Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Too Great For the Big Screen?

Hello all, 

Normally, movie reviews aren't my gig but that may change depending on how this one goes. Please comment below and follow the blog (to the right-->). 

Everyone agrees that movies made about books are always worse than the book itself (see Harry Potter.) In fact, most people go into these movies with low expectations since the eloquence and depth that can be written a book is so often replaced by special effects and plot line tangents to sell tickets. 

It's a weird relationship between books and movies, almost paradoxical. Movies gross millions more than books do and are more widely seen than books are read. Yet, as a culture, we frown upon these observations. They illustrate the apathy that has defined the modern age. As technology has boomed, fine art has busted. The war between comfort and control ended with the invention of electricity and has become almost ancient history. 

Why do I bring this up? Because, ironically, it is the message of The Great Gatsby. If Fitzgerald was anything, he was a social critic. As evident throughout Gatsby, the glitz and glamour of Jay Gatsby is meaningless. He has all the money and popularity in the world and yet is empty. 

Thus, Baz Luhrmann had an impossible task. He had to make an expensive movie which contained some of the most prominent stars of the 21st century and convey the message that consumerism is bad. He had to write a script based on one of the top five most acclaimed authors ever from his most acclaimed book. Not just that, but certain lines from that book had to be included but not too many words since then it would be cheating. Oh and if that weren't enough, everyone wanted him to fail and, even if he didn't, it was still going to be worse than the book.

I could not imagine a more difficult project to take on. Gatsby is long enough to make a movie about and short enough so that omitted scenes would be noticeable. It was permissible for Harry Potter to omit chapters, if not whole sections, of each book. Heck, it would have been a bad movie if the Potter franchise did use every sceneEvery word and every movement of these characters had to be intentional. 

Here's another caveat: intelligence. Lurhamann couldn't assume everyone had even read the book, let alone studied it in their literary analysis classes. He had to make the characters relatable and predictable so your average movie watcher won't get lost in metaphors. But, he had to cater to the "english class" audience as well, as those voices would be the loudest. He had to add depth to these characters. 
Thinking about it, I don't know how anyone could make this movie and satisfy all its necessary conditions. There is just too much here to deal with, and too many different types of people to please. Maybe Gatsby isn't meant for the big screen anyway. 

My guess it was this kind of thinking which motivated Lurhamann to make the risky decisions he had to make. He was going to piss someone off, so why not do it in style?

Style is a good word to describe the movie. Many called it overwhelming, and from the start of the movie, you could see why. The lights weren’t just bright; they were overexposed. The clothes weren’t just colorful; put together, they created a rainbow. The characters weren’t just vivid; they were animated. Every detail of the movie was over the top. To draw an analogy, it would be like eating the frosting of a cake.

And it wasn’t just the setting and clothes. It was also the characters. Jay Gatsby needed to be perfectly flawed and brilliantly naïve. He needed to be glamorous yet seemingly wise. Most of all, he needed to be recognizable. If the audience was truly going to be enamored, immediately, by Jay Gatsby then Lurhamann had only one choice. He needed to be Leonardo DiCaprio.

If Gatsby needed to be glamorous, then Nick had to be real. To cast a Nick, he needed to be like us: overwhelmed, excited, and most of all, curious of Gatsby. We will get to interpretation later, but Toby Maguire was, if nothing else, relatable.

Of course, Tom is the easiest character to cast: greedy, snobby, self-interested rich, power hungry, villainous bastard. Basically, any guy in Hollywood can fit that role (jokes, jokes). Joel Edgerton was probably the biggest no name of the production which is saying something because he has been in Star Wars and Zero Dark Thirty. Nonetheless, for a guy with little experience playing a big role, he was a good Tom for what Lurhamann was looking for.

Which brings us to the question, what was Lurhamann looking for? (We will get to Daisy later). Like I said above, Gatsby needed to be followed to a “t” but also interpreted differently, so that he wasn’t copying. That was the above all goal. But, possibly the one good thing that Lurhamann had going for him was that he could interpret Gatsby almost any way possible. While being one of the most recognized books of all time, it is also one of the most debated. What does the green light mean? Is Gatsby a hero? Did Tom ever really love Daisy?

For me, Lurhamann revealed his interpretation is his soundtrack. (As a side note, if this movie does not win best soundtrack of the year, and if Lana Del Rey does not win best song in a movie, then the academy got it wrong.)
The mix of 1920’s jazz and modern day rap, to the eye, seems odd. One does not mix two distinct genres with very different stories and expressive tones. Yet, in the movie, is the style which Lurhamann uses. You feel the historical awe of the Golden Age and the excitement of the beats of the 21st century. A rush of different yet positive emotions is felt throughout your movie experience, especially during the party scenes. In a way, you feel like a member of the party when you hear the music. It is meant to feel that way.

