The Atlanta Hawks had one of the busiest off-seasons in the NBA. With two top-20 picks in this year draft along with only 3 players on the books they were in prime position for Danny Ferry to put his fingerprint on the future. After an awkward departure from Larry Drew in which both parties flirted with others during the pending divorce the future is quite bright in Atlanta. Ferry managed to lure long time Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer away from his assumed coach in waiting post behind Pop to man the overhaul in Atlanta. The connection is obvious with Ferry and Bud working together for years on winning the “Spurs Way.”
The acquisition of Budenholzer coincided with the Detroit departure of Josh Smith. Smith was a pariah in Atlanta for his refusal to ignore bad shots, his constant on court bickering, and lack of consistency. Without Smith, the Hawks are sure to take a hit on the defensive side of the court where the already undersized front court will remain small and lose its leading shot blocker from last season. They will still have an All-Star in the starting lineup in Al Horford. Horford is continuously overlooked by the media, returned to All-Star form averaging 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while leading the Hawks in minutes. Ferry continued to his trend of spending money wisely filling the gap left by Josh Smith with a tremendous two-year deal with Paul Millsap. The front court will remain undersized with the Millsap – Horford duo but it will rebound and score in bunches. Ferry brought in Elton Brand on a friendly one year deal to help solidify the bench. In addition to Brand, the bench will finally have some big men who might contribute after the acquisition of Gustavo Ayon, who was claimed off of waivers from Milwaukee. and Pero Antic, a stretch four with tons of Euroleague experience.
Kyle Korver looked to be a lock to reunite with Deron Williams and AK-47 in Brooklyn early in free agency. Korver however found security in a four-year deal to remain a sharpshooting focus in the Hawks lineup. The contract might look a little heavy for a one-dimensional player such as Korver, but he was key member of last years team as a deadly option off of any screen and shooting ages well. DeMarre Carroll is a junk yard dog. He brings a little bit of grit and hustle to Atlanta in a contrasting role to Korver. A young forward with a nose for defense and rebounding Carroll is a value replacement for the recently released DeShawn Stevenson. With both pieces on board the Hawks look better at the small forward position than in years past. Mike Scott will back up the three and four positions and showed huge strides of improvement in the Summer League. After a rookie season where he struggled to get any minutes, Scott made the most of his time in Vegas averaging 18.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. It was impressive to see how active Scott was around the basket, getting multiple offensive put backs every game.
The decision to resign Jeff Teague was easy. The way the Hawks went about it were par for the new CBA. Why would the Hawks wish to outbid the market for Teague when they had the right to math any offer? Teague ended up feeling not wanted by the Hawks and signed an offer sheet with Milwaukee to reunite with Larry Drew. The Hawks of course matched the four-year deal locking up a valuable asset for the future who happens to be coming off of a career year. Watching Teague develop under Coach Bud is going to be fun over the next few years at the Highlight Factory. Coach Bud was instrumental in the development of Tony Parker and George Hill. Teague should excel in the multiple screen sets that Bud will bring with him from San Antonio. Another young player who should excel in the new motion sets is John Jenkins. In limited minutes as a rookie Jenkins showed that his skill set would translate to the pro game. He played extremely well in the Summer League running the new look offense. Playing a central role he averaged 18.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
So enough Summer League talk without mention of the German that stole my basketball soul, Dennis Schroeder. Schroeder was a long rumored lottery pick after his impressive showing at the Nike Hoops Summit. The Hawks were rewarded by the basketball gods when Schroeder was there at number seventeen they quickly selected the young man with two years of pro experience at the tender age of nineteen. In Vegas, Schroeder showed a poise that would come with that experience. He got the Hawks into their sets early in the shot clock and looked poised on the pick and roll, setting up several lobs and easy finishes for teammates. Which weren’t always converted. The thing with Schroeder is the offense is in addition to his amazing defense. The Rondo comparisons are legit, he is freakishly long and uses change of pace dribble off the pick and roll to create. He will be one of the best on ball defenders at the point guard position for years to come. Throughout the Summer League he hounded opposing guards full court and pick pocketed several roster hopefuls shamelessly. What I would give to watch the first few practices with Teague and Schroeder battling out top.
