I Dowling will really help shore up our secondary that struggled at times. In nickel situations, Dowling can play across from McCourty while Bodden covers the slot. One of the team’s biggest weaknesses last season was the carousel of players we had covering the slot and a third solid cornerback will allow Chung to play his natural safety position, either blitzing at the line (for all the complainers that we didn’t get a pass rusher) or playing centerfield. Dowling will also be able to help out at safety.

All draft season I would get angry when I saw a mock with the Patriots drafting a running back in round one, in round two? I don’t mind. Two in consecutive picks? Okay, I mind again. I like the Shane Vereen pick, Patriots fans have been asking for a running back basically since Maroney fizzled out and we finally got one. Vereen has the talent to share the no. 1 back duties with Green-Ellis and he can excel in the NFL. Ridley will play the Sammy Morris role in our offense as a power back/fullback. I think we could have got Ridley or a similar player later in the draft.

Like many people, I don’t love the Ryan Mallett pick. Yes he had more talent than any other QB available at the time, and he was probably the best prospect at the time, but I never had a first round grade on him based on his skills alone. He’s got a great arm and accuracy, but he’s a statue in the pocket, he’ll struggle with any amount of NFL pressure and he has a history of making poor decisions in key situations. My hope is that Mallett shows ability in the preseason/late in blow outs and we can trade him at some point in a Kolb like situation.

I really liked the Marcus Cannon pick, once he comes back from his medical situation he’ll be a massive presence along our offensive line. Lee Smith was a late round flyer on a player that I would expect to start the season on our practice squad. If he shows enough skills as a blocker, he could take over the Crumpler role. Markell Carter will hopefully help out in pass rush rotations and Malcolm Williams will be a special teams contributor if he makes the team as a long shot.

Was it the draft I imagined? No. I’ve been saying since the beginning though that we have tons of depth along our defensive line and that was never a priority for me in the draft. Belichick obviously sees Cunningham, Moore, Wright and Ninkovich as effective enough pass rushers that that wasn’t a priority either. I doubt any defensive lineman we could have got in the late rounds would have been better than Deaderick, Brace, Pryor or Love.

Buffalo Bills: B+

The Bills got players that can contribute right away with their first three picks. Their biggest criticism was that they didn’t address their situation at QB, but that also wasn’t their biggest need last season as Fitzpatrick filled in admirably. My favorite day three picks by the Bills were Chris Hairston (T, Clemson) and Michael Jasper (DT/G, Bethel). Both are developmental prospects, but if either work out they could be huge (literally) values. Jasper is a product of the lack of undrafted free agents. The Bills will need to start working on his progression as soon as possible and couldn’t wait until rookie free agency was allowed.

Miami Dolphins: C+

If Pouncey winds up playing guard for the Dolphins, this could be bumped up to a B draft, but if the rumors are true and Pouncey is projected to play center there’s a lot of work to do. I liked the Thomas pick, but I would have liked to see the Dolphins address a quarterback at some point. I’m not bothered that Miami took Jimmy Wilson (S, Montana) with their last pick. Wilson was acquitted by 23/24 jurors he was tried in front of for a first degree murder charge.

New York Jets: B-

The Jets filled some big holes on their defensive line, but if there’s any possibility that Ellis could be going to jail, it could be a Christian Peter-esque pick. I don’t understand taking Powell in the fourth round with Greene, Tomlinson and Joe McKnight coming back. They could have waited and taken an outside linebacker with that choice. I liked the Jets last three picks picking up a solid backup QB and two wide receivers.

Baltimore Ravens: A-

The Ravens got great value in both Jimmy and Torrey Smith while addressing huge needs at CB and WR. Tandon Doss was a great value in the fourth round as were Pernell McPhee and Tyron Taylor in the fifth and sixth rounds. I would have liked to have seen Taylor taken by the Eagles and mentored by Michael Vick.

Cincinnati Bengals: C+

I’ll start with the positives, AJ Green gives the Bengals a solid no. 1 receiver even if Ochocinco sticks around and Boling and Sands were great value picks. I hate Andy Dalton as the 5th QB off the board. I don’t see any aspect of his game that makes him a better pick than Colin Kaepernick, but obviously taking a QB was a need with Palmer leaving. Marvin Lewis is saying Dalton could be their game 1 starter and I see that as a huge mistake. Moch is an explosive athlete, but the Bengals have similar players in Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson. I don’t see a spot for Moch in Cincinnati.

