A while back, we went over some thoughts of those in the know on this year's NFL draft. And now that it's over, I figured we'd circle back and look for impressions on what actually went down.
Some themes ...
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Trade market slow
In the days leading to the draft, several executives expressed how they expected an active trade market with so many teams having needs without free agency to fill them. And then? The opposite happened. One AFC exec went so far as to say, "Our phone literally wasn't ringing."
Why? It had to do, in part, with the run of four quarterbacks in the top 12. That dynamic depressed the trade market in the teens, with better players at other positions dropping as a result, and it killed the expected activity at the bottom of Round 1 of teams moving up for quarterbacks from the top of Round 2. Once Seattle passed on a QB at 25, teams were content to wait.
"It would've been interesting if (Jake) Locker didn't go to Tennessee at eight," said an NFC exec. "Then, Minnesota might take him at 12, another defensive player comes off the board, and maybe Ponder's there. It'd be different. But some players got pushed down."
How the QBs fell
As our NFC exec said, the Titans' selection of Locker shook up everything. Tennessee took the player widely believed to be the Vikings' man off the board and pushed Ponder up in the process. But just as interesting is that the next team to get a quarterback, Cincinnati at 34, didn't have to move to get him. Andy Dalton went there, and then San Francisco made a modest move up nine spots to 36 to get Colin Kaepernick.
"It's probably because that's where those players deserved to go," said the AFC exec. "It's teams honoring their draft board. ... The value of those picks in this climate, without free agency, is such that where having a volume of picks was critical to filling needs."
Although Kaepernick and Dalton didn't make the first-round cut, as someone expected, there was plenty of sentiment that there was a lot of over-drafting at the position this year.
"I don't care how many quarterbacks went, I don't think it was the best year for that position," said an AFC college scout. "I don't know what happened where so many were taken, panic or whatever, but this was an average year. There was no home run. You could poke serious holes in every single quarterback."
Overall talent was average ... at best
In the end, there were runs on positions, in part, because this is the only team-building mechanism teams currently have to fill holes. But also because there were few players who made personnel types stand on the table.
"It was a mediocre draft," said an NFC personnel man. "There was talent in spots; it was bare in others."
If that sounds like a pretty blah evaluation of the class, it should tell you what you need to know. An official from one team in the 20s said, "No matter how many mocks we did, scenarios and all that, we never got jacked about who was falling to us."
And 17-32 was the strength of this draft.