Yes, it’s Monday. But Osama Bin Laden’s death and a federal election here in Canada have me in an upbeat mood. So rather than just cynically trash teams for their bad draft decisions, I’m going to go over some of my favorite picks from the NFL draft, excluding the first round (http://blogs.thescore.com/nfl/2011/04/28/nfl-draft-live-commentary/).
So here we go.
Round 2, pick 35: TCU QB Andy Dalton to the Bengals — Cincinnati passed on a quarterback in Round 1, which I thought was a great decision considering the small gap separating the top quarterbacks from other signal callers in this draft class. There’s a simmering belief that Dalton could turn into a better pro QB than Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder (all of whom were selected ahead of him). This sends a message to Carson Palmer without financially handcuffing the franchise, which landed the draft’s best receiver on Thursday night.
Round 2, pick 46: Miami OT Orlando Franklin to the Broncos – I’m not just saying this because he’s a Canadian boy. Franklin was considered to be a borderline first rounder. The Broncos weren’t crazy enough to let him slide past 46. With Tim Tebow likely to start from the get-go in his second season, this team needs to shore up the offensive line. Ryan Clady is a hell of a player, but Ryan Harris’ future is in doubt. With Franklin, Tebow’s right side should be protected for many years to come.
Round 2, pick 51: Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers to the Buccaneers – Only weeks ago, Bowers was widely predicted to be a top-three pick. Nothing’s changed since Bowers’ last game, but more damning medical information about his bad knees scared teams off. In the end, the majority of the league’s teams passed on Bowers twice, which is amazes me considering how productive the guy was in 2010 while dealing with the same knee problems. Even if he might not last 10 years, he’s a safe pick at 51. The Bucs have one of the worst pass rushes in the league, so this is a great pick.
Round 2, pick 53: Oregon State DT Stephen Paea to the Bears — Chicago was in search of a big defensive tackle to replace Tommie Harris, and Paea fits the mold. Like Bowers, Paea might have first-round talent. In fact, some mock drafts had him going to Chicago 29th overall. This could be a big-time steal. Good decision on the team’s behalf to trade into this spot as soon as UNC defensive end Marvin Austin went to the Giants 52nd.
Round 2, pick 60: Miami CB Brandon Harris to the Texans — Another good value pick that also fills a major hole. Only one year ago, the Texans used a first-round pick on cornerback Kareem Jackson. There’s a chance that was a miss, and so with the defensive front seven addressed twice already earlier in the draft, the Texans knew they had to go back to the corner pool. Knowing that Harris’ slide was ridiculous, the Texans packaged together two later picks to take this selection off of New England’s hands. There’s a good chance that’ll pay off.
Round 4, pick 106: Iowa DE Christian Ballard to the Vikings — With Ray Edwards slated for free agency and the defensive line aging, the Vikes were in need of some fresh blood up front. After going offense twice in the first two rounds, I though the Vikes would be in trouble without a third-round pick. But Minnesota was happy to grab the falling Ballard in Round 4 without having to deal away lower picks to jump up. Ballard only dropped this far because he reportedly failed a drug test at the Combine, but I don’t see how a small character concern can completely kill a defensive lineman like him. The versatile Ballard can move inside, too. Love it.
Round 4, pick 113: Ohio State CB Chimdi Chekwa to the Raiders — Let’s face it: Nnamdi Asomugha is likely set to exit Oakland, meaning the Raiders will soon be in need of a new starting corner to pair with Stanford Routt. The super-speedy Chekwa will compete with third-round pick DeMarcus Van Dyke for playing time, but I prefer Chekwa, who might be a better overall playmaker than Van Dyke.
Round 5, pick 145: Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers to the Falcons — I guess I really like Oregon State. Rodgers will replace Jerious Norwood, but he might actually have a much higher ceiling than that. Rodgers is small, but with Michael Turner now 29, a strong rookie campaign could give the 5-foot-6 back a chance to compete for platoon-type reps. Considering that the Lions and Cardinals drafted similar running backs in Round 2, I’d say this is pretty good value for a player with upside like this.
Round 5, pick 162: Fresno State LB Chris Carter to the Steelers — History says the Steelers realize that you can never have too many quality pass rushers. They used their top pick on Cameron Heyward and then grabbed the free-falling Carter in Round 5. Carter might have dropped more than anyone but Bowers — some expected him to go as high as Round 2. Dude had 11 sacks and 16.5 tackles as the WAC defensive players of the year in 2010.
Round 7, pick 207: Southern Illinois CB Korey Lindsey to the Bengals – Cincinnati had a great draft, and Lindsey could be the diamond in the rough. Everything I read about Lindsey is positive. He had 14 picks in his career with the Salukis and has great form. If an injury didn’t keep him out of the Combine, he’d surely have gone way higher than this. Worst-case scenario, he’ll help with depth in the Cincy secondary. Best-case scenario, he’ll emerge as a potential replacement for soon-to-be free agent Johnathan Joseph.