2012 NFL Draft: Justin Blackmon Among 15 Biggest Reaches
1. Seattle Seahawks – DE/OLB Bruce Irvin (15th pick)
Irvin was without a doubt the biggest reach of the draft this year. This is not to say that Irvin will not develop into a good player at the next level.
He actually may have been the most natural pass rusher in the entire Draft. Regardless, the majority of draft analysts didn’t project Irvin coming off the board until the second round at the earliest.
The draft team for nfl.com graded Irvin out as the 77nd best prospect in the Draft.
Although some have argued that Irvin was shooting up draft boards late, there is little doubt that the Seahawks would have been able to trade down and still get Irvin in the late first or early second round.
Irvin struggled for the majority of his college career to stay on the field on non-passing downs, so it is highly doubtful that he’ll figure to be anything more than a situational pass rusher in the NFL.
He was undersized in college and will continue to have to overcome this deficiency in the pros. Given his struggles against tight ends in coverage, there is little doubt that the Seahawks plan to employ Irvin as a defensive end in their 4-3 defense. It’s not a bad fit in my opinion, but my issue is that the Seahawks simply drafted Irvin way too early. When you also consider the character issues surrounding Irvin on top of all the rest, it’s pretty tough to argue that he was the biggest reach of the draft.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – P Bryan Anger (70th pick)
This one really amuses me. A rare opportunity to trash punters is never something to pass up. Anger ranked only 14thnationally last season in yards per punt. That’s right, Anger wasn’t even one of the top ten NCAA punters last year, yet the Jaguars thought it wise to draft him in the early third round. Talk about idiotic.
I was actually very tempted to place this one at No. 1 on my list. The only reason I refrained was that the Irvin pick carries more of an impact since it was in the first round rather than the third. In terms of rationale however, this one makes even less sense. The Irvin pick can be explained and even defended to a degree, whereas the Anger pick is absolutely inexcusable. With a roster as full as holes as the Jaguars’, drafting a punter who has sixth or seventh-round value in the third round is really an unaffordable mistake.
3. New England Patriots – FS Tavon Wilson (48th pick)
Tavon Wilson was no guarantee to even get drafted. The fact that the Patriots took him in the mid second round is beyond surprising, it’s shocking. Wilson is a combination corner and free safety, and you know Bill Belichick loves that kind of versatility.
Still, the Patriots likely could have gotten Wilson in the sixth or seventh round. Many draft analysts didn’t even have this guy on their radar and were scrambling for more information about him after the Patriots made the questionable selection. To be clear, none of this means that Wilson will be a bad player in the NFL. It just means the Patriots didn’t get nearly enough value with their second round pick, blemishing an otherwise solid draft.
4. Miami Dolphins – QB Ryan Tannehill (8th pick)
I understand the Dolphins are in desperate need of a quarterback, but taking Tannehill at pick No. 8 was a huge reach. When you have the eighth pick in the Draft, needs should not be your primary concern. You need value out of your top picks, and Tannehill was not rated as a top fifteen player in the Draft by most analysts.
What kind of rating did he deserve? In my opinion, the book is still very much open on Tannehill. He certainly has a lot of potential, but only in his senior year at Texas A&M did he look like an NFL prospect. On in-breaking routes, he has a tendency to stare receivers down, pat the ball, and throw interceptions. His athleticism is attractive, but he’s not Michael Vick and he won’t be able to use his running ability in the NFL the same way he used it in college.
Since that running ability is such a crucial element in what made him a great quarterback last year, it remains to be seen how Tannehill will adjust to faster NFL defenses. If the Dolphins really wanted Tannehill, they should have traded back in the first round for him. It was highly unlikely that anyone else would have taken him before the Browns at 22.
5. Cleveland Browns – QB Brandon Weeden (22nd pick)
Speaking of the Browns, they completely blew it with the Brandon Weeden pick. A lot of Browns fans I know have disagreed with me on this, but let me make myself clear. They’re completely wrong. Never let a Browns fan try to tell you what it takes to build a winning team through the Draft. It is amusing to listen to though.