I know. How can I go this long without mention of BeBe Nogueira? The man, the myth, the Hair. Nogueira is most likely not going to be playing stateside this season, the big man is most likely heading back to Spain to develop for another season. After an impressive showing in Vegas, it was obvious that BeBe could use a little more bulk on his 7 foot frame. He swatted a ton of shots coming from the weak side to help, but struggled to contain smaller stronger players on the block.
Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Packers would love for one of the draft’s top defensive tackles to fall to them and that’s exactly what they would find in Sylvester Williams. We’ve seen the Packers spend some time at Texas A&M’s facilities this offseason in an attempt to shore up their defensive efforts. After the thrashing that Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers gave them in the playoffs, it’s no secret that defense is a problem in Green Bay.
27. Houston Texans
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The Texans are lacking a true second receiver to pair with Andre Johnson. After releasing the previously dependent Kevin Walter this offseason, the Texans will be looking for help very early in the draft. Last year’s draft netted them two promising players in DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin but they are still in need of someone who can be depended on to play on a regular basis and produce. DeAndre Hopkins seems to be a perfect fit.
28. Denver Broncos
John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Broncos had a magnificent offseason adding key pieces such as Wes Welker, Louis Vasquez, and Dominque Rogers-Cromartie. Although a mishap led to them losing a key pass rusher in Elvis Dumervil, we have to believe that the Broncos won’t miss a beat in 2013. Adding John Jenkins to their front 7 would be a tremendous help to them next year.
29. New England Patriots
Robert Woods, WR, USC
It’s no secret that the Patriots are bad at drafting wide receivers early, but that shouldn’t stop them from rolling the dice on Robert Woods. Woods was an absolute monster in the Pac-12 over his career compiling 256 catches and 32 touchdowns. It sure helps when you have a guy like Matt Barkley throwing to you and you can bet that Robert Woods won’t experience any drop off whatsoever catching passes from Tom Brady.
30. Atlanta Falcons
Menelik Watson, OT, FSU
The Falcons recently released longtime starter Tyson Clabo and will look to the draft for help in replacing his production. Menelik Watson represents the best available option for the Falcons here if they don’t try to trade up like they have every year since Thomas Dimitroff has been in charge.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The 49ers hold 13 picks in the 2013 NFL draft and can afford to take the best player available at this spot. They recently lost Delanie Walker in free agency and could look at the top rated tight end in this year’s class.
32. Baltimore Ravens
Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse
The Ravens experienced the highs of winning it all last year and watched this offseason as the team slowly dismantled during free agency. We are definitely going to see a different squad out there for the Ravens next year with Ray Lewis retiring, Paul Kruger heading to division rival Cleveland, and both safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard signing with new teams. The addition of Michael Huff should help and Shamarko Thomas would be a nice fit starting alongside him.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Bengals have a plethora of corners but Trufant represents great value at this spot in the draft. There is no such thing as having too many corner’s in today’s NFL pass happy game. Trufant is solid at 5-11 and 190 and having had his older brother in the league (Marcus Trufant) will only help as he tries to improve his game.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington)
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Justin Hunter has all the tools to be successful at the NFL level. The Rams need to address wide receiver after watching Brandon Gibson (Dolphins) and Danny Amendola (Patriots) leave in free agency. Sam Bradford is going to need more than the recently added Jared Cook to throw to if the Rams want to keep pace with the 49ers and Seahawks in the NFC West.
23. Minnesota Vikings
D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
After trading Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings have an extra first round pick this year. They have a little bit of freedom with this first pick considering they only have to wait another for the Indianapolis Colts to select before they are on the clock again. They need a WR even after the addition of Greg Jennings, but they can afford to address the corner here seeing as Indianapolis is also looking for cornerback help and that longtime Viking Antoine Winfield has recently signed with Seattle.
24. Indianapolis Colts
Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse
The Colts would like to find a solid corner here, but having watched Dee Milliner, Xavier Rhodes, Desmond Trufant, and D.J. Hayden all come off the board before their first pick they will likely be tempted to find help in the later rounds. Justin Pugh represents good value for the Colts here and will help protect last year’s 1st overall selection Andrew Luck.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle)
Keenan Allen, WR, California
As I mentioned before, the Vikings are in the market for a wideout. They would likely be selecting a WR early even had they not traded away their most valuable pass catcher this offseason. Greg Jennings will be the #1 target for Christian Ponder next season but he will likely need help as he will be seeing a lot of double teams. Keenan Allen would be a smart pick for the Vikings at 25.
