The draft cards are signed, have been walked on stage... Four more picks are in the book. We are now eight players closer to getting back to real football. Well, kind of? This draft isn't real, but it was mocked by the finest minds in football fandom.
I, your self-appointed commissioner for a week, have brought for your enjoyment the football acumen and draft hopes from across SB Nation, all with colorful commentary. Yesterday we looked at picks one through four, which unfortunately yielded little in regard to intrigue and surprise. As the first round progresses, however, decisions rapidly become much less apparent. After the jump, and Tampa Bay leaves only one option for No. 6, the St. Louis Rams are on the clock!
With the fifth pick, Sander of Bucs Nation and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Morris Claiborne, cornerback, LSU.
After a flurry of high-profile free agent signings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have managed to fill a number of needs, eliminating a few prospects from consideration for their fifth overall draft pick. The team still has two major needs it must fill, though, as they need a new starting linebacker and a third-down back who can act as a complement to the limited Legarrette Blount. However, no linebacker or running back on the board would represent great value with the fifth pick. While Luke Kuechly and Trent Richardson are both terrific players, picking 4-3 linebackers or running backs in the top 5 seems like a thing of the past. The Bucs haven't viewed these positions as particularly important in the past, either, mostly relying on mid- to late-round draft picks.
Instead, the Bucs are more likely to select cornerback Morris Claiborne. While the Bucs don't have a huge immediate need at the position with Aqib Talib, Eric Wright and Ronde Barber under contract, the team does not have a lot of certainty at cornerback. Ronde Barber has had a great career, but he's been steadily declining for years. Aqib Talib's various legal problems have been well-documented, and it's not even clear whether the former first-rounder will be able to enjoy his freedom during the season. Add to that possible discipline handed down by Roger Goodell, and the fact that he's entering the final year of his contract and he can't be counted on.
All of this means the Bucs must find a long-term, reliable starter at cornerback at some point in the next year, and Morris Claiborne could easily fit the bill. The LSU cornerback is the best cover cornerback to come out in years, and could immediately start in case of an Aqib Talib jail sentence and/or suspension. Barring that, he'd get a season to learn the ropes with Ronde Barber as a mentor, before becoming a likely starter in 2013. Either way, the Bucs get a good, young player who could be a long-term starter at a position in dire need of stability.
The smoke is as thick in Tampa as it is anywhere else. At one point Tampa needs a corner back, then they're enamored with Trent Richardson. Lately I've heard T-Rich never makes it past Tampa, then suddenly Aqib Talib is on the auction block, leaving a gaping hole in the secondary. Well, the final word is that Aqib is no longer on the trading block, meaning Tampa was enamored with Richardson afterall, right?
Wrong. It's Claiborne, and Talib's not being auctioned off, but neither is Asante Samuel in Philly, right? Right? Well it just might have something to do with the fact that Ronde's old and should move to safety. He may cover while Talib finishes off his sentence, but he's not staying at corner for the Bucs, and they know it, making Claiborne the necessary pick here.
With the sixth pick, Ryan Van Bibber and the St. Louis Rams select Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama.
Ryan Van Bibber's rationale:
The Rams desperately need skill players on offense. Blackmon is a better fit given the need at receiver, but Richardson is a superior talent. He compares well with Steven Jackson, who has since lost his speed and explosiveness as a result of being leaned on so heavily in the last five years. Richardson can be a feature back or a one-two punch with Jackson. The offense can use the pairing to create mismatches and draw the attention of defenses, which would ideally free up some space on the field for their receivers.
For a man of so many words as head curator of Turf Show Times, Ryan needed few to make his case. Given this of several possible scenarios, he had no other option. Should Trent Richardson find his name uncalled within the draft's top five, it is now widely accepted, and highly recommended, that the Rams should take him. You will find few Steven Jackson fans as devoted as me, but I can acknowledge when a workhorse nears its last race, or a Secretariat approaches his last Belmont.
New offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer will be calling the plays, but Jeff Fisher calls the shots. He is going to implement a "smash mouth" style of football; one which puts high emphasis on elite talent in the backfield - every down players - not merely a committee of stopgaps. Richardson may be too quality of a prospect to fall this far, but the Rams will add a RB in this month's draft. Depth is not the highest of priorities for a team lacking starters at many positions; however, Fisher and GM Les Snead are in no position to nitpick when it comes to top five talent. They won't think twice if Trent Richardson falls into their lap.
