The football world is still buzzing about one of the more interesting drafts in recent memory, and we are too.
We got the Shutdown Corner team of Frank Schwab, Anwar Richardson and Eric Edholm together to disucuss the highs and the lows and answer the burning questions regarding this year's selections:
Which player is the safest bet to be playing at a Pro Bowl level in 10 years?
Schwab: It has to be Jake Matthews. There are literally no questions about the new Atlanta offensive tackle's ability to be a good NFL player. He doesn't have the upside of athletic freak Greg Robinson, but he doesn't have the downside either. Add in the Matthews family bloodlines, which seem to allow any of them to play for 15 years without breaking a sweat, and he's the safest investment there is.
Which was the best value pick of the draft, non-quarterback division?
Edholm: A few come to mind. I had Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde ranked as my No. 36 player and he went 57th to the 49ers. That's excellent value. So was Mississippi receiver Donte Moncrief (ranked No. 47) who went 90th to the Colts and easily was their best pick. But I also can't help but think that the Texans stole Louis Nix, our 22nd-ranked player, with the 83rd selection. Heck, they were considering him at 33 and again at 65. To get him that late was pure theft.
Which was the worst value pick of the draft?
Edholm: Ju'Wuan James is a player we liked a decent amount; we had him ranked No. 46 heading into the draft. But for the Dolphins to stand pat at 19 and take him seemed a bit stubborn. After all, the Cardinals traded the No. 20 pick to the Saints, moved down seven spots and added an additional third-rounder. James would have been there at 27. No question in my mind. The Dolphins failed to draft a running back, and yet four talented ones of all different shapes, sizes and skill sets — Terrance West, Jerick McKinnon, Dri Archer and Devonta Freeman — were taken in a 13-pick range following the third-rounder the Dolphins could have had. A misstep in new GM Dennis Hickey's first draft.
Which non-quarterback ended up in the best possible position to succeed?
Richardson: I love receiver Brandin Cooks in New Orleans. Nine of Cooks' first 11 games will be played on turf, which gives this fast playmaker the opportunity to excel right away. And he has Drew Brees throwing him the ball. He should have an instant impact.
Which non-quarterback has the most pressure on him?
Schwab: The Bills invested a ton in receiver Sammy Watkins, giving up a first- and fourth-round pick next year to move up five spots in the draft. Bills fans are desperate to break the playoff drought that dates back to the 1999 season, enough so that they'll justify taking a huge hit in their rebuilding effort to go for it with Watkins this year, even though there's very little chance of them winning the AFC East from the Patriots. But Watkins has a mostly unproven quarterback in E.J. Manuel and even if he's great (and certainly he could be), he needs to be at least a Dez Bryant or A.J. Green clone to justify the price given up for him. And if the Bills go 6-10 or worse again, that top 10 pick is going to Cleveland. That's a lot to put on his plate.
Who made the better pick, Cleveland with Johnny Manziel at No. 22, or Minnesota with Teddy Bridgewater at No. 32?
Richardson: Manziel. When it comes to value, Cleveland was able to move down and still grab its top choice at quarterback. Unfortunately, the Browns are going to struggle if receiver Josh Gordon is suspended.
Which team had the worst draft?
Schwab: I just didn't like what Philadelphia did. It seemed like they kept reaching for players who they could have gotten later. Taking Oregon receiver Josh Huff in the third just seemed like his old college coach, Chip Kelly, making the easy decision to go with a player he knew well. The secondary didn't get a ton of help unless third-day pick Jaylen Watkins out of Florida helps right away. Maybe Kelly knew more than everyone else, but right now it's a head-scratcher.
Edholm: I graded out the Colts as the worst, even with the Moncrief pick, but let's be fair and honest: They were dealing from a short deck following the Trent Richardson deal (which was their own damned fault and should be factored in, I argue.) Other uninspiring drafts: Dolphins, Chiefs, Eagles and Redskins. I might have been slightly too harsh on the Bills' efforts.
Richardson: Sorry, but it is still fair to kick the Colts for the Richardson trade that cost this team a first-round draft pick. The Colts selected Ohio State offensive Jack Mewhort in the second round instead of drafting a quality receiver or safety. Moncrief is okay, but was second on his team in receptions last season.
Which team had he best draft?
Schwab: I like the 49ers' draft, and really thought about the Raiders here, but after thinking about the Browns draft for a while I'll vote for Cleveland. The one thing holding me back was the fact that they didn't take a receiver, and that'll hurt come fall. But ultimately, I can't fault a team too much for sticking to their board. They got the best cornerback (Justin Gilbert) to pair with Joe Haden, a quarterback I think will be a star in Manziel, a good offensive tackle at the top of the second in Joel Bitonio and later picks linebacker Christian Kirksey, running back Terrance West and cornerback Pierre Desir could all end up being contributors. And they also added Buffalo's 2015 first-round pick, which has the chance to be a top 10. Maybe the Browns will be in the top 10 of next year's draft too, but they're building in a smart way.
Edholm: I had four teams with a grade of A: Texans, Raiders, Rams and Browns. The Browns took a giant risk with the Manziel pick, but they buttressed it so well with the trade that landed them Justin Gilbert and next year's 1 and 4 from the Bills. So from a franchise-shifting standpoint, I pick them, along with the rest of the body of work they did, which was marvelous, too. But from a draft-class-that-could-make-a-good-team-even-better view, I'd go with the 49ers and their incredible haul. So impressive how deep they ran.
Richardson: I am 100 percent on Jacksonville's bandwagon. The Jaguars selected Blake Bortles, plus gave him receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. The rest of Jacksonville's draft was solid. I believe in Jaguars coach Gus Bradley.
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