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Welcome to 'First and Goal'. This week is all about the Draft baby! I'm glad I waited to write this. I've been up, I've been down, I've hated it and now I'm coming around. Before we even get into this draft manifesto I'd just like to commiserate with the rest of you out there. We all know the draft is an inexact science. But if we're going to fail, we at least want to fail with our guys. There's nothing worse than falling in love with a player, only to see him ball out somewhere else. We're all guilty of it. Such is Life. Baalke always takes the smart girl from band class. Sometimes she grows up to be what you thought she was. Other times she grows up to play bass and you want to hug the guy. Where will this class fall? Only time will tell.
As always, be sure to check out our Hero of the Week.
Let's get to it!
Before we get to the picks, I think it's important to flesh out what this draft taught us in regards to Baalke's vision for this team. Honestly, I'm not sure Baalke knows what he's really got. There is a large collection of players returning from injury, there are redshirted players, there are newly signed players and there is the recent draft. This doesn't even take into account the players from last year that didn't play enough, nor does it take into account the players who did play, but are expected to play better under the tutelage of this new coaching staff. There are simply too many unknowns. Baalke's going to throw them all out there and see who rises to the top.
If we paid attention to our GM's comments before the draft, it was obvious that he tried to fill in as many holes as possible through free agency. They might not have been the OL, CB's or ILB's that we wanted, but they were signed. We have bodies everywhere. With that in mind, this was a very, dare I say it, Bill Walsh-ian draft. Cousin Bill would be proud. Early picks went to smart, athletic defensemen while saving later picks for offensive players that we can mold to our system. We're also going into next year tied for the most picks of any team with 9, which doesn't take into account the 2-3 comp picks we're sure to get.
This was also a very Bill Parcells-ian draft, which we should expect by now; building the team from the inside-out. I'm not exactly thrilled with this approach, but it's very effective. We want to be strong up the middle. We want fast, large, tough men to go beat up other men. We want an edge. We want to dominate. Can we say, bludgeon??
If we're going to be fair, we must dock a few points where it's due. I realize we have players like Hyde, McDonald, Patton and Ellington who are going to get a full, fair shake this year, and I'm excited for that. But the last three drafts were full of nice toys, full of nice offensive players from WRs, to RBs to TE's. I have to admit that the collection we managed to get out of all those nice toys is a little underwhelming. Most of the time, we're picking the 15th or the 17th WR in the draft. I don't know how anyone is supposed to pick difference makers using that kind of strategy. For those that say hindsight is 20/20, all I'll say is that we should be doubling-down on our bets. We always have so many picks. We should be drafting a few WR's, RB's and TE's a year. We should be putting the best pieces around Kap as possible. I believe he's a franchise player. Let's get his some freakin' toys!!!
Welcome to the Team, Fellas!
Arik Armstead, DE (6'7"-300): Project! Project! Oh wait, he's automatically our best (prototypical) 3-4 DE on the team. For those who don't think he's going to start, you're still not paying attention. He's going to start opposite Dial on base downs and form a nasty twin-tower combo to set the edge and tie up blockers. That's all we want him to do and it's exactly what we needed. Tank is a nickel DE, not a starting 3-4 DE. I'm putting my money on Tomsula getting this kid ready. He's only scratching the surface. My only complaint is, where are the goddamn leaks coming from? Tighten your ship, Baalke!!
Jaquiski Tartt, SS (6'1"-220): We play Kam Chancellor twice a year, and he has a definite impact on every game. I know Baalke sees the same thing. You think Baalke, a Parcells disciple, likes going to Seattle and getting his butt kicked every year? You think he likes how the seachickens talk smack and out-physical us? No way! We needed tone-setters, and with Willis retiring I can see it. We currently have a logjam at Safety, but as Baalke said, that's not a bad problem to have. I'm guessing Mangini has some ideas on what to do with him in nickel and dime sets. He'll definitely play this year at some point, and more than we might expect at first. He also provides great insurance for Reid, even though I think he's going to be ok. I don't particularly like Ward at nickel back, nor do I think he belongs on the bench. Tricky-tricky for now. Pop Tartt!
