With the Senior Bowl having come and gone, we now have a clearer picture of what talent will round out the top half of the first round. Whereas the first ten or so picks are largely based off collegiate performances and team needs, the further you go in the first round, the more you see teams simply picking off the best available players at the positions that may or may not be their biggest weaknesses.
Also, you’ll notice a few differences in this second version of the draft that we didn’t have in the first one. Rest assured, folks – explanations will be included.
11/12. Kansas City Chiefs – Jonathon Martin, OT, Stanford. (V1.0 Pick: Trent Richardson). The first time we ran through the draft, we had Martin going early to the Carolina Panthers. Because of the way Devon Still’s stock has been rising as of late and the fact that Ron Rivera will probably lean towards selecting a defensive player, we changed their pick. And since Martin is an absolute beast (6’6 and 300+ pounds) who also happens to fill a huge need for the Chiefs, it would make sense for them to pass up Richardson for him.
While I firmly believe that Richardson’s dip is totally unwarranted and that a lot of teams will regret passing on him, you have to figure that, despite what happened this year, running back isn’t as pressing a hole to fill for this squad as tackle. Plus, with Martin solidly locking up the left tackle spot for the next five years, you kind of assume that everyone (including Jamaal Charles) will benefit.
11/12. Seattle Seahawks – Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina (V1.0 Pick: Devon Still). Last time I was a little hard on the Seahawks and fans of the squad appropriately ripped me because of it. I said that the team needed a complete revamp, mostly because I truly think the team needs a complete revamp. Predictably, fans don't think the Seahawks need a complete revamp. It’s all good, I appreciate the back and forth.
Full disclosure: I’m not a huge Pete Carroll fan, and I don’t think this team is as close to being legit as everyone else seems to. Let’s take out the quarterback and pass rush deficiencies for a second. (We do agree that the team does have needs at quarterback and the pass rush, though, right?). On top of those two area where I hope we all agree improvement is needed, I think they also need more depth on the offensive line, at least one big addition to the wide receivers group and another sturdy runner behind Marshawn Lynch who (knock on wood that this doesn’t happen) might go down for the count this year given the fact that he's Seattle's only reliable offensive weapon.
This squad is good in the secondary and with Lynch (for now) at running back, but I just don’t think that they have anything to write home about beyond those two redeeming factors. Like I said, though, I get that Seahawks fans don't agree with my assessment.
Anyway, as per the domino effect cited in pick No. 11, the Seahawks obviously can’t land Still anymore. Since they clearly need someone to shore up the pass rush and Still is off the board, they’ll simply reach down and take arguably the biggest beneficiary of additional attention at the Senior Bowl practices in Ingram. He has a good nose for the ball, will be able to play in Seattle's scheme, and is going to be the best available player at his position at this point in the draft. He makes a lot of sense for a team that’s looking to balance out its defense with some front seven legitimacy.
13. Arizona Cardinals – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford. This is a pick that hasn’t changed from our first version of the draft. The Cardinals desperately need to shore up the interior of the offensive line, and landing the best guard in the draft makes sense any which way you want to look at it. Given everything they’ve invested in Kevin Kolb, it’s hard to envision Arizona even being able to justify using this pick on anything but a way to protect the quarterback. With both Riley Reiff and Martin gone by this point, the powers that be won’t have much else left to choose from to fill their biggest need.
14. Dallas Cowboys – Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska. This is another pick that remains unchanged from the first version of the draft. Clearly the Cowboys have a big, gaping hole in their secondary that desperately needs to be filled with some youth and athleticism. Dennard is the third best prospect available at his position, no question about it. I know some Dallas fans are holding out hope that a little weed will cause Dre Kirkpatrick to fall to this spot, but trust me, it won’t. Like I said the first time around, don’t sleep on Dennard. He’s fast, athletic, talented and was a saving grace of sorts for what ended up being a pretty disappointing Nebraska defense this year. He’s a little rough around the edges and will need some development, but that comes standard with most of the picks that go at this point in the draft.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State. I love that everyone agrees Philly needs a linebacker here, but that Eagles fans still don’t believe that the team will select one here. I beg to differ. Say what you will about history and free agency options, I’m not budging off my initial prediction. The Eagles go linebacker here, and they go with a mildly risky pick in Burfict.
There are some questions regarding attitude and general temperament with this guy, but he has all of the physical gifts and talent necessary to be great and then some at the next level. Plus, there have been a lot of murmors in recent weeks that his troubles at Arizona State stemmed just as much from the way things were run down there as anything else. The only question here is: does Philly management feel like they will be able to hold a guy with character issues accountable in a way that the powers that be at Arizona State didn’t? Despite their doubts, I think they take a close look at their huge, glaring weakness on the defensive end and ultimately say yes.