Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Draft- It Didn't Suck

I wasn't able to catch much of the draft live, sadly. Only the last 10 picks or so of the 1st round and then about half of the 2nd/3rd rounds. It was interesting television, however. Especially if you watch NFL Network. If you watch ESPN, well, God have mercy on you. I left that place when we got NFLN about 4 years ago and I've never looked back. Some general observations:

- I, too, was surprised by the QB flurry at the beginning of the draft:

I think this year was one of the worst years Ever to have the top pick, and I'm disappointed in Ron Rivera that he apparently thought Cam Newton was the best there was for him to build his franchise around. I don't hate Cam for his personality or the scandal around him. Those that have read this blog for any length of time know I don't put an ounce of worth into personality. I have never, however, seen anything in Cam Newton that makes me think he's capable of running an NFL offense. Gus Malzahn's offense is as far from a pro scheme as you can possibly get. I love it as a college offense because of its ability to make the simple look incredibly complex, but the fact is it's a run-heavy spread offense based on a scheme that doesn't really have a playbook so much as a pamphlet of basic concepts. I don't think Cam will adjust to the NFL fast enough to justify a #1 pick, especially when they could have drafted someone at another position of need and used the year of low expectations to angle for a high pick again next year that might put them in position for Andrew Luck.

I don't really blame the Titans for liking Jake Locker more than Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder, but that still doesn't make him worth a top ten pick. I've heard excuse makers say things about the quality of his receivers but I watched Alot of Jake Locker over the last couple of years and outside of his upsets against the porous defense of Lane Kiffin's USC, he didn't put together any complete games that merit where he was taken. You can try to do little things to improve his accuracy, but I don't ever see him being the 60% passer that an NFL offense needs.

Gabbert was probably the most sensible pick of the four QBs taken, but I still don't like him much. He might make a serviceable starter someday, but I don't see why they'd spend a high pick on a guy who might put up numbers similar to the guy they already have.

Christian Ponder at #12? Really? The guy might end up being the next Chad Pennington. If that's what you want, well, low standards never hurt anybody, I guess.

-I thought Mark Ingram was a fucking steal for the Saints at 28.

-Why yes, I am already suffering from uncontrollable flop sweat at the thought of Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh facing off against whatever interior line combination the Bears can throw at them next year. Thanks for asking.

- I do find it odd that Detroit's next two picks were Mikel LeShoure and Titus Young. They must have forgotten that they have a god awful secondary. Then again, maybe no one will have time to throw against the Fairley/Suh duo of death.

-Character and mobility issues dropped ARMCOCK Mallett into the third round, but right into the arms of the Patriots, virtually ensuring that someday he'll be the jewel of this QB class.

And with that, onto the Bears

-Gabe Carimi was an absolutely fantastic pick. I'm beyond ecstatic that he was available at 29. Jerry Angelo apparently thought he'd be gone at 26 and nearly gave away a fourth round pick trade up and get him, but fortune intervened and he was saved from his own stupidity. Carimi will probably struggle early in pass protection, but he'll be an instant upgrade for the running game. Having seen the progress that Tice made with J'marcus Webb last year, I think he can straighten out Carimi's footwork and upgrade his pass protection before too long. This pick exceeded my wildest expectations for what is usually a draft slot full of slim pickings.

-Stephen Paea addressed the biggest need on the defense- Tommie Harris' replacement. Considering they've needed a replacement for Tommie since 2007, this was a great move. Paea benched like an animal at the combine and he was an All American and Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year last year. I won't lie and say that I've seen Alot of him, but what I have seen is good. He can be a DT capable of drawing consistent double teams, which means good things for Peppers and Idonijie. At the very least a rotation of Paea, Melton and Anthony Adams will probably pack a greater punch than last year. Anything that can keep teams from taking away Julius Peppers is a great move.

- I don't know a damn thing about Chris Conte. God knows the draft can't go by without Lovie's requisite mid-round safety pick. The unfortunate thing about this pick isn't Conte himself. It's the fact that it probably means that Danieal Manning has made up his mind and won't sign at a price the Bears can afford. That sucks, because Danieal finally had a year worthy of his potential and the Manning-Harris-Wright rotation was pretty effective. If Danieal's gone, we've learned by now that the Bears need a never-ending supply of bodies at that position so Conte probably wasn't a bad pick. But I wish Danieal wasn't leaving.

- The fourth round pick that the Ravens wanted ended up going to the Redskins to allow the team to draft Paea, so that was probably worth it.

- Nate Enderle is a pretty decent QB to find in the 5th round. Why the hell the Bears needed a QB in the fifth round, I don't know. This was a draft thin on interiot linemen so I'm not necessarily mad that they missed out on a guard like a lot of people are, but I don't understand why Martz can't seem to sell himself on Hanie.

- I don't know a damn thing about JT Thomas either. But the Bears have had luck with later round OLB's before, so hopefully he'll add depth with Tinoisamoa, Urlacher, and Briggs all getting up there.

All in all, Carimi and Paea make this one of the better drafts the Bears have had in years. There are some people out there ranting that the Bears should have done something nonsensical and just offensive linemen, but there were just 23 offensive linemen taken total after the 3rd round. This was a top heavy draft and those would have been wasted picks. Carimi is a guy that will be ready to start (well, he'll start) right away, with Webb (who showed a lot of potential as last season went on) sliding to the left. Chris Williams is going to start somewhere, and he started to look like a pretty good run-blocker, at least, at left guard down the stretch. Omiyale will head to the bench (Thank you, Deityofyourchoice), leaving the declining skills of Kreutz and Garza as the biggest question marks, surprisingly. I'm not sure how free agency will eventually shake out, but I assume Angelo will find at least one interior lineman to throw into the competition next year. Either way, I have faith, for once, that next year's line will be better than the year before. If that line reaches the point where Cutler and Martz can actually open up the playbook this team will be a much more consistent contender. Paea upgrades the most important unit on the defense, which should keep them in the top ten range.

My "grade"? Probably an A for rounds 1 and 2, and a C for the rest. I think this draft actually improved the state of the Chicago Bears. Its sad that I have to say that, since that's the whole Point of the draft, but there have been many times in recent memory where I wouldn't have ventured out on that limb.

Go Bears.