We think they wanted running back Ryan Mathews in the first round, but the Chargers made sure he didn’t reach them. Second-round running back Ben Tate has a lot of pressure to perform right away. He’s a one-cut power runner who fits Houston’s system. We’re not sure he’s that special.
In the first round, the Texans went with consistency over flash when they picked Kareem Jackson over Kyle Wilson. We were surprised they didn’t address the secondary again until fifth-round cornerback Sherrick McManis. This team will struggle in pass coverage.
Our favorite value pick was linebacker Darryl Sharpton in the fourth round. Houston has a knack for finding instinctive linebackers and he could develop into a nice starter. Fifth-round tight end Garrett Graham could be an Owen Daniels clone. Texans G.M. Rick Smith has done an underrated job in Houston. This draft continues that trend.
The Colts prove you can eschew trading altogether and nail the draft. Really, what’s there to say about Bill Polian’s picks? They always surprise, and usually turn out great. No G.M. is better at finding players to fit his system. TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes was one of our favorite values at No. 31 overall. He’ll pick up where Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney leave off in a few years. Second-round linebacker Pat Angerer has great instincts without being overly athletic. He’s a little bit of a departure from their usual profile.
Indianapolis continued to add bulk to their offensive line with fourth-round guard Jacques McClendon. Third-round cornerback Kevin Thomas is a perfect fit for the Colts’ zone schemes. This wasn’t a flashy draft, which is just how Polian likes it.
No. 10 overall pick Tyson Alualu was the stunner of the draft. The team should have been able to trade back, but we have a feeling Alualu will prove people wrong. The Jaguars were unable to trade defensive tackle John Henderson, which could lead to further issues. Grabbing Raiders linebacker Kirk Morrison for a fifth-round pick was a smart way to bolster a shaky linebacker group. Jacksonville had only one pick between rounds two and four and took a defensive tackle — D’Anthony Smith. We would have liked to see better firepower added to a vanilla offense.
The first round didn’t go as Tennessee hoped. We heard they wanted Brandon Graham or Jason Pierre-Paul, but both pass rushers were taken just before they picked. Derrick Morgan was a solid consolation prize at No. 16 and the Titans know how to coach up defensive linemen. Tennessee gave away LenDale White, which may be addition by subtraction in the locker room. Myron Rolle adds mid-round competence for a sixth-round price at safety late in the draft.
We like third-round receiver Damian Williams’ value, but the position wasn’t a huge need for the team. They didn’t address their linebacker problem until late in the third round (Rennie Curran) and their second-round pick was used in last year’s Jared Cook trade. We don’t think this draft made the Titans much better.
Tim Tebow couldn’t have picked a better spot. He has a chance to be a quality starter with Josh McDaniels on his side, but we’re not convinced Tebow was worth the trouble. McDaniels can coach up quarterbacks (Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton), so why make such an investment for a project?
Still, Denver didn’t give up that much to get Tebow. They played the draft board well and got guys they wanted in Tebow and wideout Demaryius Thomas. We think they’ll regret ignoring the defensive front seven, which remains old and lacks difference-makers.
Kansas City Chiefs
This is starting to look like a Scott Pioli team. Kansas City drafted a collection of versatile, tough, smart players who love football. The defense now has an identity, with one of the league's best groups of young defensive backs led by No. 5 overall pick Eric Berry, emerging star Brandon Flowers, and second-round cornerback Javier Arenas.
The offense has an identity with a strong backfield, and now a playmaking hybrid wideout/running back in second round pick Dexter McCluster. No. 36 overall was early for such a small player, but Charlie Weis will know how to use him. This team still needs a pass rush, but their offensive tackle spot wasn’t as desperate a need as people thought. The Chiefs are on the rise.
Still, the Raiders draft will be defined by a trade. They found a competing starting quarterback in Jason Campbell for cheap and gave up on JaMarcus Russell. That alone is worth an A.
San Diego Chargers
San Diego is still paying for the mistake of bringing back LaDainian Tomlinson last year. They had to overpay to move up for Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews to fill a starting job. You never want to go into a draft with a glaring need like that.
Still, Mathews should be a great fit for Norv Turner’s offense. Tomlinson was the problem last year, not the offensive line or play calling. The Chargers also traded up to get defensive tackle Cam Thomas and linebacker Donald Thomas. All these moves remind us of San Diego’s trade up of safety Eric Weddle a few years back. When you make such moves, you better be right. G.M. A.J. Smith needs a big draft after some so-so years. The rest of the AFC West may be catching up.
PFT: Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith said the draft process taught him an important lesson on taking criticism.
Y! Sports: Redskins fans found what appeared to be the wedding registry for Robert Griffin III and fiancee Rebecca Liddicoat, and they helped out their star QB.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
Latest from ProFootballTalk
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Chudzinski: 'Too early' to name a QB
Following Thursday's OTA, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski speaks to the media about his team’s brewing quarterback controversy. He feels the competition will aid in each QB’s progression as a passer, but he isn’t ready to name a starter for Week 1.
Check out some of the NFL cheerleaders from across the league.