Lurhamann interprets the start of the book, where Gatsby throws the magnificent party and when Nick first moves to New York, as a circus of new experiences- magnificent if not overwhelming. That’s exactly what he gives us.

And yet, as is obvious by the soundtrack, Lurhamann also takes the movie seriously, including the plot line. One of the critiques of the movie is that the plot has been sacrificed for exploiting the glitz of Gatsby. That is completely false.

He gives us the melodramatic “Over the Love” by Florence and the Machine when Gatsby has failed at getting Daisy. He gives us the intensely introspective “Kill and Run” when Daisy kills Myrtle. He gives us an orchestra of 1920’s soft music to magnify the feelings of Gatsby and Daisy and of Gatsby in general.

But there is one song, which deserves all the credit for this interpretation of The Great Gatsby. Not only is Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs ever performed, but it is also displays the heart of the conflict which Lurhamann highlights. Lurhamann meshes two important themes from the book into the center of the film: the inability to recreate the past and the desire to be comfortable rather than satisfied. Both concepts are exemplified in the song and both concepts are focused in the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy.

The chorus and basic premise of the song is a question: will you still love me when I am no longer young and beautiful? This question can be divided into two parts, each of which relates to the concepts, which Lurhamann presents. The first is the “no longer” part. We all grow old, change and, at some point, die. Will you love me when I am about to die? Ironically, this seems to be a question more for Gatsby more than for Daisy.

Daisy, at one point in the movie, says “I wish I had done everything with you” where “you” refers to Gatsby. What she is saying, namely, is that she wishes to have lived her life with Gatsby so that, now, they could recount memories of the past with each other as well as create new ones in the present. She has accepted time’s role.

Yet it is Gatsby who wishes to erase five years. He wishes to recreate them, in a perfect house with unlimited money and everything either of them could want. It is not that Gatsby does not want to grow old with Daisy, but that is not his concern in the movie. He wants to stay young and beautiful forever.

The second part of the chorus, and premise of the song, is the “young and beautiful” part. This is focused on Daisy rather than on Gatsby. Clearly, Gatsby is attracted to Daisy for real reasons. He loves her beauty, her grace, and her style. He loves her happiness and wants to share (all the good sappy stuff.) But, Daisy is much more mysterious, both as a character and in terms of her relationship with Gatsby.

This is a good time to return to the casting of Daisy. This was undoubtedly the hardest role to cast because, simply put, she is the main character of Lurhamann’s interpretation. There is no way around it: the entire plot and each character’s interactions depends on Daisy Buchannan. She had to walk the line between mysterious and naïve. As a member of the audience, Daisy had to be a character you never really wondered about, until you realized it was too late for you to start. She is the lynchpin of the plot, but no one could realize it.

This is why Lurhamann had to cast it perfectly. Anyone too recognizable, like DiCaprio, and the audience is already putting symbols and labels on her which means she is noticed. Anyone new, and the audience is eyeing her skeptically. No, she had to bring a name which was only recognizable by name, as opposed to performance. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Carey Mulligan.

You have seen the name in passing. If you are a true movie geek, then you may have seen Pride and Prejudice or Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. She shined in these roles but neither of those movies are going to trigger your memory when watching Gatsby. No, she had to be fresh but professional.

Taking that into account, you know realize how her casting had a major influence on Lurhamann’s interpretation of The Great Gatsby. Daisy did love Gatsby, but not because he was beautiful in the way that Gatsby was enamored with Daisy. She loved the glamour, the mystery, and the comfortable lifestyle, which she was provided. Where Gatsby was looking for eternal satisfaction, Daisy was looking for a worry free life. Is it any surprise she chose Tom?

What started as a movie review has turned into a plot analysis! No, here is a summary. The Great Gatsby was a failure, since any interpretation of the book was going to a failure. Yet, in this mess of glitter and lighting, Lurhamann created meaning. He recreated the magic everyone felt when reading the book, even if it was for a brief moment.

For me, it was when Nick uttered the last line of the movie, and of the book, which made me realized why Lurahmann did The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s last line, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” is timeless. And, I guess that is the point. Lurahmann’s interpretation of The Great Gatsby is just as much of a critique of the 1920’s as it is of the 21st century. We have become so comfortable with our apathetic lives that we didn’t even realize that someone just made a blockbuster movie criticizing extravagance.

