Thursday, April 28, 2016

Boycotting The Boycott - Tracking The First Round And It's Impact On Patriots (Live Blog)

The team building process in the NFL starts when the games are done, and it doesn't stop until teams make their final cuts after the last preseason game - and sometimes not even then.

The annual NFL draft is an essential, albeit over-hyped, part of that process, to the point that many general managers base their entire free agency philosophy on filling holes with veterans in order to be creative with their draft picks - and a lucky few do such a good job in free agency that they have leverage in the draft to move up or down the board.

Those lucky few can make life very difficult for their contemporaries, and can throw a big board completely out of whack with one curious selection, such is the intrigue of the NFL draft.

Be this as it may, the NFL Draft is an acquired taste, and not everyone has the fortitude to watch three straight hours of Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock - that said, there are many New England Patriots' fans who have joined a boycott against the first round of the draft, refusing to tune in because NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has stripped the Patriots' first round selection for their alleged involvement in the stupid and wrong "DeflateGate" saga...

...which is neither here nor there, because the team building process will go ahead on schedule with or without them.  I feel their pain, but to me the draft is so much more than just selecting a name , it is spending draft capital on a player who will suddenly have the weight of a team's fans and expectations on his shoulders.

And no matter if the Patriots are selcting or not, what happens in the first round of the draft could have a very real impact on how the Patriots' proceed with their draft, which won't start until Friday night.

So, for the sake of those who  are boycotting the first round, what follows is a live blog, reporting on each selection and addressing what impact, if any, that player's selection will have on the Patriots in the second round...

1. Los Angeles Rams (from Tennessee Titans)

Jared Goff, QB, California

The Rams need for a long-term quarterback prompted their move up to the top spot in the draft. Their secondary needs are for receivers, safeties and/or corners, which they will have to wait until the fourth round to select.  This selection will not impact the Patriots at all.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (from Cleveland Browns)

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

The Eagles were a mess on offense at just about every position, but they already have a somewhat reliable quarterback.  Next in line for them is the offensive line, which needs a serious upgrade.  Again, not a big impact on the Patriots at all.

3. San Diego Chargers

Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

The Chargers have a need for heft and quality in the trenches, on both sides of the ball.  That must be their primary concern - and the Chargers treated it as such.  Bosa brings instant pass rush skill to the strong side of San Diego's defensive line. After that, perhaps a quality tight end to mix in with veteran Antonio Gates.  While Bosa's selection doesn't carry an impact for New England, the Chargers' need for offensive linemen could, as they select 35th overall in the second round.

4. Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

Corners and running backs were on the minds of Cowboys' fans, and defensive tackle should be as well.  The selection of Elliott seems a little rushed, because while he is a very good running back, they would have been better served to snag one of the top corners or defensive tackles. They could have found theor bell-cow in the second round, but now that they have him, the impact on New England is significant as they become natural trade partners if Belichick wants to move up in the second round to get his running back. IF. It would behoove the Cowboys to look for a serviceable quarterback to groom as Tony Romo's eventual replacement as well.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars

Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State

The Jaguars have a lot of the right players in place, and they need to start thinking about loading up on the offensive line if they truely want an great ground game to complement their surging passing game.  To that end they really need help on the interior of the line.  The selection of Ramsey is curious, as now the Jags must look to the middle rounds for their interior linemen.  Again, not a huge impact on New England.

6. Baltimore Ravens

Ronnie Staley, OT, Notre Dame

Baltimore is starving for more playmakers, but are absolutely desperate for both offensive linemen and cornerbacks, so they had to be disappointed that Jacksonville punked them for Ramsey. But in Staley, they get their left tackle of the future.  That said, there's going to be a lot of heat on Newsome for turning his back on the top rated tackle in the draft, Laremy Tunsil, if Staley turns out to be a bust.

7. San Francisco 49ers

DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

The Niners are a mess everywhere, so they had to be thrilled that Buckner fell to them at number 7. Now they need a quarterback and a line to protect him, though inside linebackers are in desperate need as well.  At this point in the draft, they could take anyone and it would be an upgrade.  No impact on the Patriots noted.