To his credit Weeden does have an NFL-caliber arm. In college, Weeden made quick decisions with the football and kept the chains moving. He also rarely threw interceptions. This was with a high-powered spread offense however, and Weeden’s receiving corps at Oklahoma State was probably better than what he’ll be asked to deal with in Cleveland.
Weeden’s mobility and age are very concerning to me. The guy is already 28. He can barely make it outside the pocket, and when he is scrambling his commendable touch and accuracy go completely out the window. I think Weeden was more the product of the quick-read spread offense scheme at Oklahoma State than he is a realistic prospect to be a quality NFL starter. I could be wrong of course, but regardless, Weeden was still a huge reach because he was projected as second round value by most analysts and scouts.
6. Kansas City Chiefs – NT Dontari Poe (11th pick)
Could the Chiefs really have missed on yet another defensive lineman in the first round of the Draft? That would make three in six years. In my opinion there is a good chance of it. When I look at Poe, I see a classic workout warrior. He’s an athletic freak with potential through the roof.
Given his monstrous size, Poe exhibits surprising athleticism. With his exceedingly strong lower body, he demands consistent double teams in the running game. Despite his high ceiling, Poe’s ability doesn’t always show up on tape. He isn’t very quick off the ball, and didn’t make as many plays around the ball as his athleticism would suggest.
If Poe didn’t dominate the way one would expect him to in college, what reason is there to believe he’ll be a much better player at the next level against stronger offensive linemen. The Chiefs really can’t afford for another one of their highly-touted defensive linemen to underachieve, so they had really better hope I am wrong about Poe. On film, he did not look like a player that should be drafted in the first round, much less at the eleventh pick.
The question of whether or not he was a reach really comes down to what you value, game tape or Combine results. I think players are defined by what they do on the field.
7. Chicago Bears – DE Shea McClellin (19th pick)
There’s a lot to like about McClellin as a football player, but he definitely was not worth the 19thpick in the Draft. McClellin was a 3-4 defensive end at Boise State, but it’s highly uncertain whether or not he could bulk up enough to play that position in the NFL.
My opinion is that he’ll never have the necessary size. That leaves outside linebacker. McClellin was a good pass rusher at Boise State, but this was from the defensive end position. It remains to be seen if this will translate to the pros, and also whether or not McClellin can hold up in coverage without his hand in the dirt. McClellin will be a good player in my opinion, but there were just too many questions surrounding him to be worth the 19thpick in the Draft.
With the same pick, the Bears could have drafted pass rushers Courtney Upshaw, Nick Perry, Andre Branch, or Whitney Mercilus. All would have been better picks than McClellin in my opinion.
8. St. Louis Rams – WR Brian Quick (33rd pick)
Quick is an intriguing player, but the fact is there were several better receivers available at 33 that the Rams could have taken instead. This list includes Stephen Hill, Rueben Randle and Alshon Jeffery. The Rams would have been better off with all three of these receivers in my opinion, and I’m siding with the vast majority of scouts on that one. Quick has not been playing football for a long time, and he’s coming out of Appalachian State. Thus there are significant doubts over his skill and experience translating to the next level.
9. New Orleans Saints – DT Akiem Hicks (89th pick)
There is no way Hicks was worth a third round pick. I have my doubts over whether or not he even deserved to be drafted. Hicks played his college ball in Canada, so the tape out on him doesn’t even really count for a whole lot.
He has a good frame and his athleticism is evident, but given the level of competition he played against in college it remains to be seen how adaptable these skills are. It’s a big question mark whether or not Hicks can even make an NFL roster. He gets overwhelmed against double teams, and his technique is very lacking. He has a bad tendency to play upright, which will really cost him in the NFL if it’s left uncorrected. It’s beyond me why the Saints made such a risky pick to start their Draft.
10. Cleveland Browns – DT John Hughes (87th pick)
Another horrible pick by the Browns in the third round. Hughes wasn’t even a good player at Cincinnati, so it baffles me why they suspect he’ll be a solid contributor in the pros. Despite his NFL-caliber size, Hughes lacks athleticism and had an unproductive career. He doesn’t show a lot of effort on the field and rarely finishes plays he’s in position to make.
