27 April 2010
It was, as you probably know by now, a great NFL Draft weekend for members of the National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Seven Tiders were taken over the three day event. Everyone here at the BSR hopes the best for the guys, and we're sure all the Bama fans out there reading feel the same.
But how about the teams that drafted our former favorites? How do the seven (and Alabama's undrafted free agents) fit into what these teams are doing? We take a closer look by looking around the Internet at the reaction to the picks.
Let's get after it.
8. Rolando McClain - Oakland Raiders (1st Round, 8th Pick)
The Internet reaction to this pick is best summed up by the always excellent Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated on his Twitter feed:
I must say I was stunned the Raiders took Ro McClain (one of my faves) at No. 8. An actual quality player over a workout wonder.
That says about all you need to know. After years and years of squandering their picks on morons who performed well at the draft, Al Davis must have been napping when someone passed the commish this pick.
Our Bloguin brethren Thoughts From the Dark Side - the preeminent Raider blog - echoes this sentiment in longer form:
After all the talk of the Raiders making a "head scratcher" in the first round by taking a "workout warrior" or a "track guy", the Raiders make the right choice. They take the proven leader and winner with a high motor and the intangibles to be great.
Last week in Cables pre-draft interview, he hinted at the kind of player the Raiders were looking for. Here is what he said:
"You like to have the guys that played on championship teams, the guys who were team captains, guys who were really hard-nosed, tough practice players, really put it out there on game day, take care of business off the field."
To which my response was: "Am I the only one who thought this perfectly described Alabama ILB Rolando McClain?"
As it turns out, that was EXACTLY who he was referring to.
Xtra Point Football was short and sweet in their review during a live draft blog:
Nobody saw his coming. I like this pick, though. Some will call this a reach, but McClain will be a great linebacker in the NFL.
Yep. That just about sums it up.
Verdict: Starter and star
Barring something bizarre with his health, McClain will start from opening day forward. Great fit for Ro, although the situation could a bit more "stable" than Oakland.
20. Kareem Jackson - Houston Texans (1st Round, 20th Pick)
The love is a little less unanimous here.
If the Texans are thinking about starting Jackson he is going to need safety help over the top... I think the Texans dropped the ball with the pick of Jackson as other corners ranked a lot higher.
The reasons cited here (and elsewhere) for this are his numbers - Jackson only had five interceptions during his time at the Capstone. Fans have maligned him since day one. Hell, I thought he was an average corner some weekends.
But when you consider that Jackson stepped on to campus as a freshman and played "field" corner as a starter in 40 of his 41 games, he's had an impressive career. Being the "field" corner means the wide side of the field - a lot of ground to cover. It's also where offenses typically put their number one receiver.
Early on in his career, Jackson got burned. That happens when you're on an island with the other guy's best player (and you have no pass rush to speak of). But that didn't last long - Jackson got better.
Kareem Jackson had only five interceptions for one reason - he didn't see a lot of balls in his direction.
Another word I keep seeing being tossed around with Jackson's name is "underrated". SI, ESPN, and others believe that he's overshadowed by other "big-named" corners like Wilson, but is arguably the most consistent corner in the draft. "NFL-ready" is another phrase that pops out at you. Does he have the interception stats Wilson does? No. But does Wilson have the pedigree of overseeing the nation's second-best defense as Jackson does? The WAC can't even be mentioned in the same breath as the SEC.
Jackson was called the most underrated player in the draft by Mel Kiper in the weeks leading up to the draft.
I don't know that I'm 100% confident that taking Jackson at #20 is the right thing to do (then again, is the perceived right thing always the right thing?), but he's a guy I really like because he does fit the Texans seven criteria. He's faced the best in college football. He doesn't back down. He's tough, mentally and physically. He put up with Nick Saban for a three years, so you know he's been coached up. I'd love to see him in the second, but he isn't going to make it that far.
Yep. And Kareem Jackson will play for many years in the NFL. Look for him to start for the Texans.
50. Javier Arenas - Kansas City Chiefs (2nd Round, 18th Pick)
There's less ink on these picks as we move through the rounds, but we'll get you the best of what's out there.
The consensus here is that it's an "interesting" pick by the Chiefs. Kansas City selected Eric Berry to help with pass defense in the first round, and Dexter McCluster to help with the return game with their first pick of the second round. That they went back to both wells was a surprise to most observers.
But this pick was a wasted opportunity.
I think Arenas is a fine player, but this pick is iffy value at best. But no huge quibbles there. But there is so much amazing talent still on the board for positions that we continue to be incredible sore in. The Chiefs are not hurting in their secondary as much as they are at other positions such as nose tackle and pass rusher, inside linebacker and receiver, of which there were tons of all of these prospects still remaining. Arenas is a good pick, but our passrush is going to remain anemic, and our interior defensive line is going to remain vulnerable.
However, a contrary opinion is delivered at Arrowhead Addict by Patrick Allen - who thinks Arenas will sparkle as the nickel back in Kansas City:
The Chiefs had a significant drop of in talent last season after Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr. Not anymore. With the continued progression of the Flowers and Carr combo (and both saw their numbers improve in 2009) and the additions of Berry and Arenas to the Chiefs secondary, KC has the chance to have one of the most formidable pass defenses in the NFL in the coming years.
Oh, and Arenas was the best kick -returner in the draft and now he is a Chief. KC’s special teams were very good last year in coverage but they lacked severely in the return game. The additions of McCluster and Arenas should make them among the best in the league in special teams and if you remember the impact Dante Hall had on the 2003 season, you know how important that is.