8. Tennessee Titans (from Cleveland through Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins)

Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

The Titans need bookends on their offensive line, and after swapping picks with the Rams for the first pick in the draft, they move back up into the top 10 to take the nastiest tackle in the draft - again, ignoring Tunsil.  One can not argue this pick at all, however, as it fills a desperate need.  Now the Titans will look for skill position players, most notably receivers and tight ends, which could impact what New England has to choose from in the second round, should they go that direction.

9. Chicago Bears ( from Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia

The Bears traded up into the Top 10 to grab their pass rushing outside linebacker, but they get much more than that with Floyd, as they get what they thought they had in Shea McClellin as an outside linebacker, even though McClellin is clearly more suited to the inside.  Tall and long, Floyd isa sideline to sideline presence. Now they will likely seek a corner and perhaps a left tackle prospect, which could impact the Patriots in round 2.

10. New York Giants

Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

Linebackers and wide receivers topped the list for New York coming into the draft, so it is curious that the Giants selected Apple.  They needed dual threat safety, so maybe that's what they think Apple can do for them, at least from the perspective of coverage.  Now they need a receiver to take the heat off of their depleted corps, which could dig into the pile that the Patriots have to choose from.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (From Chicago Bears)

Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida

Cornerback was a huge need for Tampa coming in, and with New York trumping them with the selection of Apple, so the Bucs turn around and select the higher rated Hargreaves.  Safety should be next on the board for Tampa, unless the look for offensive line help, but their best bet is to solidify their secondary as much as they can.

12. New Orleans Saints

Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

Needing a pass rusher in the worst way, with cornerback a close second, the Sainst go with a cat-quick, interior three-tech, who will be a sub-package rusher to start out with.  This is an interesting pick as it pertains to the Patriots down the road, as they could possibly be looking for three-techs and cornerbacks.  Not that Rankins was expected to drop that far, but because it was widely perceived that the Saints were seeking edge rushers. That was one that no one was counting on.

13. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles)

Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi

How thrilled the Dolphins war room is right now.  Because despite his excessive off-field baggage, Tunsil was the top rated player in the draft class due to elite and enormous talent.  If he learned his lesson and can behave, the Dolphins have the steal of the draft thus far.  Only problem is, they need corners badly, and by taking Tunsil, they are going to miss out on the elite corners. This is also huge for New England, as it was widely speculated that they would eat up the running back pool by taking a back here.  They still have a shot in the second round, but it at least gives Belichick a legit shot at moving up to get a back.

14. Oakland Raiders

Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

WOW! Some folks are going to claim that the Raiders reached for Joseph, but what they have is the best safety prospect to come out in the draft in years. Perfect Big Nickle safety who can drop into the box to cover and run support like Pat Chung does for New England.  Now they have to think about getting a tackle and a corner, which seems to be a trend in the NFL this draft.

15. Cleveland Browns (FromTennessee Titans through Los Angeles Rams)

Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

Trading down time and again, then grabs a kid that could be the best wide receiver in the draft.  Coleman is a dangerous vertical threat who has blazing speed and does his best work outside the numbers.  He's smaller and isn't much for the in-cuts, but Cleveland has now moved on from their problem child.

16. Detroit Lions

Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

The player he is most often compared to is Patriots' right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, a stiff plodder who translate best to the strong side in a run-heavy offense.  Decker is just the latest in a long line of second-round projections leaping into the first round.

17. Atlanta Falcons

Keanu Neal, SS, Florida

Another physical, big-hitting safety.  Neal was projected for the late second round, but the Falcons and their influence from their head coach, who was the architect of Seattle's Legion of Boom, takes a guy that reminds him a lot of what he had in Seattle.  Most will look at this as a reach, but it makes sense here.

18. Indianapolis Colts

Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama

Lots of muttering among Colts' fans about this kid, but he's got all the makings of an excellent interior lineman.  Perhaps the brass in Indianapolis is finally getting the fact that they can't win a Super Bowl with just skill position players and no one to protect Luck.  Excellent pick, if not excellent value.

19. Buffalo Bills

Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

Another excellent three-tech off the board, though Lawson is also effective at the five and off the edge.  Typical Rex Ryan pick, massive run plugger who can set the hard edge and is also fluid and quick enough to both rush off the edge and cover tight ends as a stand up OLB.  Great pick and with expected value.

