With the twenty-first pick, the Packers select…
Ra’ Shede Hageman, Defensive linemen out of Minnesota
The Packers have many Defensive linemen hitting free agency this year. B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly and C.J. Wilson all hit the free agency market, and it’s unlikely the Packers can bring them all back. If they fail to bring enough of them back, it immediately makes the d line a need, even more so than before.
Hageman is perfect for the packers because he is versatile. The aging Packers line will be going through a lot of change in the next few years, and having a great player you can plug-in anywhere along the line would open up a lot of possibilities in the future. This way, in the next draft, they can pursue either a DE or a NT, and just move Hageman around the line accordingly.
Hageman is big, and strong, making him a monster in the run game. He can be flat-out dominate in the run game at times, becoming a nightmare of any ball carrier. He isn’t great at rushing the passer, but he can be effective. Plus with his size, even if he doesn’t get to the quarterback, he still has the wingspan and jumping ability to smack the ball down a few times. His attributes make his potential almost limitless.
He is still relatively inexperienced though, and his technique could use some work. He doesn’t have wide array of ways to beat blocks, and could benefit from using his hands more. The plus is that technique is teachable, but you can’t teach the freak athleticism Hageman shows.
With the twenty-second pick the Eagles Select…
Calvin Pryor, FS out of Louisville
Eagles Safety core has been an issue for far too long, and they have to address it this offseason. They may choose to find someone in free agency, in which case this pick wouldn’t be as vital. Until they do though I have to go with a Safety, and they will find the perfect one in Pryor.
Pryor is an explosive safety, capable of leveling ball carriers. He plays with a reckless with a fiery passion, and is an excellent open field tackler. He also has ball skills, making opposing QB’s think twice before throwing his way. He has great closing speed, and a strong awareness, allowing him to get to the ball carrier quickly. His cover skills are great for the most part, but he can be fooled by double moves.
His relentless play style will sometimes cause him to be out of position, but only rarely. He will be called for many penalties with the way he hits with all the new rules. He can be a bit stiff in coverage sometimes, but again not often enough for it to be a major concern.
His overall skillset could help him become an elite ball carrier, provided he isn’t cursed by too many penalties. He is the perfect player for the Eagles here, and this pick would allow them to focus on developing a pass rush later in the draft. They may choose to go with a WR here if Cooper or Maclin walks, but again if they can’t find a Safety in free agency then this has to be the pick here.
With the twenty-third pick, the Chiefs select…
Kelvin Benjamin, WR out of Florida State
It was clear the Chiefs offense did not have enough weapons last year. They need someone new for QB Alex Smith to throw to, and to draw away coverage from WR Dwayne Bowe. Standing at 6-5, Benjamin will do just that. Benjamin has a very high upside as a WR in the NFL, He is tall, explosive, with a knack of making big plays. There is a decent chance he won’t be here, and that the Eagles will take him in the pick before, but if he is here, the Chiefs should definitely pick him up.
Benjamin has a quick first burst, creating space between him and the corner. His wing span is ridiculous, giving him a catching radius on par with any in the NFL. His size and short-area quickness make him a terror in short yardage situations, especially the red zone. He has good leaping ability, adding to his already impressive reach.
There are some faults though. He drops too many passes. Whether it’s because he is about to be hit, or if he is doing his head downfield. It is an issue he needs to fix if he hopes to be an elite receiver. He also isn’t very elusive, lacking an ability to make people miss in open field. He can use his size to break tackles, but his frame keeps him from dipping low to make fluid cuts.
He is a work in progress, and needs to be coached up to run crisper routes and catch the ball more. If he can get those two things down though he will be a dynamic reliever in the NFL.
With the twenty-fourth pick, the Bengals pick….
Justin Gilbert, CB Out of Oklahoma State
The Bengals don’t have many holes, at least not for now. It remains to be seen if QB Andy Dalton needs to be upgraded. I think they could do better, but there is no one available worth taking with this pick. Other than that, they have a good group of players. Their defense is great, it just lacks depth. They have some great weapons on offense as well. The only thing they could use is more playmakers on defense. That is where Gilbert comes in.
Gilbert is a playmaking corner if there ever was one. His pure athleticism makes him very fluid and mobile, allowing him to easily snatch balls out of the air. His speed and agility allows him to keep up with most receivers. He can make up for his mistakes when he does make them by using acceleration to quickly catch up with them. He is very aggressive, and has the potential to be among the leaders in interceptions every year.
Overly aggressive corners have their downfall though, as he can often find himself biting on fakes. His aggressiveness also results in his fair share of penalties, as he can be a little grabby at times. He can be an explosive tackler, but he can also miss easy tackles by going for a big hit instead of wrapping up.
Overall, he should be a solid corner at the next level. His freak athleticism will allow him to always be a playmaker, but he needs to work on his technique a little as a cover corner. For a team that has few holes, adding a playmaker is always a plus though. It will be interesting to see what the Bengals do though if any of the top QB’s happen to fall though.