Josh Katzowitz: CBS Sports
- Round 1: QB Tom Brady
- Round 2: LB Navorro Bowman
- Round 3: CB Charles Tillman
- Round 4: WR Vincent Jackson
- Round 5: OT Jermon Bushrod
- Round 6: DE Chris Clemons
- Round 7: CB Tim Jennings
- Round 8: ILB Jerod Mayo
- Round 9: OT David Stewart
- Round 10: TE Tony Gonzalez
- Round 11: DT Randy Starks
- Round 12: C Fernando Velasco
- Round 13: RB Vick Ballard
- Round 14: WR Brian Hartline
- Round 15: CB Danieal Manning
- Round 16: G Richie Incognito
- Round 17:
- Round 18:
- Round 19:
- Round 20:
- Round 21:
- Round 22:
Round 1, Pick 3 – Tom Brady, Quarterback
Going into this draft, it was clear that Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers was the top player in the league, but I didn’t hold out much hope he’d be around by pick No. 3. To me, the No. 2 player on the board was Tom Brady, so when Sam Monson selected Peyton Manning in the No. 2 slot – a pick that seemed to surprise many of us – that made me a happy boy.
Obviously, Brady’s career is closer to the end than the beginning, but the 35-year-old says he wants to play until he’s 40 and he hasn’t shown much, if any, drop-off in his talent or his production as he enters his 14th year in the league. Dane Brugler, who had the No. 1 pick in this draft, discussed his decision to choose Rodgers over Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, but Luck was never really in consideration for me. Brady is still too good and too accomplished – and still has much more to give – than for me to go with a young player like Luck or Robert Griffin III. Both are tremendous talents, but they still have question marks. With Brady, there are no question marks, and starting a team from a scratch, that’s the kind of guy I want. Even if he won’t be around in 10 years.
I also never thought about Joe Flacco, even though he’s soon to become the highest-paid player in the league. Now that he’s won a Super Bowl, I’d tend to put Flacco as a top-six quarterback (not a top-five guy, though). But that championship also didn’t persuade me to go with Flacco so early in this draft. Even though he probably thinks otherwise, Flacco is certainly no Rodgers, Brady or Manning.
Round 2, Pick 62: Navorro Bowman, Linebacker
With the third overall pick, I had a few days to wait until my second-round selection. So, I waited and contemplated and paced and filed my nails and researched and waited and contemplated … Anyway, it didn’t make much sense for me to build a big draft board until after the first round was complete, because so many of those picks would have been gone by the time I got the chance to select again. But during that time, I thought long and hard about the kind of team I want to construct – the kind of defense I want to play and the type of talent I want to build around Brady. And since the draft order flips in round 3, I had to be careful about who I selected since it’d be another 32 picks before I could select again.
My decision came down to two offensive players who are talented and who would pair well with Brady vs. one of the best young talents in the league that could lead my defense for many years to come. That’s Bowman, who’s nearly as good (or just as good, or maybe slightly better, depending on who’s evaluating) than Patrick Willis, who was grabbed by Aaron Schatz midway through the second round. Here’s what I like about Bowman: he’s younger than Willis (he’ll turn 25 years old at the end of March to Willis’ 28), and he’s also got the benefit of playing next to Willis for the next few years (I mean, what linebacker wouldn’t kill to have that opportunity?).
I guess if I had to choose between Willis and Bowman, I’d probably go with the former (I’m also not 100 percent sure of that). But Bowman still gives me flexibility with how I want to set up my defense. Mostly, though, I wanted the most dynamic player on my board. Bowman was it for me.
Round 3, Pick 94: Charles Tillman, Cornerback
It’s nearly impossible to switch on a Bears game and not find Charles Tillman making some kind of game-impacting play. He’s not as fawned over as superstar cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman — and frankly, he’s not quite at their level either — but Tillman has been one of the best CBs in the league during the past three seasons.
I’ve found that selecting Tom Brady with the No. 3 pick has given me (perhaps a false?) sense of security with my offense. Do I need to select top-notch offensive players, or can Brady turn a good receiver into a great one, make a decent offensive lineman look much better than he is, turn a good tight end into a superstar? More importantly, can Brady continue to do that for the next five years in my franchise?
At this point, that’s what I believe (though I reserve the right to change my mind in the next round), so I’m looking to shore up my defense with as many high-end impactful defenders as possible. That’s why I went with NaVorro Bowman in the middle of my defense in the second round and why I’m going with Tillman here. Honestly, Tillman is older than I’d like him to be (though, he also has played better the older he’s gotten). I briefly thought about going with other, younger CBs – Casey Hayward for example, but he just hasn’t played enough snaps to make me completely confident in him – but in reality, I still like Tillman over just about anybody else on my board.
