I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that I'm the only one who's still ridiculously high off of post-draft euphoria. It's kind of like the Opening Day jitters you get as a baseball fan, but it's lasted for about three months now. It's not really that I feel that all of these picks are in a condition to come in and produce immediately, but for the ones that are have me stoked.
The two players I'm referring to here are Jurrell Casey and Akeem Ayers, a couple of prospects from SoCal. It's hard to explain why I love Casey so much, I just do. The thought of a disruptive defensive tackle built like Kelly Gregg makes me extremely optimistic about his future. I think he'll see significant time early on due to the propensity for injury on the D-line. Let's be honest here, none of these guys are particularly durable and none of them are getting younger. I'm looking forward to the day that Sen'Derrick Marks finally puts it together and he lines up next to Casey on the line to create havoc for opposing backfields.
Does Ayers need any more publicity? Outside of Locker, most thought he was the best pick this team made last April and you'd certainly be hard pressed to argue any other way. Ayers can both dominate with his hand in the dirt or drop into coverage and, since LB's are apparently allowed to do this, stick a tight end on that pesky out route that lead to so many facepalms last year. I have Ayers pegged as an instant starter with very little competition coming out of camp. Whether that says more about Ayers as a player or our current unit is up to you to decide, but any day a rookie can come in and make an impact from day one is a good day to me. Don't forget that this guy was pegged as a sure-fire top 25 pick before the season started, but a less than stellar combine and slightly underwhelming season caused him to fall to 39.
What about Jake Locker though? Well, considering that offensive-coordinator Chris Palmer has come out and said that the best QB will start in week one and that Chris Johnson has slapped a personal guarantee on the idea that Locker will be the starting quarterback from day one, I have a feeling that he may see the field early as well. Palmer's words clearly carry more weight, so I think that if you're in the camp that believes Locker will start week one that you believe he's the best QB on the team right now. Perhaps a little sad, but at the same time I'll be encouraged if Chris Palmer has enough faith in him to trot him out there from the get-go. I can see the advantages to both sitting and starting him, but overall, I want him to progress through things like Josh Freeman did. Freeman had questions about his production and inconsistency against quality opponents coming out of college, as did Locker, and draws comparisons to everyone's favorite QB on the reg, as does Locker. Freeman also found himself south of the dreaded "60%" completion percentage that seems to have everybody and their grandmother in fits. I'm starting to believe that this kind of thing is getting blown out of proportion and, honestly? My biggest concern is that he hurts himself doing his best Peyton Hillis impersonation on some fool DB who tries to go high on him.
So my results have yielded that our top three draft picks will see the most playing time out of this year's class. Groundbreaking stuff. I suppose it's better than having only our top two getting playing time, right?