Ryan Riddle: Bleacher Report
- Round 1: TE Rob Gronkowski
- Round 2: CB Patrick Peterson
- Round 3: DE Mario Williams
- Round 4: C Nick Mangold
- Round 5: DE Anthony Spencer
- Round 6: RB Marshawn Lynch
- Round 7: CB Tarell Brown
- Round 8: DE/DT Kendall Reyes
- Round 9: LT Jordan Gross
- Round 10: S Kenny Phillips
- Round 11: TE Marcedes Lewis
- Round 12: G Chad Rinehart
- Round 13: DT Terrance Knighton
- Round 14: LB Koa Misi
- Round 15: WR Jonathan Baldwin
- Round 16: DT Karl Klug
- Round 17: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
- Round 18:
- Round 19:
- Round 20:
- Round 21:
- Round 22:
Round 1, Pick 28: Rob Gronkowski, Tight End
The first thing any savvy executive (even fake ones) needs in order to optimize success, is to surround himself with people he respects. With this in mind I decided to “hire” one of the best in the business (@JeffRoemer) to be my Vice President of Player Personnel. This was technically my first pick as GM and one I feel very confident in.
Roemer and I have a long twitter history of fearless debates and philosophical differences ranging anywhere from the true value of an offensive lineman, to prospect evaluations. Though he and I disagree with great vigor at times, we also find a healthy dose of common ground, especially in the realm of player evaluations. I believe our mutual respect for one another can add a valuable “war-room” like experience to the project.
With that in mind, I figured this is the time in the draft to acquire true difference-makers, not second-rate quarterbacks. I feared taking a QB at 28 would only magnify the advantage of those who drafted earlier by allowing them to have elite-level talent available at other positions as well.
So who was left?
Rob Gronkowski provides our squad with a big time weapon on offense. At 6’6″ 265 pounds, this rare talent is the complete package. Not only does he catch nearly everything he touches, but he’s also one of the best blocking TE’s in the game. His physical playing style and ultra-competitive spirit fit favorably with the type of guys we want in our locker room.
Gronk has solidified his title as the best redzone option in football by scoring 31 touchdowns (including playoffs) over the last two-seasons, despite missing nearly half of 2012.
One way to look at Gronk’s unique value is that he can provide everything you need from an offensive lineman in addition to everything you’d expect from an elite receiver. So in essence, he gives this team a wide variety of skills from both the trenches and the flanks—a perfect solution to contrasting philosophical differences.
Build from inside-out, or outside-in? How about both!
Though Gronk is near the top of my value board, he is not necessarily my top available talent. The hope is that the other player will be available by the time I pick again at 37. Fingers crossed.
Round 2, Pick 37: Patrick Peterson, Cornerback
Well the draft strategy to take Rob Gronkowski first in hopes to grab my real favorite with the 37th pick has paid off. I figured Patrick Peterson would last at least nine more picks.
Even with Darrelle Revis still available at this point in the draft, Peterson is absolutely my guy in the second round.
PP is one of the most physically gifted athletes in the NFL and has improved significantly throughout his first two seasons as a pro. I’m extremely confident in saying he will soon become the best corner in the league within the next couple of years considering he’s only 22-years of age. At the NFL combine he ran 4.34 in the 40-yard dash despite weighing 219 pounds, proving he not only has elite speed, but he also has the size to battle against some of the leagues bigger wideouts, guys who are already being drafted.
Last year Peterson picked off seven a passes while holding opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 64.8, which was good enough for a spot in the top-10 among all cornerbacks even though he was barely old enough to legally have a beer (Pro Football Focus).
Peterson also provides additional value as the most dangerous punt returner in the game today. During his rookie year alone, Peterson set the league on fire by returning four punts for touchdowns, tying an NFL record.
The philosophy here is to pair this premiere athlete up against the biggest threats each week for the next 10 years while utilizing his rare talents sparingly as a punt returner. He should serve as the perfect spark-plug when in need of a big-time momentum change (punts, kickoffs, reverses, decoy) while still taking away your best weapon.
With my first two picks I’ve addressed both sides of the ball, including special teams, by taking rare athletes who still have father-time on their side. The best football has yet to be played for these two dynamic talents still years away from their prime. Let the youth movement begin. After all, aging stars can fill out the holes in the roster throughout the later rounds. These earlier rounds will be used on guys I can build around for the long haul.
Round 3, Pick 69: Mario Williams, Defensive End
I had to scan the project draft room several times just to make sure nobody had taken Mario Williams. I was rather surprised to discover he was indeed still available. “Was” being the operative word here, as he now belongs to me (muahahaha).
Many out there may perceive Mario as an overrated, overpaid disappointment based on his first few games with Buffalo. But when healthy and used the right way, this guy is a consistent force against both the run and pass. His freakish athleticism and career production have earned him that hefty paycheck and though he may not have lived up to his massive contract just yet, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion his best years are still ahead of him. In his last 36 games he has racked up 27 sacks… not too shabby.
At 6’7″ 290 pounds, Williams can run like a linebacker and collapse the pocket like a defensive tackle. The plan here is to utilize his unique abilities in a variety of ways. This provides some flexibility in my multiple-front defense, where I will be sure to maximize his potential and put him in the best positions to succeed.
As with my earlier picks, youth was a major consideration in taking Williams. These early rounds must be players I can build around for the next 5-plus years. More short-term puzzle pieces can come in the later rounds.
Round 4, Pick 121: Nick Mangold, Center
This was absolutely one of the toughest picks to date.
With the talent thinning out in other positions, it only made sense to address a philosophical need for the team being built. Mangold was described by @JeffRoemer (my VPoPP) as a “rare-elite at his position.” This essentially means the gap between he and the second best center are still very far apart at the moment. A point of view I wholeheartedly agree with.
I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to be a member of the Jets during Mangold’s rookie season (2006). This was no ordinary rookie offensive lineman. Most first-year guys upfront enter the league as timid puppies, desperately in need of some grooming and physical maturation (including DBrick). Mangold was all grown up from the moment he entered the league, and nobody messed with this guy. At least not twice.
Technically sound, natural leader, highly intelligent and “tough as a 2 dollar steak” as Jim Harbaugh would say. For the fourth time in a row, we feel very confident we got the best player at their respective positions.
Round 5, Pick 135: Anthony Spencer, Defensive End
Pass-rushers were going quickly off the board and Spencer was a guy whom many believed to be on par with DeMarcus Ware. His versatility in our multiple front defense will be critical when paired with Mario Williams on the opposite side.
Round 6, Pick 188: Marshawn Lynch, Running Back
It was puzzling to see a guy of his caliber still available in the 6th round. His impact on the game is immense and would too valuable to let get away at this point in the draft.
As a former teammate of his in college I have all the confidence in the world in his character and as a locker room presence. I’ve witnessed his impressive feats of “beasting” up close and personal and could even see he was better than JJ Arrington as a true freshman, yea the same JJ Arrington who rushed for over 2,000 yards his senior year at Cal.
Lynch is still young at 26 years old and should have a lot more gas in the tank if supplied with adequate amounts of skittles. In terms of his status as a positional-elite, he answers only to Adrian Peterson in superiority.
Round 7, Pick 197: Tarell Brown, Cornerback
Round 8, Pick Pick 252: Kendall Reyes, Defensive End/Defensive Tackle
Round 9, Pick 261: Jordan Gross, Left Tackle
Round 10, Pick 315: Kenny Phillips, Safety
Round 11, Pick 324: Marcedes Lewis, Tight End