Friday, April 27, 2012
Thoughts on the NFL draft first round
By ESPN.com staff
Good to see a handful of Big 12 names called in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night.
What did I think? Glad you asked.
- No surprises in the top two picks, which have both been essentially in the can for weeks. A nice touch by Robert Griffin III with the Redskins socks, but the slogan seemed a little cheesy. Cheesy or not, it's true. Griffin and 31 other gifted athletes caught their dreams on Thursday night. Congratulations to all. Reaching this point isn't easy, even for the most physically gifted players.
- Well, it looked like Justin Blackmon would catch passes from one former Big 12 rival quarterback (Sam Bradford, St. Louis), but instead, he may do it for another. Former Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert gets a much-needed target, but he'll have to re-earn his job after an awful rookie season. St. Louis seemed like a better fit for Blackmon, rather than the Jaguars, but Blackmon's a true game-changer in my book. I think he'll have an effect wherever he goes.
- Miami got its man in Ryan Tannehill. For as much talk as his inflated draft stock has gotten in the past few weeks, this looked pretty likely. Now, we'll see him in action. Like most others, I love Tannehill's upside. With some experience, he could be great. But he needs time. He wasn't outstanding in college, and he's obviously inexperienced at the quarterback position. There are zero questions from me about his physical skills, but I like the chances for his decision-making -- which had major, major issues in 2011 -- to improve if he gets lots of practice reps rather than being thrown in the fire immediately.
- Sheesh, WVU. Y'all got on me for saying you wouldn't have a first-rounder in this post, but it was mostly a throwaway phrase, not a prediction. Most places I'd read had Bruce Irvin as a second- or third-rounder. I obviously didn't see him play much, and don't really have any thoughts on his play. But it's not like I was knocking it, either. I don't exactly keep track of the draft stock of players I never really saw play. Sorry about that. When it's things I'm truly covering, I pay attention. Well, most of the time, anyway. Or something. Either way, my mistake on that one.
- What a great spot in Tennessee for Kendall Wright. I'm not sure I could ever see him carrying an NFL offense, but Wright's good enough to work underneath and stretch the field. I don't buy him much as a game-breaker against No. 1 corners all season, but in a supporting role? Huge, huge pickup for the Titans. As he matures, he may just prove himself as a true No. 1 receiver. His size is the biggest question for me, but he's got great hands and great speed. I just might draft Wright as a late-round sleeper in my fantasy draft next fall.
- Huge congrats to Brandon Weeden, too. The guy deserved it. There's no question in my mind he's a first-round talent and a guy who could be a star at the next level. Not many people gave him a chance to be a first-round pick, but I think the more teams saw of him on and off the field, the more they fell in love with him. It's not hard to see why. The age issue probably would have made me wait until the second round to take him, but if he succeeds, nobody will care. Props to Weeden for handling the age issue so well the past two years. Dude's been asked about it no less than 50,000 times, and he always seemed to handle it with grace. Not sure I could do that. I don't know what his career holds, and it's going to be difficult in Cleveland without many offensive weapons around him, but he's a smart, good decision maker with a humongous arm. That's plenty enough to make an impact.