football

NFL Draft: Jets and Giants Improve; Patriots Do Not

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

  Now what?

  The NFL Remote Draft is in the books and the next live sporting event we can look forward to is…?

 Commissioner Roger Goodell looked stiff and uncomfortable throughout the first round. Bill Belichick’s dog, Nike, would be considering a holdout after his outstanding draft poise but he knows his owner would unceremoniously trade him.

The Giants and Jets fared fairly well. Both teams fulfilled Mission A – bolster the offensive line. And both upgraded their secondary with potentially fantastic safeties.

Two of the league’s better GMs – Belichick and 49ers John Lynch – didn’t fare as well as usual. Ravens GM Eric DeCosta hit it – again while the Panthers and Jaguars, often mistaken for each other, bolstered their defenses.

The Cowboys, with CeeDee Lamb will have to outscore teams. The Raiders (Henry Ruggs III) will have to outrun teams.

Aaron Rodgers is not a happy camper. Kirk Cousins is. Go figure.

Speaking of figures, here are our draft grades, from best to worst:

 Jaguars – Best pick: Laviska Shenault, Jr., WR, Colorado – Our second favorite playmaker in the draft. Fave pick: Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami – one of the more under-appreciated players in the draft. Skinny: No misses and a revitalized defense. Grade: A+

Panthers – Best pick: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois – Eric Weddle redux. Fave pick: Runs like a deer, hits like a rhino. Fave pick: Tony Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame. Smart and speedy. Skinny: They got three starters on defense and Pride might make four. A+

Ravens – Best pick: Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State – Gets to the ball carrier quick and hard. Fave pick: James Proche, WR, SMU – Won’t win any races but will catch any pass. Skinny: The Ravens are about defense which they got with LB Patrick Queen, DT Justin Madubuike and Harrison. Grade: A+.

Bengals – Best pick: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU – No reason to believe he won’t develop into an elite QB. Fave pick: Akeem Davis-Gather, OLB, Appalachian State – He can run and hunts like a Power Five backer. Skinny: A franchise QB who can throw it up to Tee Higgins and A.J. Green have. Grade A.

Browns – Best pick: Grant Delpit, S, LSU – The next great LSU DB. Fave pick: Nick Harris, C, Washington – We’ve sworn off using steal but getting this brawler in the 5th round? Larceny! Skinny: And they got the second-best OT with the 10th pick. Grade: A.

Bucs – Best pick: Tristian Wirfs, OT, Iowa – Getting the best tackle with the 13th pick –  wow! Fave pick: Antoine Winfield, Jr., S, Minnesota – If every football player played with his tenacity – ouch! Skinny: And fifth-round pick, WR Tyler Johnson, is going to be a Brady favorite: Grade: A.

Cowboys – Best pick: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama – Take Byron Jones’ locker. Fave pick: Our No.1 WR, CeeDee Lamb at No. 17? Touchdown! Skinny – Boys filled defensive needs and gave Dak Prescott as dangerous a WR corps as there is. Grade: A.

Cardinals – Best pick: Josh Jones, OT, Houston – A starting tackle in the 3rd round? Wow! Fave pick: Evan Weaver, ILB, Cal. – Not an elite athlete but the 6th-rounder is tackling App who just might stick. Skinny: A tackle for Khyler Murray and the best $LB in Isaiah Simmons. Grade: A-.

Broncos – Best pick: Lloyd Cushenberry III, C, LSU – A third-round pick he can be the Day 1 starter. Fave pick: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State – slotted between first-round pick WR Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton. Skinny: Drew Lock’s April Christmas. Grade: A-

Vikings – Best pick: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU – Perfect opposite Adam Thielen. Fave pick: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State – Pencil in this second-rounder as a 10-year starter. Skinny – If seventh-rounder Kenny Willekes, DE, Michigan State, sticks, GM Rick Spielman nails another draft. Grade: A-.

Chargers – Best pick: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon – All this pre-draft talk about being an introvert is bollocks. Fave pick: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma – plays like he’s pissed off.  Skinny: If Herbert wins the starting job at any point this season, the Chargers will be thrilled. Grade: B+

Giants – Best pick: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama – The best safety in the draft – Round 2! Fave pick: Cam Brown, LB, Penn State – even if he never becomes more than a special teams star, high character addition. Skinny: Just can’t help wondering why they made Andrew Thomas the first OT off the board. Grade: B+.

Dolphins – Best pick: Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise St. – He’s not the second coming of DeMarcus Lawrence but he’ll get after it. Fave pick: Malcolm Perry, WR, Navy – Former Navy QB is a player. Skinny: Feels like this was a draft for two years out. Grade: B – could be an A or an F.

Jets – Best pick: Ashtyn Davis, S, Cal – One of the best athletes in this draft. Fave pick: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia – Jets defensive backfield has quality depth. Skinny: If 1st-round pick Mekhi Becton keeps his weight down, the Jets finally have a solid GM in Joe Douglas. Grade: B

Lions – Best pick: Julian Okwara, OLB, Notre Dame – Third-round pick with a first-round first step. Fave pick: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia –  RBs aren’t highly valued but Georgia is RB U. Skinny: Lot of pressure to win now. Does this draft really accomplish that? Grade: B.

Redskins – Best pick: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State – Memo to NFC QB’s: The Redskins have as good a DL as you’ll find. Fave pick: Saahdiq Charles, C, LSU – they got a second-round talent in the 4th round. Skinny: Make D.C.’s team great again? Not so fast. Grade B.