He can be easily pushed off the line due to his poor pad placement and leverage. Most draft analysts didn’t even expect Hughes to be drafted. I have no idea why he was.
11. Detroit Lions – WR Ryan Broyles (54th pick)
Coming off a torn ACL, taking Broyles this early was an unnecessary risk by the Lions. His late season injury last year really was unfortunate for him; he may have been drafted in the late first round if not for it. Broyles had a really good career at Oklahoma and is a well-polished, consistent receiver. He’s small, but due to his route-running capability and solid understanding of opposing coverages, Broyles could be a starter one day.
I like Broyles, but 54 is simply too high of a pick for a player coming off of a torn ACL whose roof in the NFL is to be a slot receiver. Broyles wasn’t fast to begin with, and his injury could further limit his average speed and turn it into a real liability.
12. San Francisco 49ers – WR A.J. Jenkins (30th pick)
I didn’t mind the 49ers’ pick of A.J. Jenkins. I think he will be a good NFL receiver and I really like the fit with San Francisco. Despite the pick making some football sense, Jenkins was by definition a reach for the 49ers to take with their first round pick.
He had second round value, and the 49ers should have traded down for him if they really wanted him. He can stretch the field, separate, and go up to secure the ball at its highest point. He had a productive senior season, prior to which he didn’t do a lot to differentiate himself from the pack.
The problem is there were better receivers available at the time. Like with the Rams pick of Brian Quick, the 49ers could have had Stephen Hill, Rueben Randle or Alshon Jeffery instead. I think if the 49ers really wanted a deep threat, Hill would have been the better option.
13. Atlanta Falcons – OT Lamar Holmes (91st pick)
Holmes has the potential to be an NFL starter, but he was not worth a third round pick. He’s a big, strong, tough player. This has not translated to effective run blocking thus far in his career however. Holmes hasn’t yet learned to drive his feet at the point of contact. He will not get away with this in the NFL. Holmes should have been a sixth or seventh rounder.
14. Baltimore Ravens – OG Gino Gradkowski (98th pick)
Gradkowski is definitely not NFL-ready. I think the Ravens liked him because he has the potential to play both center and guard. They’re probably hoping he can be Matt Birk’s eventual replacement. I only see Gradkowski as a future backup at best however. Gradkowski lacks size, aggressiveness, and the ability to get to the second level after handling his initial block. I think he was lucky to be drafted at all.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Justin Blackmon (5th pick)
Somewhat surprisingly, my final reach of the list is Justin Blackmon. At the very end of the list, Blackmon is the most forgivable reach out of my top fifteen. I don’t blame the Jaguars for taking Blackmon a little higher than he should have been taken due to the desperation of improving their anemic passing offense. Blackmon instantly boosts their receiving corps, which was one of the very worst in the league last year.
However I do not believe Blackmon’s value was worth that of a top-5 pick. I don’t think he’ll ever be an elite receiver, just a very good one. Blackmon has several flaws in his game. Weaknesses include his lack of quickness off the ball, route-running, ability to fluidly change direction in tight areas, and blocking. He was deserving of the top fifteen in my eyes, just not the top five. While I credit the Jaguars for filling a need, I don’t think they should have traded up to five to do so in this case.
Bills – WR T.J. Graham (69th pick)
Redskins – OG Josh LeRibeus (71st pick)
Broncos – RB Ronnie Hillman (67th pick)
Jets – OLB Demario Davis (77th pick)
Giants – TE Adrien Robinson (127th pick)
Ravens – FS Christian Thompson (130th pick)
Eagles – OT Dennis Kelly (153rd pick)
Seahawks – ILB Korey Toomer (154th pick)
Patriots – DB Nate Ebner (197th pick)
Article can be found on Football Nation http://www.footballnation.com/content/2012-nfl-draft-justin-blackmon-among-15-biggest-reaches/14830/