Cleveland Browns: B+

The Falcons trade alone should be enough for Cleveland fans. Taylor will be a clogger up the middle for Holmgren in the mold of Gilbert Brown and Shaun Rogers. Greg Little and Jordan Cameron give Colt McCoy some legitimate targets. Skrine has a lot of speed, but not much to show for it, and I wasn’t as in love with Jabaal Sheard as most people.

Pittsburgh Steelers: A-

The definition of a solid draft, which is typical for Pittsburgh. Heyward adds some youth to their defensive line and will be a starter for years to come. Gilbert was a very underrated tackle prospect out of Florida and Brown basically fell into the Steelers laps at 95. Cortez Allen will be a project out of the Citadel and the Steelers got great value with Chris Carter at 162.

Houston Texans: B

Entering the 2011 draft I saw four key needs for the Texans cornerback, pass rush, nose tackle and wide receiver. The Texans only managed to address two of those needs, but they got some great players in great values. The Texans passed on corner and pass rush in the first round to add JJ Watt to a crowded 3-4 DE position, then got lucky by taking Brooks Reed and Brandon Harris in the 2nd round. The Texans took two more defensive backs to start day three of the draft with developmental Rashad Carmichael and overachiever Shiloh Keo. I liked the additions of QB TJ Yates and OLB Cheta Ozougwu as well. I wish the Texans had addressed their need at NT, where undersized Earl Mitchell will be manning the middle.

Indianapolis Colts: B+

The Colts addressed some big needs and got some good value with Anthony Castonzo, Ben Ijalana and Drave Nevis in the first, second and third rounds. Delone Carter will compete in a crowded backfield with Joseph Addai, Donald Brown and Mike Hart, all of whom have injury concerns. Chris Rucker may project better at safety than at CB.

Jacksonville Jaguars: D+

The Jaguars needed to get better now and they didn’t. I haven’t liked Gabbert since the beginning of this process and while it’s not a terrible pick at 10, I don’t believe it was worth trading up for. Rackley was a nice value in the third round and Cecil Shorts is a big time DIII sleeper at WR. The Jaguars would have been smart to take a defensive lineman in their original 16th position in the draft and then draft a QB in later rounds since they already have a starter and the QB they drafted is a couple years away.

Tennessee Titans: B

I respect the decision on Tennessee’s part to draft their highest rated player at their highest needed position. Hopefully the Titans sign a player like Matt Hasselbeck to show Locker the ropes. Still, the Titans were led to a 30-17 record by a player with a similar skill set as Locker’s, though it’s safe to say their personalities couldn’t be any further apart. Getting past Locker, the Titans found nice value in Ayers, Casey, McCarthy and Klug while also filling some important needs along their 4-3 defensive line and linebacker unit.

Denver Broncos: B-

Why oh why oh why didn’t the Broncos take Marcell Dareus with their first round pick? Von Miller had boom or bust potential in a 3-4 defense, but in the Broncos’ 4-3, his bust potential exponentially grew. Denver will be hindering Miller’s biggest strength (pass rush) while also showcasing his biggest weakness (coverage). I like that they still addressed their need at secondary with Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter, though I’m not sure if Moore hasn’t already reached his ceiling. I really liked the Broncos day three draft adding two athletic Tes (Julius Thomas, Virgil Green) and an undersized DE with a lot of potential in Jeremy Beal.

Kansas City Chiefs: A

It’s like Pioli still thought he was drafting for the Patriots here. I love prospects with character concerns and the Chiefs strayed from the “Patriots way” by grabbing a boatload of them. Baldwin might have been a slight reach at 26, but Cassel needed another big target after Dwayne Bowe. Rodney Hudson can fill in right away at center and Justin Houston might turn out to be the steal of the draft at 70 overall. I thought the value on Allen Bailey, Ricky Stanzi and Jerrell Powe were fantastic. Powe could come in from day one and start at NT. Ricky Stanzi gives the Chiefs a quality backup, they did not have one in Brodie Croyle. Also, 7th round fullback from Yale, Shane Bannon posted this on his Facebook page: “Carolina better not take me with their first pick, don’t want to play there” hilarious.

