Before we know it, this year’s NFL draft will be upon us, and there will be a whole new bunch of rookies for us to analyze, criticize and get excited about. But with this season in the bag, let’s take a moment to look back at the first ten picks from last years draft, and see how well they performed and whether they were good value for money, or not. Getting it right with a high draft pick can really set your team up well for the future. Get it wrong and the outcome could be disastrous.
1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts.
Indy were always going to draft a QB with the first pick, as they were in desperate need of someone to fill Peyton Manning’s boots, and start rebuilding the team. Up steps Stanford rookie Andrew Luck, who goes on to far exceed anyone’s expectations for his first season in the NFL.
Pundits and experts all agreed that Luck was ‘NFL ready’, but he still had to go out there and prove it on the field, with a team that didn’t boast the best of receivers or the most competent offensive line. Luck threw passed for 4,374 yards, including 23 touchdowns, to finish the year with a decent 76.passer rating.
Look for more of the same this coming season as he begins to carve a name out for himself in this league, and hopes to become one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Final verdict: The colts couldn’t have hoped for more.
2. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins.
Washington moved heaven and earth to get RG3, and it definitely looks like it’s paying off for them. Much like Luck in Indianapolis, Griffin had an excellent rookie season, and set the league on fire with his ability to make plays throwing the ball as well as on the ground. He truly is the definition of a dual threat QB.
He threw for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns, and perhaps more impressive was the fact that he only turned the ball over five times. Griffin rushed the ball 120 times for 815 yards, giving him an average of 6.8 yards per carry. This included seven touchdowns.
Granted, teams will now have a year’s worth of tape to scrutinize, but, depending on how well he recovers from his knee surgery, I expect him to improve upon last year and show the NFL that Washington were right to move up the board to grab him
Final verdict: If he can stay healthy, RG3 gives Washington the chance to win every game.
3. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns.
The Browns were in dire need of a stud running back, and with Richardson they got one. Coming out of Alabama, where they seem to have an assembly line of great rushers, Richardson rushed 267 times for 950 yards an 11 touchdowns. I would have liked to have seen a better yards per average than 3.6, and I think we will this coming season.
Richardson was no slouch in the passing game either, catching 51 passes for 367 yards.
Looking at his game log, you can see that he did only have have three games where he rushed for 100 yards or more, but he got pretty close on several other occasions. Running backs tend to take a few years to really show what they can do in the NFL, but I believe this could be a real breakout year for the second year player. NFL defenses better be on their guard.
Final verdict: If all goes according to plan, Richardson should easily rush for 1200 yards or more. The Browns have a back for the future.
4. Matt Kalil, Minnesota Vikings.
Every team needs a good left tackle. They protect the quarterbacks blind side, and without a good LT, the end result can be very bad indeed. In Kalil, the Vikings definitely have a good one.
Highly regarded coming out of USC, and the younger brother of All-Pro center, Ryan Kalil of the Carolina Panthers, Matt had a very good start to his NFL career.
He is a good sized lineman at 6’6 and just over 300 lbs, and looks set to be a mainstay in Minnesota for years to come.
Final verdict: The Vikes got it right with Kalil, who has the ability to become one of the league’s best.
5. Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars.
Coming out of Oklahoma State, Blackmon was considered one of the best receivers available, and convinced the Jags to take him with the fifth overall pick.
Out of all the players on this list so far, Blackmon has been the most disappointing. To be fair, he finished the year strongly, after a poor start. He was targeted quite a lot, but just failed to make the catches you would expect from a number 5 draft pick.
His good play down the stretch perhaps had something to do with Chad Henne taking over from a struggling Blaine Gabbert, and he began to show signs of the player the Jags hoped he was.
Final verdict: Blackmon has all the skills to be a great wide receiver. He still needs to work on a lot of things, and possibly needs a better QB, but the future is bright.
Keep your eyes peeled for part two where we go over picks six through ten and see whether these players turned out to be the stars that everyone hoped they would be.