20. New York Jets

Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State

The Jets found Lee exactly where he was supposed to be on their big board.  In the mold of ex-teammate Ryan Shazier, Lee is a 233 pound weakside linebacker who runs in the 4.4's, meaning that the Jets will better be able to counter the dual Patriots' running back threats in Dion Lewis and James White.

21. Houston Texans (From Washington Redskins)

Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame

Texans gamble that a one-trick pony will complement quarterback Brock Osweiller.  Fuller has world class speed, but is thin and not going to be much of a factor inside the numbers.  He will take the top off of a defense, however, which New England's corners will get a chance to experience early next season.  A deep threat only tag comes with him, so the Texans hope they hit a home run with Osweiller's arm.

22. Washington Redskins (From Houston Texans)

Josh Docton, WR, TCU

Not quite as fast as Fuller, but a better all-around receiver.  Docton is tall, runs precise routes and has a vertical function to his game.  The best thing about him is his willingness to take the intermediate routes, show the QB his numbers and climb a ladder to go get the ball.  Exactly the possession-type weapon Captain Kirk needs.

23. Minnesota Vikings

Laquan Treadwell, WR, Mississippi

Third consecutive receiver in this first round run. Like Docton, he has all the makings of a possession receiver, plus he's perhaps the best blocking wide receivers in the class, and has probably the best hands and concentration. Can be used all over the formation and is most closely compared to DeAndre Hopkins for his smooth routes and deceptive quickness.

24. Cincinnati Bengals

William Jackson III, CB, Houston

This was a "Screw the Steelers" pick, as the cornerback desperate Steelers were picking right behind them.  Jackson has the mentality that the ball is his, and hand fights until he has it - regardless, Jackson is a bit of a project.  He's neither big and physical or small and fast, he's just tall and very fast and needs some refinement to his game while the Bengals seek the nest position for him to be in.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers

Artie Burns, CB, Miami

The Steelers get a big question mark here, but it's kind of something they were forced into. Desperate for a corner, the elite market has long-since dried up, so they take a boom-or-bust prospect with Burns.  The kid has world class speed but is very raw in technique.  He will either be great or a complete dud.

26. Denver Broncos (From Seattle Seahawks)

Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

And who didn't see this coming? Though, the Broncos probably could have had him if they'd have stayed put at #32.  At 6' 7" and 244 pounds, Lynch resembles what the Broncos allowed to leave in free agency with Osweiller.  He will be in the shotgun a lot since that's all he's ever known - and will have to do some OJT in how to handle being under center.  Excellent arm, good feet.  Guess the Broncos got their man.

27. Green Bay Packers

Kenny Clark, NT, UCLA

The Packers get a light nose tackle that is a rotational guy at best, at least for the coming season.  Built more like a three-tech and plays like one, too, so maybe that's what the Packers are thinking here.  Has elite skill when single blocked, but doesn't possess the bulk to stand up on the double gap. Reach pick.

28. San Francisco 49ers (From Kansas City Chiefs)

Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford

Classic mauler makes the 49ers two-for-two in solving their issues in the trenches. An absolute animal in the running game, overpowering opponents. He is limited in his pass blocking and will need some work, but the Niners will take the bad with the good as his technique problems are correctable.  A bit of a reach here however, especially given that they traded back up into the first round to get him.

29. New England Patriots (Forfeited)

Yeah, well...

29. Arizona Cardinals

Robert Nkemdiche, DT, MIssissippi

Exciting three-tech in a draft class full of them.  He has elite athleticism and skill, but they didn't add up to big plays.  He doesn;t force fumbles, has very little sack production, he's just kind of...there.  He is exciting because if he ever starts making impact plays with that body, the light will click on and he'll be a beast.  If it doesn't, he's a sack of potatoes.

30. Carolina Panthers

Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech

Perhaps the best in the run on three-tech tackles in the first round.  East up double teams and sniffs out running backs.  Just what the Panthers needed, right? another elite defensive lineman who can dent the pocket and reestablish the line of scrimmage.

31. Seattle Seahawks (From Denver Broncos)

Germaine Ifedi, OG, Texas A&M

A tackle at A&M, Ifedi's style is more suited for the inside, as it will cause him to stick more with technique and not get caught lunging without backup.  Some worry that he is a holding penalty waiting to happen because of his grasping and lunging rather than trying to secure blocks with his leg drive. A project for Seattle.

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