I have 16 thoughts on the NFL draft, all relating in someway to the Redskins situation, but not every thought is about the Redskins. To be honest, this article would be much harder to write if I focused on what was a mostly expected draft by the Redskins. So we'll start in Washington, bounce around the NFC, then bring it back to Washington.
- I think that no matter what guys like Jordan Reed, Chris Thompson, Baccari Rambo, and Phillip Thomas do, this draft will always be known as the David Amerson draft. Amerson's advantage here is that he's not a polarizing figure in the way someone like DeAngelo Hall is, and he'll have a chance to play himself into the starting lineup rather than being thrown in without having the ability to be pulled out.
- On Amerson, specifically, the next six players taken in the draft were solid football players who unquestionably would have helped the Redskins, and some who were directly linked to the Redskins pre-draft. In order, they are: LB Jamie Collins (Pats), DE Margus Hunt (Bengals), CB Jamar Taylor (Dolphins), TE Vance McDonald (49ers), LB Arthur Brown (Ravens), S DJ Swearinger (Texans). Amerson must be compared to these players in order to avoid the evaluation pitfall of "there was nothing else available", something that's never been true but gets used a lot to defend moves.
- I do believe that Amerson would have been there in the third round had the Redskins waited, which is relevant when evaluating their potential selection of someone like TE Vance McDonald (instead of Jordan Reed).
- None of this means that Amerson was overdrafted or that he cannot be a good player for the Redskins in their scheme. We don't know that the Redskins had any solid offers to trade down (although we do know the Ravens and 49ers came up two and three picks later targeting players the Redskins passed on), and we do know that they needed to get a corner high in this draft and that meant on the second day of the draft. David Amerson is a player of some note -- this is not a case of Bill Belichick drafting Duron Harmon in the third round or Tavon Wilson in the second. Part of Amerson's fame comes from getting torched, and part comes from leading all the football bowl subdivision in interceptions as a young sophomore in 2011.
- College interceptions, however, are negigible as an evaluation tool for prospects. They're basically negligible in the NFL in terms of evaluating skills, but in college, they're truly useless. No one uses them -- this includes the Redskins. Amerson is notable because he led the FBS in INTs two years ago, but that didn't get him drafted any more than his timed 40 yard dash did (and probably far less).
- His 'ability' to create turnovers was a big part of what made the Redskins take notice of his skill set, but that's a tough, if not impossible part of a prospect to evaluate. For one thing, we're not entirely sure what a pro player that has a proclivity for turnovers looks like and how to value that skill on the open market. We're nowhere near the point of being able to project that ability from college players. However, when you see a player with Amerson's questionable eye discipline in determining routes, that's much easier to evaluate.
- The team just needs to be comfortable with the overall football intelligence of the player they are drafting, and in this case, it is very clear that the Redskins thought very highly of Amerson's understanding of the game as well as his own strengths and weaknesses. He seems like a nice guy. He's got some major issues in coverage, but the Redskins didn't see anything there on tape they didn't feel was fixable, and their coaching staff is getting paid enough to take on a project like this and try to make a valuable football player out of him. I'm not sure where Amerson's upside is, but if the Redskins can get a quality starter at corner, this is a good pick.
- The Redskins were by no means the only NFC East team that didn't exactly kill days one and two of the draft. The Cowboys are getting a lot of criticism for their selection of C Travis Frederick, and it's been reported that drafting an offensive line early -- and perhpas in the first round -- was a stipulation agreed to when the team signed Tony Romo to a contract extension. I have no idea how true that report is, but that's awesome.
- Dallas did end up finishing up day two strong getting Gavin Escobar to sit behind Jason Witten while a team like the Cowboys tries to figure out how all those other teams look so smart using two tight ends. Terrence Williams is a speedster who posted huge numbers playing with RG3 at Baylor, and then improved with Nick Florence at quarterback. I know a lot of teams were high on JJ Wilcox, who will be asked to step in right away at safety to sink or swim.
- I did not love the Eagles locking in on Lane Johnson with the fourth overall pick, and I'm just reminded how confident the Eagles were that Danny Watkins would wreck people on the interior line for years when the Eagles took him two years ago. Mike Mayock made a good point on the NFLN broadcast: that the Eagles get better at multiple positions with this pick, because Todd Herremans can move back inside...and then they don't have to play Danny Watkins, which is awesome. I don't know how good Lane Johnson will be in the NFL, but I suspect that he won't be more valuable than every non-Dion Jordan skill position or pass rusher in the NFL.