So, go ahead, destroy the movie. Tell me it fails to reach the power the book gave us. Tell me DiCaprio was an uncomfortable lead or that Nick was too meek. Tell me that Lurhamann used too much glitter.

It was an impossible movie to make. And Lurhamann did a damn good job with it. I qualify The Great Gatsby as a must see movie and should be nominated for best movie of the year when award season hits.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Grading the Draft Part 2

Steelers through Ravens

Please comment and follow!

Pittsburgh Steelers

Overall Grade: B+
Best Pick: S Shmarko Thomas
Worst Pick: Le’Von Bell

1(17) Steelers- OLB Jarvis Jones- A
My Ideal Pick: OLB Barkevious Mingo

2(16) Steelers- RB Le’Von Bell- C-
My Ideal Pick: CB Jonathan Banks

3(17) Steelers- WR Markus Wheaton- B+
My Ideal Pick: SS DJ Swearing

4(14) STEELERS- S Shmarko Thomas- A

4(18) Steelers- QB Landry Jones- B+

Summary: The Steelers had a pretty good draft. Starting with Jones, many people thought he was a steal at 17 because of his incredible talent and minor character concerns. I am not that big of a fan of Jones and actually thought Mingo would be a better fit for the Steelers. But, since Mingo was already taken, the Steelers had to draft Jones, due to their big need at outside linebacker. I am perplexed by the Bell selection considering how many other running backs were on the board (Eddie Lacy, Jonathan Franklin) and the bigger needs at cornerback and strong safety. The Steelers have Jonathan Dwyer so running back could have been saved until the fourth or fifth round. Bell is not terrible, but the second round given the draft was way too high. Marcus Wheaton is alright and considering he was a 2nd round consensus, I guess this is a pretty good pick. The only reason why I am hesitant is because he seems like the poor man’s version of Mike Wallace. He is big and fast but not as big or as fast as Wallace, or even some of the other receivers that were available in the second round. I would have like to have seen the Steelers switch these picks: take a wide receiver in the second and a running back in the third. Shmarko Thomas is a GREAT pick in the fourth round. He was projected to go in the third round and even that underrates him a little bit. He is a big hitter who has the potential to become the next Troy Polomalu. So, why not go to the Steelers? I love the selection of a QB considering Roethlisberger’s age and injury history. I don’t think that Landry Jones is better than Matt Scott, Ryan Griffin, or Tyler Bray, all of which went undrafted. But, I do think that the Steelers filled a need with this pick so kudos to them.

Dallas Cowboys-

Overall Grade: B
Best Pick: CB B.W. Webb
Worst Pick: TE Gavin Escobar

1(31) COWBOYS- C Travis Frederick- B
My Ideal Pick: S Matt Elam

2(15) Cowboys- TE Gavin Escobar- D
My Ideal Pick: G Dallas Thomas

3(12) COWBOYS- WR Terrance Williams- B
My Ideal Pick: RB Montee Ball

3(18) Cowboys- S J.J. Wilcox- B+
My Ideal Pick: N/A

4(17) Cowboys- CB B.W. Webb- A+

Summary: For a further explanation of Frederick, I encourage you to read my blog post about him (scroll down.) A brief summation is that he is the type of blue-collar player that the Cowboys needed, but probably not worth a first round pick. I consider it an average pick because the two conditions balance out. Escobar makes negative sense to me. Of all the positions, the Cowboys did not need another pass catching tight end. I know the argument that having two tight ends is valuable in the copycat league, but the Cowboys also have Hannah to fill that role. I have no idea how the Cowboys are going to use Escobar. Terrance Williams is a predictable selection given that the Cowboys love flashy players who are more flashy then they are players. Williams was productive at Baylor but he was far from the star wide receiver that the Cowboys think he will be. Expect him to fill the slot role nicely and, at best, become a long term Laurent Robinson type player. Wilcox is a great pick considering the pressing need at safety, but himself is not a great player. I see him as an average NFL starter, which is already an upgrade over what Dallas currently has. B.W. Webb was my favorite pick of the fourth round and is one of the reasons why the Cowboys get a B in this draft as opposed to the C that many experts are rating them. Yes, he is a project player and probably couldn’t start immediately. But, 1) the cowboys already have great starters and 2) you don’t draft guys with the hopes they are all pro the next year, especially not corners. Webb can become a great third corner for this team with the right coaching. I’m not sure that is Monte Kiffin, but I’m willing to take a risk and say Webb becomes one of the best slot corners in the game in the next five years. What a draft saving pick by the Cowboys!

