The perception of winners and losers on draft day is tough to call, rather impossible actually, but that won’t stop me from making an attempt. Because there’s no way of knowing whether specific players will pan out or become huge busts, I’ll speak in terms of popular beliefs and perceptions from both the team executives and fans. Now, straight to your day 1 winners (in the order they picked).
Indianapolis Colts/Washington Redskins
These two teams are obvious picks. They both got the guy they wanted, and they now both have franchise quarterbacks to lead their teams. Mike Shanahan will likely be on a warm seat in 2012, so it’s important that Griffin can make an immediate impact on one of the league’s most boring teams. Andrew Luck won’t be under quite as much pressure, especially because the perception is that Indianapolis doesn’t have much talent outside of Luck and a few other key players.
Speaking of boring teams, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been working on the league’s most boring offense since the season ended. After giving up a 4th round pick to move up 2 spots in the draft order, the Jaguars selected Justin Blackmon. I thought the Jaguars got a great deal in only giving up one additional pick (on top of the 7th overall pick), and Blackmon represents the true #1 receiver the Jaguars really needed. Suddenly, the Jaguars’ offense doesn’t look too bad.
Selecting Michael Floyd had as much to do with pleasing Larry Fitzgerald as it did making the Cardinals’ troubled passing attack potent once again. We don’t know if Kevin Kolb can succeed as an NFL starter, but the Cardinals are at least trying to make his life a little easier by providing as many targets for him to throw to as possible. Look for Kolb and the Cardinals to air it out early and often in 2012 with Fitzgerald and Floyd as their feature receivers.
This may be the least popular pick on this list, but I was convinced Shea McClellin was going to San Diego. The Chargers need help with their pass rush, and McClellin is relentless. The fact that the he fell right into the Bears lap, and the Bears were smart enough to take him and run, lands the Bears on this list of day 1 winners.
Oh the Detroit Lions. For years the draft was considered their Super Bowl. If that sentiment was true, the Lions used to be the Buffalo Bills of the draft Super Bowl, but those days are long gone. Since Martin Mayhew took over as the Lions GM, it’s been one blockbuster draft after another, and this year’s edition is already shaping up very well. The Lions snagged Riley Reiff, an OT from Iowa, with the 23rd pick of the draft. If there’s one complaint you could have made about the Lions’ air attack in 2011, it was that Matthew Stafford didn’t ever have enough time. Reiff is a big step towards fixing that problem, and he should be a starter from week 1.