Round 4, Pick 99: Vincent Jackson, Wide Receiver
Jackson is coming off the best season of his career, and I can’t wait to see how unbelievable he plays with Brady throwing him passes. Because if there’s anything that writing a book on Sid Gillman (this isn’t a true plug alert, by the way, because I didn’t include a link. Ah, screw it. Here’s the link.) has taught me is that if you have a good downfield threat and a quarterback with the accuracy to get the ball to him, then you’ll have a chance to score a ton of points (and do awfully well in the American Football League). Well, consider Brady to Jackson to be the updated version of John Hadl to Lance Alworth (OK, that’s not an exact comparison; I’m just saying …).
Either way, I want Jackson on my team, because of the way he stretches the field vertically and because he’s got good hands (via Pro Football Focus, he only had five drops in 137 targets last year). With the way he performed last season in Tampa Bay with Josh Freeman as the quarterback, that leads me to believe that Jackson, with Brady, is poised for the best years of his career.
Round 5, Pick 158: Jermon Bushrod, Left Tackle
By my count, 11 offensive tackles have been taking off the board, so while I’m not completely thrilled with having to take Bushrod, I’m not displeased either. Bushrod, at this point, is probably no better than a middle-of-the-road offensive tackle, but with a quarterback like Tom Brady, I don’t necessarily need a top-end guy on his blind side. Brady has that ability to feel the pressure – he’s one of the best in the game with those instincts – and he gets the ball out quickly. Even if Bushrod gets pushed around by the game’s elite defensive tackles, Brady shouldn’t suffer much because of it, because by the time that defender gets within striking distance, the ball, more often than not, will be out of Brady’s hand (in fact, Pro Football Focus (https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2012/11/07/signature-stat-snapshot-time-to-throw/) timed Brady as the quickest QB in the league to release the ball).
Plus, you have to like a guy who is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances. Even if Drew Brees and his amazing ability to avoid sacks in New Orleans helped make Bushrod look better than perhaps he is, Brady will provide the same service. Bushrod isn’t the best LT in the league, but with him in the lineup, I also don’t have to worry much about my franchise quarterback taking too many shots from his blind side.
Round 6, Pick 163: Chris Clemons, Defensive End
My goal for my last two picks was to get a decent-enough left tackle (which I did in Jermon Bushrod six picks ago) and a top-10 pass-rusher. I wasn’t surprised Chris Clemons was still available, but I’m glad he is, because he’s a guy who simply has that innate ability to pressure the quarterback.
Clemons, by no means, is a perfect player. He’s not great at stopping the run, and he’s coming off an ACL tear that might limit him early into the 2013 season. And I don’t love the fact he’s 31 and very well could be squeezed out of the Seahawks lineup with the free agent acquisitions of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett (plus, Bruce Irvin is just beginning his second season). But it seems like every time I watch a Seahawks game on TV, Clemons is the one making an impact. He’ll be making that same kind of impact against the quarterbacks that my team will face for hopefully the next five years.
Round 7, Pick 222: Tim Jennings, Cornerback
Tim Jennings had a career-year in 2012, snagging nine interceptions and making his first Pro Bowl. Just like they do in Chicago, I’m pairing him with Charles Tillman. Now, I’ve got two exceptional playmakers in my secondary that can turn the game around with their ability to pick off opposing quarterbacks. I still need to beef up my defensive line, but I’m beginning to really like the back end of my defense.
Round 8, Pick 227: OLB Jerod Mayo
When Ben Muth proclaimed to the world that the average age of my roster, through the first seven picks, was a stunning 30.29 years old, I knew I needed to tweak my approach. Don’t get me wrong, I like my roster so far. And while I wouldn’t consider most of my squad “old” per say – Tom Brady could be an exception – I also need to add more youth to the roster. In part, that’s why I went with Mayo. He’s 27 years old, and he could play at a high level for seven, eight or nine more years. Plus, he’s a standout linebacker that will benefit even more by playing next to NaVorro Bowman.
Round 9, Pick 286: OT David Stewart
Another guy who’s on the wrong side of 30, but I also wanted a strong veteran tackle who is solid or better at pass blocking. Stewart is coming off a broken leg, so that’s not ideal, but when he’s healthy, he’s still one of the better right tackles in the league. And can continue to be for the next few years.
Round 10, Pick 291: TE Tony Gonzalez
Yes, yes, I know. Gonzalez nearly retired after last season (though when he said “95 percent” sure, I said, “Well, let’s see what happens if the Falcons don’t win the Super Bowl”) and is 37 years old. But he’s still a top-five tight end with an unreal ability to catch and hold onto the ball. I don’t care if Gonzalez only plays one more season. With the exception of Rob Gronkowski, I don’t think there’s a tight end I’d rather have. At this point, I’m resigned to the fact that my team is going to be old, but hell, I’m going for NFL titles right away. After I win the Super Bowl, I can start looking to get younger.
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