New York Giants-

Overall Grade: C+
Best Pick: QB Ryan Nassib
Worst Pick: DT Jonathan Hankins

1(19) Giants- OT/G Justin Pugh- C+
My Ideal Pick: ILB Alec Ogletree

2(17) Giants- DT Jonathan Hankins- C-
My Ideal Pick: CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson

3(19) Giants- OLB Demontre Moore- A-
My Ideal Pick: OT David Bakhtiari

4(13) GIANTS- QB Ryan Nassib- A-

Summary: The Giants are notorious for having good drafts, but this one just did not live up to the hype. Pugh seemed like the David Wilson of this year’s draft, a good player who was taken way too early because of the strength of the class. Pugh can play anywhere on the offensive line, but really isn’t that good at any particular position. It will be interesting to see how he develops, but this pick could have been spent on a much better player. John Hankins is a good player but makes negative sense for the Giants. First, the Giants play a 4-3 and Hankins fits much better in a 3-4. Secondly, the Giants signed Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson in free agency, so Hankins may not see the field a whole lot to develop. And third, the Giants drafted Linval Joesph last year, who is a project player like Hankins. I don’t like this pick at all. Demontre Moore was a projected 1st round pick in January but fell because of a poor combine and off the field issues. Im giving the Giants an A- simply because Moore isn’t really a 4-3 outside linebacker and the Giants already have two great defensive ends. There is simply no need here. Nassib is probably the best pick here for the Giants, which is sad considering the amount of need that the Giants had this year. Nassib will do well behind Eli Manning and can hopefully blossom into a starting QB in the future years. If not, it at least puts pressure on Eli to be more consistent. Overall, the Giants needed a better draft then they had.

Chicago Bears

Overall Grade: B+
Best Pick: OLB Khassem Greene
Worst Pick: OT Kyle Long
Notes: -1 quantum for failing to draft a QB

1(20) Bears- OT/G Kyle Long- B-
My Ideal Pick: QB Geno Smith

2(18) Bears- ILB Jon Bostic- A-
My Ideal Pick: ILB Kiko Alonso

4(20) Bears- OLB Khaseem Greene- A+

Extra Picks:
5(30) Bears- OT Jordan Mills- A
6(20) Bears- OLB Cornelious Washington- A

Summary: The Bears had an A- overall draft but I am subtracting a quantum for failure to put pressure on Cutler. Cutler has no excuses now, as most of the draft was about him. Kyle Long was one of my favorite prospects to watch and while some say the 1st round was too early, I like him much better then some of the guys that went before him (Justin Pugh, EJ Manuel, DJ Hayden.) He can help the Bears as a tackle or a guard and, I predict, would be pretty good at both. Jon Bostic was not the best inside linebacker on the board but he was definitely in the top two. Bostic fills the Bears second biggest need as Brian Urlacher is now gone. He should be productive in the NFL. Khassem Greene was one of my five underrated prospects and it is a shock to seem him drop to the fourth round. Kudos to the Bears for drafting him and he will do a great job filling in for Lance Briggs. In terms of potential, Greene is the best linebacker in the draft. I love the Bears late round selection. Jordan Mills was projected as a third rounder so to see him drop to the end of the fifth was odd. The Bears need as much offensive line help as they can get so Mills is a solid pickup. Washington is another good pick, at the end of the sixth round nonetheless. He should seem some on the field action this year and could blossom into an NFL starter soon. Apparently, the Bears are gun ho behind Cutler and look for them to draft a QB next year.

Cincinnati Bengals-

Overall Grade: B
Best Pick: RB Giovanni Bernard
Worst Pick: TE Tyler Eifert

1(21) Bengals- TE Tyler Eifert- C
My Ideal Pick: OLB Jarvis Jones

2(5) Bengals- RB Giovanni Bernard- A
My Ideal Pick: RB Giovanni Bernard

2(21) Bengals- DE Margus Hunt- B
My Ideal Pick: S Jonathan Cyprin

3(22) Bengals- SS Shawn Williams- A-
My Ideal Pick: ILB A.J. Klein

4(21) Bengals- OLB Sean Porter- B

Summary: The Bengals had an average draft. Tyler Eifert is an interesting pick considering the Bengals have Jermaine Gresham. I understand wanting to give Dalton more targets but a 1st round pick on a backup tight end? I’m not so sure on that, especially with other needs. Bernard is exactly the guy I wanted the Bengals to take. He is fast and looks the most like a feature back that I have seen from this draft class. He can easily replace BJE. Hunt is a project player but has one of the highest ceilings I have ever seen. However, he fills no need for the Bengals, and will serve backup to Dunlap and Johnson who are both relatively young. Shawn Williams is the exact opposite of Hunt: he is not extremely athletic but is a great fit for the Bengals considering their need at safety. I would have like to have seen them take Josh Evans here instead of Williams, but Williams is sufficient to merit a good grade from me. Porter is just okay and the end of the fourth is probably a good place for him. He is nothing more than a short term starter.

