*I liked Dallas’ move to get Dez Bryant. I think his “character issues” are overrated—let’s be honest, signing with an agent isn’t akin to drug use or assault, and even if they weren’t, Ben Roethlisberger has shown that such issues aren’t a hindrance to NFL success. Dallas got a nice linebacker in Sean Lee, a player with Bobby Carpenter-like talent. Not spectacular, but steady.
*Minnesota got themselves a very good deal with Toby Gerhart in the second round. The Stanford running back is big, physical and tough, meaning there’s no rest for defenses when Adrian Peterson needs a rest. It also fills an immediate need, replacing Chester Taylor who left for Chicago.
*Green Bay got one of the top picks of the entire first round when they drafted Iowa offensive tackle Bryan Bugala. He had been speculated to go in the top 10, but began falling. Funny, but isn’t the same thing that happened to Aaron Rodgers?
*Detroit was another winner when they got Ndamakong Suh at the second overall pick. The Nebraska defensive tackle should have gone first. The Rams passed on the chance and will instead become the latest team to throw $50 million down the drain on a rookie quarterback dumped into a hornet’s nest with no supporting cast.
*Tampa Bay got the second-best player in the draft, another defensive tackle from the Big 12 in Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy. He’s one of two DTs the Bucs added, and they also picked a nice big-play threat in Illinois wide receiver Aurelious Benn.
*The first offensive lineman to be taken was Oklahoma’s Trent Williams, going to Washington. But others feel that crossstate rival Russell Okung from Oklahoma State was the real top OT. He went to Seattle as the heir apparent to Walter Jones. A lot of good line talent coming out of the Big 12, suggesting that the league might be more than just spread offenses burning out the scoreboard lights.
*New England had a thing for Florida players, using three of their 11 picks on Gators. I especially liked the choice of linebacker Brandon Spikes in Round 2.
*Buffalo got positive reviews for its pick of C.J. Spiller in the first round and rightly so. But keep an eye on seventh-round pick Levi Brown. The versatile quarterback from Troy could be a real sleeper. Elsewhere in the AFC East, Miami’s first-round pick of Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick was first-rate.
*Cleveland handled themselves well under the leadership of Mike Holmgren. They addressed the secondary first and still got quality talent at the skill positions. Montario Hardesty, a running back out of Tennessee, plus Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, could easily be the best at their positions in this draft.
*Across the state of Ohio, Cincinnati went to both ends of the character spectrum. They took a flyer on talented but troubled Carlos Dunlap, a good pass-rushing linebacker from Florida. And then they took steady but unspectacular Jordan Shipley, McCoy’s prime target at Texas. And kudos also go to Baltimore, who got two quality defensive lineman in Sergio Kindle on the outside, plus Terrence Cody inside.
*No one can say Jacksonville’s not serious about its defensive line. After signing Aaron Kampman in the offseason, the Jags then spent their first four picks on the D-Line. AFC South rival Tennessee upgraded the outside, getting USC receiver Damian Williams and Florida State defensive back Myron Rolle.
*San Diego filled its need for a feature back that can stand up to daily pounding by taking Ryan Mathews from Fresno State. No surprise here—I couldn’t fathom they would go into the season with Darren Sproles at the number one guy.
*There’s nothing I can add to the Tim Tebow conversation you haven’t read a thousand times already. (Personally, I thought the first round was a big reach). Keep an eye on wide receiver Eric Decker out of Minnesota. He was good for 9-10 catches a game until a broken foot ended his season.
That’s a wrap on the NFL draft and also on our spring walk-through. The action on the Notebook Family will be in baseball for the next three months. At the start of August, football previews will begin.