Oakland Raiders: D+

I’m assuming this is how the Raiders draft played out, Al Davis forced the team to draft Wisniewski and Van Dyke, then he fell asleep. The rest of the team’s decision makers panicked and took the highest player on their board, which happened to be another lineman. Davis woke up, forgot he already took the fast cornerback in the draft and forced the team to take the next fastest, the fastest running back and the fastest wide receiver. All in all, I don’t mind the selections of Stefan Wisniewski, Joseph Barksdale or Taiwan Jones. For where they were drafted, Demarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa were indefensible.

San Diego Chargers: B-

I really liked Liuget and Gilchrist coming in the draft and I think both players can start right away for San Diego. Mouton was a reach, but if the goal was to improve their special teams (a disaster last year) they succeeded. Shareece Wright and Jordan Todman were nice values in the 3rd and 6th rounds.


23 Responses to “Doug’s Draft Grades: AFC”

  1. kansas bob says:

    The Broncos will use Miller in ways that uses his quickness and speed and he will be DROY if we have NFL football this season!
    Coaching is everything in the NFL! That is why New England is a constant winner!

  2. Jeff says:

    “I love prospects with character concerns and the Chiefs strayed from the “Patriots way” by grabbing a boatload of them.”

    So then Aaron Hernandez, Ryan Mallett, Brandon Spikes, and Brandon Merriweather don’t ring any bells huh?

    • Doug Kyed says:

      Those are the exception, not the rule.

      • Doug Kyed says:

        Also, “Patriots Way” was in quotes.

        • Jeff says:

          Exactly…so why is it not “Patriots way” to draft guys with character concerns? They’ve done it plenty. It just depends on the problems.
          They’re not Cinci or Baltimore, but it’s not like they won’t take a player just because he’s had issues.
          I’m kinda wondering exactly what the point of the statement was…most teams stay clear of those guys.
          That’s obviously why Houston went from 1st round consideration to the 3rd round…the Pats weren’t the only ones who passed.

        • Doug Kyed says:

          Because exception means an instance or case not conforming to the general rule?

          “Patriots way” is the common term for taking players with a steady background, a father figure, little character concern, signs of leadership, captaincy, etc.

          Pioli was one of the chief (excuse my pun) proponents of this method, so he brought it with him to KC. Notice three of the four players you mentioned were taken since Pioli left and it was a shock that the Patriots drafted Meriweather in the first round at the time.

          It makes sense that Belichick is straying from his method since it became so well known that he wasn’t going to draft those types of players. I’m glad he’s doing it, but lets not pretend that this isn’t a relatively new method for the Patriots. How many players can you remember the Patriots drafting with character concerns before 2010? Meriweather. That’s it.

  3. Cam says:

    Pats fans have such a double standard right now. Six months ago, everyone was saying that the defense was way too young. Six months does not change a defense’s age at all. And you want to add another TWO front seven rookies to that defense? The team would have no maturity and struggle to find any leadership. I agree, they need a pass rusher, but in free agency, not the draft

  4. AP says:

    Are there any pass rushers out there that are FA or RFA?

    If so, who? (Might be tough since we don’t know what the rules actually are right now.)

    There was a report that last year in October the Pats and Saints had a deal – Butler for P. Thomas straight up. The deal fell through when B.B. asked for a pick on top of it.

    I woulda done that deal in a heartbeat. Butler is terrible – which is why they went for Dowling.

    That would have changed our RB scenario in the 2nd round.

    One other thing – B.B. likes his pass rushing OLB’s to be 6’4″ or taller.. and over 250 lbs. That is his ideal guy for that spot (see McGinest, Colvin, Thomas)… Markell Carter is 6’5″ – I think he has some potential in a couple years.

    • Jeff says:

      There are several FA’s that could be in consideration that are between 6’3″ – 6’5″ and 250+ lbs.
      Jason Babin
      Matt Roth
      Matthias Kiwinuka
      There are others who have been franchised like Tamba Hali so the likelyhood of him or Lamar Woodley is doubtful.
      However we likely will have 2 spots open for OLB at the start of the season.
      TBC is 31, coming off an injury and due $4.5 mil this year after compiling 5 sacks last year. Not worth the money.
      He and Marques Murrell will likely be cut leaving us a spot for a cheaper FA Vet like Matt Roth who seems to fit the mold at 6’5″ 275 lbs and played last year in CLE’s 3-4. Also, Carter should definitely help at OLB. The only reason the guy wasn’t drafted higher is because he played at a smaller school.
      I’m saying it now…dude’s going to be a beast!

