Having a top five draft pick in the NFL is a huge deal and can play a huge role in how the next 4-5 years pans out for your respective franchise.
Obviously landing a top five pick means you were at the bottom of the NFL standings the season before, or you traded up to select a player that you've had your eyes on for the last couple of months. Either way, making the correct decision is vital in both success and team chemistry.
This year's draft has been one of the most top-heavy first rounds we've seen in quite some years. Atop the first round we have two top-tier quarterbacks who are NFL-ready and are going to QB-thirsty teams. One (Stanford's Andrew Luck) will be replacing a franchise's icon and the other (Baylor's Robert Griffin III) will be going to a team that has lacked a play-making quarterback since Doug Williams left Washington in 1989.
It's the first time two quarterbacks have gone No. 1 and No. 2 overall since 1999, when Tim Couch (Browns) and Donovan McNabb (Eagles) were selected in back-to-back picks to start the draft. This could either be a history-making draft with Luck/RGIII putting up stellar careers over the next 10+ years, or it will be a huge letdown. I happen to be a firm believer that these two will have decent rookie seasons, both happen to be starting the season under center.
Here's a preview of what we should expect from Luck, RGIII and the other three top five picks in the draft that was completed at the end of April..
Note from the author: Reading this may overly-excite you for the start of the 2012 season. Unfortunately there is still just under three months until the season will kick-off, so beware..
Luck, Colts QB: No. 1 overall
The built tough and smart Stanford signal caller has a huge task at hand...replacing a legend in Peyton Manning. But, just completing his education at Stanford Luck has just re-joined the team for Mini Camps and has already impressed his teammates. Reading various tweets from his fellow Colts, I think it's safe to say he has the support of his peers already.
Being a Stanford guy, you know he's smart and I expect him to have Indy's playbook down pat by the time pre-season rolls around. With All Pro wideout Reggie Wayne re-signing with the team, the Colts have a proven target for him and plan on building the rest of the offense around Luck. Once the rebuilding process is complete, Indy could be Super Bowl contenders once again.
Griffin III, Redskins QB: No. 2 overall
The No. 2 overall pick by the Skins, who gave up everything but the kitchen sink to get him via a trade with the St. Louis Rams prior to the draft, has impressed many already as well. His wideouts have expressed how impressed they are with his arm strength via Twitter as well. The Skins have done what they can to place the pieces around Griffin as well, bringing in free agent WR Pierre Garcon out of Indy, WR Joshua Morgan. Retaining running back Tim Hightower for insurance was another move that I thought was a good idea.
His weapons aren't A+ grade, of course. But it's a good start. Drafting quarterback Kirk Cousins in the third round this year seems a little silly to me, especially after giving up so many picks just to land Griffin. But Cousins will manage to give RGIII a little added motivation throughout training camp. Perhaps that was the purpose of the move? We may never know.
This will surely be an interesting summer in D.C., wouldn't you agree?
Trent Richardson, Browns RB: No. 3 overall
Cleveland chose not to make a move for RGIII and instead snagged the top running back off the board. Given a very limited backs to choose from, the Browns didn't waste any time grabbing Richardson. With the selection of top five quarterback Brandon Weeden later in the first round (22 overall pick), it appears as though Cleveland is on the five-year plan and is looking to re-build the offense.
The loss of Peyton Hillis (signed with Kansas City on March 14) and the unreliability of additional running backs Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya led to the drafting of Richardson, who has a great combination of speed and power. He has the ability to break long runs once he gets through the first level of opposing defenses.
Hardesty, a former second round pick in 2010, has been a huge letdown after missing all of 2010 and putting up just a 3.0 yards/carry average and zero TDs on 88 rushing attempts in 2011. The front office has high hopes that Richardson can bring an effective run game back to Cleveland, which is almost a requirement to have success within the AFC North.
Matt Kalil, Vikings LT: No. 4 overall
The least exciting pick of the top five, but that doesn't mean it isn't a huge pick. Trading down to the No. 4 spot, Minnesota snagged the top offensive line prospect in the draft, replacing last year's left tackle Charlie Johnson (70 starts in six seasons w/ IND and MIN). I don't think there's anyone I'd rather have protecting the young Christian Ponder's blindside than the 6'7"/306 pound, 22-year old Kalil.
With Adrian Peterson's recovery (ACL) still in question for the start of the season, the passing game will have to be more reliable and keeping Ponder, Donovan McNabb and Joe Webb off the ground was a huge issue last season. The Vikings allowed the fifth-most sacks in 2011 (49; tied with Chicago), which contributed to its 26 offensive turnovers.
A reliable LT is becoming more and more a requirement for a successful passing offense, and Minnesota certainly took a huge step forward in selecting Kalil, who has a brother (Ryan Kalil, current Panthers center) and father (Frank Kalil, former NFL/USFL OL) with professional football experience.
Justin Blackmon, Jaguars WR: No. 5 overall
This, by far, will be the most interesting first round selection to watch. Just over a week ago Blackmon was arrested for driving under the influence (his second DUI arrest since 2010) and there will likely be a suspension coming his way. Well, at least there should be. He hasn't even played a down in the NFL yet and he's already getting himself in trouble. Commissioner Goodell needs to set him straight and sit down and talk with him about his issues.
Anyway, if he does face suspension in 2012 it will be interesting to see how he copes with that and responds once he returns to the field. He's a play-maker and, if Blaine Gabbert can stay upright long enough to get him the ball, he will make plenty of plays for the Jaguars. He's an exciting guy to watch.
If all of this potential NFL drama heading in to training camps at the end of July doesn't excite you, then I'm not real sure what will. Maybe you should get your pulse checked.
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