16. St. Louis Rams
Kenny Vacarro, S, Texas
The Rams are keeping their fingers crossed for either Tavon Austin or Cordarelle Patterson to still be on the board here. They also have the safety from Texas very highly rated and could be just as happy to see him available for this pick to help shore up the secondary.
17. Pittsburg Steelers
Jarvis Jones, DE, Georgia
Jarvis Jones would be a great pick here for the Steelers if he was still on the board this late. He was a two-time all-american for the Bulldogs. Over his senior season he tallied 24 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, 1 pick, 7 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. “Dawg Bones” Jones would be an excellent fit for the 3-4 in Pittsburgh.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd is a fringe top 10 pick. If he fell to the Cowboys I couldn’t imagine they be anything less than ecstatic. They have needs on the offensive line and safety but with the top lineman already off the board and the top safety already gone, I believe they find tremendous value in Shariff Floyd here at 18.
19. New York Giants
Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Sheldon Richardson is a force to be reckoned with. He could go a lot higher but I have him falling into a very good spot for him here with the Giants. The Giants have had some really good draft picks lately with Jason Pierre-Paul, Hakeem Nicks, and David Wilson. I expect Jerry Reese to do his homework as always and Sheldon Richardson would be very good on this defensive line that already has some really good players on it.
20. Chicago Bears
Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The Chicago Bears will be looking to replace longtime Bear and future hall-of-famer Brian Urlacher. They started the offseason with needs on the offensive line and at tight end but have addressed their needs well in free agency with the additions of Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod. Olgetree is a top talent in this draft but falls due to his recent DUI, but the Bears may find their long-term replacement for Urlacher if he falls.
11. San Diego Chargers
D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
In an ideal scenario for Charger faithful, maybe a couple more QBs would have been taken by now so that Lane Johnson would still be available when they are on the clock. Fluker may be a bit of a reach here, but not by much. The Chargers would also like for one of the top 2 guards to fall here having lost starter Louis Vasquez to their division rival Denver.
12. Miami Dolphins
Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU
The Dolphins have done enough in free agency to give them a little bit of freedom with this pick. Xavier Rhodes would provide a great boost to the CB crew that saw Sean Smith leave in free agency for the Kansas City Chiefs on a 3 year $18 million deal. The Dolphins also need to shore up their offensive line after losing the former #1 overall pick in 2008 OT Jake Long to the St. Louis Rams this offseason. They might have something in the works with the unhappy Chief Branden Albert. This would definitely alleviate some of the sting if all of these stellar tackles are off the board at 12.
13. New York Jets (via Revis trade)
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
With the extra first round pick from the Darrelle Revis trade with Tampa Bay, the Jets can add one of the top rated receivers to a core that is, quite frankly, lacking talent. After losing Dustin Keller to the Dolphins in free agency, the Jets NEED more play makers for Mark Sanchez to have a chance. Tavon Austin would give the Jets something they desperately need.
14. Carolina Panthers
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
This seems like a no brainer to me. Although it would be difficult to pass on DT Star Lotuleie here, I think what Patterson could bring to this offense could be too much to pass up on. Steve Smith is getting up there in age and although he is still producing at a high level, with the future of the franchise literally in Cam Newton’s hands, the Panthers must begin to think to the future. Cordarrelle is a “raw talent” having only played 1 year of division 1 ball but he has playmaker written all over here. After having seen him play in 2 games last year I came away very impressed. I am reminded of Chris Johnson with the head fakes and the moves after he has the ball in his hands. He is that type of player who is capable of switching gears on you and being able to score from almost anywhere on the field.
15. New Orleans Saints
Star Lotuleie, DT, Utah
Coming off a year in which they were the worst defense in the league and tormented by Dictator Goodell the Saints need a defensive “Star”. Luckily Star Lotuleie’s free fall ends here. At 15, the Saints would be getting incredible value here. Lotuleie is a big boy who doesn’t take plays off and is extremely disruptive in collapsing the quarterback’s pocket. Once considered the class’s best overall prospect, questions of a heart condition may affect his draft stock and although I believe he should go much higher, I think he will be very happy as a part of “WHO DAT NATION.”