      • Andrew says:

        That would be wonderful if we could sign Mark Herzlich also, to learn and become an LBeast!

  5. JR says:

    The issue with not trading up to grab Quinn or even Fairley is a head scratcher. But they know best. Every draft the same thing unspectacular but solid. Free Agency should clear things up a little but. I would like to think that they have targeted fornt 7 help on D and maybe a WR.

    • CC says:

      L. Hnakerson was tagged just a handfull of pick’s after both the 3rd round wasted pick’s on Ridley & Mallet.
      So was Will Rackely for that matter.
      Rackley is a road grader to set up the run game nicely and Hankerson would have been your WR option. Instead……3rd round history speak’s for itself with BB. Cannon vs Rackley? Mallet vs Hankerson?

      The need for a Wide out option and a much better O-lineman was clearly not in the mindset in round 3.

      Bailey DE, Moffit OG, and Elliss DE were also picked within just a handfull after these 2 wasted pick’s and would have seemingly been good option’s instead??? But Ridley and Mallet instead of Rackley and Hankerson is a head scratcher for sure!

  6. prioris says:

    Question on Dowling.

    The major criticism is his lack of speed, Dowling ran a 4.40 time with pulled muscle during 40 yd and may have also done a 4.36. Desean Jackson ran a 4.35. Dowling seems to have elite speed. They say he would not be able to keep up with Desean Jacksons etc.

    Does the criticism make sense ?

    Anybody make any observation on Dowling speed or other inadequacies ?

    Except for a little technique improvement and other minor stuff, I can’t find any other major criticism.

    He suppose to have elite instincts which I view as a really big plus.

  7. Liam Shaw says:

    I strongly agree wqith the pats analysis except for a few points:
    1. Bill also saw the front 7 players flying of the board so he saw upgraded value in other positions.
    2.I think solder will actually step in and help us right away…i would say he will be the day 1 starter at lt and be solid.
    other than that i agree 100% on everything and think that the way you put the ridley pick is correct

  8. Jared says:

    On the Patriots stuff…cant disagree with pretty much anything. Thats sayin a lot.

    The Browns…have to get an A or an A- in this draft, as it stands now….with the picks that the ATL gave them!? + 1 of the top 5 DT’s in the draft with Taylor…a top 5 pass-rusher, yes….passrusher-Jabaal Sheard….and a top 5 WR…Greg Little, who I love….plus the picks…A

    The Ravens….A- for getting a corner and a wideout….B

    Thats about it….agree with most of the other teams. Oh, and your Raider/Al Davis scenario….spot-on I think, hilarious. I would of bet my house they were going to take Taiwan Jones, called it a month ago.

    • JR says:

      As long as they have Al Davis involved in decision making they will be a middle of the pack franchise. I would love to see the Raiders contending again. It is great for football. Step aside AL

  9. CC says:

    knowing he(N. Sloder) needed a year and some weight-makes you hope they just sign Light for one or two year’s be done with it and he will Retire a Patriot.

    Barring the rest………RIDLEY AND MALLET = pASS rUSH!!!!

  10. PatsFan1986 says:

    Cause for concern? Solder seems to have serious issues with speed rushers…

    • Jared says:

      yikes…dont like that game-tape. Well….hes raw, Dante Scarnechia is the best in the biz, he’ll coach em up. I think hes gona be a stud.

    • prioris says:

      he was considered the most raw of first round tackles, i would ignore it.
      he is a natural bender and very quick. scarny will coach him up.

      • Phil says:

        this guy only played tackle for 2 yrs…dealing with speed rushers is a technique and experience thing…the technique will be corrected by Scarnechia and the experience thing will take care of itself in practice…nothing to worry about. And once he hits an NFL weight room with a high quality strength and conditioning coach he will have all the tools to protect TB’s back. How about the fact that tom won’t be able to see any pressure coming, let alone anticipate it, with the giant bookends we have now. lol

    • JMC says:

      Said to be the most ‘athletic’ of all the tackles in the 2011 class. Similar to Vollmer, probably a season away from starting.

    • JMC says:

      I like would the Chiefs did- I wish Rodney Hudson was a Patriot. I thought Indy did well for themselves too, gaining two starters on the Ol to protect Manning.

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