With McCluster and Arenas deep, you have to figure that kick teams will have trouble with the Chiefs.
But at nickelback. He'll play in the return game as well (obviously).
57. Terrence Cody - Baltimore Ravens (2nd Round, 25th Pick)
Cody was a guy, who more than any other Bama player in this draft, needed to find the right fit. He's not going to be a guy who plays every down. He's not likely to be useful in a 4-3 set. He's going to need some guidance from older linemen.
Baltimore seems to be the perfect spot for Cody in almost every respect. Ravens 24x7 agrees:
The Crimson Tide's Terrence Cody is stout at the point of attack and while his weight issues concerned some clubs, the Ravens were not among them. Ozzie Newsome shares a great relationship with Alabama head coach Nick Saban and as a result the Ravens gathered enough reassurance that they can manage the weight and shape the athletic behemoth into a very productive football player. Cody is a likable guy and is likely to pick up a few tricks of the trade from Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata.
So, not shockingly, Nick Saban's NFL connections and Ozzie Newsome's Alabama connections touch one another, and magic happens.
This is a great selection for everyone involved. Due to Cody's specialized role, he could have easily been a first round selection. Pre-draft, the Baltimore Sun's Ravens blog had this to say:
Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta said before the draft that Cody is a first-round prospect “from an ability standpoint.”
“He’s a guy who is a force on first and second downs,” DeCosta said earlier this month. “He’s the kind of guy Baltimore has typically played with on their defensive line. He’s got the right demeanor. It wouldn’t shock me at all if he gets picked in the first round.”
The Ravens were able to wait, and did. Should be fun watching Cody mature in the NFL.
Verdict: Situational Player
Cody will see decent amounts of time in Baltimore, but is more likely to be only in the rotation at DT.
98. Mike Johnson - Atlanta Falcons (3rd Round, 34th Pick)
Falcon followers are stoked about the third round selection of Mike Johnson. Falcons Biz notes:
Understated O-Line Coach Paul Boudreau has to love what happened shortly after 10 pm Friday night. The most experienced offensive lineman on the NCAA Champion Alabama Crimson Tide football team (with 36 straight starts) became an Atlanta Falcon on the final pick of the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Mike Johnson played both guard positions and left tackle for the Tide, and he’s a prototypical Dimitroff selection: a smart, no-nonsense player who blocked for a Heisman Trophy winner on the best team in college football. And his maturity and work ethic arrived at an early age.
Versatility is a constant with Johnson - something offensive line coaches in the NFL absolutely love. Blogging Dirty notes that he's a great fit for the Falcons:
Johnson is the one offensive lineman the Falcons drafted this year that will be a productive member of the rotation. He has played both guard and tackles positions and is a classic "hard-worker, high-motor" guy the Falcons love. With the offensive line facing upheaval over the next few years, he is a smart choice.
That's echoed at the Falcoholic:
In the short-term, Johnson gives the Falcons a versatile backup on an offensive line that doesn't have nearly enough of them. In the long-term, he could team with Garrett Reynolds on the right side for one wing of a truly nasty offensive line, or he could supplant Justin Blalock if the incumbent continues to struggle. If this is a reach, it's by like 10 picks, maximum, and he's clearly the kind of intelligent player that the Falcons really value.
Johnson should certainly make the team - he can back up at any line position really. He'll have an opportunity to grow into a starter for the Falcons (who have the best blog names in the NFL).
211. Marquis Johnson - St. Louis Rams (7th Round, 4th Pick)
There's not a lot said about seventh round picks, but the St. Louis Rams Blog was pleased:
I like the selection of Marquis Johnson a 5'11" 190lb CB from Alabama. There is no shame being the third best cornerback on Alabama. Johnson played in every game the last two years for Alabama and collected 3 interceptions. Any cornerback that has played for coach Nick Saban will have a nice head start trying to make it in the NFL. The Rams need depth at cornerback and special teams so Johnson should have a shot to make the Rams roster.
If he has a shot, I like his chances. Remember, Marquis was everyone's favorite target to mock - until he owned South Carolina last fall when Arenas was out. When the chips are down, he played like a champ.
Marquis Johnson reminds me of Gerald Dixon - I didn't think much of him while he was here, but dang if he didn't hang around in the NFL for an awful long time. He'll stick with the Rams.
247. Brandon Deaderick - New England Patriots (7th Round, 40th Pick)
Deaderick was by far the best defensive end in this draft to play with a bullet wound in the 2009 season. I stole that from somewhere, so I apologize - it was too good a line not to use.
The only real commentary on this pick come from Patriots blog PatsPulpit. They like the pick:
A great pick-up. While I won't say that he fills a position, I'll say that he definitely bolsters our defensive line and makes the competition that will arise this off-season full of talent.
As a player, he can hold up at the point of attack, with the ability to push back against double teams. He is your prototypical 3-4 defensive end, with some good instincts. His downside is that he lacks good quickness off the snap, and could use to add some upper body strength. Deaderick probably isn't going to start as a rookie, but a year or two from now, he could be a solid first and second down player
The Bill Belichik-Nick Saban relationship likely paid dividends for Deaderick here.
Verdict: Backup/Practice Squad
It's likely he'll compete for the last defensive line spot for the Patriots this year - and there's no shame in that. He's got a chance to make the team, but it'll be a tough road.
That's it for the draft picks from Bama this year. Whew...
We'll cover the prospects for the undrafted free agents soon.