Another draft in the books. Five LSU Tigers are going to represent Tiger Nation in the NFL. As I get older, watching the draft is less of watching your heroes go off in the NFL, but kids you watch grow up right before your eyes.
All Tiger selected were made in the first half of the draft. So teams will be expecting immediate results out of there selections. The draft gives NFL teams hope moving forward into a new season (unless you are a Jaguar’s fan) and in the coming seasons we will find out if these Tigers can transition into the players they were scouted to become.
Sometimes a player’s success at the next level has more to do with the team he is going to more than the player’s ability. Did the players get drafted by teams where they can make an immediate impact, or will the players just become run of the mill NFL contributors. Well let’s take a look.
Claiborne was drafted sixth overall by the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones was so intent on getting Mo that he move up in the draft to pick him.
Claiborne will be joining a team that already has one of the most explosive offenses in the league, but had an 8-8 record last year due to its defense. Last season the Cowboys ranked 23rd in pass defense and 14th in total defense.
Gone from last years team was their leader in interceptions (4) and best cornerback Terrance Newman. The absence of Newman will thrust Claiborne not only into the starting rotation, but will immediately be considered the best cornerback on the team.
Claiborne has the potential to become one of the best cover-corners in the league, but he will be facing some of the best receivers in the NFC east. One week he could be trying to defend the speedster Desean Jackson and the following week facing a physical beast like Hakeem Nicks.
Also hurting Claiborne is he is going to a team which their fan base is crazy. Every positive and negative play will be dissected more than if he was on any other team, how he handles the success and struggles will go along way into his development.
Brockers is about to experience a culture shock. He is going from one of the best College programs to one of the most pedestrian NFL teams. The good news is that Brockers is going to play for one of the best defensive minded coaches in the league, Jeff Fisher. In Houston and Tennessee, Fisher always developed great defensive line, so I wasn’t surprised he pick Brockers and not a wide-receiver than many thought he would do.
Also a positive for Brockers is he will be playing along side one of the best defensive ends in the game, Chris Long. In his second season with the Rams, Long recorded 13 sacks on a bad Rams defense. The Rams ranked 22nd in total defense last year and 15th in sacks. Brocker will improve both of these areas immediately.
The negative to the pick is he is joining a 2-14 team. The record might be deceiving as they were riddled with injuries on both sides of the ball last year, and playing in a weak division could spell a quick turnaround if they are healthy.
My only question for Brockers entering the draft is whether or not he was mature enough for the NFL. I know this sounds silly, but he only played one full season at LSU. Even though it was a monster one year on the starting line, he will be facing lineman who have been playing their position for years. Will his progression continue to improve, or will he plateau for a few year?
Randle may have landed in the best spot of all the Tigers drafted. He is going to a team that has won the Super Bowl twice in the last six years and will have one of the best quarterbacks throwing him the ball.
I would love to hear him after his first throwing session with Eli Manning compare him to the quarterbacks Randle had at LSU. What will help Randle the most is that he will not be expected to deliver immediately for the Giants. New York already has two of the best receivers in the league in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, leaving Randle time to become a polished receiver and not stuck trying to be the number one guy.
Usually I don’t like making comparisons between players, but I could see Randle’s progression similar to Robert Meachem. Meachem was brought along slowly in New Orleans and eventually become one the team’s best targets a few years into his career.
Randle slipped in the draft, but being selected with the last pick in the second round might be the best thing that happened to him.
San Diego selected Taylor in the third round and was a great selection by them. Two of the Charges three division foes are a heavy run team, Kansas City and Oakland, so the selection of Taylor will bring immediate success to limiting those teams. San Diego finished last year ranked 16th in total defense and 13th against the pass.
The problem I have with the pick is it seems like San Diego is a team on its way down. They seem to have the right pieces to be a successful team, but every year we are left scratching out heads trying to figure them out. Eventually they are going to go from a team that believes they can compete, to a team that needs to be retooled.
The Charges dominated the past decade of the AFC west largely due to the other three team being horrible. In the offseason, Denver added Peyton Manning, Kansas City and Oakland and both recovering from horrible drafts. None of those team are easy wins anymore and San Diego seems like the only team not improving.
Brooks was the wild card entering the draft. Everyone who followed LSU knew he had potential to become a great pro, but would it hurt his draft status that he wasn’t a starter for the Tigers? The Buffalo Bills didn’t think so.
The Bills selected Brooks in the fourth round, and he will be joining fellow Tigers Kelvin Sheppard and Kyle Williams. The Bills entered the draft knowing they needed to improve their total defense which ranked 26th last year. The Bills selected South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore in the first round to immediately fill into the other starting corner back position with Drayton Florence.
The selection of Brooks shows Buffalo’s commitment to slowing down the passing game within their Division. Already having to battle New England’s passing attacks. Shoring up their pass defense against struggling offenses like Miami and New York.
It is even a great pick for Brooks. He gets to go to a team that already has a high draft pick defensive back, and he will be in a similar position of Rueben Randle. He will be expected to produce immediately, but came be used primarily as a special team’s player and transition into a traditional defensive back.
In closing we all wish the best for these guys and they all have to talent to succeed, but we learn every year that you need more than talent to become one of the best in the game.