Ian Kenyon: Bleacher Report
- Round 1: WR A.J. Green
- Round 2: WR Demaryius Thomas
- Round 3: WR Dez Bryant
- Round 4: LT Jake Long
- Round 5: RT Anthony Davis
- Round 6: G Marshal Yanda
- Round 7: G Andy Levitre
- Round 8: C Ryan Kalil
- Round 9: QB Terrelle Pryor
- Round 10:LB Zach Brown
- Round 11: LB KJ Wright
- Round 12: LB Vontaze Burfict
- Round 13: RB Maurice Jones-Drew
- Round 14: WR Santonio Holmes
- Round 15: DT Glenn dorsey
- Round 16: DE/OLB Dwight Freeney
- Round 17: CB Josh Robinson
- Round 18:
- Round 19:
- Round 20:
- Round 21:
- Round 22:
Round 1, Pick 25: A.J. Green, Wide Receiver
Mirroring the thoughts of many of the people drafting around me, I didn’t feel comfortable investing my top pick in a league-average quarterback. Players like Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning can lead their teams to 12-win seasons no matter who they have around them. But further down the line when you get to the middle-of-the-field quarterbacks, they need significant talent around them to win. In the end, we felt it’d be better to establish that talent before investing in our quarterback.
To be honest, I was relieved when Adrian Peterson and Tony Romo went off the board at 22 and 23 because I didn’t feel comfortable investing my top pick in a 28-year-old running back or a 33-year-old quarterback who had never won a playoff game. But both guys were the most valuable players I had on my board.
My original plan was to grab Richard Sherman with this pick, but when he was taken with the 20th pick, I had to revise that strategy. Instead, I decided to opt for A.J. Green.
The third-year receiver from Georgia is only the second wide receiver off the board after Calvin Johnson went with the 18th pick. From my viewpoint, he’s one of 4-5 receivers I felt comfortable building an offense around. There are eight or nine legit number one options but with a few of them entering their 30s, I felt it was important to grab that playmaking wide receiver that can be a staple of the franchise for the next 10 years
Round 2, Pick 40: WR Demaryius Thomas
After selecting WR AJ Green with the 25th overall selection, some may have expected me to grab a quarterback here in round two. No sir. With the 39th overall pick, I decided to select another receiver in Demaryius Thomas. Why back-to-back wide receivers to start this franchise? Well here is the thought process I went through:
- The NFL is a passing league, teams who can move the chains and score points win games.
- Every single QB that I feel 100 percent comfortable building around is gone.
So if I can’t build around a quarterback, why not make my team a destination city for quarterbacks. This exercise is designed to be looked at as picking for the long-haul. Well, if you are a free agent quarterback, or if you’re a young QB looking for a starting job, why wouldn’t you want to throw to A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas? Talk about a selling point.
“Hey [Insert FA QB], how would you like to throw to A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas for the next decade?”
Knowing that the quarterback I land in this draft is not going to be your typical franchise stud, I also felt it was important to grab receivers who have a large receiving radius.
Another factor that went into this thought process is that I feel Demaryius Thomas is one of 6-7 WRs who are in that “elite” discussion and he’s still young at 24 years young. He was my fourth ranked wide receiver in this entire draft (factoring in age and predicted output for the next decade) so to still have him on the board here at 39 was a blessing.
I seriously considered Dez Bryant with this pick, but when it came down to it, they graded out similarly to me as players but Demaryius comes without the headaches of Dez Bryant’s diva personality.
I’m going to keep the rest of my plans close to my chest heading into the third round as not to tip anyone off. But you can be sure that establishing a defense will be a main priority over the next 10 picks.
Round 3, Pick 72: Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver
WR, WR, WR in rounds 1, 2, 3. I know, I know, I know. And I swear, I’m not Matt Millen. There is a bigger plan here. Let’s also remember that this isn’t Charles Rogers and Roy Williams. These are three established receivers in the NFL who have proven to be dominant. My decision to take Dez came down to a few things.
First, Dez was the top player available on my board. As I had previously mentioned, I was considering taking him over Demaryius at the top of round 2. So to see him fall to me in round 3, I was fairly shocked. He’s 24 years old and is coming off of a 92, 1382, 12 season. That should not be a fluke either, the former first round pick is one of the most athletic talents at the position.
Second, the players behind him on my draft board were mostly running backs. A position that can easily be filled later and that hasn’t seen a run go yet.
Third, the biggest positions of need (QB, LT, Pass rushers) already had their runs and I didn’t see tremendous value on the board. I considered a few other players but when it came down to it, felt that adding Dez just provided my team with a unique mismatch opportunity that I don’t think I can replicate later in the draft.
