When you swing and miss on predicting your team’s first pick, it bugs you. For about five minutes. Then you listen to the Mike Mayocks and Jon Grudens gush and you start to get excited.
Four years later, the Packers have a Cullen Jenkins replacement. The addition of UCLA’s Datone Jones will give the defensive line a much needed infusion of speed and versatility and should make the linebackers behind him look better.
When the Packers were on the clock, I figured they were debating between nose tackle Sylvester Williams (who was expected to be off the board) and Eddie Lacy, Bama’s hard-nosed running back. But clearly Ted Thompson and the scouting department had their hearts set on Jones and it sounds like they got a guy who has big time upside.
His college coach, Jim Mora, says he’ll be a better pro than he was a college player. Mayock said his combination of length and quickness make him an ideal end in the 3-4. He completely manhandled the #1 pick, tackle Eric Fisher in the Senior Bowl. He’ll likely be a three down guy, moving inside on sub-packages, since he is strong and quick enough to deal with interior linemen. Gruden calls Jones his sleeper of the draft. I’m pretty sure he only said this once on Thursday night–even though he loves pretty much everyone.
Plus, he grew up in Compton, CA a Packer fan, because of Reggie White.
I had my heart set on a safety and Ravens took my guy, Florida’s Matt Elam with the final pick of the first round. I have to believe the Pack will consider that position if they like who’s left on the board when they pick at 55. Tackle and running back could also be in play.
And now, a thought on the Vikings’ first round haul. When Sharrif Floyd fell in their laps at 23, the night was a success, no matter what happened next. They grab Xavier Rhodes next, one of the few calls I got right in the first round, giving them a big, physical corner: precisely what they needed most. So they add two instant starters to their defense, which was a must–though middle linebacker is still a huge need.
Then Rick Spielman made the big splash, handing the Patriots both Friday night picks, plus a 4 and a 7 to jump back in and take WR Cordarrelle Patterson. You’ve got to give him credit in the cojones department. He could have gone to sleep knowing he made his defense instantly stronger and that he could probably grab a receiver in the second round.
But Patterson is the one guy who was different from all the other guys. He’s completely raw, playing just one year of major college ball. He won’t be ready to contribute as a starting WR because he needs to learn a whole lot about running routes, making adjustments, reading defenses, etc. His Wonderlic was in the single digits.
But he will make an instant impact in the return game, and as a guy who can run some Harvin plays: bubble screens, running plays. His size and speed had scouts drooling, but he’s a work in progress. Having Greg Jennings around to mentor him will be huge. Vikings get an “A” for Thursday night, but will now be spectators until Saturday. I’ll give the Pack an “A” as well. Adding Jones should make Clay Matthews even more deadly.
As for the other two, the Lions needed to add a defensive end, since both of their starts from a year ago are gone. Ziggy Ansah had never heard of football a few years ago. He’s raw and inexperienced but many feel he has the potential to be a Pro Bowler. The Bears raised more than a few eyebrows with their selection of Howie Long’s other kid, Kyle Long. He’s another raw prospect that most of the experts projected to go in the second or third round. Yes, the Bears need all the help they can get on the line, but they could’ve waited. I thought they’d grab TE Tyler Eifert here.
I’ll break down the first three round in depth “In the Zone” Saturday morning from 8-10 on KFAN and kfan.com. With my partner Trent Tucker absent (to attend Michael Jordan’s wedding), we’ll put the NBA aside for a week and talk NFL draft for two solid hours.