Defending the draft

Alright, I spent plenty of time hating on the EJ Manuel pick, and I'm still not pleased with it, nor am I a fan of the Goodwin pick. That said, I am a fan and can talk myself into just about anything to support the team, so I'm going to go ahead and post my positive views on the draft so far.

Round 1: EJ Manuel, QB, 16th overall

Cons: Undeveloped, inconsistent, big time reach at the position

Positive views: The Bills may very well have been unable to find a suitable trade partner to move back for Manuel, and it is quite likely the Eagles would have taken him in the 2nd round had the Bills not grabbed him first. While his inconsistency is an issue, the guy is a proven winner, leader, and has physical tools that cannot be taught. He is a very intelligent individual, and the "dumbed down offense" he ran at FSU is overstated, I believe. The reality is that college coaches are focused on winning now, not necessarily prepping their players for the future. I think that Fisher & Co. realized what they had in Manuel when he filled in as relief for an injured Ponder, and figured it is better to keep the offense simple and play to his strengths rather than spend time teaching a more complicated offense and potentially limiting his effectiveness by moving away from the "known" strengths he possessed. Therefore, the offense may have been simplified not because of an inability to run a more complicated offense, but instead because he was so good at what he did in the simple offense that it made little sense to add unneeded complexity when the team performed very well without it. There is good reason to believe that this coaching staff can mold him well in even a short amount of time and EJ Manuel could be the starter by the half-way point of the season and performing as well, if not better than expected.

Round 2: Robert Woods, WR, 41st overall

Cons: "injury-prone", lack of top-end speed

Positive Views: This guy is a total stud. I am a huge fan, and while I would have preferred Keenan Allen due to personal bias (and his slightly bigger frame), Woods is just as good a receiver and fills our needs quite well. He was criminally underrated due to his "poor" junior season, which is a hugely overblown concern by the analytics community. Woods showed the ability to dominate corners through all three years, and holds the record for receptions despite declaring as a junior and his "poor" junior season. Woods' fall from sure-fire first round pick is due to the emergence of Marquise Lee, who seems undeniably the best receiver in college football right now. The reality is that Lee's dominance had to come at the expense of other parts of the offense, and ultimately it was Woods' production and draft stock that was hurt as a result. There are only so many yards to be gained on a football field, and only so many possessions to use. When one receiver is as dominant as Marquise Lee, everyone else on the team takes a back seat, even if they are as good as Robert Woods. Of course, his fall has been a boon for or WR corps, because we managed to snag a true pro at the position with a second round pick. Woods is one of the best route runners in the draft with consistently excellent hands (much like Keenan Allen). While he is often banged up, I don't believe he missed a single game due to injury during his career at USC, and quite frankly we have had a guy that's regularly banged up on the roster now for a few years and he has turned out fine (Stevie).

Round 2: Kiko Alfonso, ILB, 46th overall

Cons: Character concerns, reach for the position

Positive Views: I am with Brian on this one: this guy is a stud and exactly who we need at the ILB spot in the 3-4 defense. He can flat out ball and was a dominant player on the Oregon defense. He is tough, has zero fear of blockers, loves to tackle, and has excellent range for the position. Yes, he had off the field concerns, but they too are overblown and it shouldn't be hard to get his mind right with the character guys in the Buffalo locker room. There really isn't much more to say, I feel he is a definite upgrade over Shep and should step into a starting role immediately. He may be unpolished, but don't confuse that with "project". He has good natural instincts and should catch on quickly under Pettine's guidance. He will be a likely starter sometime this season, if not on Day 1.

Round 3: Marquise Goodwin, WR, 78th overall

Cons: Average production, reach for the position, diminutive frame

Positive Views: Honestly, I was not on board with this pick at all, but I think a big part of that was the gut-punch feeling I had when San Diego took Keenan Allen right in front of us (I feel he filled a bigger need for our corps and yes, I am heavily biased because I loved him at Cal). That said, this is a player with a lot of potential that can fill the slot role very well on this team. Yes, he lacked production, and people have said that he can only get the ball on plays designed for him, but that's where I need to butt in. Realistically, almost every receiver out there can only get the ball on plays designed for them, and honestly it seems the UT QBs and coaching staff held back Goodwin's production more than anything else. If the QB can't get the ball downfield well and the coaching staff isn't being creative or doesn't really want to give the guy the ball, how can you fault the player? Yes, if he were a true stud at the position, he would have found the ball coming his way more often, but Texas' offense didn't really seem to lend itself to properly utilizing a slot receiver such as Goodwin as well as many other teams would. I feel he does fit the spread offense well and can take advantage of matchups when the team goes 4 and 5 wide. That said, he wasn't my ideal choice for the position, but there is reason to believe he is better than he showed at Texas.

All in all, I can't really "hate" the draft so far. I feel the team went out and got the guys they wanted, even if they did have to reach to get them. That said, production is all that matters, and if these players can produce then we won't really care where they were drafted.

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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