One of the most exciting and hotly anticipated times of the year on the NFL calendar is over and as usual it has created rigorous debate amongst fans as to who got their man and who has drafted a potential bust.
FightForTheYard takes a look at the teams that improved their chances ahead of the new season;
Arizona produced one of the shocks of the first round with the addition of wide receiver Michael Floyd. The significance of this pick is huge as it means defences across the league will have to focus on two quality wide outs instead of all the planning going into, ‘how to stop Larry Fitzgerald’.
The addition of THREE tackles, Bobbie Massie from Mississippi being the stand out one, means the Cardinals have addressed a big need in a big way. Quarterback Ryan Lindley was taken in the 6th round and will apply some pressure to the faltering Kevin Kolb.
Staffordshire Surge lineman Tom Donlan, 22, is pleased with the weekend’s outcome.
“Michael Floyd is the one I wanted an we went out and got him. I believe Massie will be a steal in the fourth round and it’s good to see some competition at the quarterback position”.
FightForTheYard Draft Grade : B-
San Francisco 49ers
San Fran entered the draft with a team already capable of launching an assault on the division title and quite possibly the Super Bowl. With their first selection they acquired wide receiver A.J. Jenkins from Illinois. Jenkins was a surprise selection considering Randle and Hill remained on the board and the fact that the 49ers had already strengthened this position in the offseason with Randy Moss and Mario Manningham joining the team.
A selection I loved was the capture of Oregon running back LaMichael James in the second round. Not much was said about this kid going into the draft process, even though he had a massive year in college. The signing of James now means the 49ers can call upon either Gore, Bradshaw or LaMichael to improve that offense that struggled a little bit in 2011/12.
As for the remaining selections, the 49ers addressed some needs in the secondary and picked up defensive end Cam Johnson in the 7th round, which will have delighted defensive co-ordinator Vic Fangio.
FightForTheYard Draft Grade : B+
St Louis Rams
At the end of the first round I was left wondering how the Rams had traded out of the second overall position all the way back to No. 14? I wasn’t the only one, Super Bowl MVP and former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner displayed his frustration on Twitter, (I mention this because I got a reply from him, no big deal.)
With the first round pick the Rams took defensive tackle Michael Brockers out of LSU. The second round was where things got interesting. With the first of three picks the Rams gave Sam Bradford a weapon, aptly name receiver Brian Quick. With the second selection they grabbed troubled cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
We all know that Jenkins could do with a bit of counselling but their is no doubt when it comes to his footballing skills that he is a top talent. Following Jenkins was Iasaiah Pead, a future replacement for aging running back Steven Jackson?
Trumane Johnson was another good bit of business by new head coach Jeff Fisher as the Rams recovered from a shaky start, where they had hoped to draft Justin Blackmon before the Jaguars traded up to get him.
FightForTheYard Draft Grade : A-
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa had a disasterous season last year but made some good signings during free agency and have continued to take strides in the right direction with this year’s draft.
Trading back two places in the 1st round did not hurt them as they secured the top safety, Mark Barron with their first pick. Towards the end of the round the Bucs managed trade back in to secure the second best running back in the draft, Doug Martin. Great business.
Outside linebacker Lavonte David followed in the 2nd round with a potential game changer in Najee Goode helping to improve the Tampa defence.
Brilliant weekend for the Buccaneers
FightForTheYard Draft Grade : A*
New England Patriots
The Patriots decided to trade down and collect extra picks for the later rounds… is what I was going to say but amazingly completely the opposite occurred.
New England traded up to get pass rusher Chandler Jones with their first pick and then aggravated the Ravens by pinching Dont’a Hightower from underneath their noses.
Defence was a problem at Foxborough last year even though they did make it all the way to the Super Bowl, but still, the first two picks in this draft will improve them considerably.
Alfonso Denard was chosen in the final round, a first round talent with off the field issues, should Belichick sort him out, the Patriots have a quality cornerback on the roster.
New England fan Alex Morse likes what they have been able to do; “I’m just happy we got the guy with the best name in the draft.
FightForTheYard Draft Grade : B+
The Steelers have had nothing short of a remarkable draft. Two future Pro Bowl linemen in guard David DeCastro and tackle Mike Adams will help keep big Ben on his feet, where he belongs.
Sean Spence’s tape speaks for itself at linebacker and a big presence on the inside with Alameda Ta’amu adds another piece to the puzzle of this great defence.
Running back Chris Rainey has been spoken in the same breath of La Micheal James and Lamar Miller and if he can produce the numbers I believe the other two can, then Pittsburgh will be rockin’ and rollin’.
Steelers fan Julian Myles, 22, believes the team is stronger than ever; “Potentially we have two sensational linemen to protect the quarterback and a nose tackle that can learn from veteran Casey Hampton.
“All in all we have filled our gaps and I cannot wait for the season to be underway in September”.
FightForTheYard Draft Grade : A
The Bengals did all they could to cement themselves as a playoff team for years to come with some shrewd investments in this year’s draft.
The selection of Dre Kirkpatrick improves what is already a good defence operating without the big named players of divisional rivals, Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Defensive tackles Devon Still and Brandon Thompson are solid signings that will stop the run and leave Kirkpatrick to dominate the passing game.
Mohammed Sanu was the victim of a hoax phone call claiming Cincinnati required his services but ironically a day later, the Bengals did come calling and he could be the man to take some of the pressure off current receiver A.J. Green.
I really like what the Bengals did this year.
FightForTheYard Draft Grade : A*