Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o was selected in the second round by the San Diego Chargers. He celebrated the draft at a party in his hometown with family and friends. (Source: Hawaii News Now)
(RNN) – There's no better time than the day after the NFL Draft ends to determine who will be future Hall of Famers and who will go bust.
Two teams took troubled players who used to be considered consensus top 10 draft picks – San Diego with Manti Te'o and Arizona with Tyrann Matthieu. Each could be a star in the NFL if his troubles are in the rearview mirror and makes a return to his previous form. Each could also be a bust, failing to overcome the stigma attached to him due to off-field trouble.
The questions surrounding each are far different. Matthieu is a proven commodity at cornerback and kick returner and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, but he was dismissed from the team at LSU after a series of failed drug tests and hasn't played a game in more than a year.
Te'o was stellar at linebacker for Notre Dame in its run to the national championship game and finished as the Heisman Trophy runner-up. Then he made a series of embarrassing missed tackles against Alabama, revealed the story of his girlfriend having died of leukemia midseason was a hoax and turned in a wildly underwhelming performance at the scouting combine.
Another defensive player, lineman Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, drew fashion questions when he accepted his No. 1 jersey from Detroit wearing movie theatre 3-D glasses without the lenses. His suit was nice, if bland, but pairing such fancy threads with a broken accessory left over from your trip to see Jurassic Park is questionable decision-making at best. (By the way, so was the white-on-gray suit with suspenders and a belt and the hat over a ball of dreadlocks Cordarrelle Patterson tried to pull off.)
Most people think their team got better over the last few days, but statistically speaking that's pretty much false. Some people got better, certainly, but some stayed the same and some got worse.
Here's a quick look at five teams who spent the last three days taking steps toward the Super Bowl and five teams who took steps toward having future No. 1 overall selections.
San Francisco – The 49ers entered the draft with few needs and a lot of picks. They traded up to fill a hole at safety by drafting Eric Reid, addressed the defensive line by taking three defensive ends, added offensive depth with tight end Vance McDonald and receiver Quinton Patton, found a back-up quarterback to Colin Kaepernick in the seventh round and took at least one player at every position group.
Their flexibility and lack of needs also afforded the opportunity to draft running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore is coming off his second knee injury in two years and may not play at all this season, but when healthy there are few players who can match his ability. If he doesn't pan out, it's not a big loss because he was a fourth-round selection in a draft where the team nabbed 11 players.
Green Bay – The Packers may have given a clue to the future of their offense with this year's draft. Green Bay was expected to take a running back, and the Packers took two of them – Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. Lacy was generally considered the best RB in the draft, and was a projected first round pick by several experts. Three other running backs were taken before Lacy and Green Bay grabbed him late in the second round.
Green Bay lost receiver Greg Jennings in the offseason, but waited until the seventh round to address that position when it took two. The Packers have trended away from the running game in recent years, but they may be looking to trend back to it. Green Bay also added defensive linemen Datone Jones and Josh Boyd, a pair of offensive linemen and a pair of linebackers.
St. Louis – Last year the Rams focused on defense under first-year head coach Jeff Fisher, but this year was all about the offense. St. Louis took Tavon Austin, widely seen as the best receiver in the draft in the first round and added his college teammate Stedman Bailey in the third round. Barrett Jones, who can play any position on the offensive line was added in the fourth round.
St. Louis also grabbed little-touted running back Zach Stacy, who led Vanderbilt to a nine-win season, in the fifth round. Fisher couldn't stay away from the defense, though, and grabbed dynamic linebacker Alec Ogletree with the 30th overall selections. Ogletree may have gone higher if not for some character concerns.
Minnesota – Three first round selections gave Vikings fans plenty to be excited about. Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes will shore up a defense that was in need of an upgrade and help keep the high-powered offenses of division rivals Green Bay and Detroit in check. Fashion choices aside, Cordarrelle Patterson should be a nice complement to new acquisition Greg Jennings and take the pressure off the running game.
Minnesota used the later rounds to add depth at offensive line and linebacker, but did make a curious selection when it used a fifth-round pick on punter Jeff Locke. Chris Kluwe was a reliable punter for the Vikings and adding a competitor for his job didn't seem necessary, but the Vikings' other choices should build off last year's 10-6 season.