- But Zach Ertz was a pick that I really just didn't get at all and I think the days are over where we look at the Eagles as a team that can do no wrong in the draft. Their entire 2010 draft class washed out with the exception of Brandon Graham, who was the Eagles best defensive player last year, but was a really late bloomer. Their entire 2011 draft class is on the verge of washing out. The 2012 class looks pretty strong (thanks Daniel Jeremiah!), but I didn't love their work this weekend, and four drafts into the Howie Roseman era, they're not exactly blowing Mike Shanahan's drafts out of the water, and Shanahan hasn't ever been a particularly strong talent evaluator. I actually think the Redskins have outdrafted the Eagles over the last three to four years, since Shanahan and Roseman took over these franchises.
- The New York Giants did well this weekend, probably the best effort by any team in the division, but there's a whole lot of projection in their draft and not a ton of immediate help. I think Jonathan Hankins can play multiple positions in their defense. I think Damontre Moore can learn to play multiple positions in their defense. Both are athletic. I liked Justin Pugh on tape a lot, but I didn't see "top 20 pick in the draft" skill. If he's playing tackle in the pros, I think he's the kind of player that teams will try to get their most athletic rusher one on one and try to take advantage of that matchup.
- I got a kick out of watching the NFC West load up this weekend, particularly the 49ers, which I think we were all prepared for when they carried 16 picks into draft weekend. The Seahawks, much like the Redskins weren't real players on the first two days, which you can call their Percy Harvin Tax. But the Rams mached the 49ers point for point and they didn't have 13 picks (though they did have two firsts thanks to the RG3 trade), and now this year's pair of highly rated draft receivers I'm sure will push Sam Bradford over the top to where he definately will not disappoint at all this year. Or whatever.
- Though what the NFC North did might be more relevant to the Redskins. The Redskins' weakness now that the secondary isn't undermanned is the teams run defense. The Packers added Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. We'll see them in Week 2. The Lions added Reggie Bush in the offseason and bolstered their pass rush. We'll see them this year. The Bears upgraded their offensive line and tried to replace their linebackers, both inside and outside. We'll see them this year. And finally, The Vikings picked three times in the first round, needing to hit on all three players (and quickly) to replace the on field impact lost in the Harvin deal. No one is blocking Cordarrelle Patterson the way Kevin Williams is blocking Sharrif Floyd one more year, so that pick is going to get criticized much quicker than the defensive selections will.
- Finishing up back with the Redskins, I had Jordan Reed rated lower than a lot of people (148th overall, 5th round) which explains my general lack of enthusiasm with the selection. I think the pick, however, makes a ton of sense. It's just having some perspective on the selection: Jordan Reed -- and I watched a lot of Jordan Reed before grading him -- struck me as a non-blocker who couldn't really be trusted in the passing game despite smooth movement skills. That description also pretty much could be applied to Niles Paul, and you'd have no idea that it was actually my pre-draft evaluation on Jordan Reed. Now, Jordan Reed to the Redskins becomes a very interesting player because the fact that he's a bad blocker doesn't much matter: the Redskins have shown a tendency to have their tight ends (like Paul) cutting guys down on the backside of plays. They will not have him hanging in against blitzing linebackers asking them to take them on. The Redskins put a premium on guys who can make people miss after the catch: Jordan Reed does this a lot on college tape. They put a lot of value on the vertical element of the tight end. Reed is a vertical tight end. He makes sense as a Redskins tight end. He makes a lot of sense. He's going to be incredibly fun to watch because he's a smooth athlete that makes people miss. It's just that when I watched Reed play at Florida, I didn't see anything that made me say "that player has a strong future in the NFL."
- The Redskins brought in a ton of competition on day three specifically designed to challenge the day three picks from the 2011 draft class that haven't yet established themselves as players. The message is very clear: this team operates on two years cycles, and for draft picks going into their third season, there is no scholarship on this roster anymore, there are just starters, and deep reserves who are young and on scholarship (except Niles Paul, who is on permenant scholarship). Note: the 2012 draft class, particularly the deep offensive line, is still very much on scholarship, as those guys will not face competition for their roster spots this camp. They will receive two full years to pick up the system. But the 2011 draft class is on notice: RB Roy Helu, RB Evan Royster, S DeJon Gomes, G/T Maurice Hurt must either step into the roles of starters or major contributors, or they're going to be beaten out for their roster spot by this current class.
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