Washington Redskins-

Overall Grade: A-
Best Pick: CB David Amerson
Worst Pick: TE Jordan Reed

2(19) Redskins- CB David Amerson- A+
My Ideal Pick: WR Justin Hunter

3(23) Redskins- TE Jordan Reed- B
My Ideal Pick: S Earl Wolf

4(22) Redskins- SS Phillip Thomas- A

Summary: This grade was so close to an A, except the Redskins missed out on drafting a receiver, their biggest need. I don’t know why NFL teams think that tight ends are receivers, but that is a different article. Amerson was my favorite prospect and is bar none the best pick of the second round. He can blossom into a starter next year and will improve with experience. He would have been the next Patrick Peterson type prospect had he not had a couple of bad games in 2012. With that behind him, Amerson should return to his record breaking self in 2013. Reed is an okay pick for two reasons. One is that the Redskins already have Fred Davis, although he was nothing short of mediocre last year. Second is that Jordan Reed is pretty average himself. Why settle for him when you could have drafted Steadman Bailey or Quinton Patten? Phillip Thomas, on the other hand, is a super great player and fit for the Redskins. He should start immediately and could be a hard-hitting threat like he was in college. Overall, the Redskins had a short draft but did a lot with it.

Minnesota Vikings-

Overall Grade: A
Best Pick: DT Sharrif Floyd
Worst Pick: CB Xavier Rhodes

1(23) Vikings- DT Sharrif Floyd- A
My Ideal Pick: G Jonathan Cooper or DT Sylvester Williams

1(25) VIKINGS- CB Xavier Rhodes- A-
My Ideal Pick: G Jonathan Cooper or DT Sylvester Williams

1(29) VIKINGS- WR Cordarelle Patterson- A
My Ideal Pick: N/A

4(23) Vikings- OLB Gerald Hodges- A-

Summary: What keeps the Vikings from having the best draft is that they had to make a monster trade to get the final guy they wanted. That being said, what a great draft! They start with the steal of the first round, Sharrif Floyd. He could become the next Kevin Williams and he slid mostly because NFL teams like to lose (especially the Cowboys.) He fills a big need and is a big time player. Xavier Rhodes also fills a need at cornerback and was probably the best corner available. I wonder, though, if they would have drafted a wide receiver in this round, like Patterson, then not drafted Rhodes, and then waited and drafted Amerson or Jamar Taylor? I don’t think Rhodes is that much better than Taylor or Amerson. I know this seems silly but it didn’t really hurt the grade overall. Patterson is a play maker which is something the Vikings need now that they lost Harvin. I actually like Patterson a little better than Harvin because he is bigger and less likely to be injured. Hodges is a quality linebacker and I am surprised he wasn’t taken until the late fourth. That being said, Hodges probably shouldn’t play immediately and I think that is the plan with him. He still is a work in progress. This was a great draft and will probably be the reason why the Vikings have a chance at making the playoffs again.

Indianapolis Colts-

Overall Grade: B
Best Pick: Bjorn Werner
Worst Pick: C Khaled Holmes
Notes: -1 Quantum for bad free agency

1(24) Colts- DE Bjorn Werner- A
My Ideal Pick: NT Jonathan Jenkins

3(24) Colts- OG Hugh Thorton- C
My Ideal Pick: FB Zach Line

4(24) Colts- C Khaled Holmes- A

Summary: I was unsure how to mock players to the Colts or even how to assign these grades. The Colts signed a bunch of free agents this year to high price deals so I couldn’t really evaluate need since these guys may not see the field much. I also had trouble evaluating fit because, once again, it is unsure how they will be used. So, I decided just to evaluate how good the prospect is. I took off a quantum because, well, the Colts were awful in free agency and it will probably hurt these players in the future. Werner should have been a top ten pick. He is big and extremely athletic. Who cares how hit fits in the system anyway because he can get to the QB wherever he is. Thorton probably deserved a 5th round selection but the Colts felt the need to reach for him due to his impressive combine, but I just wasn’t at all impressed with his tape. The Colts could have done better. Experts don’t like Holmes and he slid because of it. For a guy who was at one point considered a first round pick, the Colts got a steal here. Sure, Holmes had a down year last year, but he has the skills and some obvious football talent. I think it is worth the risk. It is hard to be objective here but the Colts drafted some good prospects. I just hope they don’t ride the bench all year.

