Looking back at the Draft

via media.lawrence.com

After a weekend that saw three Jayhawks selected by NFL teams in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, what's the prognosis?  Kerry Meier to the Falcons, Darrell Stuckey to the Chargers and Dezmon Briscoe to the Bengals.

Sometimes situation is the biggest factor as to whether a 4th-7th round pick is going to be successful in the league.  These aren't the superstars, they aren't expected to be big impact players immediately.  What they do is provide depth, they make up the bones of an organization and hopefully you find a few long term starters and maybe some sleepers in the mix as well. 

With that in mind how do the three Jayhawks fit?  Are they in the right situation, or are they destined to get lost in the shuffle?  Being objective is always hard to do when talking about your team and players that were such a big part of making up your team.  Today we'll do our best as we breakdown the situation and thoughts from the other perspective in the draft, the perspective of the team doing the drafting.

Darrell Stuckey - 4th Round, San Diego Chargers

In the fourth round the San Diego Chargers drafted Stuckey with a pretty clear goal of providing another option at the strong safety position.  Stuckey is viewed by Kansas fans as an excellent value this late but in some instances the belief isn't necessarily reciprocated.

Don’t expect him to make much impact beyond special teams.

He was an impact player for Kansas. However, it seems like we already have a similar player in Ellison. At least he should play on ST, and can provide some competition to better Ellison, Weddle and co.

On the other hand, some are pretty excited to see the Chargers successfully land this type of player so late.

Stuckey was one of the closest things to a coverage safety in this whole draft. Probably in the top 5.

I think Stuckey is our future SS. He’s a superior athlete compared to Ellison and I think he has just as much football intelligence.

I love that AJ has brought in more guys of not just character, but leaders. It’s what the team has been missing in our silly playoff losses.

With mixed reviews from the fanbase, what's the situation look like in terms of depth? At the moment the strong safety spot has two players on the Chargers roster at their disposal.  Steve Gregory and Kevin Ellison

Gregory is coming off a 2009 where he started in 6 games and played in 16 for the chargers.  He's a fifth year man out of Syracuse, but the Chargers would probably prefer him as a special teams player and depth factor more than a guy they have to rely on over the top.

Ellison is probably where the competition lies.  Ellison is entering just his second year after the Chargers picked him up in the sixth round of last years draft.  He started in 9 games for San Diego in 2009 but it's viewed as a position by committee by most as neither Gregory or Ellison appear capable of playing every down at the spot.

Prognosis: Good spot for Stuckey, the opportunity will be there from day one to earn a starting spot with the Chargers and be THE guy at strong safety.  What the chargers need is someone that can continue to provide the emphasis they are looking for in run support, plus someone who can provide some over the top coverage help.  Stuckey isn't GREAT in coverage but he's not a bad option either.  He covers the field well, is a smart football player and in this situation with a solid corps of corners, he could be a perfect fit for a productive start to his NFL career.

Early Opportunity grade: A-


Kerry Meier - 5th Round, Atlanta Falcons

No surprise that the quiet but very productive quarterback turned receiver didn't necessarily draw instant rave reviews from the Falcons fanbase on draft day.

I still wonder why we took the second best receiver on the team

He’s a 6"2 white guy who runs a 4.7 40. Kinda caps off our draft.

I love how everyone says—-oh good pick for 5th round. But in this draft we still have 2nd/3rd round talent available in the 5th Round and we taking players that are 6th to undrafted talent.

It wasn't all bad though as a few saw a little bit of a Falcon fan favorite in Meier.

He looks like a baller. He has that Gonzo(Tony Gonzalez) sixth sense about where the seam is in every zone, he’s good pretty good speed, he catches the ball in double

He seems to be our Eric Decker, A Gonzalez (sure hands) Finneran (tall leaping catch) hybrid guy.

Big, smart, and sure-handed, not bad for the fifth round.

So where does he fit?  Well the Falcons fanbase refers to Brian Finneran quite often when looking at the potential of Meier.  And, almost without fail, they fully expect that Finneran won't be going anywhere or giving up his spot very easily after a slow down in 2009.

Either way Meier is viewed as a #3 or slot guy at best.  He's got size and ability to play over the middle and that's where he'll have to earn his spot with Atlanta. 

Prognosis: The Falcons are by no means overly deep at the wideout spot.  They have bodies but none really jump off the page as high quality depth. With that in mind Meier could very well be in a good position to make a play down the line. I'm not sure if it's this year or not as the adjustment might take some time.  Still it's believed there are plenty of balls to go around in Atlanta right now and perhaps Meier can be a situational type guy early on.  I think it's a good fit, an organization that's improving and a coaching staff that will respect Meier's work ethic and coachability a great deal.     

Early Opportunity Grade: C+

 

Dezmon Briscoe - 6th Round, Bengals

Call it the Roethlisburger affect if you'd like.  This years NFL draft seemed to place a high value on character more than any I've watched before.  With that in mind, Briscoe slipped quite a bit and ironically it was the Bengals that eventually pulled the trigger.

The Bengals fan perspective was almost entirely positive, although they also realize that the Bengals made plenty of moves prior to this in order to bolster wide receiver depth.  In fact, by the time the Bengals picked up Briscoe, it almost wasn't an immediate need.

I love this pick, I hope he plays well enough to find a spot on the team.

Man from what I've seen, this guy gives 100% on every play, I am glad that he is in Bengal stripes now. The only problem now is we have 10 wr's and only room for 4??

Briscoe is the steal of the draft in the 6th round NFL.com ranked him as the 5th best WR

I will be shocked if Briscoe dosent make the team. He brings what housh did when he was here. He has the talent and the skills to be a solid number 2 receiver in the league. With Ocho at 32, and Bryant an injury risk i see Briscoe and Simpson the only other 2 receivers with the size and ability the Bengals want on the outside.

 

Prognosis: So with 10 receivers and 5 or 6 spots likely on the opening day roster, will Briscoe make the team?  Right now you have to assume that Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant are locks for the roster, Shipley as a 3rd rounder should be there as well. 

The questions creep in after that.  The Bengals are two years removed from drafting Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson at the spot and just one year removed from drafting Quan Crosby.  But, you don't sign a high dollar free agent wide receiver and draft two more if you are happy with what you have.

There's a good chance Briscoe can find his way onto the roster at the 4th-6th spot come opening day with Caldwell and Crosby the favorites to be the other two in that mix.  Any injuries or lack of production and Briscoe could manage some minutes but it's more likely that he is a guy that moves into the #2 or #3 role in a year or two if all goes well.  It's a logjam yes, but it's a logjam that has all the signs of freeing up in the near future and when it frees up, it looks as if Briscoe is someone they want to have in waiting. 

Early opportunity grade: C

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