It’s taken me 30-plus years on this planet to realize that I can get defensive, but recognition is the first step, right? Thanks to The Machine for the reality check on my last update on “The Tank’s House of Purgatory.” My team’s standings indicate otherwise, but I think I am on the brink of a breakthrough and this draft is step 1 on my journey from worst to first. The idea of this exercise is to take you through the thought process of the moves I made throughout the draft as well as provide a brief writeup for each player selected. I started the draft with the following picks
I did not create a mock draft ahead of time, but I did pencil in ideal players into each slot in this draft. For the first time ever in my drafting life, I got just about every player I penciled in. It made for a much more satisfying drafting experience as I usually leave more frustrated than anything because I just missed a couple of prime targets. In the end, I just missed on one and I believe I have the horses to make do without him anyway, but … that one stung. I’ll get into that, and the rest, below.
Round 1, Pick 1 – Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo
Do not get cute with the first pick of the draft. There is only one player in this crop that is situation proof – Watkins. He’ll have to prove this on the field as Buffalo is arguably one of the worst situations he could go to.
Round 1, Pick 3 – TRADE!
I dealt this pick for a first-round pick in 2015 and the eighth pick of the second round this year. I believe there is a cliff around that spot of the draft, but the talent available up until that cliff would be first-round caliber most other years. Pre draft, I had hoped for clarity with this pick as Watkins and
were Nos. 1 and 2, but post draft the landscape was still very cloudy.
was the one I really wanted, but his short-term situation in San Francisco is clear as mud. Long term, I think he takes the job, but I chose to get a shot at one of next year’s first-round running backs and lock up more depth this year instead.
Round 1, Pick 9 – Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland
I could have penciled this pick in weeks ago. With
contract expiring after this year,
Robert Griffin III
would be the only quarterback on my roster under contract. I rejected several offers for this pick over the last several weeks because I planned to take Manziel. If he unexpectedly got picked earlier, I felt comfortable with
as Plan B. Whether you are pro-Manziel or anti-Manziel, as long as he is on the field he will have potential for top 5 numbers every week due to his legs and knack for the big play down field.
Round 1, Pick 12 – Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta
I reached a bit, but when reviewing the options available at this spot he made the most sense. There are six wide receivers I value with this pick and only two running backs. At least one of these wide receivers will fall to my next pick. I have doubts that either running back will fall. I think Freeman is very underrated and is in a great situation to become the lead back by next year. In the end, I’d be most upset if I tried to get cute and let him slip only to have him get sniped, than I would anyone else.
Round 2, Pick 8 – Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay
As it turns out, I couldn’t have gone wrong with my pick of Freeman. Adams was the last of my prime wide receiver targets, but the other running back I coveted at my last pick (
) is still available, too. Adams will be a starting wide receiver for
by 2015. When was the last time a starting wide receiver for the team led by Rodgers was not a fantasy starter? Good luck.
Round 3, Pick 10 – Jared Abbrederis, WR, Green Bay
who I would have to cut, and my fifth-round pick to move up for this pick. Brown means a lot more to the
owner, anyway. In hindsight, I regret making this pick, but at the time when I looked over my board I felt it was a pick I had to make. I think Abbrederis is criminally undervalued, and will show that once he gets on the field, and he was the last of the receivers I really wanted in this draft. He also happens to be a natural handcuff to my last pick; one of them will be a starter in Green Bay sooner rather than later. Heck, maybe both.
Round 4, Pick 1 – Storm Johnson, RB, Jacksonville
Toby Gerhart will be the Jaguars’ starter Week 1, but as Gerhart showed in Minnesota he is not an insurmountable hurdle to a more prominent role. Johnson displays all of the skills one would want in a starter and I’d argue was a bigger catalyst to Central Florida’s success than his quarterback,
He has one major problem that needs to be corrected, he fumbles way too much. This is a big reason he slipped so far in the draft and may not get a legitimate shot until 2015. Being the
owner in this league, I believe one of these guys will prove useful by next season.
Round 4, Pick 12 – Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota
At the time I made the pick I was less than enthused because I had my heart set on linebacker
A run on linebackers struck early in Round 4, while wide receivers were ignored, and I saw my prime target slip out from under me after several failed attempts to trade up. I believe I could have gotten Abbrederis here if I had picked Smith in the third round. Oh well, live and learn, but have to move on. That said, after doing more and more research on this prospect I became progressively happier with the pick. He displays all of the physical metrics of a special talent, but since he is coming from a small school in which he primarily played an option quarterback, the film is not there for him. He was a projection pick by the Vikings, but they liked him enough to pick him on Day 2 and give him the opportunity to be the backup to
and possibly even his successor. At this price, he was certainly worth the dice roll.
Round 6, Pick 1 – Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Baltimore
(a player I may have cut anyway) and a future fifth-round pick to the
owner for this pick and a future third-round pick. I think both of us came out ahead on this trade. Taliaferro has a golden opportunity to seize a big chunk of the Ravens running game.
met the cliff last year then compounded things with his legal issues this spring. His primary backup,
is also coming off a poor season and a shoulder surgery to boot. It’s been widely reported that the Ravens were hot after
so Taliaferro was not their first choice at running back, but they did not wait long after West fell off the board to ensure themselves of the small school product, so there is reason for optimism.
Taliaferro is going to get ample chances to earn snaps this season while Rice and Pierce’s situations work themselves out, and on the field he took advantage of them over the last month. Off the field? He had a little night club incident, so it’s something to monitor over the next six weeks while he is off work, but if he keeps his nose clean this could prove to be a steal.
Overall, I set out in this draft to do one primary thing, after drafting future stud
of course, improve depth on offense. As I concluded in my last article, my offense is both thin and a little behind the curve at each position on offense. My defense was not strong enough to offset the issues on offense, but it was strong enough to compete. On offense, I have a full cupboard of starters, but they’re all projected to fall a little short of each benchmark. I have some interesting backups, but very few of them have the makeup to become strong starters. In this draft, I needed to identify players on offense that could become quality starters and as many in short order as possible. Not necessarily so they can start for my team, but so I can also package them with other players to get the top-of-the-line players my offense badly needs right now. As I detailed above, I believe I accomplished that goal as I now have the below roster as we go into our auction.
RB (limit 5) –
, Jacquizz Rodgers,
, Storm Johnson,
Next up is the auction, I’ll do a full breakdown again with The Machine
to assist in evaluating my roster afterwards. My goal is to become a middle-of-the-road team as I have a roster littered full of youth that if enough pieces make the jump, I will outproduce expectations and be in a position to return to the playoffs for the first time in three years. Now, it’s time to get to work!