Seattle Seahawks-

Overall Grade: C
Best Pick: WR Chris Harper
Worst Pick: RB Christine Michael

2(30) Seahawks- RB Christine Michael- C
My Ideal Pick: TE Tyler Eifert

3(25) Seahawks- DT Jordan Hill- C
My Ideal Pick: OT Jordan Mills

4(26) Seahawks- WR Chris Harper- B

Summary: Honestly, when a team has no needs, do they need a good draft class? The Seahawks are absolutely loaded with talent and young talent at that. I would have like to have seen more effort in trying to construct a draft here. I mean, Michael is nothing more than a change of pace back that come dime a dozen. Honestly, Michael could have been undrafted and no one would have complained. Hill certainly has the size to be a good NFL player, but looks more like a confused bear than a football player. The Seahawks are certainly good at developing players, but Hill is a piece of work who was probably not worth a third round pick. Harper is alright and at least fills whatever the Seahawks classify as a need. He is a solid wide receiver for a team that has several. I don’t really need to say more: the Seahawks are super bowl bound and a good draft class wouldn’t have helped them reach it.

Green Bay Packers-

Overall Grade: B
Best Pick: OT David Bakhtiari
Worst Pick: DE Datone Jones

1(26) Packers- DE Datone Jones- C
My Ideal Pick: G Chance Warmack

2(29) PACKERS- RB Eddie Lacy- A
My Ideal Pick: WR Robert Woods

4(12) Packers- OT David Bakhtiari- A

4(25) Packers- OT J.C. Tretter- C+

4(28) PACKERS- RB Jonathan Franklin- B+

Summary: I actually like most of the Packers selections, but I feel like none of them are good fits for the Packers and don’t make sense given the other young players on the roster. Datone Jones is the fourth defensive lineman the Packers have taken in the first round of the draft in the past five years. And that’s not even counting Clay Matthews, who is basically a down lineman. Datone Jones could be the next Reggie White but I just can’t imagine him playing anything besides special teams this year. Lacy makes a ton of sense considering the Packers just could not run the football last year when it mattered. Lacy is not an every down back, but its not like the Packers are ever going to be a run first team anyway. So, this is a fantastic pick. Bakhtiari was projected to go in the third round so this is a steal. He can help fill the woes of the Green Bay offensive line as one offensive tackle was definitely needed. I don’t understand why they drafted two. Tretter is versatile but will have to ride the bench for a couple of years until some players start getting old. Plus, he is probably not even starter material. Franklin is considered a steal here, but I just cant reward the Packers for it. The Packers aren’t going to run the football that much even if they had Adrian Peterson in the backfield. Why do they need a change of pace back? In terms of prospects, the Packers had the best draft this year. In terms of fit, the Packers had the worst. It averages it.

Houston Texans-

Overall Grade: B+
Best Pick: OT David Quessenberry
Worst Pick: DE Trevardo Williams