Tampa Bay – Trading for Darrelle Revis set the Buccaneers up for a good draft before it even started. They followed that by taking Mississippi State's Johnathan Banks, who could start opposite Revis as a rookie.
Tampa didn't have many pressing needs, but it needed depth on defense and procured that with two defensive linemen and a linebacker in the middle rounds. The Buccaneers had just six picks, but were able to add a back-up quarterback in N.C. State's Mike Glennon and much-needed depth at running back with unheralded Mike James from Miami.
Honorable mention: Houston – The Texans' biggest need was a second receiver, which they picked up in the first round with DeAndre Hopkins and added plenty of depth on defense.
Dallas – Perhaps the most confusing pick of the entire draft was made by Dallas in the first round when it took center Travis Frederick. Frederick may go on to a decade-long career making sure Tony Romo doesn't fumble and be a Pro Bowl shoo-in every year, but if he isn't that, Dallas wasted its pick. Frederick himself said he was surprised to be taken so high, and Dallas could have gotten a quality center in the second, third or fourth round. The only thing not confusing about the choice was trading down before making it.
Dallas then added a tight end it didn't need and another wide receiver to an already confusing revolving door of inconsistency before finally turning to defense, which is where it should have started. Dallas certainly needed offensive line help, but it was easily available in later rounds. Safety help, however, wasn't as readily available when the 'Boys looked that direction in the third round. When they took Frederick, two safeties had already been taken and one of those was with the pick they traded to the 49ers to move down in the first round and Baltimore took another after the Cowboys picked.
Cincinnati – Like Dallas, the Bengals' draft was about who they didn't take. Cincinnati needed to add depth on the defensive side of the ball across the board and instead added depth on the offensive side of the ball across the board. Cincinnati took two good players in tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard in the first two rounds, but added another receiver and running back in later rounds – two units that already have plenty of depth – and three offensive linemen.
One defensive lineman, one defensive back and one linebacker were sandwiched between those selections, leaving the Bengals without defensive flexibility and reliant on a juggernaut offense, which is has, to win games. The potential to build a defense for years to come was there, but the Bengals chose to ignore it.
Oakland – Cornerback was a big need and Oakland addressed it in the first round. Defensive line was a big need and Oakland addressed it at the end of the sixth round. The Raiders did grab a needed offensive tackle in the second round, but followed that up with quarterback Tyler Wilson, two tight ends and a running back.
Wilson is as shaky a QB option as all the other QBs the Raiders have had in recent years and two sixth-round tight ends, a sixth-round running back and a seventh-round wide receiver are hardly reliable offensive weapons. The Raiders also are devoid of a reliable pass rush, and after this draft will remain that way.
Washington – The Redskins could use help at offensive tackle and wide receiver, but didn't draft a player at either. The 'Skins were out a first round draft pick after trading up to get Robert Griffin III last year and much of their problems stemmed from that. Washington needed to address its secondary, and it did, but the biggest need, which was safety, wasn't addressed until the fourth round.
Had the Redskins had a first-round selection, that could have been addressed sooner, but by the time they picked, there wasn't much value at that position. Washington went for a cornerback instead, but that position was only seen as a need because its existing CBs are up for free agency after this season. Additionally, Washington added two running backs and sought no depth at defensive line, which it also could have used.
Detroit – If Ezekiel Ansah turns out to be an effective starter on the defensive line, this draft could be a win, but that is by no means certain. Detroit didn't need much help on the defensive line but took two ends anyway. Ansah is the ultimate boom or bust or choice. He was taken fifth overall after starting only nine games in college. He only played football because he couldn't make the basketball team.
Detroit's defensive line was good enough with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley anchoring it to not be in need of such a risky pick. Cornerback was a big need, but the Lions addressed that in the second round with Darius Slay. Detroit also needed a tackle, but didn't use of its nine picks on that position. The Lions also drafted a punter in the fifth round and took a linebacker in the seventh despite being set at that position.
Honorable mention: New York Jets – The Jets needed playmakers on offense and didn't draft a single receiver or tight end and took a fullback in the seventh round. The addition of quarterback Geno Smith was expected , but unless he steps in as an immediate starter with few struggles, the Jets' problems at the position will continue and the lack of skill position players on offense will be why.
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