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Five things I liked about draft, making sense of what I didn't

With a few days now to reflect on what happened in the 2011 NFL Draft, it's a perfect time to review it in its totality. Some things I loved, hated, am not too sure about, and some things I think need explaining.

Five things I liked

  1. I liked Daniel Thomas, the running back from Kansas State who the Miami Dolphins traded up to draft in the second round. When the trade was announced, I thought Miami would select quarterback Ryan Mallett. I do worry about Thomas' ball security, though, as he had 11 fumbles in his career in two years. Ouch!
  1. I like that the Dallas Cowboys resisted offers to trade down and instead picked USC's Tyron Smith, the best offensive tackle in the draft, with the ninth overall pick. Had they moved down, say somewhere in the teens, Smith would have been gone, and the Cowboys would not have gotten their left tackle of the future.
  1. I liked that the Indianapolis Colts addressed their offensive line, but I'm not sure Anthony Castonzo, who they selected 22nd overall, is the left tackle of the future. He will, however, provide toughness to a group that needs more toughness. With Charlie Johnson a free agent and probably more suited for left guard, the Colts need a legitimate left tackle. And that might have come when they selected Villanova's Ben Ijalana in the second round.
  1. I like all the moves the Cleveland Browns made, especially having the first-round pick next year from the Atlanta Falcons. Normally, when a team trades down that far, the one they get the following year allows them to add a great player. The last time the Browns took this significant plunge was in 1995, the year before the old franchise moved to become the Baltimore Ravens, which resulted in selecting Ray Lewis.
  1. I like what the St. Louis Rams did, drafting defensive end Robert Quinn in the first round and adding a mismatch tight end in Lance Kendricks to their offense. The Rams next season don't need a shutdown defense, but rather a complementary defense to their potentially high-scoring, fast-break offense. Now, many will say the Rams need a wide receiver for Sam Bradford -- and to some degree I agree -- but they can use Kendricks to create problems in the middle of the field, much like the New England Patriots did last season with their rookie tight ends.

Five things I'm unsure of

  1. I'm not sure the New Orleans Saints can keep all those running backs on the team at the same time. From Reggie Bush to Chris Ivory to the newly-signed Pierre Thomas, and now with the newly drafted Mark Ingram in the mix, how do the Saints get everyone involved, and do they keep that much money allocated to one position? I'm not sure they will, or better yet, can.
  1. Many people seem to think so, but did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers really have a great draft? They added great names on paper in Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers, but injuries and the inability to practice leaves me wondering if they solved their pass-rush needs.
  1. I'm unsure of how receiver Jonathan Baldwin, the Chiefs' first-round pick, will play next year -- not because of a lack of talent but because he will need time to develop. When picking in the 20s, especially in this draft, it was going to be hard for the Chiefs to add a starter, but Baldwin has the talent to be an eventual one and help their receiving corps. However, I do think second-round guard Rodney Hudson will start next year.
  1. I'm not sure that with all their picks the Washington Redskins added potential starters. That first, and foremost, begins with first-rounder Ryan Kerrigan and his ability to be an outside linebacker. Kerrigan needs to be going toward the passer and was more ideally suited for a 4-3 defense, not a 3-4. Yet the Redskins must be sure he can drop and play in space. Only time will tell.
  1. I'm not sure where the Patriots will find an outside rusher once the lockout ends, but that, along with outside wide receiver, are the only two positions this teams needs to keep competing for the Super Bowl. Their two big needs will be hard to fill in free agency (complete list here).

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Five things that need explaining

  1. The Seattle Seahawks will need to explain how they plan to solve their problem at quarterback, especially since Matt Hasselbeck likely won't return. I am a fan of their first-round pick, offensive tackle James Carpenter, and not sure the Seahawks have a plan of attack. I just need to know how they plan on moving forward.
  1. Cincinnati will need to explain to me how they plan on using Dontay Moch, the outside 'backer rusher from Nevada they drafted in the third round. I like Moch and his talents to come off the edge, but I thought he fit the 3-4 better than a 4-3. If the Bengals turn Moch into Philadelphia Eagles rusher Trent Cole -- which I can see the comparison -- then I can buy into it. But if the Bengals want Moch to be a "Sam" 'Backer in their 4-3, I will need someone to explain that one to me.
  1. The Denver Broncos will need to explain how they plan on adding some defensive tackles. They are really light on tackles, and even though Von Miller was a great pick at No. 2 overall, I think they need to explain why no interior defensive tackle was taken in the second round. Rahim Moore, the safety from UCLA they took in the second round, might get broken in half if the Broncos don't shore up their tackle position.
  1. The Jets, under coach Rex Ryan, will have to explain to me his love affair with drafting running backs and carrying fullbacks on the roster. When the Jets picked Bilal Powell in the fourth round, it marked the 10th pick in the Ryan administration, with four being runners. Last year, the Jets might have been the only team in the league to carry two fullbacks on the 45-man roster all season. Not saying it's bad, just would like it explained to me.
  1. The Texans will need to explain to me where J.J. Watt will play on passing downs and what impact he can make at that position. I liked Watt as a two-down player, not a rusher. And I preferred Cam Jordan as a more all-around player. However, Watt brings talent, and second-rounder Brooks Reed must provide pass rush.

Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi

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