Lance Zierlein: Sideline View

Zierlein jumps off the QB train  with his selection of J.J. Watt as his No.1 pick. Photo by The Brit_2.
Zierlein jumps off the QB train with his selection of J.J. Watt as his No.1 pick. Photo by The Brit_2.

Twitter: @Lance Zierlein

Pick Summary

  • Round 1: DE J.J. Watt
  • Round 2: OT Ryan Clady
  • Round 3: ILB Daryl Washington
  • Round 4: DE/OLB Bruce Irvin
  • Round 5: QB Christian Ponder
  • Round 6: CB Keenan Lewis
  • Round 7: WR Steve Johnson
  • Round 8: DE/DT Derrick Wolfe
  • Round 9: LB Mychal Kendricks
  • Round 10: S Malcolm Jenkins
  • Round 11: TE Brandon Pettigrew
  • Round 12: S Chris Clemons
  • Round 13: CB Tramon Williams
  • Round 14: DE /OLB Connor Barwin
  • Round 15: RB Chris Ivory
  • Round 16: G Jeff Allen
  • Round 17:
  • Round 18:
  • Round 19:
  • Round 20:
  • Round 21:
  • Round 22:

Pick Details

Round 1, Pick 7: J.J. Watt, Defensive End

This was a tough one, and in hindsight, I might take Colin Kaepernick if I had it to do all over again.  However, if I’m building my team, I’m willing to take my chance waiting until the 2nd round to see if there is a quarterback there that I like.  My approach to this draft is that I’ll be in charge on my team for the next several years to come and therefore, I want to approach my team-building with a multi-year vision and not a one year vision. It came down to sticking with my board and that would be the best defensive player over the seventh QB of this draft.  I have my eyes on a few QBs who I think could slip through, and if not, I’m willing to wait to find my guy next year.  Ironically, I’m following the 49ers’ model of building my fronts first.

No, Zierlein didn't take Tebow. It's the other guy that every NFL fan should really know. We'll let Lance introduce you. Photo by Jeffery Beall.
No, Zierlein didn’t take Tebow. It’s the other guy that every NFL fan should really know. We’ll let Lance introduce you. Photo by Jeffery Beall.

Round 2, Pick 58: Ryan Clady, Offensive Tackle

Since I am building this team from the floor up and passed on a young QB in the first round in order to take the best defensive player in the game in J.J. Watt, it set me on a course to build my offensive and defensive fronts within the first couple of rounds.  I want to build a young team who has a chance to win on both sides of the line early on.  We want to dominate and impose our will.

Clady will be 27 when the season starts, but he’s never missed a start and can play in any type of running game that we decide to incorporate.  Clady has experience on winning football teams and has had a couple of Super Bowl coaches whom he has played under so I know that I’m getting a professional who will be a good influence in the locker room.

Clady allowed pressures of the quarterback (including sacks) on just 2.6% of the pass attempts for the Broncos last season and that is very important for me as I will likely be going with a very average QB in our first year who will might not be as savvy at getting rid of the ball as we would like.

Washington continues the trend of ascending stars taking precedence over established ones. Photo by SD Dirk.
Washington continues the trend of ascending stars taking precedence over established ones. Photo by SD Dirk.

Round 3, Pick 90: Daryl Washington, Inside Linebacker

Round 4, Pick 103: Bruce Irvin, Outside Linebacker/Defensive End

Round 5, Pick 154: Christian Ponder, Quarterback

Round 6, Pick 167: Keenan Lewis, Cornerback

Round 7, Pick 218: Steve Johnson, Wide Receiver

Round 8, Pick 231: Derek Wolfe, Defensive End/Defensive Tackle

Round 9, Pick 282: Mychal Kendricks, Inside Linebacker

Round 10, Pick 295: Malcolm Jenkins, Safety

The RSP Writers project is brought to you by the 2013 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. Learn more about the 2013 RSP Writers Project and check out the completed 2012 RSP Writers Project where we built teams under a realistic salary cap. You can try it yourself.

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One response to “Lance Zierlein: Sideline View”

  1. This to me is the most fascinating decision of the entire draft; where to cut off the QB line and go for the best player who’s not a QB? How value is the best non QB entity compared to the QBs? Think about it as being the guy in your fantasy league who starts the run of tight ends off the board…only X10

    I don’t really have any good rational behind deciding how to go about this, and the problem here is we don’t have any precedence to base this off of with J.J Watt. We see occasionally top interior linemen in their first two years play at an unbelievable level, although never at a defensive player of the year level. An interior linemen alone though isn’t enough to take over a Cameron Newton Russell Wilson Matt Ryan or Colin Kaepernick though. If your looking for a position where you could make that case; I think you’d have to look at a pass rusher. We’ve also had little in the way of precedence for career’s of defenders who come in and within their first two years end up as top pass rushers, although those who do that end up usually having long successful careers. We’ve never had somebody who’s both though; somebody who comes in their first two years who is a dominant interior linemen and could make a case for being the league’s best pass rusher. If Watt plays at 90% of the level he did for the next 10 years, then outside of the absolute top tier of quarterbacking in the Rodgers/Brady/Manning class, I don’t see how you could pass that up. The question is can he do that, and that’s where there’s more uncertainity than we realize. It’s just alot dicier a proposition than we think to just pencil in a guy as saying “oh he can do what he’s doing at 90% the level he has the next decade; look at how good he is now, he’s only going to improve”. But that’s not how history really works.

    If we did this exercise after each of the past 4 seasons here are some of the things we’d think
    2009: Matt Ryan is coming off one of the best rookie seasons in league history at the QB spot, we’ve never seen anything this good even from legends, the sky’s the limit—there’s no reason to believe he can’t be a superstar. Result: A very very good quarterback but there’s a clear difference between him and the very best. We could repeat this exercise for Jake Long(a tackle his rookie year as a pro bowl caliber player and the top pick overall; how can he not be the next Walter Jones?? Result: His team is perfectly content to see him walk in free agency 4 years later) and Joe Flacco(A rookie winning multiple playoff games, the sky’s the limit; this is one where the franchise’s optimism isn’t so unrealistic but that comes basically entirely off the backend of one super postseason that defied the odds for him)
    2011: Sam Bradford is coming off a rookie of the year performance, and real growth as the top overall pick in the draft—he’s definitely on his way to becoming a very good QB Result: No progress to speak off the past two seasons. Ndamukong Suh: Coming off an all pro caliber rookie season, the sky’s the limit, if he’s already one of the league’s best defenders now when he’s still learning, just imagine what he’ll be like in 2 years? I can count with more than one hand the number of times I heard smart people say Suh would be the best defensive player in football 2 years from now Result: Regression if anything, Suh is a nice player, but nobody would call him even an All Pro at this stage.

    There are many more examples, but the bottom line is I hesitate after one historic season to assume greatness for years to come. If it were me, I would have taken Matt Ryan over JJ Watt. I however am not sure I would do the same for Newton, Wilson or Kaepernick because assuming greatness from them is the same risk I was talking about with Watt only they haven’t even shown greatness yet. Either way, there’s no good answer at all to me what is the most fascinating question of determining the value of a top non QB compared to the QB position.

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