Eli Harold, OLB (6'3"- 250): I wanted offense with this pick, but I guess BPA won again. Lots of people like this pick but I don't. We're not letting Aldon go anywhere. Lynch is a stud… so we take another OLB? Maybe our nickel line looks something like this: Harold-Aldon-Dockett-Lynch? Since we're not drafting any CB's I guess this is how you make all the ones you do have look better. I like his tape, I like the value, but I wanted shiny toys for the offense and I was disappointed. I should know better. Anyone who helps demolish the midget is ok in my book.
Blake Bell, TE (6'6"- 250): I really wanted Maxx Williams in the 2nd, I think he's going to be good. I think Bell is ok, but I'm not as high on him as others. He definitely fills a need, and I'm excited to see what he's got. That he can play QB if needed means Baalke loves him. But we passed on players like Ertz and Kelce in the past and took McDonald instead. Now we have Bell instead of Williams. Call me skeptical for now, though I'll be happy to be proved wrong.
Mike Davis, RB (5'9"-220): Lots of other RB's I wanted in this draft besides Davis, but that doesn't mean it's a bad pick. Small, compact, falls forward, can catch out of the backfield… not bad at all. I think he'll do well in a ZBS where he can hide behind our monstrous OL. As long as he stays healthy I'll consider this a good RB2 for Hyde.
DeAndre Smelter, WR (6'2"-225): Not the WR I wanted, and not this early for an ACL project again. Looks to be Boldin's replacement for next year. Tough, physical WR that should mesh well with our run offense. Not excited, but not mad either.
Bradley Pinion, P (6'5"-230): Terrible pick. Why? We already have a good P under contract. On top of that, when compared to who we got last year in the 5th round, Lynch, then it's really not good value. I don't expect him to beat out Lee, but at least he's big, so there's that. C'mon Baalke!
Ian Silberman, OG (6'5"-295): OL depth this late in the draft, more than likely camp fodder. Maybe practice squad potential. Once again, a meat and potatoes draft pick.
Trenton Brown, OT (6'8"-350): More OL depth, though this is a mountain of a man. More practice squad potential, though if he doesn't get poached, I'm excited to see what he can do in 2016. Longest arms on the team I think. Shoulda known.
Rory Anderson, TE (6'5"-245): Talented move TE with a little bit of an injury history. I like how many TE's we picked up. Someone will step up, and with Vernon gone next year, there will be snaps up for grabs.
We picked 10 players you guys! And got more picks for next year! The more picks you have, the greater the chances that some of them become hits. Baalke and Belichick know this more than anybody.
Hero of the Week
We here at 'First and Goal' believe in mankind. We also believe in letting loose and throwing a P-A-R-T-Y! 2015 seems to be a very festive year for the city of Chicago. By all accounts, the draft festivities outside of the actual draft were a hit. So many people came out to see the sights that I doubt NYC ever gets it back; they simply don't have the room to create an NFL village like Chicago and other cities can do. The NFL is all about real-estate, and getting as much of it as they can. This year's draft in Chicago will set a template for all future draft sites. I bet Santa Clara holds a draft in the next 10 years.
But aside from the NFL draft, Chicago is holding another amazing event this year, the final leg of the "Fare-Thee-Well Tour" by the Grateful Dead from July 3-5th. I tried very hard to get tickets but got shut out of mail order. Tear. But I've seen plenty of shows in my day and I'll probably watch the telecast. Chicago will have the biggest party in America over 4th of July weekend, and I suggest that anyone living in Chicago should take themselves to Soldier Field that weekend just to feel the energy and take in the vibe. It's a piece of American history, and it's cool that Chicago got the final shows. The entire area near Soldier Field is expansive and pretty. Not a bad place to see a concert. Our Hero of the Week, the beautiful city of Chicago!
PS: They still have Cutler for a QB, but man are they trying to overcompensate in other areas, and for that Chicago, we salute you!