Re: Insider help!
posted at 4/29/2010 12:34 PM EDT
Elsa/Getty ImagesScouts Inc. takes a look at three intriguing draft developments in the AFC:
Bill Belichick and the Patriots have been successful in the draft. But are they outthinking themselves?
Are the Patriots' draft tactics getting old?
As usual, all the trading down and wheeling and dealing set the Patriots up very well for the future. But my worry here, and with this philosophy overall, is how many true difference-makers has Bill Belichick brought to New England lately via the draft? In the four previous drafts, the only impact Patriots I see are Jerod Mayo and Brandon Meriweather, and it could be argued that they are not among the top players at their respective positions yet. Mayo was the 10th pick, and Meriweather was 24th. My point? There is some validity to using high picks on difference-makers, and trading down makes acquiring such stars difficult.
Belichick is the best coach in the NFL and clearly one of the best talent evaluators, but even with his game-day brilliance, the NFL is predicated on creating mismatches with superior football players. Even this draft looks to be made up predominantly of role players -- maybe very good role players if everything works out, but role players just the same.
So even after the draft, New England still remains short on pass-rushers, and Tom Brady will be handing the ball to the same stable of ordinary running backs. All the moving around is impressive, but maybe it is time that we become a little more critical of the Patriots' draft tactics.
Bills ignore major needs
Before this draft, the Bills were strong in their secondary and at running back as well as decent at inside linebacker. Every other position needed significant work. So what did Buffalo do? It drafted a running back with the ninth pick, and a specialty player at that.
The Bills organization was not at all in the position to make such a luxury pick. That isn't a knock on C.J. Spiller, but an outside runner such as Spiller will find some very tough sledding with awful offensive tackles trying to pave the way against 3-4 defenses in the brutal AFC East. Waiting until the 140th pick to finally address the Bills' putrid offensive tackle situation was simply criminal. It won't shock me if seventh-round pick Kyle Calloway sees playing time at tackle sooner than later -- which isn't necessarily a great thing -- but he is well-coached and might be a pleasant surprise.
Even so, counting on seventh-round picks isn't a good business plan. I understand that transitioning to a 3-4 defense from a 4-3 scheme takes a different type of front-seven player, which is why I don't condone Buffalo's making that change now with the awful status of its offense. Ignoring offensive tackle, wide receiver and quarterback will result in a long, low-scoring season.
Broncos' late picks offset first-day head-scratchers
I was extremely critical of the Broncos' draft on the first day and with their high-draft selections under Josh McDaniels in the past two years. But I like what Denver did on the second and third day.
It is very clear that McDaniels wanted to get bigger and more physical with the interior of his team's offensive line, and that was accomplished. I think that two Broncos selections will start at guard and center on opening day. If so, it will help the causes of some of the early draft choices that I wasn't nearly as high on, particularly running back Knowshon Moreno.
Wide receiver Eric Decker is also a fine acquisition. He might take time as he recovers from injury, but he catches everything in sight. Decker also brings more size to the receiver position with first-round pick Demaryius Thomas, which was a high-priority task that the Broncos accomplished.