As a fan of the Green Bay Packers for my entire existence, I’ve been able to see first hand the type of advantage a team gains when an offense’s skill players are more talented than the defenders they are facing. Green Bay, of course, has Aaron Rodgers throwing them the ball (which I have no one at the moment). But a huge part of that offense is that the group of receivers (Jennings, Jordy, Cobb, Jones, Driver, Finley) create matchup problems and mismatches. As long as the quarterback can diagnose where those mismatches are, that’s how teams score points and make the throw, that’s how teams score points (quickly).
But are there enough footballs to go around? Of course there are: 18 quarterbacks attempted 500 or more passes last year with Matthew Stafford leading the way with over 700. All three receivers should be able to see 130-160 targets without a hitch.
Rather than viewing this pick as picking a third WR. I think the best way to view it would be like taking a luxury tight end. Bryant isn’t going to play tight end or have a role even close to resembling it. However, the importance he’ll play in the offense and the amount of targets that he’ll see is similar. Except that he’s far more talented than any TE on the board and he creates matchup problems against third corners.
On that point, it also severely diminishes my need for a tight end early in this draft. An expensive tight end would go wasted in this offense. It’s far more important for me to establish blocking and defense from here on out (and there’s plenty of talent to choose from there).
In the end, this pick came down to value and mismatch potential versus conventional thinking where I’d grab a LT or pass rusher here. I choose unconventional.
Round 4, Pick 118: Jake Long, Left Tackle
My original plan here was to start drafting defense, but the two players I was targeting (Janoris Jenkins and Ryan Kerrigan) went within the ten picks before me. So I re-evaluated my board and decided that, no matter who I have at quarterback, they will need to be protected to allow AJ, Demaryius, and Dez work down the field. This led me to to Jake Long. Long would have been a first round pick in this draft had it been held one year ago, but his sub par 2012 campaign undoubtedly left a bad taste in people’s mouths. However, much of Long’s struggles may be attributed to injury and Dr. James Andrews has given Jake a clean bill of health heading into the offseason.
If he can return to his All-Pro form, I think this may end up being one of the better value picks I’ll have in this draft. Considering the receivers I have, there is still a need to establish offensive linemen around Jake. I’d expect my next 10 picks to revolve around offensive line and defense.
Round 5, Pick 138: Anthony Davis, Right Tackle
Still without a quarterback, I know that whoever I do get is going to need a lot of time to scan the field and let my receivers work downfield since I’m not going to end up with a Rodgers, Brady, Manning who can find the open guy in 0.01 seconds. So building the offensive line is critical. Last round I took my left tackle in Jake Long, but now I felt it was important to turn my attention to the other tackle position.
Anthony Davis was one of the top players on my board and at only 23-years old still has room to grow. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever play on the left side, but he’s proven to be a strong run blocker and pass blocker on the right side.
With the two tackle positions covered, the focus from here on out should be defense, defense, defense.
Round 6, Pick 185: Marshal Yanda, Guard and Round 7, Pick 200: Andy Levitre, Guard
First, I do believe that football is won in the trenches. I had already drafted Jake Long and Anthony Davis to be my book ends. But I didn’t want to just have a solid offensive line. I wanted to have a dominant offensive line. Yanda is arguably the best guard in football and Levitre, though not a mauler, is a fantastic pass blocker who can kick out to tackle in a pinch. Kalil, when healthy, is one of the best centers in the game. I was fairly surprised he lasted this long. He’s coming off of a lisfranc injury, but it doesn’t appear that it’ll be something that will keep him out next year.
Second, I truly felt that the players I took were value picks. Yes, I was building a unit, but also I didn’t feel that I was reaching for any of these players so taking them bang, bang, bang in rounds 6-8 didn’t faze me at all.
On top of all that, as I had previously mentioned with my selections of Anthony Davis and Jake Long, I do have three of the best wide receivers in the league and I am without a quarterback. Whoever I draft as my signal caller is going to be someone who needs time to make their reads and let these guys do work down the field. I also think it gives my team an advantage because even though I don’t have a running back yet, almost anyone should be able to run behind this line. Teams will have to respect the run. They can’t just sit back in coverage and try to double team my group of receivers, they’re going to have to commit to defending the run which will give my team mismatches on offense.
Round 8, Pick 249: Ryan Kalil, Center
Round 9, Pick 264: Terrelle Pryor, Quarterback
Round 10, Pick 312: Zach Brown, Linebacker
Round 11, Pick 327: KJ Wright, Linebacker
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