Lions, Vikings among winners in NFL draft
Patience is a virtue when evaluating the NFL Draft. With so many factors at play in college players' jump to the NFL, it's hard to predict which teams helped their teams enough until a couple of years later.
But there are always some picks that stand out immediately. Some teams find talented players who fit their scheme and can help immediately while others make head-scratching decisions early in the draft. Here are a few of the teams that stood out at first glance:
Minnesota : The Vikings have reason for optimism on offense with Teddy Bridgewater under center, and if Adrian Peterson returns, that unit could be among the most balanced in the league. So, Minnesota addressed the defense to keep up with the high-flying attacks in the division. Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes gives the Vikings a good long-term duo at the position along with Xavier Rhodes, and second-round linebacker Eric Kendricks should be an immediate starter who helps the run game.
Miami : The Dolphins clearly want to make life easier for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In first-round receiver DeVante Parker, they added a tall, fast and physical receiver who can be their No. 1 target. In fifth-round running back Jay Ajayi, the Dolphins have a potential three-down threat if his knee doesn't become a major problem. Second-round defensive tackle Jordan Phillips should learn how to be more consistent playing next to Ndamukong Suh.
Jacksonville : The Jaguars quietly tied for sixth in sacks last year, and they added first-round edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. to make their pass rush a true strength. Third-round guard A.J. Cann and second-round back T.J. Yeldon should help the run game significantly, defensive tackle Michael Bennett could be a steal in the sixth and hard-hitting safety James Sample should help the back end.
Baltimore : Breshad Perriman is a very raw receiver, but he's a perfect deep threat to replace Torrey Smith for big-armed Joe Flacco. Tight end Maxx Williams will be a Day 1 starter, third-round defensive tackle Carl Davis adds needed depth and fourth-round running back Buck Allen could be a steal.
Detroit : There was nothing sexy about the Lions' draft, but they filled the biggest hole on the team on Day 1, drafting guard Laken Tomlinson and acquiring interior offensive lineman Manny Ramirez in a trade from the Broncos. With those two, Ameer Abdullah and fullback Michael Burton, the Lions have the pieces to improve the run game and take pressure off Matthew Stafford.
Washington : The selection of Brandon Scherff in the first round was fine, and edge rusher Preston Smith could be a second-round bargain. But in a division with Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant, it's unfathomable that Washington didn't prioritize improving the cornerback position.
Kansas City : The Chiefs seemed to reach on their first three picks, though cornerback Marcus Peters is a perfect fit for their defense. The big problem was the Chiefs didn't add depth at edge rusher, and they've effectively made re-signing Justin Houston a must, which will have huge salary cap implications.
Buffalo : The Bills added some fine players, but giving up their first-round pick to move up for Sammy Watkins minimized their haul. Buffalo wasn't going to find an upgrade at quarterback, but it didn't do enough to add pieces elsewhere to turn its team into a contender.
Indianapolis : The selection of speedy receiver Phillip Dorsett in Round 1 was a shrewd move that should make the Colts' offense almost impossible to stop. But defense has been the problem for Indianapolis in the playoffs, and while cornerback D'Joun Smith and defensive end Henry Anderson will help, they probably aren't immediate difference makers.
St. Louis : The pick of Todd Gurley should help the Rams in the ultra-physical NFC West. But what good is having Gurley when Kenny Britt is your best vertical weapon? The offense will be better, but probably not good enoughto make the Rams better than their typical 8-8.