- Round 1: LT Joe Thomas
- Round 2: DE Cameron Wake
- Round 3: S Eric Weddle
- Round 4: DE Michael Bennett
- Round 5: QB Ryan Mallett
- Round 6: G Kevin Zeitler
- Round 7: WR Roddy White
- Round 8: CB Dre Kirkpatrick
- Round 9: RT Phil Loadholt
- Round 10:WR Danny Amendola
- Round 11: DT Linval Joseph
- Round 12: CB Adam Jones
- Round 13: G Zane Beadles
- Round 14: S Bernard Pollard
- Round 15: WR Joseph Morgan
- Round 16: DT Akiem Hicks
- Round 17: DE Robert Ayers
- Round 18:
- Round 19:
- Round 20:
- Round 21:
- Round 22:
Round 1, Pick 30: Joe Thomas, Left Tackle
Maybe I’m chickening out by going with an offensive lineman but at least I know what I am getting: A behemoth who has made the Pro Bowl every year of his career and has been a Top-10 offensive tackle at Pro Football Focus since 2008. A guy who can quietly lead and keep my locker room level headed. A no-nonsense blocker who is better in pass pro than the run, which is vital to my overall team philosophy. And finally, a matchup problem solver for those games when I’m up against a good pass rusher. At 28 years old, I’m hoping to get at least six more great years out of him and then probably deal with his declining play for another two years.
Round 1, Pick 35: Cameron Wake, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
Never did I expect this to be so stressful. Allow me to share with everyone my draft board following my pick of Joe Thomas at 30th overall:
- Philip Rivers
- Josh Freeman
- Julio Jones
I figured at least ONE of the Top 3 names on my board would be there when I picked again in Round 2. Guess I was mistaken, though it doesn’t make me regret my selection of Thomas.
Because of this I had a lot of internal debate over four players, all of whom I expect to get taken within the next dozen picks much less the next 32 picks before I go again. Age was a critical factor because I want to build a team that can compete for a few years, not just this year. I also wanted a solid playmaker regardless of position. I settled for one of those two when I took Cameron Wake.
I do not like that he’s 31 years old. I suspect in three or four years I will regret spending such a big pick on him. But then I remembered that winning now isn’t such a bad consolation prize, so putting a proven pass rush machine like Wake on my roster, even if he turned 31 in January, felt like the right thing to do.
I also think Wake is underrated as a run stopper, which helps things. He’s had 50-plus tackles in two of his last three seasons and isn’t the stereotypical pass rusher who won’t get his nose dirty when a running back comes charging at him. One of those 50-plus-tackle seasons came when he was an outside linebacker, a reminder of another advantage to taking Wake: He can play in any scheme.
Though the talent pool at quarterback is grossly thin and other positions are getting thinner, I don’t see any spot as thin on top talent as pass rusher, which was top-heavy to begin with.
Round 3, Pick 67: Eric Weddle, Safety
I’ve had one rule so far with picking players for my roster: Difference makers. Playmakers. I’m not worried about need (obviously as I haven’t taken a quarterback yet). I just want great players at their positions.
This pick came down to three players, one of whom was picked right in front of me by Danny Kelly. Because I refuse to go with need over talent, I’m taking not only a safe, reliable player in Eric Weddle, but a relatively young one for someone so prolific. Weddle has already turned 28 this year and has been generously productive in six seasons with San Diego, missing a total of four games. He’s the anchor for our secondary as well as someone who can come up and help vs. the run. He’s also converted a touchdown in three of the last four years. I thought long and hard about veering from my board but decided it was best to stick with my original plan: Get talented football players now, worry about need later.
Round 4, Pick 123: Michael Bennett, Defensive End
Still refusing to draft for need, I like the all-around game of Bennett as a three-down defensive end. The big four-year veteran is just reaching his stride at 27 years and is probably going to be a premier pass rusher on a new team this season. I especially like that he had nine sacks last year picking up the slack for Adrian Clayborn.
I especially like pairing him with Cameron Wake on my defensive line (guess I’m going with a 4-3 front). Combined they should pick up a lot of pressure on my opponents. When the pass rush is strong, the secondary doesn’t have to be.
I’ll also admit that through four picks I’ve hit three spots along the line of scrimmage, a major focal point of my draft strategy for this exercise.
Round 5, Pick 133: Ryan Mallett, Quarterback
While my intention was to keep taking the best available players regardless of position, I couldn’t help myself here. I did what so many poor general managers have done in the past and veered off my board to fill the most precious of needs. But at least I am doing so with conviction.
It’s a reach to take a “backup” quarterback ahead of the likes of Alex Smith and Christian Ponder, but I like so much of what Ryan Mallett can offer that I think he is starter material. Furthermore, I do believe he is one of the Top 32 quarterbacks in the NFL right now.
I did some serious comparative studying between Mallett and the remaining quarterbacks. Mallett wins in the arm strength category and the age category. He loses big in the mobility category but I think a serviceable offensive line can help him. He loses big in the experience category — no one can argue with Alex Smith’s varied career and playoff experience. Shoot, Mallett has never started an NFL game. But at least he’s sat behind Tom Brady for two years and has been involved in game preparation with the best team in the league. I’m sure that will help him. He loses in the leadership category but only by default since he’s never had the chance to lead and when he tried to in college it wasn’t rosy. But, unlike many of the other quarterbacks left, Mallett can still prove his leadership skills, can build his resume through playing and maybe even can get his footwork to a place where he’s not totally a statue. Furthermore, he’s young enough where if things work out he can be a franchise quarterback for a decade.
