So after spending about thirty minutes trying to write a true "winners & losers" article about the draft yesterday, I realized a universal truth. Let's call it Hanson's Law: if one wishes to maintain any shred of credibility in the sports community, one cannot even attempt to write a winners and losers article about rounds 4-7.
It just isn't possible. Heck (/Northern California'd), writing about the first two days of the draft is pretty much a crapshoot. It's a fun exercise, and thus worthy of being done. I do also think that some basic evaluations can be successful when about rounds 1-3.
The thing about the later rounds, however, is that each pick is essentially a gamble. Well, all picks are gambles. But, when you are talking about a kid who is picked in round six, you are talking about an entirely different gamble than a round one guy. If somebody from round six plays consistently and well on special teams, then that's already a successful pick in my book.
But, everybody wants their own shiny Tom Brady. That's natural. It is also a good strategy. Take some guys in the latter rounds who you think has the potential to be successful. There is serious value in tripping into a starter in round five.
So, I'm ditching the day three winners and losers style post, and I am going to talk about a few picks which I think have lots of upside and represent great value. For the most part, these picks are the result of teams picking a guy who had started to fall.
Without further ado I present the jump, ladies and gentlemen.
If I had to go back on everything I just wrote and pick a true "winner" of today, my first choice would be the Cincinnati Bengals. Hands down. I mean, just look at their fifth round picks. With the 156th pick in the draft, they took CB Shaun Prater from Iowa. He's a bit small, but oozing with talent. A perfect fifth round guy. This is on top of two other stellar picks: WR Marvin Jones from Cal and S George Iloka from Boise State. I'll be up front about Iloka. I really wanted him to be a 49er. I was a touch upset that he wasn't picked just two spots earlier by Baalke, but oh well. Either way, both Jones and Iloka were guys I thought would go by the third round, or maybe the fourth. Great picks.
Another draft crush of mine who went much later than I anticipate is T Bobby Massie from Ole Miss. In some mock drafts, not a ton though, I saw him going as high as the first round. The fact that he fell all the way to the fourth seems a bit astounding to me. So, I have to give kudos to division rival Arizona Cardinals. This was a great pick with excellent value. Massie is big, very athletic, quite strong, and pretty quick. From what I've read, his main problem is that his foot speed can disappear in pass protection. That said, this 6'6" 310 pound kid should be an impact player for the o-line starved Cardinals on day one.
Jump to the d-line a moment and covet DE Jared Crick from Nebraska with me. With the 126th pick the Houston Texans drafted Crick. To me, the fourth round seems like a great place for this player. While he may need to bulk up a touch to complement his incredible quickness, the fact of the matter is he fell in this year's draft due to an injury to his pectoral muscle. If Crick is able to finish out the season and preforms like he had up until the point of his injury, I think he is easily a second round pick. Third at the latest. Crick should be a boon for Houston's pass rush and run defense.
Finally, and this one may be a bit more controversial on my part, I think that the New England Patriots got an absolute steal in CB Alfonzo Dennard from Nebraska. I can't think off the top of my head of a guy who fell as much as Dennard. Nobody, it seems, would have been shocked to see the physical corner go as high as the second round. The talent is there, and he proved it countless times against top tier competition. Dennard's size is perhaps a touch small for a NFL CB - but not so much that he probably won't have the opportunity to start. No, the real knock on Dennard is that he was arrested about a week before the draft. This is bad, clearly. One would hope that players getting ready for the draft would not be so stupid as to get arrested. I mean, the draft should be his life: for a few months at least, don't drink, party, smoke, etc. And, oh yeah, do your dandiest to not hit cops in the face. Regardless, if the Patriots aren't bothered by this incident, then they should be ecstatic about this pick. Huge talent to take late in the draft.
By no means is this list exhaustive - by no means at all. So, are there any guys on whom you had a major draft crush? What teams benefited by picking them up instead of the 49ers? Keep the list going!