We all know SJax is worth too much to let him go. The problem is that we need to grab as much value, with every pick, as we can at any position. We have way too many needs to address this draft on a needs based philosophy. I wouldn't throw needs out the window, but when you have a chance to pick a guy who has all the tools you could imagine in one player, you have to get him.
There are bigger needs on the team, but in a couple years we'll be happy that we have Trent to take over when SJax's carries total drops, and it will drop. We should have the same coaching staff, and, therefore, the same offense. Sam and Trent will be familiar enough with each other to function perfectly in command of that offense. T-Rich blocks well in the backfield and is great at receiving out of the backfield. When he runs the ball between the tackles is where he'll earn his money just like Steven has up until now. T-Rich doesn't fumble the ball either. When you don't worry about things like that is when you can concentrate on winning the game.
We need to draft O-line and we need DTs and OLBs, but we won't be competing for the Superbowl for a couple of years and we have four 2nd round picks and four 1st round picks after this pick to grab more elite talent at those positions of need. Believe me, I don't want to wait for a couple of years to compete, but I don't think we have any choice. We do have an opportunity to Jimmy Johnson/Jerry Jones our way into another GSOT style team again and we'll all be happy if we just don't screw up these 8-10 high picks in this and the next 2 drafts.
Douglas M's analysis:
Ryan's choice of Trent Richardson shocked me. Van Bibber is known to be a Vontaze Burfict fan, and I have it on good authority that the other SBNation site managers voided his attempt to take the troubled Arizona State University linebacker with the 6th overall pick in the NFL Draft...
Yet providence worked its magic, and the choice of Trent Richardson is a solid pick. He'll be capable of contributing day one. Running back is not high on the St. Louis Rams "needs" list, but when a player of Richardson's caliber comes along, it's hard not to make the pick. He'd make an immediate impact on screen pass plays, as well as between the tackles. I could see him getting 200+ carries his rookie season on the current Rams squad. I think this pick tracks well with how head coach Jeff Fisher will begin building his team.
Ye all at Turf Show Times may be tired of the draft talk. Draft day is edging ever so close, and soon we will all stop the speculating and start real time analysis of player performance. Until then, saddle up and enjoy the next 6+ days of draft analysis.
With the 6th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft the St. Louis Rams select: Trent Richardson Running Back, The U of Alabama.
Heralded as the next great running back, Trent Richardson will enter Ram’s Park with an incumbent at the position who is beloved by fans and sports media alike. Steven Jackson took over for the "Air" Marshall Faulk, a Hall of Fame running back. The Rams have been blessed for the last 12 years with solid, and at times, great running back play. The position has never been in question until this year. As someone who advocated for drafting Mark Ingram last season, I personally love this pick. Jackson is an anomaly in today’s NFL; a running back who has shouldered the majority of carries, the dying breed of feature backs if you will. And his heir apparent will soon be wearing the horns.
Trent Richardson has the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to learn behind one of the best backs in the last decade. Unlike the Faulk/Jackson relationship, which never seemed to be fruitful, the Jackson/Richardson relationship seems poised for success and a bountiful harvest of offensive knowledge and inheritance. Jackson has stated recently that he would welcome his eventual replacement and do his best to mentor him. Jackson’s cooperation with his eventual unseating spells stardom for Richardson.
Pros: Trent Richardson is a strong, versatile back. He is promoted for his quickness and agility. Playing against the toughest collegiate defenses in the country, he is used to taking a pounding and using his body and brains to either run through or around defenders. His pass catching ability out of the backfield is far from great, but is more than serviceable for an elite running back. The tandem for the next 2 years of Jackson and Richardson would certainly gel with the run heavy offense speculated to be run under Ram’s Head Coach Jeff Fisher. The explosive running ability of Richardson most closely mirrors Jackson’s early style, and would be an asset to a still developing Sam Bradford, and would help ease his transition with a revamped roster.
Cons: The biggest con with Richardson, is the seeming devaluation of the running back position early in the first round. Fans would do well to ignore that mantra, as Richardson is a top 10 talent regardless of what we may think. Along with the new rookie wage scale, the drafting of Richardson early is certainly possible and affordable. Of course, he will get paid eventually, but its monopoly money to us right? The biggest con for most fans is the fact that we have a 29 year old Jackson already in the backfield. Why would you put a new guy in the mix when you have a sure thing in Jackson?
Conclusion: Having watched every game Richardson has played for the last two years, and having spent considerable time scouring this new fangled internet, I could only see and come up with positives for this guy. His versatility, agility, power, and explosiveness are second to none in this year’s draft class. Whoever drafts him is getting a franchise back who will shoulder the load and get his fair share of touchdowns, much like Jackson has done for the Blue and Gold since 2004.