Part of the motivation of this pick was also to secure a quarterback that I actually wanted instead of one settling for one I wasn’t jazzed about. Before my pick I counted several teams that needed a quarterback. I couldn’t run the risk of letting one of those teams get two cracks at getting the last quarterback I felt good about. Frankly, I feel lucky getting Mallett in Round 5 because I didn’t think he would make it back to me at the end of Round 6.
Round 6, Pick 190: Kevin Zeitler, Guard
I’m still looking for well-rounded players who can contribute for at least a few years. Zeitler can start right away on my offensive line (potentially next to my left tackle and his college teammate Joe Thomas) and help set the line for my young quarterback. It’s not a sexy pick, and frankly it wasn’t even the pick I thought I’d make, but I still think he’s one of the best names on the board, especially among the young players.
Round 7, Pick 195: Roddy White, Wide Receiver
He’s old for sure, but he’s also among the last true No. 1 receivers on the board. I’ve committed to a young quarterback in Ryan Mallett and need a quality receiver for him to throw to. White is the right-now answer — we’ll work on finding long-term solutions at receiver as the draft goes on.
Round 8, Pick 254: Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback
The clock was ticking for me on getting at least one decent cornerback so I have to roll the dice with Kirkpatrick to be on the left side of my defense. Kirkpatrick’s size, speed, experience (at least in college) and tenacity are matches for what I want at corner — his youth helps too. His injury history and motor mouth are obvious deterrents but as of now he looks like he’s healthy and ready for training camp. The Bengals are reportedly penciling him in as a starter and with the population at the position thinning out I thought it would be a risk for him to make it back to me in Round 9 much less Round 10. We’re at the point where drafting for potential comes into play — we haven’t seen Kirkpatrick do it at the pro level but he hasn’t had many opportunities. If given the chance he’d probably perform better than a guy picked past the 250-player mark in this draft. I have to take this chance while I can.
Round 9, Pick 259: Phil Loadholt, Right Tackle
I had a player ready to go when I did one last check of the remaining positions on my board. I found one last tackle to my liking and it forced me into a decision: Load up my offensive line or get strong somewhere else. I opted for the lineman. Phil Loadholt is one of the big reasons why Adrian Peterson had a monster 2012 season and looks like he’s trending in the right direction after some up-and-down play over the last four seasons. Moreover, he seems comfortable at right tackle and looks like a bookend type that can hold up for another six or seven years (he’s 27). I’d probably prefer a tackle who is better in pass protection but the alternative to Loadholt is an older tackle with more injury history issues and poor run-blocking ability. I think he’s easily the best right tackle left on the board and perhaps the best overall tackle available in Round 9 too.
Round 10, Pick 317: Danny Amendola, Wide Receiver
When I meet with the media to talk about Danny Amendola, I’ll say he was among the highest-rated players left on my board with excellent traits and a player who fills a need for my team. But when I leave the podium and walk back into my (lavish) office, I’ll curse my rotten luck along with the inability to not trade picks in this exercise.
I really wanted someone else. All three receivers I had pegged on my big board were taken consecutively within 10 spots of my pick. I also wanted Jurrell Casey until I realized Dane took him at the end of the last round (so much for my copious notes).
Amendola’s injury history scares me. Granted, he’s proven to be a great hands man who can do more than catch the screen or flare, so if he can avoid getting hurt then he’s a pretty darn good value for Round 10. If Bill Belichick isn’t scared of Amendola’s body breaking then I shouldn’t be either.
Round 11, Pick 322: Linval Joseph, Defensive Tackle
Spent a lot of time debating this one as there were legitimately four names at four different positions I thought about. But for the second time in this draft I chose to go with need over the best player available. I think Linval Joseph might be the last decent defensive tackle that is both young and experienced. I took the time to watch some All-22 film on him and while he doesn’t play a lot on third downs and doesn’t necessarily have a quick first step, he is a big load who probably can play close to 900 snaps per season if I need him to. I’m going to primarily run a 4-3 front and I prefer big, fat defensive tackles and Joseph fits the bill.
Round 12, Pick : Adam Jones, Cornerback
I’m still looking for good, capable players regardless of position. Need still isn’t a huge factor but I will admit I am jealous of the owners with multiple cornerbacks. So I did a scan of all of the league’s right-side cornerbacks (Dre Kirkpatrick is on my left side) and whittled a list down to a few names. Two specifically were on my board for several rounds. One went earlier in Round 12, so I think it’s wise to take the other in Adam Jones.
Obviously it’s a risk. Jones doesn’t play every snap for the Bengals but when he does play he’s not too bad. For reference’s sake, I checked out how he ranked at Pro Football Focus and then watched his lowest-scored game (vs. PIT). The Steelers didn’t target him like they might a weak cornerback and I saw him whiff on a couple of plays in coverage but make a good effort to bring the receiver down. He’s physical enough in the open field. He’s not really a press corner as he played mostly in a zone look but that suits him well as he has some sustainable speed.
Yes he’s considered an off-field risk and yes he could negatively influence a locker room but he’s been a good player for the Bengals for a couple of years and should be effective for a few more. He turns 30 later this year (my old man team gets older) but I am OK with him starting right away for my team. Best of all, I’ve got two starters at a position getting awfully thin — and I should know, I just reviewed every cornerback depth chart in the league.
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