1(27) Texans- WR DeAndre Hopkins- B+
My Ideal Pick: ILB Manti Te’o

2(25) Texans- SS D.J. Swearing- A-
My Ideal Pick: LB Demontre Moore

3(27) Texans- OT Brennan Williams- A-
My Ideal Pick: WR Steadman Bailey

3(33) Texans- DE Sam Montgomery- B
My Ideal Pick: QB EJ Manuel

4(27) Texans- DE Trevardo Williams- C

Extra Picks:
6(8) Texans- OT David Quessenberry – A

Summary: I went back and forth on whether to give the Texans a B+ or an A-. I ultimately decided a B+ because they did not address what I considered their biggest need, middle line backer. That being said, this was a very good draft. Hopkins is the kind of big play compliment to Andre Johnson that the Texans need. Unfortunately, so many better receivers were available that it was hard to see the Texans pass them up. This easily would have been an A if Coradarrelle Patterson or even Robert Woods was drafted. Hopkins may do well in the Texans offense, but those guys would have done better. Swearing is a pretty good and versatile safety that the Texans needed after Glover Quinn went to Detroit. He should do well in Wade Phillips’ defense. I probably like Shmarko Thomas better, but Swearing is pretty good here. Brennan Williams is a great offensive tackle and is especially good at run blocking, something which the Texans use often. He should do well in Houston. Sam Montgomery is a good defensive end on a team with way too many. I would have liked to have seen a middle linebacker here, or even a cornerback. Plus, Montgomery almost quit football. How are the Texans, who can offer him nothing more than a backup spot, going to motivate him? Williams is a worse version, athletically, of Montgomery and is more solidified as a backup than Montgomery is. He can play OLB, but probably doesn’t fill the need. Quessenberry was a projected early round pick, so the fact that the Texans landed him in the sixth is impressive. He is versatile so watch for him to play either the interior or the tackle spot in his career. I don’t hate the Texans draft, obviously, but I am not a huge fan. Just seems to be more of the same.

Denver Broncos

Overall Grade: C+
Best Pick: DT Sylverster Williams
Worst Pick: Montee Ball

1(28) Broncos- DT Sylvester Williams- B+
My Ideal Pick: DE Tank Carradine

2(26) Broncos- RB Montee Ball- D
My Ideal Pick: DT Kawann Short

3(28) Broncos- CB Kayvon Webster- B-
My Ideal Pick: C Brian Schenke

Summary: The Broncos, similarly to the Seahawks, didn’t need a great draft, and didn’t have one. Williams is a good player, but I’m unsure how he fits in the Broncos scheme. Furthermore, Carradine is a great fit, so they missed an opportunity there. I can’t really fault the Broncos since Williams is more athletic than Carradine and was probably the “experts choice”, but it just seems like they wimped out, which I can’t reward either. Montee Ball, on the other hand, is in no shape or form a good pick. This is such a bad pick! A team with Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno, and Ronnie Hillman probably doesn’t need another running back. Even though McGahee is old, that’s what Moreno and Hillman are for. Furthermore, the Broncos reached! Ball was going to fall due to his injury concerns which is a death sentence for running backs. I just can’t get my head around a team that takes a 4th string running back in the second round. Webster fills the Broncos biggest need at cornerback but isn’t that great of a player. There were better corners there. Overall, Montee Ball is a bad choice and everything else is just average.

New England Patriots

Overall Grade: C+
Best Pick: WR Aaron Dobson
Worst Pick: Duran Harmon

2(20) PATRIOTS- OLB Jamie Collins- B-
My Ideal Pick: DT Jonathan Hankins

2(27) Patriots- WR Aaron Dobson- A-
My Ideal Pick:  N/A

3(21) PATRIOTS- CB Logan Ryan- B
My Ideal Pick: OT Brennan Williams

3(29) Patriots- S Duran Harmon- D
My Ideal Pick: N/A

4(5) PATRIOTS- WR Josh Boyce- C+

Summary: Horribly mediocre- in two words that describes the Patriots draft. Collins is a solid selection here, but isn’t at all what the Patriots needed. Collins was probably going to be available seven picks later, while someone like Margus Hunt or DJ Swearing weren’t, and both of those would have been better picks. Dobson is an under the radar type of player that the Patriots love. He could emerge as the next slot receiver for this team, but Kennan Allen would have been far superior to Dobson. Logan Ryan is a classic new England corner, terrible at coverage but can make big plays. The Patriots always draft these type of players, and it never works. I’m not going to fault them because I like Ryan, but I question the management. Harmon was the shock of the draft considering he was probably one of the worst safeties in the draft. Maybe the Pats know something we don’t (wouldn’t be the first time) but I would be surprised if he is still in the league in five years. He seems like a special teams player. Boyce is meh, but the Patriots have been pretty good with meh guys so who really knows? I don’t like the patriots draft but the Patriots tend to do pretty well with these kind of drafts, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these guys turn into great players, especially Dobson and Collins.