What say you Rams fans?
With the seventh pick, Adam Stites from Big Cat Country and the Jacksonville Jaguars select Quinton Coples, defensive end, North Carolina.
Adam Stites' rationale:
Picking Coples at 7th overall has become the cliché, boring pick for the Jaguars, but with Morris Claiborne off the board, it’s really the only player that makes sense. The Jaguars have lacked a legitimate pass rusher since...well, forever. Tony Brackens was quite the pass rusher, but he hasn’t been on the team since 2003. The failures of Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves from the 2008 Draft only further stagnated the pass rush.
Jeremy Mincey emerged for the team in 2011 with eight sacks, but he’s less a pure pass rusher and more an every-down player that forces quarterback pressures with his high motor. Even if he does continue to improve in 2012 though, there is no pass rusher on the roster to have much faith in on the other side of the line.
A 6-6, 284 pound athletic freak like Coples is a risky, home run type of pick, but the Jaguars need more star power and need to swing for the fences to find stars. In my opinion, the best idea would be for the Jaguars to trade down 10-15 picks and go after another pass rusher like Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus.
In 2011 the Jacksonville Jaguars finished with 31 sacks, tied for 25th in the NFL. Were it not for the emergence of Mincey, and his career best total of eight, they would have finished dead last in that category. Long story short: the Jags need to put pressure on opposing QB's.
Quinton Coples, though highly regarded as a top-flight DE prospect, has bounced around in mock drafts recently. Some question whether the UNC product has the maturity to earn such a distinction, and has been said to have "dogged it" in his senior year. The Jaguars don't have the luxury to take anymore chances on players who may or may not pan out - they need an immediate contributor to step in and fortify their team, not another prospect with more speculated potential than foreseen value. (See: 2010 first round pick, DE Tyson Alualu)
I'm far from an expert when it comes to evaluating talent and contrasting it with character - I once feared Matt Leinart and thought "Pac-man" would be a stud - so I've learned to go on what the "talking heads" tell me. If the Jags do feel that an edge rusher is their best option, South Carolina's Melvin Ingram, an equal athletic specimen to Coples without the headaches, better fits the bill.
With the eight pick, Kevin Nogle from the Phinsider and the Miami Dolphins select Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Texas A&M.
Kevin Nogle's rationale:
Taking Tannehill here may not be a popular choice among Miami Dolphins fans. He’s a reach at the eight spot, and I would agree with many fans that he may not be worth taking here. But, the Dolphins need a quarterback, and he’s the top one left on the board.
There’s a good possibility that the Dolphins could look at Melvin Ingram at this position as well, and I would love that pick. He’s the perfect pass rusher the Dolphins need to pair with Cameron Wake. But, in the end, the need for a quarterback outweighs the pros for picking Ingram.
The Dolphins know Tannehill, having his college head coach, Mike Sherman, as the team’s new offensive coordinator. If they believe he is capable of being a franchise quarterback, then I am all for this pick - even if it is a reach in a down quarterback draft year.
If Ryan Tannehill falls, and I say that loosely, without another team trading up and reaching for him, I am 95 percent sure that Miami will take him. Stephen Ross missed out on each the RG3, Matt Flynn and Peyton Manning sweepstakes. He is bitter and edgy, and Dolphin fans may suffer the consequences.
For starters, I'm not even sold on Tannehill as a first round pick, but conventional wisdom when drafting QB's no longer exists. Christian Ponder was the reach of 2011 and Andy Dalton was the steal of day two. Both boasted significantly more experience and a more impressive resume coming out than the Mike Sherman product from Texas A&M in 2012.
Tannehill possesses both the size and arm strength that teams and scouts covet in a franchise QB, but, with only one full year of work behind center under his Texas-sized belt buckle, that's putting a lot of faith in not a lot of game film. Having experience at WR, though, after making the opposite of the Eric Crouch transition, I bet he could run one heck of a Wildcat. I have only a few words of advice to Ross and HC Joe Philbin if Tannehill is indeed the pick: Don't throw him to the wolves; you're not contending this year anyway. Let him sit and learn while Matt Moore continues down the road of mediocrity. No one wants to see Ryan Leaf, er, Tannehill snap under too much early pressure.
So, Ram fans, how'd we do? Are our assessments fair or could we not be more wrong? See you all tomorrow with picks nine through twelve, including a rather surprising name to crack the top ten.