Saints – Best pick: Zach Baun, DE/OLB, Wisconsin – A first-round talent in the third round. Fave pick: Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton – Another weapon for Drew Brees. Skinny: Saints only had four picks and nailed at least three of them, especially if Trautman is a quick contributor. Grade: B.

Seahawks – Best pick: Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford – Can see Seattle using a lot of two tight-end alignments. Fave pick: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech – The hits just keep on coming. Skinny: If second-round pick DE Darrell Taylor can be a force, Seahawks defense trends up. Grade: B.

Titans – Best pick: Isaiah Thomas, OT, Georgia – The offense is about winning the line so they add a 6-foot-7, 350-pound lineman. Fave pick: Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State – Even Derrick Henry needs a break. Skinny: Matt Vrabel stuck to the team’s personality. Grade: B-.

Chiefs – Best pick: Willie Gay, Jr. ILB, Mississippi State – Terrific size and speed for a sideline-to-sideline backer. Fave pick: LaJarius Sneed, S, Louisiana Tech – With his speed, a special teams player at worst. Skinny: Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round? Nope. Grade: B-.

Steelers – Best pick: Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame – Big Ben needs more than JuJu Smith-Schuster. Fave pick: Last season’s trade for S Minkah Fitzpatrick. Skinny: The Ben Roethlisberger era is closer to twilight than sunrise. Not sure this draft did enough to help him win now. Grade: C+.

49ers – Best pick:  Brandon Aiyuk, WR, ASU – It has to be because San Fran needs another outside playmaker. Fave pick: Charlie Woerner, TE, Georgia – Might give the 49ers a goal line jumbo package. Skinny: GM John Lynch’s golden touch tarnished. Grade: C.

Patriots – Best pick: Josh Uche, OL, Michigan – Maybe not Isaiah Simmons light but in that mold. Fave pick: Josh Uche – See above. Skinny: S Kyle Duggar dominated at Lenoir-Rhyne but it was, well, Division II Lenoir-Rhyme. Skinny: Bill Belichick is as proven as it gets but this was an off year. Grade: C.

Bears –  Best pick: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah – Got one of the better corners in the middle of the second round. Fave pick: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame – Best tight end in the draft, by far. Skinny: Bears now have 10 tight ends on the roster, making for the core of an excellent rugby team. The NFL isn’t rugby. Grade: C-

Eagles – Best pick: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU – QB Carson Wentz at least has one target. Fave pick: Jack Driscoll, OL, Auburn – An NFC East blue collar blocker. Skinny: We like QB Jalen Hurts but not in the second round and not with other needs. Grade: C-.

Falcons – Best pick: Matt Hennessy, C, Temple – A Jersey brawler. Fave pick: Sterling Hofrichter, P, Syracuse – Watch this kid punt in Mile High. Skinny: They never recovered after reaching for first-round pick, CB. A.J. Terrell. And if the punter is a fave pick, ooh. Grade: D.

Packers – Best pick: None. Fave pick: None. Skinny – Not only did the Pack fail do anything to help Aaron Rodgers, but by trading up for QB Jordan Love, they started the Hall of Fame QBs clock. Grade: F.

Raiders – Best pick: Amik Robertson, CB, La Tech – Fourth-rounder plays with a chip. Fave pick: Lynn Bowden, Jr., WR – A player, plain and simple. Skinny: If the NFL was a 7-on-7 league, Raiders would compete. But it’s not. Vegas fans consider season distancing. Grade: F.

OTHER WINNERS

AREA CODES. Everyone now knows the area code for Cincy QB Joe Burrow’s hometown of Athens, Ohio.  Burrow wore a shirt with Southeast Ohio’s area code, 704. This is the greatest boost to area codes since Reggie Bush wore 619 on his eye black, San Diego’s area code.

PRICE ALERT: QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys continue to try to work out a new deal. If they don’t, he plays under the franchise tag next season, when he will have Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Zeke Elliott and first-round pick CeeDee Lamb to throw to. Price alert.

SOAP OPERAS – For such a storied franchise, Green Bay has become the soap opera capital of the NFL. Brett Favre didn’t welcome Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers didn’t take to Mike McCarthy.

 Enter Jordan Love, who The Pack traded up to get, setting the stage for Season 3 of TittleTown Tantrums (Hulu). Rodgers, 36, is in win-now mode. The Packers didn’t do much to help him. The over/under on how many times TV cameras focus on any interaction between Rodgers and coach Matt LaFleur is 26, where Love was drafted.

GHOSTS – If you were in Jon Gruden’s home for Thursday night’s draft, you were one of a select few who swear they heard the laughter of the late Al Davis seeping up from the basement like a chill.

The Raiders used pick No. 12 on speedy Henry Ruggs III, who we had as the No.3-ranked WR, behind CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy. Then they used the 19th pick on Ohio State CB Damon Arnette, who almost certainly would have been available in the second round.

Davis was known for always being smitten with speedy wide receivers, some of whom didn’t pan out, and being a contrarian. The Raiders went for the Davis cycle. Listen closely, “Just Win Baby.”

COUCH POTATOES – George Kinlaw, Javon Kinlaw’s dad, was in total couch potato mode, half asleep on the couch, until the 49ers, George’s favorite team, drafted Javon. Pops fell off the coach and proceeded to take a “victory flight” around the room.

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1 reply »

  1. Left no stone unturned. Great analysis team by team. About time Bill didn’t dominate draft.

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