Atlanta Falcons

Overall Grade: A-
Best Pick: CB Desmond Trufant
Worst Pick: Mallicah Goodman

1(22) FALCONS- CB Desmond Trufant- A-
My Ideal Pick: CB D.J. Hayden

2(28) Falcons- CB Robert Alford- A-
My Ideal Pick: TE Travis Kelce

4(30) Falcons- DE Mallicah Goodman- B+

4(36) Falcons- TE Levine Toilolo- A-

Summary: I’m going to tangent here. Teams like the Patriots and Broncos are relying on current talent to carry the team and yet the Falcons made it farther than either of them and are still drafting based on needs. I expect the Falcons to have a very good year, and yes better than the Broncos or the Patriots, due to the little things like this. With that all being said, I liked the Falcons draft. I guess Trufant was their guy because not only did the Falcons trade up for him but they also passed Xavier Rhodes for him. I think Trufant was worse than Rhodes, but there is not a huge discrepancy. Trufant should be able to fill in the void left by Grimes. But, in case he doesn’t, the Falcons also drafted Alford. A team can never have too many cornerbacks, so I can’t give the Falcons a bad grade for drafting Alford. A tight end or even defensive end would have been better here, but now that the secondary is solidified, the Falcons can worry about other things. Goodman is an above average talent and fills a need. He can learn from Osi, whom the Falcons just signed. Toilolo wasn’t a steal, some may say a reach, but he fits the Falcons as well as any tight end. Toilolo has the frame to be the next Tony Gonzalez and can probably start filling the void next season. This is a fine pick, but I would have liked Travis Kelce a round earlier. The Falcons focused on the secondary in this draft and it should help put them in a winning position next year.

San Francisco 49ers

Overall Grade: B-
Best Pick: WR Quinton Patton
Worst Pick: S Eric Reed

1(18) 49ERS- S Eric Reid- C
My Ideal Pick: TE Zach Ertz

2(8) 49ERS- DE Carradine Carradine- A-
My Ideal Pick: DE Margus Hunt- SMU

2(23) 49ERS- TE Vance McDonald- C
My Ideal Pick: DE Datone Jones

3(26) 49ERS- LB Corey Lemoiner- A-
My Ideal Pick: CB Robert Alford

4(31) 49ers- WR Quinton Patton- A

4(34) 49ers- RB Marcus Lattimore- B-

Summary: I expected better from the 49ers. Reid was a bit of a surprise since the 49ers actually traded up for him and most experts saw him as an early day two prospect. What makes this more surprising is that Matt Elam was available at the 1(32) so it’s not like safety was of high need in the draft. Plus, Reid is just alright. I would say he was a top 5 safety, maybe, this year. It does fill a big need left by Dashon Goldson, but I don’t like the replacement much. Tank Carradine is a good player and some would argue better than Hunt, who I mocked to the 49ers. While he should have gone higher than Hunt, I’m not sure Carradine is as good a fit for the 49ers. Hunt is big and aggressive, like Justin Hunt. Carradine is a little smaller and probably doesn’t have the natural strength that Hunt does. It’s a good pick, just not as good as Hunt would have been. Vance McDonald, like Reid, is an average player who would have probably been available had the 49ers just waited. And Travis Kelce or Jordan Reed would have been better than McDonald. I like the pick of a tight end but just not McDonald. Lemoiner offers depth to the 49ers linebackers and is a solid pass rusher. While not the biggest need, I like the pick. Quinton Patten is a fast receiver who may end up being the third wide receiver and making AJ Jenkins one of the biggest busts in NFL history. Lattimore will probably recover well from his surgery, but has a monster depth chart to fall into. Even if the doctors cleared him, he wouldn’t get much playing time. I don’t get this pick. There was so much depth- it just wasn’t worth it.

Baltimore Ravens-

Overall Grade: A-
Best Pick: S Matt Elam
Worst Pick: DT Brandon Williams

1(32) Ravens- S Matt Elam- A-
My Ideal Pick: ILB Kevin Minter

2(24) RAVENS- ILB Arthur Brown- A-
My Ideal Pick: WR Terrance Williams

3(32) Ravens- DT Brandon Williams- B
My Ideal Pick: OT Chris Faulk

4(32) Ravens- DE John Simon- B

4(33) Ravens- FB John Juszczyk- A-

Summary: For having the last pick in the round, the Ravens did a great job. Replacing Ed Reed and Ray Lewis is an impossible task, but Matt Elam and Arthur Brown are two great guys to do it. Elam is a solid safety and will do well in Baltimore. I give the Ravens an A- since inside linebacker was probably a bigger need and someone like Te’o there would be better. I understand this pick and understand not drafting Te’o, but I don’t like it as much. Brown carries baggage, like Te’o, just not as much. He is a good fit for Baltimore and is one of the better prospects to replace Ray Lewis. Brandon Williams is an average player for a team that didn’t really need another defensive tackle. Simon falls under the same trap as Williams does. Juszcyk was the best full back in the draft, which doesn’t really mean anything anymore. Even if I had given Elam and Brown “A’s” I probably would have given the Ravens an A- for failing to replace Anquan Boldin for a team that was already thin at receiver. That being said, I liked the Ravens draft.